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How to Prepare for a Psychedelic Retreat

So, you’ve done your research and decided to take part in a psychedelic retreat. Whether you’re joining us on one of our luxury retreats for women in Jamaica or Tulum, or at another retreat center, read on for how to prepare, what to pack, and what to tell the fam.

5
Min read
Cori Sue Morris
January 17, 2024

How to Prepare for a Psychedelic Retreat

So, You Want To Go on a Psychedelic Retreat.

You’ve done your research and decided to take a psychedelic retreat. Congratulations! Whether you’re joining us on one of our luxury retreats for women in Jamaica or Tulum, or at another retreat center, read on for how to prepare, what to pack, and what to tell the friends & family. 

And, if you’re still deciding, that’s good— the decision to take this kind of trip is not to be taken lightly. You’ll be placing yourself in an altered state of consciousness, in a new place, and likely uncovering some of your shit—whether it’s trauma or limiting beliefs—things will come up.

For those still deciding, we recommend revisiting our overview of how to properly vet a psychedelic retreat center and what to consider as a woman considering a psychedelic retreat.

There are several things to consider in the weeks and days leading up to a retreat to ensure you’re best prepared for a positive and productive experience. You’ll want to begin to prepare your body, your mind, and your community to support you before, during, and after the experience.

The first thing to consider is consumption—both what you’re eating and what you’re letting into your brain space, be it work, television, or challenging conversations. 

Before the Retreat: Know Your Set and Setting

1. Research and Choose Your Retreat Wisely

Start by researching different retreat options and facilitators. Choose a reputable and experienced organization that aligns with your values and offers a supportive environment.

2. Set Your Intentions

Clarify your intentions for the retreat. Whether it's personal growth, healing, or spiritual exploration, having clear intentions will guide your experience and provide a framework for reflection.

3. Utilize Mindfulness and Meditation Practices

Incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine leading up to the retreat. Cultivating a focused and present mind can enhance the depth of your psychedelic experience. Monitor what your mind consumes—scary movies, difficult conversations, or anything particularly new, strange, or out-of-the-usual should be avoided. These things can often impact you 

As an example, I watched Black Panther on a flight before a psychedelic ceremony, and then I journeyed to Wakanda on my trip. It was great—I love Wakanda! And I’d always wanted to go. But, what if I’d run into Thanos instead? (You get the point.)

4. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Nourish your body with nutritious foods, stay hydrated, and get adequate sleep. A well-nourished body supports a more harmonious psychedelic experience. Depending on your lifestyle, it’s best to start preparing your body two to four weeks ahead of your psychedelic retreat. It is recommended to cut back on the consumption of alcohol, cannabis, and other mind-altering substances, to clear your body and mind and prepare for ceremony.

Eating clean is the best plan—a diet that is rich in fruits and veggies, and low in processed food, fried food, and meat. Plant medicine tends to disagree with meat—plants like plants. And, every animal we consume has its energy—so be mindful of that. Try to eat a diet that’s rich in fruits and veggies as you get closer to your ceremony.

In addition to cutting back on alcohol, it’s advisable to reduce coffee consumption—as this can often create anxious energy. 

5. Communicate with Your Facilitators

Engage in open communication with the retreat facilitators. Share any medical history, concerns, or questions you may have. Facilitators are there to support you, and transparency is key to ensuring a safe and tailored experience.

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During the Retreat: Navigating the Experience

1. Make Sure You Trust the Process

Once at the retreat, surrender to the process. Trust the facilitators, the setting, and the psychedelic substance. Allow yourself to be in the present moment and embrace whatever arises. Knowing that you are in a safe and secure setting is a helpful part of any successful retreat ceremony. That starts with getting to know your fellow participants, the facilitators, and the journey before you. Booking a discovery call is a good way to get a sense of what your psychedelic retreat would be like.

2. Know Your Set and Setting:

Pay attention to the set and setting – the internal and external environment. Choose a comfortable and safe physical space, and create a mindset that is open, accepting, and receptive to the experience. Your retreat experience should be over all enjoyable, no matter what your personal journey may bring you.

3. Practice Breathwork and Relaxation

Incorporate breathwork and relaxation techniques. Deep, intentional breathing can help center and ground you during moments of intensity, providing a sense of calm and stability.

4. Try Journaling and Artistic Expression

Bring a journal or art supplies to capture your thoughts and feelings. Psychedelic experiences can be profound, and creative expression can serve as a valuable tool for integration.

5. Respect Your Own Boundaries and Others

Respect your own boundaries and the boundaries of others. Understand that everyone's journey is unique, and it's okay to have different experiences. Non-judgmental acceptance is crucial in creating a supportive group dynamic.

