Attending a Psilocybin Retreat as a Couple
Chris, a guest at Eleusinia tells his story. He is a business leader who came to the retreat with his wife. Though his story is really his own and dives into the depths of discovering a deeper understanding of self forgiveness and love. This story does detail how extraordinary it can be to be at retreat with your spouse. Listen here or on Apple Podcast.
Tawnya: You have made it to The Psilocybin Podcast with Tales from Eleusinia, a unique science based psilocybin retreat based out of Mexico, that not only focuses on brain health and wellbeing, but actually specializes in pain management. I am your host, Tawnya, the medical director come along and join us, as we break down the latest in psychedelic research news and inner workings of this amazing experience.
Chris. Thank you so much for coming to the show. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re up to?
Chris: My name’s Chris. And we’re just on the last day of the retreat, and my wife and I actually came. I had had some experiences with mushrooms before and my first experience in particular, they were all recreational, mostly in nature, but there was such a profound impact in that first experience.
Just inadvertently that I immediately knew that there was something powerful there, and immediately became very curious about, about exploring them and, using that power in earnest to make purposeful changes in my life. That’s probably four years ago now. So something I’ve been looking at over time kind of shared some of those experiences with my wife.
She also became curious and, you know, kind of, , she was always you know, “say no to drugs”. We’re both DARE kids. And , she hadn’t really ever tried anything. And as she started trying a couple other things with me, and, you know, kind of a shocker to me when I kind of mentioned that I was interested in doing a retreat she was also very interested.
It was kind of a wonderful, wonderful blessing. And so I started really researching and earnest and, and found this one. And that’s what brought us here.
Tawnya: And you mentioned that you were looking for some purposeful changes in your life, and, and you also mentioned that you spent a lot of time researching to find this retreat.
So what were those changes like? That you were kind of hoping for or recognizing your life that needed.
Chris: You know life had become very single note you know, drag yourself out of bed, get yourself to work. Do your work get home. Had a few drinks to wear off the day. Smoke a joint to wear off the day.
Distract yourself with social media, Netflix, watch TV. Go to bed too late. Try to get to bed, got a bit, a little bit insomnia issue. Try to get to bed. Eventually pass out nine times out of 10 and kind of start the next day all over. And that’s not the life I want. I’m a business leader and, you know, I want to,
I want to show up for, for my employees. I, there’s so much more of me that I have to give and that I know that I have inside. And though the way I’ve been living has not allowed me to show up the way, not even that I should, I hate the word should, but the way that I want to and the way that I know that I can and same thing in my marriage and same thing with my friends and same thing with my family, just you know, I’m really good at going through the motions.
I’m really good at being the right person to the right people and the right place. But it is, I don’t know how much of a show it really is, but to me it feels like a show. It feels like I’m putting on this mask for this person and this mask for this person and doing the right thing instead of just being me.
And I know that the more of me that I bring to any situation. Good things happen. You know, I just look back at my life and the best times of my life are times when I was truly showing up and being authentic , and being vulnerable and being, you know, all of those things that are difficult to be.
Things are always better. And, I know that I’m at a time in my life where that’s calling me back. And so I don’t know, I didn’t necessarily set expectations on, the visit and on the retreat, but, that was my hope was that I would reconnect and come away with this with some new skills or new abilities or new outlook or mindset that allows me to show up more often.
Tawnya: I feel like life asks us to accommodate it when we’re young. And we learn to really quickly that those masks are how we survive. They’re, you know, fundamental for us being successful. How can we shape ourselves like a chameleon into the next environment? And be what we assume is expected of us. And then there comes a time in our life where we really crave.
You know, instead of us showing up as life wants it, we really creative life to show up for us. And there is this like shift that has to take place. So what did that feel like for you?
Chris: I think exactly that, you know, as I think back over my life, it’s, you know, I was taught at a very early age. To perform, first born was always a model child, model student, straight A’s, advanced classes and good in sports.
