Retreats in general are big these days. But what exactly is a retreat, and what are they for?
What is a retreat?
The word ‘retreat’ often refers to some form of group get-together (or solo experience) that revolves around a specific purpose. Many associate them with spiritual journeys, but in reality, there doesn’t have to be a spiritual or religious aspect to a retreat.
According to Merriam-webster, a retreat is “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.” This definition is actually pretty wide, and includes any group gathering away from other things, where something takes place under the direction of a guide, or leader.
Some definitions are even more loose. Like Health&FitnessTravel, which explains “going on a retreat is about escaping the strains of everyday life and taking the time to focus on yourself,” and that “Under the guidance of wellness professionals, retreats aim to heal the part of you that is most in need, whether through reviving spa therapies, fitness sessions or wellness activities.”
Often, retreats are synonymous with spirituality. Encyclopedia.com defines a retreat as a “limited period of isolation during which an individual, either alone or as part of a small group, withdraws from the regular routine of daily life, generally for religious reasons.” It goes on that “Retreats are one of the commoner practices in the religious life of nearly all peoples, although they are often restricted to a determinate type or class of persons.”
While we at Cannadelics support all useful retreats, and the benefits they can provide; we have a particular interest in spiritual retreats centered around the use of drugs like psychedelics (DMT, magic mushrooms, LSD, mescaline), as well as other hallucinogens like salvia, amanita mushrooms, and datura. We are, however, big fans of any good retreat, whether for yoga, educational purposes, bonding, medical help, or just to take a needed break in life.
A retreat can last from days to months, and generally involves being away from the rest of life; oftentimes in beautiful natural surroundings. They can be geared toward hanging out with a native community, or getting spiritual in luxurious 5-star accommodations. They can include different activities, food offerings, and participant amounts. And they also charge wildly different prices depending on what is offered.
What does it mean to go on a retreat?
A retreat is not usually held at your local community center. And although there’s no rule against it, they’re not generally associated with city centers, or being right in the smack of things. Though its quite possible to find a retreat that happens to be in your area; a retreat is often synonymous with taking a trip away from home. Something that you’ll pack a bag for, and travel to get to.
In fact, retreats and travel often go hand-in-hand. A person who wants to travel might not specifically pick a retreat unless they have a specific reason. But a person who wants the benefits of a retreat, and who likes to go to new or specific types of places; might choose a retreat as both a travel experience, and a personal growth experience.
What a person needs to bring with them on a retreat varies highly by the type of retreat; the location of the world (being in the mountains is different from being in the woods); and the time of year (winter in Canada is way different from summer in Colombia). What you need will also be relevant to whatever the retreat is about. Each one will provide prospective retreat-goers with all the information necessary to correctly prepare for the specific experience.
If you go on a retreat, you’re expected to follow the rules of the program. These vary between different experiences. Some, for example, might want there to be no contact with the outside world during the time of the retreat; others might be more accepting of contact with persons not in the program. This could also mean not bringing in outside food, staying within a specific area, speaking or not speaking at particular times, or not using cameras or other photographic equipment.
One type of retreat which is gaining popularity recently, is psychedelic retreats; and more specifically, those using magic mushrooms, or ayahuasca. Mescaline retreats also exist, but have not reached the same level of popularity. DMT retreats also exist, whether as ayahuasca (ayahuasca is technically DMT, just mixed with the caapi vine to create a longer experience); or just DMT itself.
The main reason for the increased interest among people who did not grow up in the cultures for which these practices are native; is for psychological healing. Psychedelics, and hallucinogens in general, have shown through numerous studies, the possible ability to help a person heal (to a degree) from whatever psychological issues or traumas, are causing damage to their lives and well being.
Whether we refer to these experiences as ‘spiritual’ or ‘medicinal,’ those who go on a psychedelic retreat, are going to get a watered down version of whatever native culture actually do. This is for the logical point that it takes a lot of time to really learn and integrate into a culture; and this is not usually the goal of a retreat. So, for those calling it a ‘spiritual’ journey, it certainly can be, but its unlikely to be done in the exact way, and for the exact reasons, that ceremonies are held by native cultures.
Nonetheless, due to the growing acceptance of psychedelics as a tool, these retreats have grown in popularity, as a way for psychological healing. Some follow the basic model of a shaman in a religious context; some involve more aspects of individual therapy for the person. Some are done as groups, and some as solo missions. They can include one use of the drug in a shorter period, or several uses over multiple days or weeks.
Examples of psychedelic retreats
Not all retreats are the same, and one of the biggest differences, is in cost. For example, for those who want to experience the power of magic mushrooms, have a large budget, and want the utmost in luxury; then Journeymen Collective is a good option.
This program comes with days of individualized attention (or with no more than a few other people), experienced medicine men, and an in-house vegan chef who can apparently sense the nutritional needs of the clientele. Just how much are these experiences that take place in the lush surroundings of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia? About $11,000-$25,000 per person, depending on if its solo or with a group.
Jamaica is another location where there are many magic mushroom retreats; mainly because Jamaica never made magic mushrooms illegal. Eager retreat-goers can pick between beautiful and serene locations like through MycoMeditations; which sets up retreats in Blue Marlin, Rainbow Tree, and Bluefields Bay.
All three high end retreats advertise the ability to use mushroom therapy for a variety of ailments, including: depression, generalized anxiety, PTSD, social anxiety, addiction, insomnia, OCD, pain issues, concussions, body dysmorphia, fibromyalgia, cluster headaches, end-of-life distress, and grief.
All programs also give different pricing models for those who want private accommodation, and those who prefer shared. Marlin offers prices starting at $6,750 per person shared, and $9,200 per person for single. Rainbow offers $7,000 per person shared, and $9,200 per person for single. Bluefields Bay offers $11,150 per person for two person occupancy, and $13,100 per person for single.
Beyond Mycomedications, Jamaica has plenty other cheaper retreats like Altman Retreat. This one sits on an 18th century property on Montego Bay Lagoon, and also offers private rooms and shared accommodations. It offers guests a private beach, pool, seaside dock, tropical gardens, and a plethora of fruit trees on site. This site offers guests high speed wifi. Altman also offers a low-income ticket of $395 USD, for those who can’t pay the full expenses; which range from $2,995 per person in a shared room, to $3,695 for a private.
Cheaper retreats exist in plenty of places; check out this guide for the most affordable psychedelics retreats in the world. From Etnikas in Peru ($675+) to Gaia Sagrada in Ecuador ($950+) to Meehl Psilocybin Retreat in Washington, US; a lot of options abound that will get you your retreat experience, without breaking the bank. There are also tons of options in Mexico; and an avid culture of mushroom use.
If getting out of your regular world is of interest to you; along with some kind of programming to better yourself in some way; you might find that a retreat is right up your alley.
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