Beckley Retreats FAQs
Psychedelic Wellness Retreat FAQs
What are Psilocybin Mushrooms/Truffles and What are the Effects?
Psilocybin is a psychoactive compound found in many species of fungi. Whilst mushrooms grow above ground, truffles refer to the sclerotia that grow underground – the subterranean portion of the mushroom.
Typically, the effects of psilocybin on an empty stomach will be felt within an hour of ingestion and include shifts in consciousness, perception, mood, and thought. Research indicates that there are many potential lasting benefits of psilocybin including enhanced subjective wellbeing; increased activity in the visual cortex and experience of “ego loss”; and promotion of creativity and empathy. The experience can lead to the unearthing and release of stored emotions, memories, deep insights, profound and psychedelic imagery, and an entire spectrum of feelings from euphoria to sadness or grief. Please note that psilocybin is not known to be addictive.
What is a Psilocybin Mushrooms/Truffles “Ceremony?”
Many indigenous traditions incorporate ceremony into the use of psychedelics. We honor those traditions for their understanding of how ceremonial use can inspire profound personal transformation through journeying in a community setting. Our retreats are not recreational experiences, although a social setting and community are important. Retreat groups gather in a ceremonial space and remain there (or in the immediate surrounding natural area) for the duration of the ceremony, which involves: opening and holding safe space together; consuming mushrooms/truffles dosed by our expert team; being guided by sound (our facilitators are renowned for their musical journeying talents); and receiving personal, skilled attention. Ceremony lasts about 6 hours, with easy access to water and restrooms.
I’m New to Mushrooms/Truffles, Meditation and Yoga. Is This For Me?
We understand and support the unique needs of our program participants no matter where they are on their journeys. We have served participants with a diverse set of experiences with psychedelics, ranging from those with zero experience to those who work in the psychedelics industry professionally. Our retreats are also designed to support everyone from beginners to advanced practitioners of meditation and yoga. We offer optional silent meditations, daily facilitated meditations, and a daily yoga practice designed to gently awaken the body, restore the nervous system, and inspire mindfulness of the body-mind-heart connection.
Are Your Programs Religious or Spiritual?
We believe there is a deep benefit in weaving spiritual traditions such as meditation, yoga, and ceremonial practices into our programming. However, we do not promote any particular religions or traditions over others. We believe that all religions and spiritual traditions offer helpful insights and present a variety of valuable teachings. All of our practices should be seen as a “try it on” experience – If it doesn’t fit, then you don’t need to take it with you. You will not be asked or expected to “believe” anything except your own experience.
What are the Dangers of Mushrooms/Truffles?
In clinical studies, psilocybin has exhibited low risk and is well tolerated by most people. Possible physical side effects include nausea, stomach discomfort, a feeling of heaviness or disorientation, and headaches. The main psychological risk involved is periods of overwhelming distress (“bad trip”), which could lead to potentially dangerous behavior such as attempting to leave the site. Our safety measures are designed to minimize risk; however, we encourage you to do your own research and consult with your professional medical support system to determine if using psilocybin is right for you.
Can I Speak With Someone Before Registering?
Yes! We encourage you to reach out. Click on “Connect with Us” and set up a call to speak with our team.
What Do I Need to Know Before I Apply?
The application/screening form is the first step in our application process. The form has been designed with medical doctor, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist input. The screening process enables us to identify conditions and contraindications that would potentially prevent your safe participation or disturb group coherence. Once our team has reviewed your form, you will be notified (usually within 3-5 business days).
Our programs are suitable for those seeking: personal transformation and catharsis; deepening connection with self, nature, and purpose; improved relationships; an exploration of mystical realms; and/or a spark in creativity.
There are specific psychiatric conditions, physical conditions, medical issues, medications, treatments, and other conditions that would preclude your safe participation in our programs. Please review the full list of application considerations here.
Please note that we do not make any medical or therapeutic claims about our retreats or programming. The application/screening process and our programming are not designed to diagnose, make medical recommendations, or offer treatment solutions; however for your safety and the safety of other participants, we may determine that it is not advisable to participate.
How Do I Apply?
The application process begins by completing the screening form which can be accessed here. Our team will review your application and get back to you with next steps (usually within 3-5 business days).
How Should I Prepare for a Beckley Retreat?
Our preparation program includes a preparation protocol and activities. We will guide you through all of the necessary steps to safely prepare physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Are Airfare and Transportation Included?
Airfare is not included. We will provide round-trip transportation from and to the nearest international airport on program arrival and departure days. Our program participants are also welcomed to arrange their own travel to accommodate their specific pre/post travel plans.
How Will I Be Supported on Retreat?
Our team consists of 5-6 professional psychedelic facilitators who serve as your ceremony facilitators as well as your meditation and yoga teachers. We offer an intimate setting with a minimum of a 1:4 (usually closer to 1:3) ratio of facilitator-to-guests during the ceremony. At least one of the team facilitators is also a psychotherapist, psychologist, or medical doctor (certified/licensed in their home country). We offer multiple group integration sessions during the retreat and opportunities for 1:1 support as needed. Additionally, our operations staff and retreat site staff are on-site 24/7 to tend to your needs.
Are Your Retreats Safe?
Safety is our top priority. We believe that through increasing the safety standards of this work, we will make it more accessible to those who need it most. Safety is centered on:
1. Your physical safety: Our retreat locations are secure and we have easy access to medical care/services if needed. (At our Jamaica retreats, there is a nurse present during all ceremonies with an on-call doctor standing by. At our Netherlands retreats, public emergency services are quickly and easily accessible.) We procure (and test) our mushrooms/truffles directly from trusted sources.
2. Your psychological safety: Education, preparation, intention setting, a feeling of safety and comfort, and proper integration are key. We pay special attention to your psychological safety and emotional wellbeing before, during and after the retreat.
