I Flew To British Columbia For A Luxury Mushroom Retreat — Here’s What Happened

Are we officially in the age of psilocybin?

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Hannah Baxter
The Journeymen Collective experience

Taking care of your mental health is a journey, and a long and winding one at that. Personal and professional development don’t always go hand in hand, especially in 2022 when digital distractions threaten to suck up every last second of your free time. But as someone who is newly devoted to prioritizing my wellbeing — mental, physical, spiritual, and everything in between — I was intrigued at the prospect of experiencing a guided mushroom trip to connect with a deeper plane of mindfulness, courtesy of The Journeymen Collective.

It might seem *out there* to look to this particular compound as a step forward on the path towards greater mental health awareness, but our collective curiosity around plant medicine and psychedelics is expanding rapidly. Case in point: Colorado recently passed Proposition 122, which “will allow people 21 and older to grow and share psychedelic mushrooms,” effectively legalizing the use of psilocybin and becoming only the second state to approve such a measure after Oregon in 2020. Sure, some people might not be interested in the level of enlightenment that I was seeking on my recent trip to Kelowna, British Columbia, but as someone with a baseline knowledge of using psilocybin, I already understood the intense psychological effects of the psychedelic compound and was curious to learn what a truly guided experience could provide.

During one of our hikes, pre-mushroom journey, in Kelowna.Courtesy of Hannah Baxter

The extent to which this journey would differ from my previous encounters with mushrooms was obvious even before I stepped on a plane to Canada. Rob Grover and Gary Logan, founders of TJC, insist that every person who applies and is accepted to visit their center meet for a series of hour-long introductory calls for a multitude of reasons: to establish your intentions, to learn about your current approach to mental health and personal development, and to simply get acquainted since you will, in fact, be spending four days together in their (frankly, stunning) home in Kelowna.

“There’s a before, during, and after with all personal development,” says Rob of his and his husband’s 360° approach to treating their clientele, most of whom are professionals at the top of their fields. “How can you, as the entrepreneur, executive, or professional, make a great conscious contribution to humanity and the planet?” For context, both founders have had their own deeply personal experiences with mushrooms and left behind earlier careers (Rob as a geologist and Gary as an actor) to fulfill a calling to become spiritual advisors and design The Journeymen Collective.

If this feels remarkably different than the standard professional development seminar, you would be correct — the founders are much more interested in guiding high-powered careerists towards something potentially more fulfilling than just climbing the next wrung on the corporate ladder. Says Gary: “When we started out, all our clients were entrepreneurs, and they had that drive to understand and provide more service to others in a heartfelt way. And it doesn’t have to be a big humanity. It can be your family — your little pocket of the world — then grow from there and that will emanate out.”

After completing my trio of phone calls (diving into my personal and professional intentions for the trip, such as increasing mindfulness, moving through the tail end of a bad breakup, and addressing anxiety) and boarding my plane to Seattle and then Kelowna, Rob and Gary greeted me warmly at the local airport and drove me to their home — aka The Journeymen Collective center — 20 minutes away. The floor to ceiling windows overlook a vista of mountains and Okanagan lake — the kind of jaw-dropping view that is signature to British Columbia — which would serve as the setting for my mushroom experience.

The Journeymen Collective house.Hannah Baxter

While I was only in town for three days and experienced a singular psilocybin ceremony, TJC clients have a few different options to choose from with their guided visits: a solo four-day or seven-day journey, a couple’s journey, or a group journey with up to four people. For the four-day option, you’ll have two psilocybin experiences, staggered by two “reintegration” days wherein Rob and Gary touch base with you about what you saw and felt, with conversations that range from spiritual to that of beloved older brothers checking in on your well-being vibe, often over a meal prepared by Gary as their magnificent Himalayan Persian mix, Atlas, roams the house.

