Mushroom microdosing retreats are popping up everywhere from Colorado to Costa Rica. But how did we get here? And, more importantly, how can we join one?
Macrodosing retreats and psychedelic ceremonies are popping up everywhere from Colorado to Costa Rica. But what about mushroom microdosing retreats? And, more importantly, how can we join one? Let’s take a look at how psychedelics entered the mainstream and the therapeutic promise of psychedelic retreats both macro and micro.
Rewind approximately 60 years and Timothy Leary, “father of psychedelics,” arrived at Harvard. He already received a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. Shortly after his arrival at Harvard, he started the Harvard Psilocybin Project, alongside Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass), in an effort to document the effect of pcilocybin’s effects on human consciousness. The entheogenic hallucinogens – LSD and psilocybin were legal at the time – were administered to volunteers. While the science behind the study (as is ardently confirmed by newer research) was sound, the Harvard Psilocybin Project was shut down.
Fast forward to 2019 when John’s Hopkins University launched a psychedelic research center, thanks to a group of private donors who gave $17 million dollars to start the center. "The center's establishment reflects a new era of research in therapeutics and the mind through studying this unique and remarkable class of pharmacological compounds," says Roland Griffiths, the center's director and professor of behavioral biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Psychedelics underwent a serious PR makeover, with scientists willing to discuss and explore the substances in the public sphere and in an open forum with a lay audience.
The result? The Psychedelic Renaissance has arrived. Psychedelics are entering the mainstream and common practice among all kinds of communities. And psychedelic retreats are popping up left and right.
As you can easily infer, microdosing involves taking small doses of psychedelics while macrodosing means taking a larger dose–but the difference between macro and microdosing goes much deeper than the obvious. Chiefly, the experience of one is nothing like the other, meaning the outcomes tend to be distinct as well.
A one-time macrodose can result in drastic emotional and cognitive changes. If a macrodose is large enough, people can enter a mystical state, hallucinate, and possibly undergo the phenomenon of ego death, where your sense of self temporarily ceases to exist.
Meanwhile, mircodosers take a tenth or twentieth of a normal recreational dose of a psychedelic. In theory, microdoses are sub-perceptual, meaning that by definition, you aren’t supposed to feel them, per leading mycologist Paul Stamets. So, a microdose won’t cause objects to morph, colors to change, trees to smile, or other classic psychedelic effects. However, microdosing could benefit mental clarity, creativity, and depression.
Learn to microdose with our free guide.
Ancient cultures everywhere from the Amazon to Greece have been using psychedelics in rituals for thousands (possibly more) years. The oldest and most well-known psychedelic ritual is an Ayahuasca ceremony, in which participants imbibe a brew of Ayahuasca prepared by a shaman.
Ayahuasca is a traditional medicine integral to one hundred indigenous groups across the Amazon Basin, including communities dispersed in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela. Drinking Ayahuasca has remained a central part of indigenous culture especially when administered medicinally, for religious ceremonies, or rites of passage.
Another intense, and sometimes forgotten, psychedelic is ibogaine. A naturally occurring alkaloid found in the root bark of Apocynaceae plants, Ibogaine has been a legacy medicinal and a ritualistic tool in the Bwiti religion, native to Gabon, Africa. During an Ibogaine ritual, participants ingest iboga powder to become more introspective. Traditionally, Ibogaine rituals are never short on ceremony, using fire-fuelled spectacles and chanting to drive participants toward greater connection to themselves and the universe.
Microdosing retreats, on the contrary, are more infant than ancient. However, with major outlets like The Guardian, The New York Times, and National Geographic giving sunlight to the trend, we can expect more microdosing retreats to establish themselves in the next decade.
In a soundbite: a psilocybin retreat usually involves traveling to a retreat center in some gorgeous corner of the world (often in South and Central America) where you will undergo one or more guided magic mushroom experiences. Retreats take the whole ‘trip sitter’ concept to the next level with professional trip sitters on standby to help nurture and troubleshoot your experience. If you’re searching for a very intentional psilocybin journey, a psychedelic healing retreat is the ideal option as you will be guided through the processes of preparing for and integrating the trip. A psychedelic wellness retreat will also often feature other healing workshops such as breathwork, meditation, yoga, and other somatic healing activities. The cost of retreats varies, but the sticker price is typically meant to cover the staff hired to curate your experience, your lodging, your food, and any other amenities offered.
The psychedelic audience is not restricted to people who enjoy going down the rabbit hole into an Alice and Wonderland-like existence. Trauma victims are likely to benefit most from the recent psychedelic findings. Veterans, survivors of natural disaster, violence, cancer patients, and rape victims report deriving relief and healing by ingesting psychedelics. It is the medicinal benefits that have brought psychedelics into the public conversation, and now people want to do them. Especially people who have exhausted all other, more traditional, avenues for healing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness increased by 181%. Normal, as we knew it, cracked open and people, even those without the built-in hyper awareness of human fragility, were forced to contemplate their mortality. This led many of us into mental health crises, compelling us to seek methods to self-soothe and understand the “new reality.”
Three years later, talk therapy seems more mainstream than an annual checkup, and new wellness companies are popping up by the day. New Age spiritual practices are no stranger to the light of day, or display tables at a local bookshop. And, psychedelics are viewed as helpful agents in healing trauma.
