Best 2022 Wellness Trend? Tripping at a Psychedelic Retreat

Microdosing is all the rage this year.

On weekends in college, I used to eat magic mushrooms by the handful. My friends and I would stuff the dried, psychedelic shrooms inside peanut butter filled tortillas to mask their slightly bitter, earthy taste and down enough to ensure we tripped our asses off. Sometimes it was awesome. Like the night when colors got really intense, my body felt all warm and tingly, and I was convinced I’d been teleported into the Grand Canyon.

Other times it was downright terrifying. Like when my friends’ faces would appear to be melting or the time I spent three hours (or at least it felt like three hours) trying to persuade an imaginary, scared boy to crawl out from underneath a desk.

After I graduated from college, I didn’t really think about mushrooms again until the summer of 2020, during a peak in the pandemic, when another friend introduced me to microdosing. At first I was not interested, thinking my days of tripping—good and bad—were long behind me.

But my friend swore that taking a microdose of the stuff helped her find calmness and clarity in a world full of chaos. And all the research she showed me pointed in the same direction. I already use cannabis medicinally to help with my diagnosed ADHD and an anxiety disorder. Plus, Denver (where I live) had just become the first US city to decriminalize the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms in 2019. So I thought: why not give it a try.

My first microdosing experience was pretty life changing. First of all, instead of consuming between 3.5 and 7 grams in one setting like we did in college, now I was taking about half a gram crushed into a capsule for swallowing. There were no colors or moving national parks or really anything obviously noticeable. Instead, it was a subtle shift of feelings. I didn’t feel as impulsive or restless. And for a few days afterwards, my panic attacks would subside.

I fast became a believer. Plant medicine, when used correctly, is a powerful tool in my mental health arsenal. And I found I’m not alone. Psychedelic drugs, from psilocybin mushrooms to ayahuasca, MDMA, and LSD, are fast becoming en vogue, thanks in part to a growing interest by some mental health professionals who view them as a novel natural therapy for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. In fact, according to a report by Data Bridge Market Research, the global psychedelic market is projected to go from a $2.8 million industry in 2020 to $7.5 million by 2028.

With this trend on the up, retreats around the world are catering to the curiosity. Psychedelic retreats are gaining popularity in countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, where many of these substances are legal. Meaning yes, you can book a wellness hotel where, instead of—or in addition to—massages and nice smells, you can swallow some substances, kick back, and engage more of your senses to tap into your emotions and find that inner calm. Yep, this year we’re tripping on our trips (can’t help myself). Will magic mushrooms be the new wellness trend of 2022? Here are some places where you can go find the answers.

The Buena Vida
If you don't want to go too far for a psilocybin retreat, Mexico has got your back. | The Buena Vida

The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats in Mexico

The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats take place in Mexican luxury hotels. Started by Amanda Schendel in January 2019, the five- and seven-day retreats combine mushroom ceremonies with various other healing practices including breath work, yoga, somatic movement, and sound frequency healing.

“Most of the people who come to our retreats are suffering from some degree of a mental health issue. The most common issues we see are anxiety, depression, and PTSD,” says Schendel. “I receive emails and messages all the time with absolutely outstanding life changes from the retreats. The most exciting result that I hear is a new excitement towards life, a more optimistic and hopeful outlook, as well as enhanced creativity and openness in general.”

Buena Vida works with guests individually to determine the correct dose. Every retreat has between two and three ceremonies. Guests usually start with around 1–1.5 grams on their first journey and then go up or down depending on experience and desired outcome. Currently Buena Vida only offers psilocybin therapy, and the medicine itself is sourced from local shamanic families in and around Mexico.

buena vida
Who's down for some relaxing sound healing? | @the_buena_vida

“In general, we follow a ‘minimum effective dose’ protocol,” the owner continues. “However, some people may need a higher dose in order to break through, and we are well-equipped to serve them in that way. The average higher dose is three or four grams, with some guests experiencing anywhere between five and seven grams.”

