Travel has always been a path toward transformation. Even before there was such a thing as tourism, let alone wellness tourism, there were pilgrimages. Pilgrims found hospitality not in hotels (those hadn’t been inventedyet), but with religious orders who had hospitals and dispensaries (the word hotel comes from from the word hospital.)
From the earliest days of the pilgrimage, travel was understood as part quest, part healing. These same human yearnings are what is driving growth in retreat and wellness travel today. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, a new chapter in the history of American retreat travel is being shaped in Oregon with legalized psychedelic journeys using psilocybin, the compound found in magic mushrooms. The retreats in Oregon should begin later this year, but these journeys are already available in such locations as Jamaica and the Netherlands.
While most of the participants are classic spiritual seekers, the shift toward legalization and acceptance is the result of major studies from leading medical institutions demonstrating that psilocybin can be what the FDA calls a “breakthrough” treatment for mental health issues ranging from depression to PTSD. While federal law still prohibits usage, regulatory reform is on the horizon.
“Evidence-based science tells us that psilocybin has been documented as strengthening our connection to the healing power of nature,” says Mary-Elizabeth Gifford, founder of the global Psychedelics & Healing Initiative and the most quietly influential woman working in psychedelics today. Gifford cautions that medical research consistently shows that psychedelic medicine should be used in a therapeutic context. “It’s not just the trip, it’s the journey,” she says. “While there are magic mushrooms, there are no magic solutions.”
If You’re Thinking About Going
Travelers who are motivated to seek legal psychedelic healing are currently heading to Jamaica, where MycoMeditations has been hosting week-long retreats welcoming guests for the past six years. Retreatgoers can choose from three locations and three different price points.
Classic Retreats provide a guesthouse experience on a secluded beach in the quiet village of Treasure Beach in the parish of St. Elizabeth, known for agritourism. Comfort Retreats are held at the Blue Marlin Villas, considered MycoMeditations’ flagship. The spot holds archaeological interest dating back to the days when Jamaica was called Xaymaca, Land of Wood and Water. Concierge Retreats offer guests a choice of three villas, each with its own private pool and personal chef.
At a time when there is increasing consumer awareness about reported abuses at shamanic retreats (the Netflix hit Nine Perfect Strangers, starring Nicole Kidman as the leader of a fictional retreat called Tranquillum, has red-flagged real-life safety concerns), MycoMeditations is refreshingly no-nonsense and is not a guru-led retreat.
What You Can Expect
The Classic Retreat therapeutic approach to psilocybin frames the experience in three stages:
- Set (meaning mindset)
- Setting (the environment where the experience happens)
- Integration (how the insights of the experience become wisdom to live by)
With that in mind, the program places a special emphasis on the intention of each retreatgoer. A warm welcome is provided, as is time to get acclimated and explore each location’s fragrant botanical gardens, warm, healing sea waters, and guest rooms designed for simplicity and comfort. This is also the time when guests meet with retreat leaders, support facilitators, and medical team members who guide the retreat experience.
MycoMeditations follows a three-dose protocol. The sessions are held outdoors and the retreat’s team maintains a gentle presence, providing guidance as needed. Following the psychedelic experience, small group discussions allow guests to interpret “the experience and shape it into an actionable path going forward,” says Justin Townsend, the company’s CEO. He noted that some of the most meaningful integration emerges from time spent connecting to the rhythms and cadences of the ocean under a blue sky with good food and moments of pristine solitude balanced by the cheer of good company.
Keep exploring: “How Psilocybin Beat My Addiction”