That was my identity. And that, to me, that’s what life was about, was performing, what, whatever it is that you’re doing, perform, be the, you know, win it. And so whether that’s being sensitive in a relationship performing to that sensitivity in the relationship, not actually being sensitive and over time, that just is, it doesn’t feed you.
It pulls from you. And I think, it just over time and, you know, and I’ve done that self-help book thing and I’ve done, some therapy coaching type things and you have glimpses of this, you know? Oh, there is something deeper. There is something more, and I think that’s what attracted me to, to psychedelics was.
That’s a whole lot of work, you know? And, and it requires a lot of motivation and discipline. You get down on yourself and you read a really good book and it kind of inspires you and it kinda charges you up a little bit, and then you just kinda were back down. And, that first experience with psychedelics has stuck with me even to this day.
And it’s like, there’s something here that, that supercharges all of that stuff and really connects you to something deep. And I think my experience here. I’ve been away from here yet to see if it does wear off. But it’s hard for me to believe that it will, because some of the things that I’ve experienced over the last few days has been so, so deep and profound and, I just feel reconnected.
I see myself in a very different light and there’s a substantive difference to just the way I look at the day and the way I look at that, the things that I’m going back to, I’m going to be in the office tomorrow, you know, which is kind of scary in and of itself, after all of this.
I feel like this experience has closed very well. And I’m not leaving here, like wishing I could, that I could stay. Like, I feel like this is great, but walking to the office tomorrow is on one hand, a little terrifying, but on the other hand, like, I’m really looking forward to seeing people. I’m really looking forward to being out of my office and, spending time with, with my employees and, my managers and seeing how they’re doing which is something that was an effort for me before and something that unless kind of, I was doing nothing else.
You know, I could really distract myself and not really talk to very many folks, you know, except for XYZ. You need to do this, you need to do that type of conversations. And so you know, while it’s a little bit terrifying to step back into kind of my old life it’s, it’s a little bit exciting to see what that can hold.
Tawnya: And would you mind going back and giving us like a comparing contrast of how you felt when you just arrived and then how it felt in your experience.
Chris: I was looking forward to this, this trip so much and, you know, kind of done all the research, you know, read Pollan’s book and, tons of articles online and, Netflix things.
So, I was pumped, but we got here and you know, I’m surrounded by a lot of people. I don’t know. I felt very comfortable with the staff. I talked to Jessica quite a few times. I listened to a couple of your podcasts. I saw a couple of the Instagram videos that you did and that Andrew did.
So I felt some familiarity there. I had talked to Jay through text messaging, so I was comfortable there. But I kind of looked around and I didn’t know any of these people and I didn’t realize it at the time. but all of a sudden, the night before our, our first session, I was just crippled with anxiety. It just pit in my stomach, just uneasy didn’t feel right.
Didn’t sleep well that night kind of that verge of dreamland and awake land and was throughout the night, you’re just kind of self calming myself. You know, I kind of wake up and just breathe a little bit and woke up the next morning and still felt the same way. You know, pit in my stomach when I get anxious, I get nauseous.
And so now I’m worried that, oh my gosh, I’m gonna be sick the whole time and took the Zofran and still didn’t feel great. Sat down, we did our breathing and all that and I remember eating the honey going, all right, here we go. Just this anxiety. And you know, that, that mindset, I really played a large part in my first experience.
In so much as I call it challenging. It was a bit of a battle between allowing the trip to unfold and saying yes to wherever it took me and this intense need to hold on. And through the trip, I think while it was challenging, it wasn’t, it wasn’t scary. It wasn’t bad. But it was a battle, and I really likened it to the the day in, day out efforts that my mind goes through to put on the right face and to put on the mask and to keep everything together and to always keep a tally of my shortcomings and my failures and my, this and my that, so that I can be sure not to show those things to others. And, and it’s that voice during the trip.
