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How to Find a Safe High Quality Retreat 

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How to Find a Safe High Quality Retreat 

As more and more people are feeling the higher calling to communicate with spirit and reach their highest potential, plant medicine ceremonies are increasing in popularity. Because of legality issues in the United States, many retreats are underground and ceremonies are done in secrecy through word of mouth and referrals. 

Going into the underbelly of the world to do these plant medicine retreats can be tricky, and we recommend you to find a safe and high quality retreat in a country where plant medicine is celebrated. Countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Brazil have more relaxed laws that allow ceremonies to legally take place for healing. Once you choose your ideal location, the next step is choosing a retreat center that best fits your needs. 

Research needs to be conducted and calls need to be made to the support team, the more secure you can feel in your choice the more comfortable you will be. Even the healing world has darker sides, there are fake shamans wanting to make fast money, retreats with far too many people in one ceremony, and inexperienced guides who cannot hold space. 

Partaking in a plant medicine ceremony opens portals to other worlds and creates new neural pathways for diverse ways of thinking. The mind and heart expands, and though openness is beautiful, it needs to be in a held container.

The experience, as transformative as it is, can be very intense, especially for those who take this reality seriously or cling to their egos. Choosing a high quality retreat will be one of the most important decisions even more so than choosing which plant medicine to partake in. 

Below are things to consider when choosing a retreat, so you can make a conscious sound decision. 

A Well Rounded Team

The team should not just consist of just a shaman holding space for a group of people. At good quality retreat centers there is a broad range of people with varying expertise to give you a well rounded experience. Professional doctors or psychotherapists usually do the screening process to see if plant medicine is suitable for you. 

Coaches and counselors are there to do proper preparation and integration work to help balance you emotionally and keep you centered. Helpers during the ceremony with backgrounds in energetic work support the guide/shaman to make sure that everyone is tended to and the space is held safely.

At Behold Retreats, all of our retreats have this well rounded team, as well as massage therapists, acupuncturists, energy workers, and yoga teachers. We believe in having a well rounded support team to tend to the diversity of needs that people have to give them a beneficial experience. 

Thorough Screening Process

A good retreat center will do a screening process on you to make sure the medicine is suitable for your mental and physical condition. A good retreat center will never blindly accept anyone without properly assessing them. A medical doctor and psychotherapist typically oversee this process to make sure that it is safe for you to do a ceremony at all. 

They will make sure that you are emotionally and physically fit enough to go on the journey. A place that does not do this process is probably not legitimate. Even if you feel the call for plant medicine, you might not be ready, and it is better to wait than to proceed into it without the mental acuity and healthy physicality.

Safety protocol is essential even though there is not a high probability of injury or death during a retreat if it is held in safe container. When vapourizing Bufo toad venom there is likely no chance of a 5 MeO DMT death and the only near death experience accounted is ego death. The psychedelic journey improves mental health through a mystical experience.

Small Group Sizes

Do ask about the size of the retreat. If there is one guide for a group of fifteen people, this is a retreat that probably prioritizes profit over healing. The smaller group sizes are better, as you can have more attention and care. However, many retreats try to make the most they can by doing big group sizes while only having one shaman and very few helpers.

Many people have horror stories of being sick or running off and their guides not caring or not even seeing that they needed support in a time of distress.  A good retreat will not have group sizes more than ten if there is only one guide at a time. It can be dangerous tending to so many people, so all in all, the smaller the group size the better.

Do also consider private retreats. At Behold Retreats we have private retreats tailor fit to your specific needs, where all dedication goes into your experience, you choose your schedule, you choose your best suited preparation activities, you have individual time to process things with the guide.

For many people, a private retreat allows them to go deeper into their consciousness and unravel things with the support team, without anyone else around. For people who value privacy, this may be the best fit for you. 

A Legitimate Healer

The healer or guide may be the most important part of a ceremony. They are the ones taking you on the journey, and holding space for any arising emotions or bodily reactions. They should be equipped to properly handle the energetics and the spiritual realm. Fake shamans may not know how to hold space, resulting in neglectful or inappropriate behavior due to lack of experience or knowledge. 

