In this episode, we follow the journey of Anthony, an 80-year-old man who has been struggling with anxiety and depression for years. After finding no relief through traditional methods. Multiple medications, therapies, and practices. Anthony sought a natural approach that would allow him to experience his emotions fully and improve his quality of life. He attended Eleusinia Retreat, which employs a science-based approach to psychedelic experiences. Through the support and guidance provided at the retreat, Anthony was able to confront his fears and anxieties, ultimately transforming his life. This inspiring story highlights the potential of psychedelic treatments to offer healing and transformation for those who have exhausted traditional methods at all ages. Listen here, on Spotify, or on Apple Podcast,
Tawnya: Anthony, thank you so much for coming to the show. It is beyond a pleasure to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and why you decided to come to Eleusinia?
Anthony: Yes, thank you. Thanks for asking. I live in Arizona in Sunlights, Arizona, and I’m 80. The thing that prompted me to come to the retreat is that I’ve been dealing with anxiety over a long period of time, and I’m one of the treatment resistant depression types of people where those medications that the doctors give you really don’t work.
And I’ve been looking for something that would be more natural, would bring me back to my healthier self. Not just put a cap on my feelings and that sort of thing. And in looking at different options, this, the Eleusinia retreat really looked to me like the best way to go. It was a combination of using psilocybin to, maybe make some neurological changes.
And also the experience of learning how to grow the material. So giving you some control over your own product, your own destiny, or whatever. And I must say that after retreat all the things that I had wanted from the retreat were there and, and I got even more. So I just can’t say enough good things about it.
Tawnya: Thank you so much, Anthony, and what makes you really unique to us is that you are our oldest guest so far. Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s like to be interested in psilocybin at your particular age?
Anthony: Yes. You know, it would’ve been great if I, if I had known about all this and done it earlier, but when you’re struggling with stuff, you know, it’s like, do I take a risk and have a better life as a result of it, or do I just go along with the status quo, which really wasn’t working that.
So, yes, it was a bit of a risk, you know, just leaving the country, going to a different place, experiencing psychedelics basically for the first time. And all those things. But sometimes I think in your life, you just have to be brave and take a risk. And I did that, and in this case, I was handsomely rewarded, so it was all well worth it
Tawnya: Did you have anybody in your life that knew what you were up to and did they support your decision or, or did you not really let anybody know about your plans?
Anthony: Yeah, good question. I have a significant other, someone who’s really important to me in my life and I did tell her about it. She did know about it.
She did not come with me, but she knew what I was doing and she’s very supportive in all areas. She’s a reiki master and is certainly into those kinds of things. But she just encouraged me along the way and she wants the best for me, which, and, you know, I want to be the best person for her.
And that’s and I think this, this retreat is, sending me in that direction. So yes. So I, I have support and I, boy, I can’t say enough about support and speaking about support, the support I got from the retreat. I mean, I just, you, Tanya and Jessica and Jay and all the rest of the staff just cannot say enough good things.
Tawnya: Anthony, what if I may ask, what was your greatest fear? I’m wondering if you had unique fears or were you just stepping right into trust when you decided to go?
Anthony: I would love to tell you that I just jumped right in and didn’t have any fear, but that’s not true I did have some reservations, you know, and I think anytime you’re stepping outta your box, you’re stepping outta your comfort zone. There are always gonna be some fears. And I’ve had situations like that before and you know, it’s a risk/reward kind of a thing. If you feel like what you’re doing may help or is going to help or you have that, that just that good feeling spiritually, you’re willing to go in, even though you have concerns and fears.
So yes, the psychedelic experience was kind of a scary thing. It’s like, you know, we hear these things in quotes about bad trips and whatever, you know, and I must say that some of the experiences were certainly out of my wheelhouse, but at no time did I experience anything that I would call negative. Different, yes. Negative, I’d say absolutely not.
Tawnya: So you definitely had some trepidation which was normal as you said, and thank you for sharing that. And as it became the day of the ceremony when you were sitting in the circle with the rest of the group for your retreat, how were you feeling when you were about to ingest the macro dose of psilocybin?
Anthony: You know it’s interesting. When you do take a risk, sometimes the run up to it makes you nervous, but when the airplane is about ready to take off down the runway, it’s like, okay, I’m on the plane. I’m going to be taking off if I was a little nervous about flying too late now, we’re gonna go and everything leading up to that with you and Andrew and Jessica, and Jay everything leading up to it was very affirming. So by the time I was in the group and Andrew had us doing some meditation work and a little bit of yoga and whatever, and then we had that wonderful ceremony that Josephina performed.