I started calling it “that little man” that works so hard to try to keep everything together. And, he tried to keep this trip together. He did not want the trip to happen because he was afraid that by letting go, all of these things are going to be seen by all of these strangers that I don’t know, and it’s going to hurt me.
Through that process, I really gained a sense of love and appreciation and grace for that little man, I’m just looking at him working so, so hard and realizing that he doesn’t need to, you know, that all of that work is, while, yes, it might keep me from some pain. Clearly doesn’t keep me from all pain. But it’s also keeping me from a lot of, joy and experience , and a lot of good things.
Tawnya: You had mentioned that it really literally felt like you were being stretched, like, your identity and who you are physically was like being stretched to its ultimate capacity because you couldn’t let go.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, the lasting image that I had was, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those super slow-mo videos of like a balloon popping.
Like my last image is like, the first or second frame where the balloons just starting to pop and the air is like explosively escaping, but some of the rubber is all connected. And, and that’s what that little man was doing. The experience, the mushrooms were the expanding air and that little man was that rubber, just holding on and beyond all belief he held on, right.
He never let go. The balloon never fully popped, but that was, it was just stretching and holding on so tight. Yeah, that was the last thing image. As I got through that, and I kind of came to peace with, okay, that’s what that is. Right. When I was in it, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t let go.
And once I finally understood and was able to recognize it, I came to peace with it and said, okay, well, I’m not, I’m not going on the full trip today, but I now understand what was holding me back and I understand what part of me that is, and I can see how that plays out in all the other areas of my life to then better understand and better have a conversation with that part of me in those other areas of my life, if that makes any sense.
Tawnya: You had perspective on looking back on yourself and kind of acknowledging and appreciating that little man for everything. So you said that you found ease and grace.
Chris: Yeah. Realizing that, you know, he, he, wasn’t doing it to be an asshole he wasn’t doing it to hurt me. He was doing it to protect me.
Tawnya: And also others. Right. For everyone that you’re holding it together for.
Chris: Exactly. Exactly.
Tawnya: Because you kind of feel like you’re the captain of the ship and also that you are the ship.
Chris: Yeah, very much so. Very much. So you know, later on in the experience I was kind of sitting and reflecting and I had a knit cap that I’ve had since I was 17 when I started backpacking. And it’s just something I throw in bags. It’s just something that I just kinda, and I looked down at it and the phrase came across my mind. You know, we’ve been through a lot little buddy and kind of the same thing of all that life I’ve led since 17 to now.
That in my sober mind, I look back on and typically all I see are the mistakes and the regrets and the missed opportunities and all of that, truly looked at that person and that life with again, grace and gratitude and understanding.
I’m thankful for that kid that bought that cap. And I’m thankful for that person that lived that life. And I’m thankful for who I am now and I’m thankful and all of those are me. Right? And I, and, and those two things, understanding that little man and, and seeing that life as lived and being thankful for it really, for the first time in my life, I, I never understood the phrase: “You need to love yourself”.
Right? What does that mean? Yeah, I love myself I’m great. Yeah. But what does it mean to love yourself? And in that moment, I truly felt it and it, it is the unquestioning forgiveness, acceptance, you know, it’s the, it’s the love of a mother and the love of a father where, you know, yeah, I can be pissed at you, but I still love you.
You know, I still, I, I, I, and no matter what you do, it’s okay, , we’ll figure it out. And, I’m just thankful you’re here. I’m just thankful we’re here. And I truly felt that for myself, for the first time in my life, just loving myself that it, even now, it kind of feels silly to say, but it truly was very deep lasting understanding.
And as we were closing, it was just, it was very, you know, right. Cause I talked to my wife about her experience and, you know, she talked to her grandmother and she talked to her nephew when she saw this person and that person. And I know the research I did. That’s very common to see others, you know, either passed or not passed or, you know, connect with other people in your life.