The cost for the holistic, all-inclusive retreats range from $3,500 to $7,000, depending on length of time and room choice. Guests must also fill out an application and go through an interview process before participating.

“We do want to be sure that our guests are emotionally and mentally stable enough to go through the process. We have both a psychiatrist and medical doctor on our staff that are there to handle any specific medical questions,” Schendel says. “Luckily, psilocybin mushrooms are generally very safe physiologically, though we do screen for certain mental health backgrounds and diagnoses. In addition, we try to make sure that each guest is well-prepared for the emotional depth they will go to during the retreat.”

Soltara
The ceremony preparations have begun! | Soltara

Ayahuasca Retreats at Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica

Ayahuasca is another plant-based medicine that’s growing in popularity both in the US and abroad. Because ayahuasca is illegal in the US, any guided shaman retreats in the country take place behind closed doors and are advertised through word of mouth and paid for via donation.

But in Costa Rica, where the laws are different, the Soltara Healing Center runs all-inclusive packages ranging 5–12 nights. Set on 22 acres in a cliffside rainforest location overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya, stays cost between $2,600 and $8,900, depending on length and room choice. They include between three to seven ayahuasca ceremonies led by native Shipibo healers.

In 2022, Soltara added a second retreat location at Sugar Beach, just half an hour from Liberia International Airport. The five night Sugar Beach retreats are more intimate affairs with smaller group sizes. They include three ayahuasca ceremonies over six days and cost $2,850 for a double shared suite or between $5,600 and $8,200 for a private suite with a king bed.

Soltara
Both physically and spiritually refreshing. | Soltara

Served as a drink, ayahuasca has a molasses-like consistency and, once consumed, induces hallucinations and often vomiting. Like psilocybin mushrooms, users say ayahuasca journeys can be profoundly mentally healing, especially when dealing with PTSD. Many also believe they gain insights into past lives and purpose in their futures. Others say participating in ayahuasca ceremonies has allowed them to come to peace with past trauma in their lives.

Because ayahuasca journeys can be emotionally and physically draining, Soltara has gone out of its way to make its amenities as comfortable as possible. Meals are well prepared, guests stay in elegant huts, and there is a gorgeous swimming pool for relaxing on the days between ceremonies.

silo wellness
Breathe in. Breathe out. | @silowellnessinc

Silo Wellness in Jamaica

A publicly traded company, Silo Wellness sells functional mushrooms and runs psilocybin retreats guided by Rastafarians in Jamaica, where the mushrooms are legal. With the passage of ballot measure 109 in Oregon in November 2020 that legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the company has plans to expand its magic mushroom retreats to that state in the future. The ballot measure stipulated that state officials spend two years developing industry standards, practices, and guidelines before qualifying practitioners take the therapies public.

Currently, Silo Wellness offers some group ketamine retreats in Oregon. Ketamine is not a psychedelic and, unlike psilocybin or ayahuasca, it can be legally administered by physicians and psychologists in controlled-setting clinics across the U.S. as a treatment for psychological disorders like depression.

silo wellness
I'm already feeling calmer just by looking at this. | @silowellnessinc

In Jamaica, the five-day, four-night sessions include two psilocybin-assisted ceremonies at a resort overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Montego Bay area. The retreats include daily meditation, yoga, meal-planning workshops, and sometimes workout routines. They are limited to 15 participants and offer general retreats or trips specifically tailored for women, creatives, and the LGBTQ+ community. The all-inclusive retreats (airfare is not included and it is up to participants to get themselves to Jamaica) costs $4,595 for single occupancy and $3,750 per person for a double room.

Like other retreats, participants are screened before attending, and psilocybin doses are tailored to individual comfort level and what you hope to achieve on a journey. The accommodations here are relatively luxe, usually in villas on the beach with a pool and plenty of open space.

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Becca Blond is a contributor for Thrillist.