Why should anyone go to a mushroom retreat? What’s the point of traveling for something you can easily do at home?
I am a guide at a mushroom retreat, and yet I have never had a guided mushroom session myself. Sure, I had a sitter for most of my own sessions, but all of them have been in the comfort of my home. The idea of going to any type of retreat, much less a mushroom retreat, is just not my style. Planned experiences and organized activities have just never been my idea of a good time. It’s a bit ironic that I now run a mushroom retreat.
I have a constant headache condition called hemicrania continua. Hints that psilocybin may help with similar headaches drove me to look for mushroom retreats.
I was at my worst point with my hemicrania continua pain when I first looked up a psilocybin retreat for myself. Grumpy and in pain, the idea of a festive “spiritual” retreat on the beach with a bunch of “New Age” mumbo jumbo did not appeal to me at all at that point. Not to disparage “New Age” culture, it’s just not for me.
One Retreat Is Not Enough For Chronic Pain
Everything I read about using psilocybin for headache conditions indicated that I would need multiple sessions to break the headache. If it worked, then I would probably need to establish a maintenance dosing schedule. What’s the point of going to a retreat for a just a week?
The idea of being surrounded by a group of people who didn’t understand my condition also fanned my anxiety. I had visions of myself losing my temper on the first starry eyed hippie to suggest I drink more water to cure my headache.
My First Psychedelic Experience
So, I braved it out alone and with no prior psychedelic experience. I was quite lucky in the process; all my initial trips turned out extremely pleasant. With clear progress after each session, it was smooth sailing for me. Later on, I did have some difficult trips, but it was not difficult to find my way back to calmer waters. Without the initial pleasant experiences as a frame of reference, I probably would not have been able to continue.
What’s The Point Of A Retreat?
In my opinion, a mushroom or ayahuasca retreat would be next to useless for a chronic pain patient, and it would have definitely been useless for me. Just like a psilocybin clinical trial would have been useless for my condition, a couple of sessions would not have made a dent in my condition. To this day, I don’t get more than two weeks pain free per dose. A one-week retreat was not going to change the trajectory of my decline. Without the tools to manage for myself, there would have been no point in even going.
I Made My Own Retreat Format, For People Like Me
What can a retreat offer? A retreat can offer direct contact with other people who are using mushrooms for the same reasons. It can be an opportunity to have your first psychedelic experience in a safe and supportive environment. At a retreat, I can pass on all the tricks and techniques I have learned to keep a trip manageable and pleasant. I can also show other patients in person how to grow their own medicine, so they aren’t reliant on retreats like this in the future. The purpose of our retreat is to eliminate the need for a retreat.
It would be nice if everyone could experience psychedelics for the first time surrounded by supportive, knowledgeable friends or family members. But that’s just not an option for many people. Psychedelics are only just now starting to creep back into mainstream culture, and it may be years before easy access is mainstream. Finding a community that can understand what you are going through and support you on this route can be vital to your success with it.
What Could Go Wrong Going It Alone?
People have their first psychedelic experiences all the time alone or in a more “recreational” environment and emerge unscathed. The substance itself is not physically harmful, and many people even benefit from the adversity of a difficult experience. But I guarantee you that anyone who says “There’s not such thing as a bad trip, you learn something different each time” does not have to do it as often as a pain patient has to.
What do I see going wrong for many patients looking to benefit from psilocybin if they go it alone? Without support, they quit before they get a chance to fee the benefits. They scare themselves with a tough trip, and don’t continue. They are often doing this all alone, with just advice from recreational users to follow. Without knowing how much to take, without a loading dose period, they miss the benefits. Then mushrooms just become another failed treatment for them in a long line of others.
Though I am significantly better with psilocybin treatment, I am not suitable anymore for my previous work. Psilocybin made living tolerable, even pleasant again, but it looks like it can’t reverse everything and put me back together 100%. Looking into a microscope and working with high precision tools is just not in the cards anymore for me. While I’m happy that I’m not in crippling pain anymore, I am not the same person I was before. Maybe I can be a better person doing something different.