Preparing For My Psychedelic Immersion Retreat


Welcome to my blog “Preparing For My Psychedelic Immersion Retreat”.

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The psychedelic renaissance is gaining momentum and this means more and more people are going to try psychedelics. And in the UK (and elsewhere) that means illegally, and perhaps without the adequate knowledge to do so in a safe set and setting. This blog is a short summary of some of the things I have been focusing on while preparing for a 10 day immersion retreat in The Netherlands. I will add the below blog is my personal preparation for this upcoming experience and may be different from previous and future experiences. Therefore, it is not to be seen as a recommended list for you. Things that, initially, may be helpful for you to consider include:

  1. A safe set and setting.
  2. A mindfulness practice.
  3. Understanding dose.
  4. Planning on how to integrate your experience and what support might be needed.

You can also consider key areas of preparation: physical, metal and emotional, spiritual, community, environmental.

I will be writing separate blogs on these over the coming weeks.

By simply engaging mindful attention itself, we begin the process of transformation.

Physical Preparation

Nutrition When Preparing For A Psychedelic Retreat

On the final two weeks of my preparation I am moving a little more towards a plant based diet (but not fully admittedly). Why? It is actually a traditional preparatory technique

The things I am focusing on to ensure I am in best physical shape with a good mindset are:

  • Blood sugar regulation: Ultimately this is a foundation of health and this is always something to be aware of.
  • Nutrient density: This means plenty of good quality fats (salmon, eggs, sardines, mackerel, shellfish, butter, ghee, avocado etc), and plenty of colour. We are fortunate to be growing radish, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, plums pears and figs so I a eating plenty of these (the ones in season right now!) on top of other shop bought local produce.
  • Fermented foods: I am enjoying incorporating more fermented foods in to my diet including kefir, kombucha, yoghurt and cheese.
  • Fasting: I always do time restricted feeding but I am going to incorporate a 24 hour fast each week in the month building up to the retreat.
  • Detox: The Maztec people also advocate abstinence from other intoxicants, and suggest abstaining from substances 5-7 days prior to a session may be wise  as might tapering down caffeine intake.

I’ve seen posts discussing key nutrients that may help maximise the psychedelic experience and while we can certainly think of known mechanisms (such as how magnesium or omega 3 are required for certain neurotransmitter pathways) I think this may be over thinking it. After all, there’s great research on using psilocybin for existential distress in those suffering with terminal cancer and the results are remarkable. That’s not to say focusing on being in our best physical (and mental) health isn’t important but I do wonder whether we are over complicating the matter to some degree. Perhaps when I am feeling in a more ‘biohacker like state’ I will write a post that looks on to this more.


I will be focusing more on stretching, dancing, and yoga rather than strength training.


Sexual abstinence for three days prior to a session is advocated by the Mazatec people (and various indigenous groups that use ayahuasca) as a way to gather and hold one’s energy for the journey.

Body Work

I am seeing an osteopath for some ‘realignment’ support and having a regular massage. I genuinely believe that the health and alignment of our body is key to our spiritual health. After all our body is the vessel.

Breathwork When Preparing For A Psychedelic Retreat

I have been doing 5-10 minutes in the morning of connecting with my breath. There hasn’t been a consistent ‘technique’ I have practiced each morning but I have gone with an intuitive feel here. Some mornings it is simply breathing in, and out, through the nose for a count of 5 seconds each. This has been shown to activate the vagus nerve and thus provide a calming and anti-inflammatory benefit.

I have also been doing a full 60 minute transformational breath session once a week. I must admit I found this incredibly hard to start and getting to one month from the retreat I gave myself a talking too and vowed I would do one session per week for the four weeks building up to the retreat.

Other somatic practices may be beneficial prior to an experience, and could include yoga, dance, stretching, and any practices that promote a sense of groundedness.

Mental And Emotional Preparation

Meditation When Preparing For A Psychedelic Retreat

Having not had a meditation practice fo a while I have been using Apps to get myself in to a routine again. I have primarily been using  the Insight Timer and more recently been simply practicing a kind of mindfulness meditation where I focus on the breath and bodily sensations for any where from 10-30 minutes. Even though I know through experience that a consistent meditation practice sends a ripple out in all areas of my life, I have found it hard to practice over the leat year (a mixture of becoming a parent for the first time and sometimes just being too tired to sit and be with myself!!!!).

Nature Immersion When Preparing For A Psychedelic Retreat

Perhaps one of the most powerful practices I have been doing for the last 6-8 weeks is seeing as many sunrises as possible. Check out my podcast with Carrie Bennett if you want to dive in to all the science behind this. But it has been a game changer! Being outside and seeing the sun rise over the horizon, seeing and hearing the beginning of a new day with the birds chirping and plants awakening is truly beautiful. It also means I start my day immersed in nature, grounded (being barefoot on my garden which means I am sacking up antioxidants from other earth) and creating some space for myself. I have for as long as I can remember enjoyed the early mornings but it does mean getting to bed early to ensure appropriate sleep. It makes sense to me that our sleep patterns change with the seasons and perhaps the idea of 7-9 hours doesn’t make sense when the sun is setting around 22:00 and rising at 4:40! While I love the early starts part of me is definitely looking forward to some lie ins during the winter months.

Intention Setting

Intentions for the experience warrant thought and contemplation. They need to be clear and truly inviting and healing as opposed to self-criticisms or judgements in disguise. Having an intention is not for everyone and I know psychonoauts who generally don’t set an intention and stay open to whatever experience comes their way. There is a saying which is that the mushroom gives you what you need, not what you want. And thus if you do set an intention, holding your intention lightly is important.

Community Preparation

It is through cultivating strong bonds with others and including them in the vulnerable parts of our lives that we can receive the human connection we call crave…Our healing is the healing of all those with whom we are in relationship.

Communicaiting with Katie and my fellow travellers over help cultivate a sense of community. I will be with 59 other practitioners at the retreat and we will be in ceremony together but we will have three days before our first ceremony. We have been doing this program together for a year on line so there is some sense of community, but this will so much stronger after living together, breathing together and exploring together.

Environmental Preparation

Caring for your space brings inner healing and nourishment.

Keeping my physical environment clean and orderly helps me feel calm and centred. So spending a little more time here over the coming weeks is also part of my preparation.

Books On Psychedelics

I am also reading and re-reading books around psychedelics – check out my recommended reading here.

Wrapping It Up

From the moment we choose to engage in an experience that will take us beyond our ego defences and agree to receive guidance, a powerful process begins. I have seen many people arrive at a ritual having received an impressive amount of insight in the days preceding, perceiving existent dysfunction patterns, and gaining clarity on decisions that need to be made. By simply engaging mindful attention itself, we begin the process of transformation.

You will notice that many of these practices are untimely just healthy practices that we should be focusing on day to day.

And this is true!

Preparation for a psychedelic experience shouldn’t be dramatically different to how we live our usual lives. It might simply be a ‘fine tuning’ of some of these practices.

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