However, you don’t have to be a hardened veteran or victim of a natural disaster to attend a psilocybin retreat. We all wear the scars of a challenging and changing world–and trauma comes in many forms. Whether you’re processing a breakup, on the precipice of a career change, or are afraid you might actually be the toxic one in your relationships, we all can benefit from looking inward and integrating those epiphanies into our day-to-day life.
Even if the only reason to attend a retreat you can conjure is curiosity—you’ll be welcomed with open arms and the ideal dose.
For now, our top recommendation for a psychedelic retreat for newcomers is Beckley Retreats, a tentacle of the much-celebrated Beckley Foundation, in Jamaica. Fusing modern science with ancient plant wisdom, Beckley Retreats, founded by the Duchess of Psychedelics, Amanda Fielding, is an excellent choice for someone who is looking for the tools to implement meaningful change before and after the retreat. Their program doesn’t just include the retreat, but also a 4-week virtual preparation program before arrival in Jamaica and a 6-week integration program following the microdosing journey. Also, they just won a microdosing award. We think that’s pretty cool.
Searching for a luxe Jamaica mushroom retreat? Silo Wellness launched several psilocybin retreats during 2022 and they’re offering a complete experience, from daily yoga and guided meditations to the ceremonies themselves spearheaded by expert Rastafarian facilitators. They offer both full and microdoses depending on your needs.
In the tropical Gulf of Nicoya, Soltara offers Costa Rica psychedelic retreat like no other. Here a lush escape from city life and healing through ayahuasca converge. Visitors can stay up to three weeks working with Shipibo healers from Peru to understand the intricacies and history of ayahuasca.
If you’re searching for a Costa Rica mushroom retreat, Mushroom Tao at the Thea retreat center in Santa Teresa includes three psilocybin ceremonies, nature hikes, sound healing, farm to table cuisine, microdosing education, and more.
HOLOS Retreats is also an excellent option for merging the mystical with the modern. Deep in the Diamanté Valley, HOLOS nurtures well-being through plant medicine for both residents and retreat-goers.
For those who prefer to lean more toward the safe side of total legality, Synthesis in Amsterdam is a legal, safe, immersive psychedelic retreat. During a Synthesis retreat, you’ll have the opportunity to ingest a high-dose of psilocybin truffles to catalyze positive internal change.
The public is welcome to dip their toes into the psychedelic pool – legally – in countries like Jamaica, Bahamas, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands, where psilocybin is not prohibited. There are psychedelic retreat centers in the United States, in U.S. cities including Santa Cruz, California, and Denver, Colorado, where psilocybin has been decriminalized, plant-medicine ceremonies are regular fixtures. Prices vary, but most run between $5,000 and $10,000 for seven days. For some people that price for a transformative, life-affirming experience is a bargain.
To understand the difference between decriminalization and legalization, we break it down here.
Psychedelic Passage facilities are located in Oregon, California, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, and North Carolina. Facilitators also travel to 20+ states without facilities. They explain that psychedelics “turn off the neural network in your brain most responsible for creating your sense of self. When this happens, your sense of self expands.” An FAQ, “what are the qualifications of your facilitators?” Facilitators have personal experience with plant medicine and “professionally supporting others on their psychedelic journeys” who have “some sort of formal training.”
If you’re tapping “mushroom retreat Colorado” into your search bar, look no further than The Sacred House of Eden. The Sacred House of Eden in Colorado claims the title of 2021 SPIRITUAL RETREAT OF THE YEAR WINNER! They offer ‘hero rates’ for first responders, military, and veterans. Navigating their website, one finds that their membership is at capacity and that retreats are invitation only. Testimonials list “possibly the most profound experience of my life!” and “OMG, the stars have aligned…I could see things clearly, things that traditional medicine couldn’t fix with pulls, answers to the problems that years of talk therapy with therapists didn’t heal.”
Another reviewer states a two decades long battle with severe depression, “I had been on and off antidepressants for several years and I was tired of just masking my depression.” This sentiment is echoed across the literature. Psychedelics are reported to provide relief in instances where western medicine has not been effective. Women are interested as fem-health/fem tech is a relatively new segment of the medical field.
Psychedelic Passage has seasoned trip sitters in Seattle to help guide you through the experience.
For a once-in-a-lifetime psychedelic retreat in Hawaii, there’s Muaisa Hale Pula in Kona, Hawaii. They advertise that “healing is not always glamorous. It is deep and demands honesty and transparency… [We] are an off-the-path shamanic refuse,” as a Chapter of the New Haven Native American Church. On their page, found via the Psychedelic Experience website, they list nearby medical facilities available two miles away. Additionally, an experienced resident PhD whose “credentials are too prodigious to list” sits in the circle during plant medicine ceremonies.
In Arizona, Psychedelic Passage trip sitting services are provided in Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, and a dozen other cities. “The one caveat to us being able to provide trip sitting and guiding services,” they state, “is that we cannot provide your substance of choice for personal consumption.” Psilocybin, Ayahuasca, Mescaline, Ketamine, MDA/MDA, DMY, and LSD all fall under Psychedelic Passage’s expertise. To make the best of one’s trip, participants are encouraged to set an intention and “adequately prepare” one’s mindset as “psychedelics crack you wide open.” Integration calls are scheduled with participants to implement “realizations into tangible actions.”
Though they have the potential to be life-changing, psychedelic retreats do come with challenges. As a woman, your emotional, psychological, and physical safety are paramount when attending a retreat. Read our partner article Women and Psychedelic Retreats: Promise and Potential Problems to learn more about risks of attending a retreat and the emerging opportunity for women-only retreats.
Learn to microdose with our free guide.
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