There are female friends I have whose guides have inappropriately touched them and kissed them during ceremonies as they were in vulnerable states. Other friends had 'healers' who completely left them in the jungle. Make sure you speak to your guide, and you feel that they are kind and genuinely care about bettering people through the grace of the medicine. 

Do ask who the guide is and what their background is in plant medicine. Below are a few questions to ask about the healer to make sure he/she is legitimate.

  • How many years of experience do they have and what is their first hand work with the medicine? 
  • Are they from a generational lineage of shamans in South America?
  • What was their training or apprenticeship like? 
  • What is their relationship to the medicine?
  •  What lineage or tradition are they under? 
  • Who is assisting them as a helper and what is their background in plant medicine?

Interested in a plant medicine retreat with a well rounded support team?


The Medicine's Ethicality

To go on a conscious experience, the medicine must be sourced consciously. Many retreats take pride in ethically sourcing their Bufo (5 MeO DMT) and not extracting it directly from the Bufo Alvarius toad. No matter the medicine, ask the retreat center  where it came from and if it was sourced ethically.

For Bufo in particular many of the Sonoran Desert Toad population is declining and this is particularly important to know where the medicine came from. Many retreats get synthesized 5 MeO DMT to leave the toads unharmed and untouched. 

For ayahuasca, definitely ask what the brew is made of and ask if it contains the two essential ingredients, ​​ the vine (banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna leaf (psychotria viridis)? Do see if these are sustainably sourced. To honor the medicine and work with it in a compassionate way is essential.

Ask the Right Questions

A place that has a solid track record, will be more than willing to answer your many questions. They will know that you are making a huge decision and will do their best to respond with care. The way a retreat's support team communicates with you will be a telling sign of how seriously they take their ceremonies. 

Even if you know somebody who has done a retreat with a particular center before, still go ahead and ask the essential questions. If you do not choose a retreat based on word of mouth or a personal referral, then client testimonials or reviews will need to be researched.

 A good retreat center will have collected many client testimonials to give people a taste of the retreat and the positive changes people go through. Reading through the testimonials should ease your uneasiness as you see that so many people have had the ability to surrender to the medicine and go deeper into their beings.

If the retreat company has many bad reviews of the same manner, take it seriously. Ask the support team about any questions you have that may surface when reading reviews and testimonials. Dig as deep as you need to feel like you have an idea of the place. 

Below is a list of important questions you can ask the retreat center

  1. Who will be guiding the ceremony and what is their experience and background?
  2. How many ceremonies have been conducted and what are the common changes they have experienced with clients?
  3. What are the safety procedures?
  4. What is the screening process? 
  5. Who does their team consist of?
  6. What is the group size? Are there private retreats?
  7. How many helpers provide support during the ceremony and what is their experience?
  8. Is the medicine ethically sourced? 
  9. Where are the retreats? Do they have accessibility to nature? 
  10. Do they have tools for both preparation and integration? Describe both processes

Preparation & Integration Support

Before the ceremony there is inner work to do in order to prepare a clear channel for the medicine to flow through and cleanse you. The mind should be calmed through insight meditation, yoga, and journaling. The body is cleansed through a proper vegetarian clean diet, yoga asanas, acupuncture, and healing massage. 

Healing energy work is given before the ceremony for balance and centering the chakras. For deeper work do consider a longer retreat that takes the time and care for both preparation and integration. Many retreat centers only do one or two days retreats, that throw you out quickly into the world, and this can be confusing after such a life altering psychedelic ceremony. 

After the ceremony is over, there should be proper tools and support given for integration. How do the lessons from the medicine weave themselves into the fabric of your life? The guidance will calm your worries regarding how to go back into ‘normal life’. A good retreat center will not discard you carelessly  back into the world, but offer emotional and energetic support. 

There will be proper tools for the wisdom of the medicine to settle into your being and your personal  life. Many times there are group calls after the ceremony for check ups and the healer will be happy to answer any questions you have about integration after the mystical ritual.

Ready to transform?


Behold Retreats facilitates private retreats and small group plant medicine retreats in Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, with either Bufo, Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, or San Pedro.
They provide a comprehensive 7-week life-accelerator program to help you prepare and integrate your experience alongside 1-1 coaching or therapy sessions with one of their expert team members.

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