What is a psilocybin experience like? After seeing the popularity of my recent post: What is an LSD experience like? I decided to do a follow up about psilocybin. Psilocybin is the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms and truffles, and although very similar to the LSD experience, it does have one or two differences.
I think the list provides an excellent summary of common psilocybin experiences.
Subjective Effects of Psilocybin
Elementary visual alterations
Changed meaning of percepts
Experience of unity
Impaired control and cognition
The diagram below shows us which of the subjective effects were felt most strongly under the influence of psilocybin. I have ordered the list above in order. As you can see, elementary visual alterations scores highest, and anxiety lowest.
Course of Subjective Effects of Psilocybin
This chart shows the course of a psilocybin journey including the intensity of the effects over a timeline. As you can see the peak is around 1 hour in with ‘transient peaks of self transcendence’.
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/subjective-effects-psilocybin.-vollenweider-and-kometer-1-713x480-1.png480713John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2020-07-27 00:50:182020-12-11 16:30:03What is a Psilocybin Experience Like?
The headphones/eye-mask direct-your-attention–inwards whilst–listening–to–a–playlist–of–music method for psilocybin sessions is the standard in psychedelic research but becoming increasingly popular outside of clinical studies too.
Two key pieces of equipment for a standard therapeutic journey
Whilst this is certainly not the only way of having a fruitful psychedelic session, it is an excellent one and one that I myself use regularly. It is also the basis for how we conduct our psilocybin truffle ceremonies with New Moon Psychedelic Retreats in the Netherlands.
However, with COVID-19 bringing our retreats to a screeching halt, I’ve realised that if I’m to continue my mission of increasing access to psychedelic experiences, I need to get back to handing over the tools and techniques needed for them out to the world through that incredible medium whose potentialities and capabilities are now being rediscovered and ever expanded; the internet. So, expect a rekindling of this site and a growing database of resources coming your way whilst retreat work takes a back seat.
Today, I’ll share a simple checklist for things you’ll need to have ready for a psychedelic therapy session at home. I use this list myself every time I do a session, so you know it’s good to go 😉
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG_9853.jpg13332000John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2020-05-21 14:19:282020-12-16 22:35:54A Simple Checklist For Psychedelic Therapy Sessions At Home
Mystical. Peak. Transcendent. Religious. Whichever term you’ve heard, I’m talking about something exceptional and profound – the type of experience that ranks as one of most the meaningful in life.
“The emotional reaction in the peak experience has a special flavor of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender before the experience as before something great.” – Abraham Maslow
Psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that peak experiences are characteristic of psychological health and play an important role in self-actualization – right at the top of his famous hierarchy. These experiences are typically spiritual in nature and are often followed by therapeutic after effects or dramatic personal growth.
Planning A Mystical Experience
Psychedelics, AKA entheogens – ancient Greek for ‘generating the divine within’ – can facilitate mystical experiences more reliably than any other currently known method (seeing the earth from space also seems fairly reliable but this is currently even less accessible than psychedelics). There is recent research to support this relationship, though it should be remembered that these trials are done in highly controlled settings – and I believe a methodological approach helps to increase the chances of such an experience.
So this is a guide to set you up for a soul-stirring, therapeutic, sacred, self-actualizing trip. Its a compilation drawn from my own experience and practices drawn from a few sources. You can find a list at the end.
This guide includes:
Preparation: Checklist + Weeks and Days Before
Navigation: What to do during the trip, and in difficult moments
Integration: What to do the day after, how to begin to integrate insights
The smaller the dose, the less likely a mystical experience. Psychedelic research has shown a clear correlation between a larger dose and a more complete mystical experience. They also found that the more complete the mystical experience, the more benefit the recipient had to their psychological wellbeing (on scores of depression and anxiety). However, if you don’t have much experience with psychedelics I don’t recommend going for a big dose for your first time. Better to become somewhat familiar with them and figure out your tolerance and reaction.