And during our closing, I wasn’t chastising myself or anything, but I noted that I didn’t see a single person who was just, it was me, me, me. Hmm, that’s interesting. And then click, well, you can’t feel the love of others if you don’t feel the love for yourself. And that bowled me over again of just how much, how much love in life have I missed out on because of my inability to love myself.
And, my wife tells me all the time, do you know how people love you do not make people want to be with you and want to hang out with you and want to, and, you know, I always say, you know, in my mind, it’s like, well, of course they do because I’m this person around them. I’m the person that they, like.
I make sure that I am, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. You know, I think that’s what I tell myself. And, and I do look around and I have great friends and I’ve got a wonderful family. I have an amazing wife. But , I don’t let myself feel that because I don’t feel that. That piece was sobering in terms of looking back and seeing what I’ve missed out on, but it is exhilarating.
It brings me hope for what’s to come. That by being present. And by showing up, I can start to have those experiences and I can start to feel those things. And that my life from this point on can and hopefully will be much fuller in this life and even thankful for sitting here today. Right.
So if everything today is, just a glimpse of. What’s to come. How exciting is that? You know, , how amazing is that? In the sober light of day, it’s not a total switch, you know, I’m not different, I’m not a different person, but I’m more me and I, and I have a closer connection to the real me for one of the first times in a long time.
And I have a burning desire to really learn more about meditation, to learn more about connecting with myself on a regular basis and creating a practice around keeping that connection fresh because upon reflection. What I kind of came back to was that little man, he worried about the past he’s worried about the future and he’s worried about what everybody else thinks.
How do I help him to relax and to calm down? I just being present by being here with you, by being here with me, by being, by being HERE, by just being, , those are, those are skills that are foreign to me. I feel like I’ve done a jumpstart on them and I feel, you know, Andrew is such an amazing teacher and, just his ability to, in such a short period of time provide some tools.
That really, I think it just it’s, it’s a jumpstart. And, and I’m, I’m so excited to start down that path and, really connect with myself in a, in a meaningful daily regular way to deepen that connection with myself so that I can be comfortable just being me here in this moment. Here with this person.
Just here. And I think that that’s, you know, this, this is a jumping off point. It’s not this isn’t the, I came and I was fixed and now I’m going back a different person. This is the beginning, and it’s a jumping off point. And, we’ve been given so many tools and so many resources to just to just continue and let that snowball build.
Tawnya: Your story is so relatable because so many of us do that. That’s the other side that I see is that, you know, that little man did that out of love, you know, like you ran the ship and drove the ship and turned everything off because I think you love so hard.
So you speak about who you really are and who you were to hold it together for everyone. And I was wondering if you felt like insight, and if you could describe some of the ways that you can, the insight into who, who Chris is.
Chris: Chris is, Chris is joyful. He is funny. He loves to laugh. He is intelligent and creative and really enjoys bringing the, simple term is problem-solving, but, bringing new life to things creating. I absolutely love facing a challenge and bringing out the best in other people. I’m never the one to solve the problem. Never want to fix it, but Chris is really good at bringing out the best in others and bringing their expertise to bear and connecting to things that many other people may not see connected. Right. And all I do is put those two things together and then the magic happens. .
Tawnya: So you’re a big out of the box thinker and create a lot inspiration. And you have, from what I see and what I know, and from what I felt was just a ton of compassion and a ton of love.
Like you’re one of the biggest hearts here. So it was just a joy to. Really hear your story and to see that all, because I think that those of us who can relate, who holds it together, who try super hard, that try over, you know, over the top. It’s because, you know, we, we love so much. And also that’s how we understand that we’ll fit in and you know, there’s a whole slew there.
Chris: No, absolutely. The business I own as a family business, as a business and I ever thought I would be in, I had a whole other career before I joined it. And a lot of that was, you know, to keep that business together. And since I’ve been there, it’s half of my job as peacekeeper and half of my job is navigating those family waters in addition to the, the business waters.
