Uncertainty is what makes life worth living. Thinking back to my very first Bufo Retreat, Mexico was a distant and unknown place. As I packed my bags for the Bufo retreat I was soon to attend, I wondered about all the things that could go wrong and all the ways I might change afterward.
As it turned out, the Bufo retreat went by without any issues. The most important thing about the retreat was the mindset shift that followed. I wasn’t expecting so many revelations in such a short time, even though that was precisely the reason why I signed up. The Bufo experience is practically beyond description, but I will do my best to share the entirety of my Bufo journey and retreat at Tandava with you here.
What Is Bufo?
Bufo comes from the Bufo Alvarius toad or “Colorado river toad”. When I first heard this classification, it sounded a bit odd – but I’m used to it now.
Many people seek out Bufo hoping to benefit from its profound healing capabilities. Bufo often ignites what psychonauts call a “non-dual experience,” which some say is like a merging with God or the universe. The experience is different for everyone, but to me, it was almost like a blissful nothingness, but I’ll explain more about that later.
Origins & Evolution
Contrary to my original assumptions, I found out that Bufo didn’t originally come from the Bufo Alvarius toad, as the name suggests. Instead, South American tribes procured 5-MeO-DMT over 3,000 years ago. Typically, the plant medicine came in the form of crushed seeds rather than toad venom. 5-MeO-DMT occurs naturally in a minimum of 9 different plants.
It was not until centuries later, in the 1930s, that two scientists decided to try to isolate and synthesize 5-MeO-DMT. From that point forward, 5-MeO became a much more prominent staple in the psychedelics community and increased substantially in popularity.
The Colorado River Toad
So where does the “Bufo” part come in? It was only a few decades ago that various individuals began sourcing 5-MeO-DMT from toad populations. Several environmentalists have discouraged this practice because it’s messing too much with the local ecosystem. That’s why it’s often preferable to use synthetic 5-MeO because this will drastically reduce the chances of environmental harm. Plus, there won’t be too much trouble administering doses of 5-MeO when it comes in a segmented format.
Unfortunately, Bufo suffered a hit in the last decade as the American government banned the medicine from public consumption. Many other Western governments followed suit. Nowadays, you must travel to places like Mexico or Portugal to experience 5-MeO-DMT at a trustworthy facility. At the very least, these countries don’t ban 5-MeO outright.
What Is A Bufo Retreat Like?
So, what is it really like to go to a Bufo retreat? I wondered the same thing myself. I would say that the entire experience is somewhat similar to a wellness retreat while placing more emphasis on your spiritual journey. Of course, this spiritual journey relates strongly to the 5-MeO-DMT, which you will usually partake in once or twice during the retreat.
That said, Bufo retreats usually last a few days. So there are quite a few activities that you engage in aside from working with the Bufo medicine. Meditation and yoga are typical practices at these retreats. There is a general focus on relaxation.
One thing I already knew before going on a 5-MeO-DMT retreat is that I didn’t need to be experienced with psychedelics to work with 5-MeO. It wasn’t my first foray into psychedelics, but it was for some of my peers.
What I liked the most about taking a Tandava retreat was that they put a lot of work into the initial phases. It was clear that I was more than a number to them. They wanted to make sure that I had no negative indicators during pre-screening. Moreover, they assessed the degree to which I was “ready” to work with the 5-MeO medicine and worked to align my retreat experience with my values.
When I arrived at the retreat center, we didn’t begin any intense ceremony immediately. Rather, the organizers dedicated the first day to acclimatizing to the surroundings and relaxing after the long trip to Mexico. Since the amenities were so luxurious and the natural beauty so astounding, it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable.
On my second day, I participated in my first 5-MeO-DMT ceremony. My ceremony lasted around half an hour. The retreat guides told me that in general, the experience lasts between 10 and 45 minutes. I had two of these ceremonies during the trip.
While the length of the trip sounds short, it feels far longer in actuality. Those 30 minutes went by quite slowly, it felt as though I had been out for hours upon hours.
The great part about the experience is that I already trusted the people I was working with due to the consultation sessions we had before the retreat. Participating in the Bufo ceremony felt more familiar because of that.