For most people a breakthrough dose will be:
There are two general aims for the preparation of your trip: 1. To have you approach the trip well rested, in good health, and with a positive state of mind. 2. To get you thinking about your life in a larger context.
You will need:
2 full days free. One day for the trip + the day after. The day before too, if possible. For the trip day you should be totally free and fine to switch your phone off and effectively disappear from the world.
A comfortable, private indoor space (totally private for 1 day). Somewhere you feel safe.
Device to play music e.g. ipod, laptop, CD player. (I recommend digital player for ease of use)
Good pair of headphones
Eye mask or blindfold
Photos for ‘picture trip’
The Picture Trip
[The ‘picture trip’ is a technique that was employed by a pioneer of psychedelic therapy, Leo Zeff. This is adapted from the book about Leo and his methods, The Secret Chief Revealed.]
Before the trip you will need to gather some photos. These photos will be a history of your life.
Pictures To Gather:
Yourself, one at age two and one every two years thereafter through adolescence, up to adulthood.
Two pictures each of your mother, father and any siblings; one when they were young but you can still remember them, and a recent one.
Pictures of any other family members that are or were significant in your life.
A picture of your husband/wife, or any woman or man who has had great significance in your life. Lovers, current or past. If you’re married, wedding pictures.
If you have children, a picture of them when they were about two years old, and a recent one.
Any other significant pictures. Any pictures with an emotional charge.
As you go through your photos to find these, spend some time looking through your photo collection. Spend a few moments with each photo, looking at it and seeing what you feel with each one. If any memories or feelings come up, sit with them and see where they go. When you come across a picture for the picture trip, put it aside. Try to do this no further away than a week before the trip, as close to the time of the trip as you can.
Decide if you want a sitter – someone to keep an eye on you and help you through any difficult periods should they arise. It might be easier to let go completely if you know you have someone there to take care of you, or you may prefer to be alone.
Research setting for a study into the effects of psilocybin at John Hopkins University.
If you decide on a sitter, choose someone you trust. Agree the date with that person ahead of time. You’ll only need them for the trip day, but they should be free from the time you begin until the end of the day. They might not have to do much but assure you of your safety and be there for you.
If for whatever reason you’re going ahead without a sitter, I’d recommend spending more time learning the basics of meditation.
The Weeks Before
Learn the basics in meditation
The ability to relax and let go is key when it comes to the more intense parts of the session and important in maximizing the therapeutic aspect of your trip. For this reason, having some familiarity with some basic techniques of meditation will be enormously helpful – its practice in how to calmly observe your current reality without resistance. It will help you to open yourself to the experience rather than resisting, and go deeper, moving past blocks.
Meditate for at least 10 minutes a day for the two weeks leading up to your trip.
Especially important if you don’t have a sitter as in the absence of someone else to help relax and reassure you, you’ll need to relax yourself. If you have the time and the inclination, a silent course is the best way become well versed with meditation quickly.
Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish or gain from the experience? Be honest with yourself. Having a clear intention doesn’t mean that it’ll be fulfilled but it’s important in framing the experience.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Write down 5 things you are grateful for everyday in the week leading up to your trip. It can be as small or profound as you like, from ‘nice weather today’ or ‘a delicious lunch’ to ‘family’ or ‘health’. Sit with the feeling of gratitude that it brings for a minute.
If you’re taking medication, make sure there are no possible adverse interactions with these medications and the substance you’re taking. If you’re taking medication for a something that can be managed by lifestyle changes – exercise, weight loss, diet adjustments, quitting alcohol, tobacco, caffeine – try these first to see if some of the medications may no longer be necessary. For these processes, see your doctor.
The Days Before
Prepare your playlist and music player
Generally it’s recommended to use instrumental or world music with lyrics that are unintelligible as understandable lyrics can be distracting and limit the experience. Ambient and classical music are good general recommendations. You can make a playlist for the whole trip, or you can have all songs and albums that you might want ready and easily accessible on your player. Be sure to have at least 8 hours of music ready and allow for passages of at least 45 minutes where you don’t need to change or put on more music.