So as we got into it, I just was open to the experience and really, I think most of my fears just kind of went into the background. It was like, okay, we’re gonna do this. Others are there too. We’ve got tons of support. I’m in a beautiful setting, so just sit back and enjoy the ride. And that’s what I did.
Tawnya: And can you tell us a little bit about what your first sensation was of the psychedelic experience? So what happened when you started feeling the psilocybin effects?
Anthony: Right I feel like I was pretty much textbook. Andrew I think had described some things and maybe you as well some things that we might experience. And I pretty much experienced them and it amazed me what, what the mind is capable of because these things that I was seeing, you know, although the psychedelics brought them out, they were coming out of my mind. And it just, it just amazes me what is what’s in the mind that maybe we don’t really realize the, the capability or the expandable expandability of it, but I saw, you know, for ex, for example, the grass and at the setting at our, at our retreat location is very nice, but all of a sudden the grass took, it was almost like a pattern, like a carpet of, of different shapes and everything. And there’s a hill right just off to the left of the retreat area and the trees that are up on the hill just started to jump out. And the colors of the colors of the sky and everything were just incredible.
So it was just, It just was very, I guess you would call it mind expanding. And it was, it was just quite an unbelievable experience. I guess that’s the best I can describe it.
Tawnya: So you had a lot of visual effects that happened. Did you also have some emotional experiences?
Anthony: Yes, yes. The visual experiences came first, but at some point a lot of feelings came up.
I don’t know if it’s more likely with men and I, I won’t say that it is, but I think men do stuff. You know, we’re used to stuffing a lot. We don’t want to cry. We don’t want to do this. Well, I had a lot of feelings and they, they came up, you know, they weren’t filtered. They weren’t, there was no lid on them and the feelings were able to come up and I missed my girlfriend.
I felt I had feelings for my kids. I have four children, and I thought of them. And so there was a lot of tears and when that happened, Jay and others were over there to sit with me and everything. So set and setting is so important, I think for, for an experience like this. But yeah it was very cathartic. You know, just a lot came out. A lot came up, a lot of tears. And I’m not someone that cries at the drop of a hat either. So that was an experience. I just, I feel like it almost looked like it washed me. Maybe it’s like a warm shower kind of washing me and maybe bringing up some of the things that I’ve kept inside for a long, very long time.
You know, I’m 80. Some of this stuff’s been in there for a real long time.
Looking back, I had this sense, you know what? My priorities are gonna change. You know, I’m going to put more effort into those. I just had a feeling, you know it’s those relationships that are really, really important and I’m gonna put more effort into those relationships and give them more status in my life, because I do realize how important they are.
And I’ll also mention one exercise that you suggested was to write down where we’ve been, some of the, maybe even some of the suffering that we’ve kind of experienced along the way, because every human being has had suffering in their life that, that you, nobody gets away without that. But then the other thing you suggested then I, you said, write down what I’m becoming, and that is what really came up for me is what? What I, what I could become or what I am becoming. And I believe that this experience has kind of opened that up for me and given me maybe a better perspective on what, what could be. And that, that in itself is. Priceless. Priceless. How do you, how do you put a price on something like that, you know?
Tawnya: That’s so beautiful. Can you give us some examples of what that looks like for you?
Anthony: At the time you had suggested doing that activity and I, I wrote some things that I came from and just some things I remember from a childhood in lying in bed and being sad, wanting someone to come and nobody would come and things like that.
But under the heading of I am becoming I put things like I’m trying to love and appreciate my mind instead of trying to turn it off. You know, I’ve always been at odds with my mind. It’s like, anxiety is a good example of thoughts that just bug you. You know? And I know that whoever created us did not create us with a mind that we are supposed to be, that we’re supposed to be at odds with.
And so I wrote down, I’m seeing that I can love and appreciate my mind and almost form a partnership with my mind so that my mind is serving my heart. It’s not like that my mind is creating anxiety and is actually an adversary or something that I’m trying to distance myself from.
And I ask questions of myself, who am I? Am I my mind? And I don’t think so. I think I’m my heart. I think I’m my soul. And that’s what I think came up in some of the experiences that we had is put more focus in the heart, more focus in the soul, and let the mind be there in the background as a servant, but not a master.
You know, not, I don’t want to be driven by my mind. And I think that this experience that I’ve had has really opened that up for me a lot.
Tawnya: That’s so inspirational to me because it definitely resonates. A lot of us feel like the mind is our adversary and that we have to step into a different way of being and set the mind down.
