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Scott Berman ’05

January 18, 2024

Scott Berman ’05 is the founder and host of Sky Cave Retreats, a darkness retreat center nestled in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument wilderness of southern Oregon. Guests typically stay four to five days in complete darkness in earth-sheltered cabins, where time becomes irrelevant and perhaps a deeper truth emerges. 
  
Scott Berman ’05Established in 2020 and the first of its kind in the United States, Sky Cave has attracted notable athletes like football quarterback Aaron Rodgers, endurance athlete Colin O’Brady, and British boxer Anthony Joshua. But Berman emphasizes that the retreat center is for anyone interested in deepening their meditation practice or for those who want to simply rest and rejuvenate.  
  
“This is an opportunity for anyone to disconnect from the constant sensory bombardment of modern life and delve into self-reflection,” says Berman, who has hosted more than 300 retreats.  
  
Berman, who grew up in South Jersey, began exploring alternative therapies as a psychology major, drawing inspiration from Skidmore’s Psychology Department. Through the department, he was first exposed to the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s. Berman conducted independent research with his professors and attended a MBSR conference in Massachusetts.  
  
After graduation, he traveled to Alaska, staying in a remote cabin for six weeks. This experience eventually led him to live in solitude in Mount Shasta, California, and Southern Baja, Mexico, for nearly a decade with his wife, Jill Berman.  
  
After learning about dark-room retreats in places like South America and India, the Bermans completed their first darkness retreat in their Oregon home before building three underground cabins that would serve as the centerpieces of their retreat center.  
  
Experiencing oneself in complete darkness is a concept rooted in ancient spiritual traditions, including that of the Kogi Mamos, indigenous people of Colombia. In its retreat offerings, Sky Cave also offers somatic therapy, which typically takes place before and after entering the cabin. 
  
Berman continues his own four- to five-day retreat into darkness annually. He also visits a nearby cave weekly for a few hours at a time.  
  
“It’s like visiting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while,” he says. “You become reconnected as the relationship continues to grow and deepen.”

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