Listening to relaxing music in the initial phase is a nice way to help calm yourself when the substance is taking effect and you’re coming up. Save more intense tracks for later.
Full playlists from the scientists working in psychedelic research:
Mendel’s Kaelen’s Psilocybin Playlists on Spotify: Therapy Playlist 1 | Playlist 2
Mendel Kaelen Psilocybin playlist 1 on Mixcloud
Bill Richards psilocybin playlist | Spotify | iTunes
Kelan Thomas psilocybin playlists on Spotify: Playlist 1 | Playlist 2
Tidy up loose ends
Pay the overdue bill, send those emails and make those phone calls you’ve been putting off.
Check in with loved ones
Call or go see those most important to you.
The Day Before
Prepare Food Get some snacks ready. Nuts, seeds and fruits are good as maintaining a steady blood sugar level is ideal. Prepare your dinner and have it waiting for you in the fridge. Simplicity for tomorrow is the aim here.
Walk in Nature The fresh air and nature will help clear your mind.
Understand Your Intentions Revisit and clarify your intentions.
Avoid alcohol and spicy or greasy food To ensure good quality sleep and a settled stomach the next day. You don’t want to be dealing with a dodgy belly on the big day.
Clean your space Hoover, wipe down surfaces, clear away clutter.
Go to bed early and allow yourself a good nights rest Follow the common advice for a good night’s sleep – don’t drink coffee late, have a digital sunset. If you usually have difficulty sleeping, consider some form of exercise earlier in the day.
The Trip Day
Switch your phone off. For all purposes you should be unavailable to the world.
Pre-trip Have a light, healthy breakfast. Oats or a green smoothie are both good options.
Wear comfortable, clean, and loose fitting clothes. Make any final preparations to your space. Have blankets, water and snacks on hand.
Drop Ceremony ‘Ceremony’ doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just make the taking of the substance special in some way. You could wash it down with water drank from a lucky cup, or say a short prayer beforehand. Something to set this experience apart from the everyday. Make it unique.
Meditate – 10-20 minutes.
If you are with a sitter, talk with them about your feelings, expectations, and hesitations. If you are alone, take a pad and paper and write them down.
Going Up When you start to feel the effects, lie down and get comfortable. Put your headphones and eye mask on and start your playlist. Listen to the music and relax.
When you notice yourself tightening up or feeling nervous, relax your body and pay attention to your breath. Use what you’ve learned in meditation.
‘We regain our balance through the proper application of attention and awareness. This is the slowing down, which we can facilitate physically through relaxed, deep breathing and helps release any tension in our bodies. Once we’ve slowed ourselves down and replanted our psychic feet, it is easier to move our consciousness through the resistance or block.’ – Preparation For The Journey; Inner Pathways To Outer Space
The peak of the trip is where you might go through the processes by which psychological healing occurs – projection, transference, abreaction, and catharsis. To do this, be open to the experience:
Trust. Let go. Be open. Breathe. Surrender.
You may experience challenging emotions but know that this isn’t bad – this is the chance to process something you might’ve been holding back.
“Remember, difficult is not bad – challenging experiences can wind up being our most valuable, and may lead to learning and growth. Consider that it may be happening for an important reason. Try to approach the fear and difficult aspects of your experience with curiosity and openness.” – Zendo Project
As you feel the effects start to subside and the peak tailing off. Go sit at a table with the photos.
Start with the pictures of yourself. Pick up the first picture. Just look at it and see what you experience. Look at it as long as you want to. When you’re through looking at it, put it down. If you are with a sitter you might have something to say. Say it. If not, you don’t have to say anything. Put it down and go on to the next picture.
Through this process you might record a voice memo or write some things down. These notes can be helpful later when you go back and revisit them. They will reconnect you with your whole experience.