“It is important to respect all the elements in the treatment process,” explains Dr. Gita Vaid, MAPS–trained psychedelic psychotherapist and co-founder of the Center for Natural Intelligence, “[as] psychedelic medicines catalyze and grant access to knowledge, [producing] a unique healing field.” She adds that the other elements of a successful treatment include preparation, knowledge of self, tailored intentions for treatment, navigations skills, optimal healing environment, adequate support during and after treatment, and proper integration tools. “[These] are equally essential to access the full healing potential of these sacred compounds.”

Make no mistake, however, this is a luxury experience in every sense of the word, from the attention to detail to the setting, and the founders set it up to be so for a specific clientele that is looking to invest a base of $11,000 in their trip to The Journeymen Collective — an aspirational amount that is not meant for everyone. But for the people who visit, the investment feels worthwhile.

“How do we put a price on mental health, spiritual growth, and feeling happy?” asks Peggy Van De Plassche, a friend and client of TJC. “In terms of energy, you always get what you invest. If someone invests little (no intention, no prep, no follow through) the benefits will be less sizable. I am really committed to my healing and growth, so I was super intentional and motivated. I got [100 times] what I invested.”

And while I was a guest of TJC, and therefore did not undergo the typical four-day, two-trip structure, my experience was quite otherworldly. Yes, the mushrooms themselves (2.5 grams accompanied by a chocolate bar and plenty of coconut water throughout) were exceptional, as were the three hours lounging in their living room as I sank into the psychedelic effects — if you’ve tried really good psilocybin products, you’ll understand what I mean — it was the level of care before, during, and after that felt so remarkably different from past experiences I have had with this type of plant medicine. From the hour-long hike in the morning over mountains and beaches to the family-style dinners and conversations about business, self-fulfillment, and happiness, it’s the level of connection that made it feel like The Journeymen Collective, and Rob and Gary specifically, are offering something truly unique.

“Personal and professional development are entwined,” says Rob over our last breakfast together. “Your business is a reflection of who you are, and when you do the inner work on self, when you clear out the old, connect more deeply with self...” Gary finishes his husband’s sentence, adding, “[You’re] recognizing the old patterns, seeing and dealing with it, letting go of what no longer serves me.” By setting intentions prior to taking the mushrooms themselves and immersing yourself in a setting that feels supportive and safe, you’re able to prompt your mind to explore a field of higher consciousness.

Rob & Gary of the Journeymen Collective.Courtesy of The Journeymen Collective

Personally, the three hours that I spent under the influence of psilocybin allowed me to journey to the furthest reaches of mind, while dopamine and serotonin flooded my brain and body with sensations of love, peace, and curiosity. My conversations with the founders during the trip happened only when and if I felt compelled to share what I was feeling in the given moment, and Rob and Gary kept careful watch over my energy and movement throughout the experience to ensure I didn’t have feelings of panic or anxiety (which can emerge if you’re not thoughtful with your setting). Otherwise, I felt at perfect liberty to watch my kaleidoscopic field of vision while the sun set over the mountains and examine wherever my thoughts decided to wander.

For someone who is not only moving though multiple major life changes but also struggles with chronic anxiety, experiencing this type of plant medicine in this setting felt like particularly fortuitous timing. “Psychedelic medicines offer novel antidepressant treatments that work to improve symptoms of mental diagnoses such as OCD, depression, and anxiety,” explains Dr. Vaid. “Psilocybin [allows] us to access different states of consciousness and knowledge held in the mind, emotions, body, nervous system and beyond, and [suggests] a trans-diagnostic approach to healing that helps with symptom reduction as well as building resilience and deeper enrichment.”

So while a single psilocybin journey may not change your entire life (nor will the reintegration calls with the founders following your trip to Canada), there is something to be said for leaning into an alternative path to mindfulness in 2022 and beyond. “When you leave [The Journeymen Collective] you’re in a different state of being,” says Gary before I head out to catch my flight back to New York, feeling calmer, happier, and more staggeringly grounded than I have in months. “[But] you have to work on yourself — it’s not a magic pill, even though it’s called magic mushrooms.”

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