And, it is. It’s that balloon, right? It’s just it all together. You know same thing with family and it’s just that, you know, the oldest child and, what needs to be done, you know? And that’s just what needs to be done. And I’ll figure, I know I’ve said this to myself. I physically said the worst myself, you know, I’ll figure myself out later.
Right now XYZ, it needs to be done. Otherwise it’s all gonna fall apart and you know, I think that’s a lie we tell ourselves too, that it’s all going to fall apart, that it all does rely on us. But yeah, you just, you put yourself, you put yourself last, you put yourself last and even those around you, you know, my wife tells me all the time to take care of myself and I’m like, you don’t understand, you know, you’re a middle child.
You’ve always been taken care of, you know? And, and she hasn’t, and you know, not to say anything negative about her. But there’s just that, that. Sense of, if you don’t do it, nobody will. And you can do it. You have the ability to do it, you know, and, and then there’s that guilt and shame of where you, you have the ability.
And if you don’t well, you’re, wasting, you’re wasting your God-given talents and you’re wasting your, your blessings. And how dare you and how dare you leave those around you stranded. And I think, you know, I, I don’t know that that will go away. I do, I do have a belief that you are, you are given the blessings that you are given and, and part of life is living up to that.
But there’s a difference between doing it out of responsibility and doing it out of because I have to and doing it out of the heart and, you know, and making sure that your cup is filled so that you can bring all of those blessings to bear, as opposed to doing it out of an empty cup where you’re just doing what needs to be done to get by and telling yourself and patting yourself on the back that you’re using your blessings.
Right? That’s not that putting yourself first allows you. To, show up, to be that person that, you know, call it, God, call it the world, call it. The universe has put you here to be the only way you can do that is by by filling yourself up first and then you can, then you can be a 100% force in the world
Tawnya: And it does sound so cliche, you know, people say that all the time, but it’s like, there’s this ability with psychedelics to shut off the default mode network. And so it’s like that part of us that won’t even allow us to fill up our cup can get turned off and it suddenly happens and it’s spontaneous and I was curious if there, as you came with your wife and your, your wife is amazing, you guys are such an amazing couple.
Was there challenging things to being with her on this journey or was it, did they both, was there full and wonderful things?
Chris: The challenging part for me was going into it. I was very apprehensive of, cause she had never done psychedelics, and, and I was, I was worried for her, but I was holding it together for, I was together for her. Yeah, and, and I was a little bit worried about, you know, cause you hit, you know, on some, some other things.
So she is turns into a very social person. She’s very social person anyway. And it just amps that up and I know. When, I’m tripping, I go very internal. I know other people tend to as well have some concern, like, oh my gosh, is she going to be walking around and chatting with everybody and trying to chat with me?
And, and then am I going to have to kind of modulate, you know, my trip with trying not to shut down her trip and, you know, holding it together and dah, dah, dah, you know, none of that.
Tawnya: It’s so funny. The ideas we have in complexities about how to control our spouses, that we don’t even know that we’re carrying around
Chris: And the, you know, that little man he creates, you know, he creates worries about things that have never even happened, you know, and you’re, as you’re worrying about fiction, you know, until it happened, why even worry about it.
But to answer your question, it has been nothing but wonderful. Even as we were coming down off our first trip, we had an opportunity to begin to share with each other. And throughout my trip, it was very intellectual and in spiritual in some ways, but it wasn’t emotional and having her there. And sharing it with her was able to release the emotions for me. And so that was a blessing and it kind of brought everything full circle and really cemented a lot of those insights that I had gained.
And I know for her, she absolutely had wonderful experiences and, you know, it’s something that it’s one of the first things we’ve shared together, just her and I in a long time that is special for us. And, and we’re walking away from this with it is a shared gift. It’s not something that I did.
It’s not something that she did, something that we did together, and it’s a shared gift going forward that we’re going to have for the rest of our lives. You know, if I’d come alone, you know, everybody, all the other guests have been amazing and I could have shared my story and my experience with, with any one of them.