Ending The Day
After you’ve gone through the pictures, relax. You might want to sit around and chat with your sitter or listen to some music. You might be hungry and can go and retrieve the food you’ve prepared. You might want to go for a walk outside. Perhaps you’re exhausted and ready for bed. Go, sleep well.
The Day After
This day should be left free. Leave plenty of time for recovery, reflection and integration. Take It Easy.
Sleep well. Lie in. Have a nice breakfast. Meditate. Chill. Go for a walk or listen to some music. Take some time for yourself. Do not rush back into chores or your daily routine, no matter how tempting it is or how pressing those concerns seem to be. They can wait. The return to familiarity might seem appealing but you should have time to relax and process your experience.
When you feel ready…
Write It Down
Take a pen and paper and write about your trip.
What did you experience? (You may prefer to draw or paint this)
What does it mean?
Did you learn anything?
Did you experience any insights or revelations?
Hopefully you were able to learn something of value that you can take with you and apply to your life. With any insights fresh in your mind, you can start to…
How can you apply them to your life?
What can you do to live what you’ve learnt?
Try to think of some actionable steps you can take. Making a plan can be helpful to implement a new attitude or lifestyle change you want to adopt. Whatever it is you need to do, write it down and make a commitment to follow through with it. It doesn’t have to be big or extensive, any kind of framework to help you move forward is good. Starting a course of change can be tough but a plan with small steps will help. When you want to be reconnected to your experience, revisit any notes or voice memos you’ve made. Don’t expect total transformation overnight, go bit by bit.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu
I hope you’re ready for the next chapter. The real trip starts now – it’s life.
In the weeks and months following a powerful experience it may be beneficial to have some people you can talk about your experience with. If that’s not possible with people already in your life, it might be useful to find a local psychedelic integration circle or community. I wish you the best of luck.
Eating magic mushrooms high up in the mountains of Oaxaca and enjoying the incredible views there remains one of my most treasured memories. If you’re travelling through Mexico and in search of some exploration via a psychedelic adventure, well good news, you’re in a country with an incredible legacy of psychedelic use that continues to the present day.
As well as peyote to be found in the desert and salvia to be chewed with Mazatec shamans, there are plenty of mushies to be munched.
If its shrooms that you’re after, I wrote this for you.
Where Can I Find Shrooms?
The state of Oaxaca. There are two towns in Oaxaca where you can source shrooms; Huautla de Jimenéz and San Jose Del Pacifico. Huautla de Jimenéz is where Maria Sabina lived and famously gave Gordon Watson his historic first dose that ended up turning on the West. I’ve heard there are many shamans in Huautla and that people might even be greeting you as you get off the bus. I haven’t been myself so I can’t give advice. Here’s a link to an interesting blog post from someone who has been.
San Jose Del Pacifico is a small village nestled up in the mountains between the city of Oaxaca and the pacific coast. The views from this village are sublime and watching the sun set over the mountains after a trip is something out of a fairy tale.
There is a tradition of ‘hongos’ – mushrooms in Spanish – in San Jose and they are easy to find and buy. Just ask around once you arrive, a basic level of Spanish will suffice.
The cost will depend on the season. If you go during the rainy season, July to October, when the shrooms are sprouting, you can find them for as little as 50 pesos ($3) for a pre-packaged dose. The rest of the year, you might pay up to around 300-400 pesos ($15-20) for the same amount, depending on your source.
Would you like to take your psychedelic use to the next level? I’m currently creating a deep dive course on psychedelics for intermediate users to be launched later this year. If you are interested in taking part, please let me know your answers to a few questions you can find here. Thank you!
Speak with your seller. They will typically sell you per dosage. Or tell how many doses what they’ve sold you has.
You can get them served in a tea, dry, or preserved in honey. Depends where you get them from. However you take them, I’d recommend taking them on an empty stomach – to make the most of your dose and to lessen any nausea.
Preserved in honey
How & Where?
This is of course up to you, but here are a few options. Scroll down for more info on each one.