After I departed the retreat center, I was still connected with the people at Tandava who guided me along the way. Aside from all the wonderful memories I had of the retreat, and the new connections, I also benefited from the 4 Zoom calls I spent with the facilitators afterward. They helped me make sense of all the things I felt during and following my experience. Since I had been working with them since the beginning, I felt safe and comfortable opening up to them.
The 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Retreat
I just described how the 5-MeO retreat worked in the most basic of terms. That said, there is far more complexity and individuality to it that I did not share with you. Everyone’s experience is highly personal, but I can hope that there are grains of truth that you can derive from mine.
Were I to go back and tell myself what the Bufo experience would be like before I went ahead and did it, I would focus on the following:
Relax Your Assumptions
I tried to do everything I could to find out what 5-MeO-DMT would be like before I embarked on my retreat. Truthfully, all that did was fill my head with preconceptions and limiting beliefs that were of no use to me once I entered the ceremony room. You want to feel prepared, true, but that’s also more the job of the retreat facilitators to work with you.
Don’t get caught up in any rumors you see in a YouTube video or hear on a podcast. Even if Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus, and Mike Tyson all think that working with 5-MeO is a great idea, that won’t mean their experiences are in any way relevant to yours. All of these people are celebrities and likely at a very different point in their life and spiritual growth journey than you are.
Nervousness is another emotion you need to let go of. Realize that it’s OK to be worried and nervous before such a massive endeavour. You’ll come out a lot stronger in the end anyways. Don’t let your fears feed into one another, and certainly don’t allow your fears to become assumptions.
I found that the best strategy for working with 5-MeO was to focus on the positive outcomes that I wanted to reach for myself. I didn’t think to myself “after I work with 5-MeO, I will become X”. However, I was sure to focus on my objectives for the session. That way, I could stay focused the whole time. Imagine going on a trip to a new hiking spot. You have high hopes for all the views that the trail will bring you, but you still prepare your bag ahead of time and plan out your route. You won’t know what the trail will look like until you’re there, so there is no use in obsessing over minute details like where you might take the best pictures during the hike.
Let Go Of Your Ego
Your job as someone working with such a sacred medicine as 5-MeO is to let go and let the medicine do the work for you. It’s critical to realize that you can’t be in control 24/7. That way, you can have a much better trip – one free of your ego constantly asserting itself. Sometimes you need to turn that inner voice off.
During the trip, I was thankful to receive the guidance of such brilliant facilitators who ensured that my trip was placed within a safe container. I didn’t feel the need to repress any of my thoughts throughout the trip, rather, I let each thought blossom and observed it pass by.
With such emotional intensity, it is common for other retreat participants to be overcome with intense emotions during their Bufo experience. Some people cry in despair, others rage at their past. After all, decades of repressed emotions can start to take their toll. While my experience wasn’t exactly rife with negative emotions, I still realized how many facets of my emotional being I had neglected once I emerged from my trip. I have since learned not to resist negative emotions but rather to acknowledge them, learn from them, and then let them pass. There is no need to allow your emotions to take control of you.
It’s interesting because I would have expected that due to past trauma, I might have become overcome with tears during my experience. This was not the case at all. It’s interesting how one might brand themselves as a certain person before working with 5-MeO, only to realize that they are much more complex than they previously thought.
Following this train of thought, I want to emphasize a piece of wisdom that I attained following my trip: suffering is not a prerequisite to growth. People make much of 5-MeO and other psychedelics, saying that they will show you who you truly are and conjure visions of both mental and physical agony. This was hardly the case for me. Deep healing can be extremely nourishing for the soul. You don’t need to relive your childhood traumas to experience significant personal growth.
Entering the 5-MeO trip felt almost like entering a massive void. With some psychedelics, there are dozens upon dozens of sensations and visions. With 5-MeO there was… nothing. Nothing but pure magnetism. It truly did feel as though I was attached to everything around me. Every tree, every blade of grass, and every person I had met at the retreat made me feel as though we were all one unified force.
The Bufo ceremony allowed me to explore new perspectives above everything else. It allowed me to re-examine my mental patterning, and really, the way I structured my entire life. I had an inkling that I was going about several things in my daily life the wrong way. However, the 5-MeO trip allowed me to see the pain points.