But that share that sharing, goes away. You know it, we all leave today and we all go our separate ways. And so. I don’t know that I’ll ever share this experience with anybody back home, you know outside of somebody that I think is, you know, this type of experience might be good for, I might actually, you know what, I’m a pretty private person and I’m not one to, especially in my position, there’s a lot of judgment around these types of things.
And conversations I prefer not to have, unless I feel like it’s somebody that, that I can trust. And you know, if my wife weren’t comfortable coming here, I probably would have shared some with her, but it would have been different, you know, cause she never would’ve had the experience. She never would have felt the, you know, what mushrooms do, but having both of us go through it, that sharing is so much more intimate.
And now it is a concrete piece of our life going forward. Right. Her experience, I understand 100% and my experience, she understands 100%. So it creates an our experience that is now part of our relationship. And, we’ll continue to be. So even if we were to never do mushrooms ever again, those experiences are now part of who we are as a couple.
But we will, you know, and, and, you know, we’re talking about getting hammocks and putting them in our backyard and starting meditative practice and starting a you know, a mushroom routine. And you know, so , it’s opened up this whole new thing for us and it’s been, it’s been absolutely wonderful.
Tawnya: One of the things that you articulated that I really love is that during your experience, you had the intellectual understanding about all those parts of you and almost like the physical understanding with your visualization and experience of the stretching man. But it wasn’t until the emotional experience that really helped.
Like, I think your words were cement the entirety of the experience. And I don’t think people think of things that way they think, okay, well, I’m going to go to therapy and I’m going to talk about emotions, but it’s another thing entirely to have all the pieces of the puzzle, a really deep understanding of visualization intellectualization, and then the emotional experience.
I just think that’s. Beautiful. And I appreciate you so much you know, being a private person, but what I, what I see is that you’re, you know diamond heart, and I just, I’m so excited for you and your life going forward. And I hope that you know, that, you know, we’re here .
Chris: We’re signed up on the network.
I’m super excited. Yeah this is part of our life going forward and, you guys have been so amazing. Just, the staff that Jessica has pulled together, each of you bring such a unique piece and, and fill the perfect spot around the circle, you know And I’m just, I’m so thankful for all of you as a whole, and each of you as individuals for what you have allowed for us to experience and what you have.
Allowed for us, it’s, it’s so different than everything else that I looked into, that it’s all set up for this to be the jumping off point and to continue to go from here. This isn’t the pinnacle, this is the base of the mountain where so many others are, are advertised as the pinnacle. And, and you guys deliver on that in spades.
And just with creating a space and, allowing us. The room to, to have the experience, but then also all the resources and all of the tools and all of the skills to, to continue to going forward. It’s just been, it’s been absolutely wonderful.
Tawnya: Is there a message that you have for anybody out there listening that possibly may be a lot like you?
Chris: You know, it’s, the little man will tell you that it’s hokey. And that is not that important. And that you don’t really need that, you know you can do it on your own. If you really think that you need this, you can do it on your own. You can figure this out and take a leap of faith just one night cause we have been talking about it, talk about it.
And I looked at Audrey and I had come across this one and, and this retreat really felt like it was the one. Audrey said are you sure you want to do a mushroom retreat? She goes yeah, I’m tired of being anxious. Do it. And just literally in a little five minute it was click, click, click. You know, and just like, took that leap of faith.
And so for anybody out there, that’s that type A overthinking over analyzing. But deep down a your heart, you know, that there is something more that there is something deeper and that you you’re called to this. Everything in your, everything in your mind is going to tell you the opposite, just take the leap.
If nothing else, it’s a really fun weekend. If nothing else, it’s a, it’s a great little escape. I mean, the place is beautiful. The food is amazing. You’ll meet some really, really cool people and you’ll have fun doing drugs. But you know, I think that for, for most people that are in my type of position they’ll walk away with it with a lot more than just a great weekend.
Tawnya: Thank you so much. Thank you.