Go to the woods
Journey in a private accommodation
Find a temazcal ceremony
1. Go To The Woods
Classic nature trip option. Head up the hill and into the woods. Or off the main road to find a quiet spot. This was my MO every time during my visits mainly because even though I had a private room with a nice view where I was staying, it was kinda noisy cause of the other guests.
If you’re heading out to nature, be prepared: It can be roasting hot in the sun during the day, and very cold in the mornings and evenings. And pay attention to your route, you really don’t wanna get lost in the woods. I wouldn’t fancy an unplanned night out there.
Things to take:
Clothes suitable for heat and cold – Like I said, climate can vary wildly.
Something to lie on – Though nature is nice, so is being comfortable. Think sleep/yoga mat or blanket.
Water and food – Common sense. Nuts and fruit are always a good option.
Music – Come on, you’re gonna be tripping.
Pen and paper – For drawing or writing.
Pre-rolled joints – I wouldn’t recommend if its your first time tripping, but if you’re partial to a smoke, the hash in San Jose is really nice. Your tripping self will thank you for the pre-rolleds later. A highlight of my time in San Jose was gazing at the clouds whilst enjoying a hash joint and listening to JJ Cale. That guy could seriously play.
My spot for an afternoon
2. Journey In a Private Accommodation
If your own accommodation is relatively quiet and away from distractions, this would be a good option. If it’s with a view over the mountains, even better.
Here I’ll direct you to a post on warrior.do about creating your own mushroom retreat – the post is about doing one in Bali but the advice is excellent and still applies. On the page scroll down to where it says “How To Hold a Mushroom Retreat”.
I’ve heard that some of the local temazcals (sweat lodges) offer mushrooms as part of a ceremony. I didn’t take part in one of these so can’t comment but it might be worth investigating if you’re interested. If you have experience or information, please post in the comments below.
At the end of last year I went to Jamaica to work at a psychedelic specialists psilocybin mushroom retreat. In case you’re wondering if you read that right, I’ll repeat. Psychedelic specialists. Magic mushroom retreat. In Jamaica. Yes, I know. My life sucks.
Put on by Myco Meditations, the 10-day retreat was on the south coast of the island and had plenty going on outside of the 4 psilocybin sessions – there were group activities like art integration and guided meditations, presentations on psilocybin and session prep, and optional day trips to local areas. Comedian Shane Mauss did some of his ‘A Good Trip’ standup on psychedelics and a talk on DMT, and psilocybin researcher Katherine Maclean gave talks and acted as a facilitator for the sessions. Frankly speaking it was as awesome as it sounds and definitely a highlight of a what was personally an unpredictable roller coaster of a year.
How Did I End Up There?
A question I asked myself a few times. The short answer: by following my passions. The longer version is that I came across Myco Meditations online some time last year and after a brief email exchange with founder Eric Osborne we set up a skype call. Over the next couple of months we continued to connect and the next thing I know I’m booking a flight to Jamaica to film at the event.
Eric – a man who is happy whenever around mushrooms
Filming & Integration
I was there primarily to film some videos for the MycoMeds website and youtube and the filming interestingly merged into psychedelic integration, an emerging field I’m becoming increasingly interested in and one I think will develop rapidly in the coming years.
I sat down and did interviews with those on the retreat, asking them about their experience of it – the group dynamic, the facilitators, Jamaica – and more specifically their experiences during the psilocybin sessions. Doing these interviews was rewarding in itself and as people opened up I was reminded how important and powerful this work is. It really got me, and during one interview as someone talked to me about family troubles and how they’d come up in one of his high dose sessions, I was struck deeply with compassion. People were gaining new perspectives and the ability to see things in a more positive light. Good to know the mushies were working their magic.
The interviews gave me ideas for a type of video integration – where people can speak about their experiences and have the videos to help reconnect them to their experience and their new perspective, and continue to work with the insights they’ve gained. If you have any further ideas on how this might be developed, contact me.
