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30 Sep, 2010 06:08

Stress relief found six feet under

One group in Russia has come up with an unusual method to fight stress and beat depression by burying people alive – only temporarily, though.

The organizers of this extreme treatment claim twenty minutes in a fresh grave might change your mind on many things in life.

When someone is buried alive, below the surface they are trapped with their greatest fears.

“Oh fantastic! The sun feels much better than under the ground,” admits volunteer Pavel Gordeev once he has been dug out after 20 minutes of being buried alive: not a form of torture, but extreme therapy.

After his first time under the ground, Pavel's anxiety got the better of him. Now he says he can handle the pressure.

“The first thing you experience is panic. Once your face is covered with earth, you start tasting it and thinking what the hell am I doing down here? But once you calm down there is simply no other place like this,” Gordeyev said.

The grave-digging therapists are modeling the burials on an ancient form of self-enlightenment practiced by shamans.

They wanted to make the rites more accessible, believing everyone can benefit.

“This is the most effective and powerful method for overcoming internal problems,” claims Konstantin Mukhin, trainer at Enlightenment Territory. “A person can neither see nor hear anything, nor even move underground. They have no other option but to delve deep inside their minds.”

One burial costs you around $160, and attracts both men and women from students to 50-something professionals, all aiming to bury their own worries.

A full day's psychological training claims to prepare them for the fears they will face.

“Panic conditions can be subconscious and uncontrollable. There are different ways to overcome them: working with mental images, rhythm, breathing,” explains the director of Enlightenment Territory Andrey Gorbov. “There is an array of means for a person to subdue their fear. We teach them that.”

The maximum burial is 40 minutes; beyond that the mind struggles to cope with the lack of physical function. The depth of burial is a mere 30 centimeters. Any deeper and the pressure of soil would be too great to stand.

Once under the dirt, volunteers breathe through a tube.

The organizer is a ten-year veteran of burials, and says this shouldn't be tried at home.

“We have to be able to get the person out very fast and also contact them. Earth has to be distributed in a certain way across the body so that the key joints aren't pressurized. You can't practice burials without knowing about these things,” Andrey Gorbov warns.

Even if you have never suffered from claustrophobia, that could easily change if you are going to try this ritual out for yourself. You will be given a thick plastic tube to breathe through, with which they monitor you at all times. If you want to stop then all you have to do is make a noise.

You are unable to move your limbs because of the weight of the earth, and despite being securely enveloped in waterproof fabric, it feels very cold and only adds to the tension.

Such burials might seem an extreme pastime, but they are positively tame when compared to other death-defying stunts like bungee jumping or white water rafting.