Can I Participate if I am Taking an SSRI/SNRI medication?
Many individuals with a variety of conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to chronic pain are interested in our programs, and many of these individuals may take serotonin based medications — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective serotonin/nor-epinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) — in order to maintain their quality of life and functioning. Examples of SSRIs and SNRIs include zoloft, prozac, lexapro, effexor, cymbalta, trintellix, and buspirone. Our programs are non-medical and not intended to treat any medical conditions for which you may have been prescribed SSRIs or SNRIs.
At Beckley Retreats, we want to make psilocybin ceremonies available to a wide group of individuals while also creating the right environment for group programming. While prospective guests on very low doses of SSRIs/SNRIs may be considered for attendance on a case by case basis, we generally require that participants, with the knowledge and support of their prescribing physician, be at least 3 months clear of all SSRIs/SNRIs (and/or other mood altering compounds) prior to participation in our programs and complete and pass our suitability screening. Our suitability screening is used to ensure proper group dynamics and is not a tool for any diagnosis.
While we do not know the exact mechanisms, the psychedelic effect of psilocybin is due to its interactions with the complex serotonin neurotransmitter system and the connections between different brain circuits. It is thought that a major part of the psychedelic action of psilocybin is due to its activity at the serotonin receptor called 5HT2A. SSRI and SNRI medications also act on the serotonin system in complex ways including the 5HT2A receptor. Thus, when these compounds are taken together, it is difficult to identify the ideal dose for an impactful experience and to predict a person’s reaction to psilocybin. As with the medications listed above, we urge participants who take SSRIs/SNRIs and are considering our program to seek out and rely upon the advice of a trusted healthcare provider (preferably the physician who prescribed you the SSRIs/SNRIs), discuss the potential drug interactions with them, and participate in the retreats at their own risk. People who have taken psilocybin and SSRI/SNRI medications at the same time report a less intense psychedelic experience. This is important as the transformative benefits are thought to be related to the intensity of the psychedelic experience. While Beckley Retreats is currently considering individuals on a very low dose of serotonin based medication, please be advised that we cannot guarantee that the experience will be similar to those who undergo their psilocybin journey without the interactions of serotonin based medications.
Are There Any Age Restrictions?
Participants must be at least 21 years of age. Before applying, please review the frequently asked question “What Do I Need to Know Before I Apply?” Please note that there is a general risk of fall and injury that can occur due to the mind altering effects of psilocybin; the severity of these risks could be heightened by age-related medical conditions (including, but not limited to, arthritis and osteoporosis). Psilocybin can lead to transient feelings of dissociation, impaired perception of time and space, impaired attention, in addition to changes in perception, mood, and anxiety. If you have any issues with imbalance, physical weakness or injury, or impaired vision, please seek out and rely on the advice of a medical professional regarding safety concerns before participating.
Can I Attend with My Partner/Friend/Family Member?
We recommend you consider attending alone, as sometimes attending with a partner or close relative can detract from your ability to focus on your own journey. That said, we have had couples, friends, and family members join us on retreat with wonderful experiences and outcomes. Please indicate in your participant screening form your desire to attend with a partner, friend, or family member and we will work with you to determine what will likely be the most beneficial, psychologically safe experience for you and your loved one(s).
Can I Stay Before or After the Program at the Location or Nearby? Can I Come Late or Leave Early?
Depending on availability, you can stay at the retreat center before or after. If possible, we recommend coming to the destination (Jamaica or the Netherlands) early and staying a few days after so that it is an easy, stress free, transition in and out of the retreat. If the retreat center is not available, we can make recommendations for places nearby to extend your trip.
For your safety and an optimal experience, please plan to stay for the entire retreat – arriving on time and staying through departure. Our retreat agenda includes opening and closing circles, and it will be most beneficial for all participants to be present for both circles.
Can I Participate in Just a Retreat (not a Full Program)?
No. Safety is our first priority, and we believe that participation in our mandatory preparation and integration program is an important part of safely, ethically and meaningfully engaging in the deep personal transformation work involved in using psilocybin mushrooms/truffles. The program begins four weeks before the retreat (including two live virtual community sessions) and extends six weeks post-retreat (including weekly live virtual community sessions). Personal and logistical preparation activities and integration practices are included with the expectation of your commitment to the process. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about participating in the program fully.
Are Pre/Post Program Sessions Recorded?
No, to protect our participants’ privacy and psychological safety — and since our preparation and integration calls are heavily oriented towards deep personal sharing — we do not record our sessions.
What are Your Program Dates?
Please see “Upcoming Retreats” and click on an individual program to see preparation session dates, retreat dates, and integration session dates.
Are Scholarships Available?
Yes. Beckley Retreats is committed to providing access to safe psychedelic experiences to diverse audiences, equitably and fairly. Please see our scholarships page for more information.
Do You Offer Payment Plans?
At the time of registration, a minimum of $2,000 deposit is due. You may make equal monthly payments for the remainder due up until 60 days prior to the retreat start date. Full payment is due 60 days prior to retreat start date.
What Is Your Refund Policy?
Prior to 60 days of the retreat start date, our programs are refundable minus a non-refundable $2,000 deposit, which can be applied to a future program within 12 months of cancellation date. Within 60 days of the retreat start date, our programs are non-refundable. If the retreat is canceled due to the retreat location country closing its borders, Beckley Retreats will issue a full refund.
We recommend you protect yourself financially regarding COVID-related cancellations: Depending on circumstances, if you have to cancel due to COVID, you may file a claim with your travel insurance provider for reimbursement. (Please select an insurance provider that covers COVID-related claims.) If a retreat is canceled due to border closing, we will issue a full refund. We will provide you with a receipt and notice of cancellation for your insurance claim.