As well as filming I was also a sitter/facilitator for half of the sessions. Being entrusted in this role to be there for people during their psychedelic experiences is an absolute honour and privilege. Truly humbling. There is a lot to get into here and too much for this post so I’ll just say that sitting really is a skill and something which I learn more about with each experience – this was no different and I learned things which will inform my approach next time. Until then, my basic advice as a sitter to a tripper would be: if you encounter difficult emotions, relax, go towards and into them, and explore them with curiosity.
Let your guard down and walk naked into the fire. (Metaphorically speaking. Please don’t actually walk into a fire.)
The Importance Of Vulnerability
The retreat made me realise that this willingness to vulnerability isn’t just important in the psychedelic experience – it’s important as a part of life. The group on this retreat bonded as the week progressed and conversations became deeper as we started opening up to each other more and more. I was reminded, yet again, that we’re all human and all have our troubles and struggles in life. Something that’s surprisingly easy to forget.
This is something that should be acknowledged because ignoring problems is never a good long term game plan. Whilst I don’t think it’s healthy to focus too heavily on problems – of course we should take time to count our blessings and enjoy life as it is – I do believe that the areas of our life we struggle with should be looked at honestly and strategically. If problems are left without inspection they may grow into a beast that is hard to even look at, let alone begin to decide how to take down. Naturally, looking at our problems isn’t comfortable, sharing them with others less so, and that’s exactly why it takes courage to be vulnerable. It seems natural to think of vulnerability as a weakness but the truth is the opposite. The ability to be vulnerable is a strength.
Having a group setting where you can sincerely share your problems is powerful. Talking about your problems or fears can give you the chance to say out loud things that have never been truly acknowledged. This can lead to a new understanding of your own feelings and opinions on things. Having someone patiently and sympathetically listen to you reinforces that its OK and normal to have problems and that we don’t need to hide from them. Once they are acknowledged then we can start to formulate a plan to tackle them. By talking with others we can receive support and advice on how to do this. If it is something out of our control, we can begin to learn acceptance.
The other side – hearing other people’s problems – is also helpful. We usually get so caught up in our own worlds that it’s easy to forget that everyone else is fighting their own battles too. But when someone is sat in front of you telling you they struggle with a difficult relationship, social anxiety, depression, direction in life, or whatever it is – you can’t ignore it. It shatters the facade of the world that deceives us through advertising – that everyone is supposed to be happy all the time – and hearing it directly from someone else gives you a very real reminder that you’re certainly not alone in your struggles. This can be empowering; a shared burden feels lighter and you can share with each other things that have helped you.
The Necessity Of Retreats
Most people don’t really take the time to properly reassess their position and direction. Too busy distracted. Or trying to earn or spend more money. Because apparently that’ll make us happy. But we know that really this isn’t true and instead of chasing the next hit of fleeting pleasure we should just stop for a second (or a week, or a month). We should take the time to see where we are and where we’re going, otherwise we’ll unwittingly end up somewhere we never wanted to be – ‘somewhere’ being the type of person we are and the life we’re living.
Retreats by their nature offer us that opportunity to stop, reflect, have those important conversations, and realign ourselves. They give us the distance from our normal lives that is needed to get some perspective, and after we can go back into the world with our priorities in order. Combine this with psychedelics and a deeper mental reset and you have a powerful combo. But even without psychedelics I think that making time for this type of self-assessment is important. This is my way of saying; take time for yourself where you can really look at your life without distractions. Find your own retreat or ‘workation’, however it might take shape, where the work isn’t job-related but is work on yourself. Then take an actual break after, because if you’ve been working hard, you’ll need it!
Final Trip, 7.5g
Back to Jamaica, I figure I’ll finish where we did – the fourth and final trip. After facilitating for the second and third, I took part in this session as a tripper. The first three were in the evening but the final trip was to start in the afternoon so that there could be an outside and daylight option for those that wanted it. As well as the outdoor which would be a more sociable setting, there was an indoor option for those who wanted to do more internal personal work. I went for the indoor.