And I remember having these really deep conversations with you where you brought up the idea of what does it look like to have the mind be our friend, you know, bring more love to what it does for us. It’s a beautiful idea.
Anthony: Yeah. The things that seem to matter so much, the jobs and all the stuff that consumes our time. Those things come and go and yeah, they can, we can spend a whole day, a whole week, a whole month, and a whole life focusing on those, but do they really, really matter? And I think that I think my perspective has definitely changed as a result of the retreat.
Tawnya: So what matters to you now is less about the mental ongoings and more about your heart, who you really are, and the people that you love and care about in your life.
Anthony: Right? I would say so. In fact I will go this far. People have been telling me you have to count your blessing. You have to be grateful. I’ve been hearing that for years. And intellectually I try to do that. You know, put a smile on your face, be grateful. Make a gratitude list. I’ve been hearing that for a very, very long time, and I’m trying to do that, but it never really, it never really resonates at a soul level. At a heart level. I’m just kind of doing it out of my head because people are saying, that’s what you should do. And after the experiences of the retreat, I’m starting to feel those blessings. I’m really, I’m, you know, it isn’t like I’m doing it intellectually. I’m feeling it in the heart. Yes, I am blessed. Yes, I do have a lot of things going for me and everything, and somehow that anxiety has diminished so that I can feel the blessings. When before, when the anxiety was too heavy, I’ve just stuck in a, like an endless loop. And now I feel like, it’s kind of opened up and I can enjoy the good things in life and not be so anxious over all this minutiae that my head, you know, these tapes that my head runs.
Tawnya: Do you have a community that is around your age and do you have any reflections of how psilocybin could affect the population that, you are at this point in your life?
Anthony: Right. I am lucky that my health is good and I do exercise and plate tennis and things like that. I live in a community the Sun, Sunlight, Arizona. So I have a community of people, not necessarily that we talk about or discuss things like psychedelics, anything like that. But I mean, I do live in a community of, of people. So, and I also am in a 12 step program that is also a community that I rely on a lot and we there’s a lot of sharing and a lot of.
You know, inventories are revealing what we do about ourselves, and so I have opportunities to interact with others. I’m not, in other words, I’m 80, but I’m not alone and without any support, without any backup, without any community. In that sense, I’m very lucky. As far as 80 year olds in general, we’re in a transition time and things like psychedelics and ketamine and those different things, you know, they’re just, they’re just coming up and there are many people in my age group that do struggle with anxiety and depression and things like, And I think it’s only, I think we need to look to the future to see how, there’s no doubt in my mind that very quickly here in the future, we’re going to see these products having a much more of an effect on people of all ages, especially people that are struggling with treatment resistant depression, have chronic anxiety.
How exactly that will play out. I think we just need to watch and wait and see what happened.
Tawnya: Was there a particular experience at the retreat that was challenging for you?
Anthony: Jumping into a tub of ice water is a little bit of a challenge , yeah, that was a two minute challenge that was thrilling to say the least, you know, physically thrilling and yeah, emotionally interesting. It was just a real interesting experience. It’s a super wake up call, I guess you could call it. But it was very interesting and there was a lot of excitement and everybody was really into it, and it was a, and that was a very positive experience.
The DMT experience also. I mean, that was a very short DMT only last, what, 10 minutes or so, but wow. Just the colors and I just, it’s hard to, it’s like you see something that is so out of the ordinary that you just can’t describe it, and that’s the way I would, I would characterize that DMT experience that just. I was under an umbrella, and when I, when that DMT kicked in, I mean, there were colors up there, and it looked like a kaleidoscope, but the colors in the sky and everything were just absolutely just incredible. I was just amazed that something like that was even possible.
Tawnya: And then what about your favorite experience or one that’s really close to your heart, Anthony, at the retreat?
Anthony: Right. I would say, the whole, the whole retreat was, it came in a package for me. I really enjoyed the other members that were there with some of, I got to share pretty fairly intimately with several of them. And that with that in itself was really nice. The staff, again, I just cannot say enough good things about it.
The setting was beautiful. We took an evening walk, which was really enjoyable. I enjoyed that so much and got some nice pictures that I was able to bring back and show. So, you know, I’m not really single out one event because I’m thinking the thought I have is I enjoyed everything about the retreat, but in the background I really believe that a neurological change is happening in my, in my neurology, in my body, and I think going forward that there are going to be, my brain is going to, you know, that synapses are gonna be different.
The connections in my brain are going to be. More complete, more indicative of a joyful, happy, well-adjusted person rather than kind of an anxious, nervous, you know, person that’s withholding, you know? And so it’s kinda like I enjoyed the retreat, but I’m looking forward to what’s gonna come after the retreat.