I should mention that while the experience was both enlightening and cathartic, it didn’t solve my problems directly. Rather, it showed me a path forward to growing as an individual. It was up to me to do the work, and while I certainly feel a lot better than I did before, I can recognize that I’m still a work in progress. The integration sessions I received following the retreat helped me carve the path forward.
I’ll also note that while the 5-MeO experience is otherworldly, it’s important not to think of the experience as an escape. During the experience, it can be helpful to forget all about the problems of the world, and to focus on yourself but do realize that some of those problems you care so much about are still important. You can’t let your personal experience with 5-MeO overshadow what you care about most.
Get Your Mentality Ready
The way you think about things and see things is just as much physical as it is mental. For instance, anxiety can be relaxed with the right breathing techniques. Sitting still in one position can help you meditate. These techniques are essential to your preparation.
Remember that you are not your fears. So don’t identify with them. I found that working with retreat facilitators was extremely helpful in facing those fears head-on. They know exactly how to prepare you for your journey, so long as you open up to them a bit at the beginning.
For me, the greatest support mechanism was journaling. I wrote down all my thoughts, wishes, hopes, and fears in the weeks preceding my experience. That allowed me to clear my mind of intrusive negative thoughts. It was just like a release valve for all my pent-up anxiety.
It’s A Catalyst For Spiritual Growth
The great part about 5-MeO retreats is that you can pursue them both individually and in a group. Your ceremony will usually be alone, that was certainly the case for me at Tandava. However, you should also keep in mind that you can participate in a group retreat like I did, which allows you to meet like-minded people.
One person I met told me he had experienced a renaissance, a literal second birth. He had already helped deliver his children but experiencing 5-MeO-DMT felt as though he was delivering himself. It was a paradigm shift for him that changed the entire frame of reference for his existence.
The main scientific reason why 5-MeO-DMT has this effect is that it makes it easy for your brain to create new pathways. I noticed that I felt more mature after my retreat experience. With every problem I face, I feel a lot calmer, and I can easily understand the perspectives of others. As a result, I feel a lot richer emotionally.
Scientific Research Suggests Bufo Benefits Mental Health
To elaborate on the scientific aspect of 5-MeO, I’ll relay a few of the things that I learned about 5-MeO after my experience. As it turns out, the 5-MeO experience is quite an antidepressant. Being a serotonin receptor agonist, 5-MeO substantially increases feelings of harmony.
Clinical research at Johns Hopkins suggests that using synthetic 5-MeO-DMT will decrease people’s self-reported depression and anxiety. The epiphanies that people seem to experience with this medicine are completely unlike those you can experience in normal states of consciousness. As a result, you begin to feel more at peace with past trauma and the type of person that you are, while still recognizing that you have work to do. 80% of people who worked with 5-MeO-DMT reported that their mental health improved in the months that followed. I know that these reports are anecdotal, but it certainly gives me great confidence to know that so many people improved their lives as a result of their work.
Integration Is Non-Negotiable
Finally, I believe that I would have been unable to learn the lessons that I did from 5-MeO without the help of Tandava’s retreat facilitators. Integration was such a vital part of my experience. I could bounce ideas off them and refine my observations of myself with their help. I was impressed at their immense patience with me throughout the process.
In the hours of prep work with Tandava’s facilitators over Zoom, I learned a significant amount about what 5-MeO would feel like, and how they would build me a metaphorical container so I could adapt to the medicine. I went into my ceremony feeling quite confident because of this prep work. They also gave me techniques to help combat the negativity that arose leading up to the retreat. I will certainly implement their advice well into the future.
Following the retreat, I had all the infrastructure I needed to help me map out the rest of my life given the lessons that I learned during my 5-MeO trip. All too often, people work with a psychedelic medicine casually and fail to reap its full rewards as they saunter off to the next experience. 5-MeO demands your full focus and attention, but I think that with proper integration, there are no better sacred plant medicines for spiritual healing and personal growth.
Follow Our Blog For More Information About 5-MeO
If you enjoyed this first-hand account of the 5-MeO-DMT experience, then you might wish to continue your education by exploring our blog further or submitting your email to follow our upcoming retreats.