There was around 7 of us in the room, most people with doses of at least 5g, some going up to 9. We all lay down on and mats and music was played through a speaker. I can’t really comment on the music as I opted for headphones and put on a playlist by Mendel Kaelen – a psychedelic neuroscientist whose job it is to select music for people on psilocybin. I figured it should be fairly appropriate.
I was allowed to choose my own dose and went for 7.5 grams. I know that might sound like a lot but I have a really high tolerance to psilocybin and I’d guess that 7.5g for me is probably what 3g would be for the average person. After knocking back the capsules I went for the classic therapeutic procedure –sleep mask and headphones – and tried to relax myself as much as possible.
About 2 hours in the vivid sight of a family member on their deathbed came to me. I could see them so clearly that I could see the lines on their face. I felt sadness and fear at their imminent passing and started to cry. I tried to cry quietly to not disturb the others in the room, but at the same time to let it go. As I cried, I felt a hand softly rubbing me on my back. It was one of the facilitators, their touch told me “It’s ok for you to feel that sadness, it’s OK for you to cry. You are OK here”. After probably 10, 15 (?) minutes the sadness and accompanying tears eased up. I dried my eyes, blew my nose, and lay waiting to see if there was more to come. After a short time I could feel there was no more – the chapter had ended and the sadness had passed. And I kinda needed a pee.
I got up and went to the bathroom. I still had the Kaelen playlist playing in my ears but the purging was done and I was in a different space – I had a real urge to listen to some dirty riffs and big ass pumping rock tunes. Time to go off playlist. I grabbed a lighter from the kitchen and then went out on to the back balcony where I remembered there was a half a joint that had been hanging out there for a couple of days. I didn’t realise it before but I knew it now: that joint was waiting for me. I pulled up a seat to get a view of the lush green landscape and interrupted a soft and soothing tune for some Japandroids – crunching garage punk rock with anthemic choruses. Cranking the volume as the intro began, I lit up that joint.
Ah man. Glorious. The sweet ganja washed over me with a warm fuzz that somehow fused with the gnarled distortion on the guitars, and in a crazy life-affirming haze of noise, I felt fucking great. I heard the detail of the tone on those guitars like I haven’t heard in a long time and I closed my eyes tight, feverishly bumping my head to a beat that was pumping me up with a fresh lust for life, simultaneously satisfying and whetting my appetite for adventure and exploration. Wild, ecstatic, euphoric. It was reminiscent of my first ever trips and again reminded me that all life is an adventure, the message echoed by the chorus flying through my headphones…
“It ain’t shit, it’s just kicks… And like the world I’m going on and on and on.”
Now I know that might sound like some cheap adolescent wisdom but it’s a message that is much needed when life starts to seem heavy and a little too serious – ultimately life is nothing, it’s just kicks… pressure’s off, don’t sweat it too much, go explore and have fun.
Message received, I jammed out to another stone-cold rocker on the balcony as the rest of the group did a final meditation inside. The closing of the meditation signalled the end of the formal session, and we headed for the beach to meet up with the outdoor group.
We arrived at the beach to find the others already there, some in the sea, some exploring the nearby terrain. I found a spot to lie on the sand and got comfortable. “Inspiration and beauty for the next half hour!” Eric said announcing the immediate schedule. As I looked out to the colours starting to appear over the horizon, I had to agree. I lay there smiling to myself until Kristjan, an Estonian retreater with a brilliant accent that I’d come to love over the course of the retreat, appeared from behind a mound of sand. He wandered over with a characteristic smile and typically perfectly rolled joint in hand. Holding it up, he asked “Wanna try some of this sweet hash?”
As advertised, it was sweet. As was pretty much everything else about that evening on the beach. I caught up with the others about their journeys as we bobbed on the waves, and shared joints over conversations about dreams and the world. After the sun had set we made it back inland for dinner where Shane let our table in on some more of his crazy brilliant ideas. Engaging and heartfelt conversation over dinner with good people, before stepping out to gaze up at the full moon. What else can I say? It was the perfect end to the retreat.