What Do You Pack for a Psychedelic Retreat ?

While the retreat organizers typically provide a general list of recommended items, personal preferences vary. It's essential to pack mindfully, focusing on items that contribute to your well-being and enhance your overall comfort. By categorizing items into essentials, non-essentials, and optional items, you create a comprehensive packing strategy that supports both the practical and personal aspects of your psychedelic retreat experience.

Preparing for a psychedelic retreat involves careful consideration of what to pack to ensure both comfort and support throughout the experience. The items can be categorized into essentials, non-essentials, and optional items, each serving a specific purpose in enhancing your overall well-being.

At Retreat, our psychedelic retreats take place in Jamaica and Mexico—two legal and warm weather locations. The Bahamas is another legal and warm weather destination.

With those destinations in mind, our recommendations are focused on warm weather destinations.

1. Clothing

Here's what we recommend packing.

- Lightweight Clothing: t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, sundresses, etc. for the warm weather.

- Swimwear: Bathing suits, swim trunks, cover-ups.

- Light layers: lightweight long-sleeve shirts or cardigans for cooler evenings or to protect from the sun.

- Comfortable walking shoes: Sandals, flip-flops, sneakers, or hiking shoes, depending on planned activities.

- Hat and sunglasses: to protect from the sun.

- Rain Gear: A lightweight rain jacket or poncho.

2. Travel Essentials

- Sunscreen: High SPF sunscreen, preferably water-resistant.

- Insect Repellent: Especially if you plan to explore nature or visit during mosquito season.

- Travel adapters and chargers: to keep your devices powered up.

- Medications and First-Aid Kit: Any prescription medications you need, along with basic first-aid supplies.

- Travel Documents: Passport, travel insurance, tickets, hotel reservations, and emergency contact information.

- Cash and Cards: Local currency (Jamaican dollars) and credit/debit cards for purchases. It's also good to have some small bills for tips.

- Bug spray and sunscreen.

3. For the Psychedelic Experience

For your journey, you'll want to wear comfortable, casual clothes. And bring layers, asyour body temperature will change depending on what you are doing or experiencing.

You may also want to pack:

- A journal. You'll want to document and make notes of your experience as you integrate in the hours and days after.

- A book- A physical book—ideally something that brings you joy or peace to read. You'll want to stay off screens

- A comforting item—your favorite sweatshirt, a teddy bear, your cozy blanket. Bring something that helps you.

- A token to infuse with energy. Whether it’s a crystal, necklace, photo, or other token—something to infuse with positive energy.

- Something to burn. Whether it’s a photo of an ex, or a word scribbled down on paper.

3. Other Optional Items

- Reusable Water Bottle: To stay hydrated. You can refill it at your accommodation or carry purified water.

- Daypack or Beach Bag: To carry essentials when exploring or spending time at the beach.

- Camera or Smartphone: Capture memories of your trip.

- Snorkeling Gear: If you plan to snorkel, consider bringing your mask, snorkel, and fins.

- Portable Power Bank: Useful for keeping your devices charged on the go.

- Beach Towel or Mat: Many accommodations provide towels, but having your own can be handy.

- Travel Guidebook or Maps: For exploring the area.

- Language Guide/Translator: If English is not your primary language.

- Travel Locks: For securing your luggage or valuables.

- Portable Speaker: Enjoy music on the beach or in your accommodation.

- Travel Umbrella: In case of unexpected rain.

Your Medications and a Psychedelic Retreat

For those on pharmaceuticals, you should have a thorough intake meeting with the retreat company to review your medications and any contraindications. Most modern pharmaceuticals interact with plant medicine, so it is of the utmost importance to thoroughly complete your medical intake and review it with the retreat center. 

Some retreat facilitators may have you wean off of certain medications in advance—but every person is different. When in doubt, we recommend you also speak to your primary care provider for a check-up—particularly if you are over the age of 65.

And, for individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar 2, or seizure disorders, psychedelic medicine is strongly advised against. 

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After the Retreat: Integration and Reflection

1. Post-Retreat Integration Practices

Post-retreat integration is essential. Reflect on your experiences and integrate insights into your daily life. Practices such as meditation, journaling, and discussions with others who share similar experiences can aid in integration. Some retreats, like ours, make it easy with post-retreat support built in for weeks to ensure that you have a helping hand when needed.

2. Have a Support System

Surround yourself with a supportive community. Share your experiences with trusted friends or participate in post-retreat integration circles. Having a supportive network can foster a sense of connection and understanding.