I mean, what a, what a, it’s just talk about win-win. That’s an absolute win-win.
Tawnya: Wow. Thank you so much. Yeah. That was so well said. Now what about, what would you say to people that are around your age you know, would you recommend them stepping out of their comfort zone and attending a retreat like Eleusinia?
Anthony: I absolutely would. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I think kind of the prerequisite for it is that you’ve got to be in a place where you’re open to making a change. You know, something has gotta be driving. You know, if you’re just complaining, well, I can, but I’m, I, yes, I’m a little anxious, but I can deal with it.
I don’t know about a person like that, especially at an older age, but anyone who is fed up with their lifestyle and is willing to go a little bit out of their comfort zone to find something that they may have dreamed of but never thought possible. I would absolutely encourage them to look into it and to consider doing it.
Consider taking the chance for a payoff of a much better life.
Tawnya: Well, I really like the way you described that prerequisite, that it’s gotta be somebody who’s really ready to make a change. And it’s interesting because on one hand I see people sometimes accompany their spouse. Just because they wanna see their spouse get particular help, but then unexpectedly they get a lot of change.
So it’s not necessarily fair to say you have to be ready for a change, but I do agree with you that if you really care about making a change, you’ll get that. And that’s Definitely something we see time and time again. And even in the research, you know, if you value the experience, if you find meaning in your experience, if you value it enough to make your own meaning, then there is a long lasting change. So that’s, that’s beautiful.
Anthony: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Tawnya: You said, well, my experience is really textbook, and I feel like in some ways that may kind of make a blanket of a diminishing effect on how unique and beautiful your experience was. Was there anything else that happened that was unique to you?
Anthony: Almost everything we did was unique because it was a first from the ice bath to the DMT to the full experience, to the mini dose. All of that was kind of like a first time experience.
And yeah, textbook may be a poor choice of words. I only meant textbook because Andrew or somebody had said, these are things you might see. And they were pretty much what did come up for me. So it’s just kind of, like he said, you were gonna see these kind of things and that was very reassuring to me because you know when someone tells you ahead of time, hey, this is what you’re likely to see, this is what you’re likely to experience. Know that it’s not gonna last forever, that you’ll be going through this experience and you’ll come out of it in a few hours and whatever. And all of that lead up. It’s the kind of support that is in my mind, essential to doing a major you know, psychedelic experience. So that just helped to just make it everything more and more comfortable view.
Tawnya: Oh, wonderful. Thank you for that clarity. I really appreciate that. It’s gonna be, was there anything else in your writing that you didn’t finish and the I am becoming prompt, right?
Anthony: Right. Yes. I, the last thing I said was I can dwell more on my blessings Less on my problems, less on my anxiety, less as I, as what I perceive of the world’s problems. That’s something that I get into a lot. I have a nonprofit company and a website. It’s called A Return to Peace, so I’m very, I, I certainly like all of us, I want better for the world. I want us the better way. But you know what? You can let that stuff drive you nuts too. And I mean, you’ve got to, yeah, the world has got its problems and we’ve all got problems, but whatever goods gonna come has to come from the inside out.
If my inside is all anxious and concerned, I’m not gonna project The energy coming out is not gonna be good. So I’ve got to come from a good place. And so I said I can dwell more on my blessings, less on world problems. Realize that the past is the past, the future is unknown. And what, what is really important now, if you had to condense it down into a word, it might be love, you know?
And it’s certainly not, not all the things that we see on social media and everything. Those are just, kind of realizations or revelations that came to me while I was at the retreat.
Tawnya: Wow, that was amazing. Anthony, thank you so much for sharing all that. I appreciate that so much, and it was so insightful to hear all of that because it’s so true. I agree. We pick up our phone and we look at the news and the feeling of hopelessness and despair for the world. It is tremendous. And I think that if we can, you know, step more into a loving mindfulness, it’s transformative and your whole concept there of loving the mind and instead of making it our enemy is just so incredible.
So thank you so much for all that you’ve shared today. Is there anything else that you wanted to say as we get ready to, to end?
Anthony: No, I just would just reiterate I had a wonderful experience and I just cannot say enough good things about the whole organization of the retreat was, I know everybody there just felt as if we were in a, in a warm bath, you know, we were being taken care of at every level, you just can’t do better than that. So, That’s what I have to say.
Tawnya: Aw, thank you so much. Thank you for coming and we’ll stay in touch.
Anthony: Okay, good, good.