Wondering how to prepare for a psilocybin retreat? How does even one prepare for such an experience? This list can come in handy as you consider taking the next big step. It doesn’t cover essentials like toothbrushes and passports, but it may bring up some unique points that you may not have considered yet.
1. Evaluate your current medications
It’s important to know that medications that work on the serotonin system may impact the quality of your psilocybin retreat experience. Make a list of your meds, do a quick Google search on their mechanism of action, and discuss it with your doctor and retreat coordinator.
Psilocybin is very safe, and there are very few medications that are potentially harmful in conjunction with it. However, there are still some very common medications that can impact the effects of psilocybin by reducing the number of receptors available to interact with it. Your retreat coordinator should be able to advise you on the interaction of your medications with psilocybin and give you some pointers to discuss with your doctor. If they are unable to give detailed guidance, and you are on medications, that may not be the correct retreat for you.
2. Choose the right psilocybin retreat
Make sure you choose a retreat that aligns with your personal values and goals. It’s one thing to prepare for a psilocybin retreat, it’s a completely different matter to make sure you are preparing for the right retreat. Do you want an experience that is more recreational? Are you looking for a more clinical experience? Are you looking to incorporate psilocybin into an ongoing routine? Some retreats will be more suited to teaching cultivation and self-management, while others are a bit more limited.
The type of retreat you choose will have a significant impact on the personalities and conversations you will be exposed to while there. Therefore, keep in mind that the psychedelic retreat landscape is not a monolith, and there are various schools of thought and philosophies.
Eleusinia Retreat has a focus on the empowerment model, and we put significant emphasis on understanding the neuroscience behind the psychedelic experience. We like to keep a very firm base in medical science, but we also incorporate various traditional practices.
3. Know your psychedelics
Make sure that psilocybin is the right choice for you. There are many retreat centers out there offering many different forms of psychedelics. The main mechanism of action is the same between all of the classic psychedelics, they stimulate the 2A serotonin receptor. Some of these substances stimulate the receptor for longer periods of time than others, and at different levels of intensity.
4. Are you looking to avoid nausea?
Understand the different vomiting risks with various psychedelics. Psychedelics often cause nausea, and many retreat centers consider this to be an important part of the experience. Nausea and other stomach symptoms are a lot less common with psilocybin than ayahuasca, and it is actually safe to take certain antiemetics (medications that prevent nausea) with psilocybin that would otherwise be problematic with ayahuasca.
At Eleusinia, we take great care to prevent nausea. Since our retreat has a focus on medical science, we don’t believe that nausea has any specific spiritual or therapeutic value. We offer medication to mitigate the chance of it and are careful to stick to types of antiemetics that are compatible with psilocybin. Our retreat is often visited by people in more delicate medical states, so we are very attentive on this front.
5. What to consider while packing
Pack well. No matter how warm the region is, there is a chance you may feel chilly during your psychedelic session. It is a very common effect, and it is best to be prepared with layers and warm socks. Psilocybin retreat style should be about comfort and ease. This is not a place to worry about style, it is a place of introspection and healing.
Eleusinia is in a mountainous region that is often chilly at night, with warm sunny days.
6. Think about journaling
Start your journaling before the retreat. Writing down your hopes, goals, and observations beforehand can be immensely helpful. If you aren’t already in the habit of journaling, this is a good place to start. The psychedelic experience can be a lot like a dream, and the memory fades quickly. Writing things down can help you make the most of it.
7. Should you go alone, or with someone?
Ask yourself if planning this trip with a partner would be possible. In many cases, going with a partner can be a key component to lasting, meaningful benefits. Of course, many people attend retreats on their own and experience significant benefits. Arguably, the solo traveler should pay extra close attention to the culture of the retreat they choose and make sure it aligns with their goals and values.
At our retreat, we get many combinations. Some are solo travelers, others are couples, college friends, siblings, or parents visiting with their adult children. Overall, we believe that sharing this experience can strengthen bonds and contribute to more durable, long-lasting therapeutic effects.
8. Select an emergency contact
Make sure you choose someone you trust to be your emergency contact and let them know where you are traveling. Even though psilocybin is a very safe substance, and any difficulties during travel or at a retreat are unlikely to be related to its use, it is always a good idea to have a trusted contact that knows your location.
9. Make a plan for after the retreat
Are you planning to join a local psychedelic society? Do you have a meeting scheduled with your therapist to debrief? It can be helpful to plan a couple of extra days off from work after a retreat to ease back into everyday life.
Eleusinia has a lot going on for visitors after our retreat. We have a private network with weekly online meetings for Q&A sessions, guided meditation, and integration support. During the retreat, we also teach a mushroom growing class, so many visitors use this network as a resource for guidance during the cultivation process.
10. Keep in mind that you may never feel 100% ready, and that’s ok
Even if you prepare for a psilocybin retreat, you may never feel 100% ready. Feeling ready can come in spurts and waves. The reality is that many people seek a transformative experience when they are going through a challenging time. If you are going through grief, pain, and depression, remember that this is not an ordinary vacation. It’s ok to show up as whatever version of yourself you may be at this time. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you prepare for this experience.