3. Maintain Your Mindfulness Practices

Continue mindfulness practices to anchor the insights gained during the retreat. This can include meditation, yoga, or any activity that brings you into the present moment. Create space, and allow yourself the opportunity to fully feel what you've experienced during your stay.

4. Utilize Professional Support if Needed

If you find that certain aspects of your experience are challenging to integrate, consider seeking professional support. Therapists experienced in psychedelic integration can provide valuable assistance.

5. Reflect and Plan for the Future

Take time to reflect on the impact of the retreat on your life. Consider whether you want to explore further psychedelic experiences in the future and, if so, how you might approach them. No major meetings or presentations. Make sure to hold space for yourself. Keep the habits you've set up for yourself going with dedicated community after care with coaching and courses.

Headed on a Psychedelic Retreat: What to Tell Your Friends & Family

First up, we recommend you don’t tell work colleagues—and certainly not your boss—about your upcoming trip (even if it is in a legal market, and we hope it is!) Despite the fast-changing cultural conversation around psychedelics, stigma, misunderstanding, and taboos still abound. The less you have to explain to your workplace, the better. 

With friends and family, it’s sadly often the same. Thanks to Richard Nixon and about 50 years of social stigma against mind-altering plant medicines, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about the science, benefits, practices, and experience of psychedelic medicine. 

Communicating your decision to attend a psychedelic retreat to friends and family requires careful consideration and open communication. Here are some tips on how to approach this conversation with transparency and sensitivity:

1. Choose the Right Timing

Select a calm and relaxed setting for the conversation. Find a time when your friends and family are not preoccupied or stressed. This will create an atmosphere conducive to open dialogue.

2. Educate Yourself First

Before discussing your decision, educate yourself about the retreat, the facilitators, and the safety measures in place. Being well-informed will allow you to answer questions and address concerns with confidence.

3. Express Your Intentions

Clearly articulate your intentions for attending the retreat. Whether it's personal growth, healing, or spiritual exploration, sharing your reasons will help your loved ones understand the purpose behind your decision.

4. Use Non-Confrontational Language

Frame your explanation in a way that emphasizes personal choice and self-discovery rather than challenging established beliefs. Use "I" statements to express your own feelings and experiences rather than making absolute statements.

5. Highlight the Therapeutic Aspect

Emphasize the therapeutic potential of the retreat. Many psychedelic retreats are conducted in a therapeutic and supportive environment, and sharing this aspect may help alleviate concerns about safety.

5. Share Your Research

Present any research you've done on the benefits and safety measures associated with the specific psychedelic substance and the retreat itself. Provide resources or references that your friends and family can review to gain a better understanding.

6. Acknowledge Concerns

Be prepared for concerns and questions. Acknowledge your loved ones' worries and express your commitment to safety and responsible decision-making. Offer to address any specific concerns they may have.

7. Highlight Support Systems

Discuss the support systems in place during the retreat, such as experienced facilitators, medical professionals, and integration processes. This reassures your loved ones that you are entering into the experience with guidance and care.

8. Share Personal Growth Goals

Communicate how you believe the retreat will contribute to your personal growth and well-being. By framing it as a positive step toward self-improvement, you can help your friends and family see it as a meaningful journey.

9. Offer Ongoing Communication

Assure your loved ones that you will stay connected during and after the retreat. Let them know that you are open to ongoing discussions and that you value their input and support.

10. Respect Their Perspectives

Understand that not everyone may share your perspective on psychedelics. Be respectful of differing opinions and avoid pressuring or convincing others to agree with your choice.

11. Provide Reassurance

Reiterate your commitment to responsible and mindful participation. Assure your friends and family that you are making an informed decision and taking steps to ensure a safe and positive experience.

In approaching this conversation with thoughtfulness and consideration, you can help your friends and family better understand your decision to attend a psychedelic retreat. By fostering open communication and addressing concerns with empathy, you pave the way for a supportive network that values your personal journey of self-discovery and growth.

By guiding individuals through the process of a psychedelic retreat, the aim is to facilitate a safe, supportive, and transformative experience. By preparing the mind, embracing the journey, and integrating the insights gained, participants can embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Remember, each individual's journey is unique, and the key is to approach it with an open heart, curiosity, and a deep respect for the profound mysteries of the mind.

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About the Author

Cori Sue Morris

Cori Sue is the founder & CEO of Retreat. She’s a recovering journalist and serial entrepreneur, having started, scaled and sold a media company, Bitches Who Brunch, and a marketing agency. She loves mushrooms, microdosing, empowered women, and helping others.

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