PT400 – Beckley Retreats: Combining Modern Science, Tradition, and Holistic Wellness

March 21, 2023
Featuring: Neil Markey

In this episode, Joe interviews the Co-Founder and CEO of Beckley Retreats, Neil Markey. 

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In this episode, Joe interviews the Co-Founder and CEO of Beckley Retreats, Neil Markey. 

Markey describes Beckley Retreats as comprehensive well-being programs, and talks about the importance of holistic wellness – that, while the retreats are centered around two group psilocybin experiences, the true benefits come from complementary factors: the four weeks of online prep and community building before the retreat, the six days in Jamaica surrounding the experiences, the six weeks of integration work after, and the depth of connections people find in the new community they may not have realized they needed so badly. He breaks down the details of the retreats and what they look for in facilitators, and tells a few success stories that really highlight how trauma, opposing ideas, and an infatuation with material objects and amassing wealth can all get in the way of real relationships and meaning. 

Beckley Retreats is currently working on two new projects: an observational study with Heroic Hearts and Imperial College London on using psilocybin for-traumatic brain injury, and a study with Bennet Zelner and the University of Maryland to bring executives through a retreat to see how it affects leadership and decision-making: can they prove that these types of experiences lead to more heart-centered leaders? 

We are currently running a giveaway where you can win a one-on-one meditation class with Neil and a custom Beckley Retreats tote, as well as many other prizes. Click here to enter!

Notable Quotes

“The problem, a lot of times with Western medicine, is if you can’t understand the mechanics of it, then we kind of discard it, or if you can’t isolate a single variable, then we discard it. It’s like: well, some things work in tandem. If you actually peel the physics back, it looks like everything’s connected to everything, so we’ve got to think about more comprehensive approaches. I think that you can learn a lot from looking at traditional practices and some of the Indigenous wisdom that’s out there; that there’s a method to how this work has been done for quite some time and we shouldn’t disregard it.”

“If we can help people in a clinic model, let’s do that. But [with a] clinic, again: when you take someone, you give them a mystical experience, and then they go right back home or right back to work and right back into life, are you creating enough space for there to be optimal change? I think we need to keep studying it and asking those questions.”

“[Amanda Feilding] never saw a rule that she didn’t want to break. She’s [this] lifelong badass that has just gone against the grain for her entire career. But it was never about money for her, it was all because she thought she could help people. It’s so inspiring. We need more of those stories; less stories about people that made a billion dollars or whatever and more material things, and [more of] these stories about folks that are just out there trying to help others. It fires me up.”


Upcoming Beckley Retreats

Psychedelics Today: Amanda Feilding – The Beckley Foundation: Changing Minds through Psychedelic Research

McKinsey & Company H.G. Wells quote (Joe said it was Mark Twain)

Pubmed: The gut microbiome and mental health: advances in research and emerging priorities

Psychedelics Today: PT372 – The Heroic Hearts Project: Veterans and The Impact of Storytelling, featuring: Jesse Gould & Zach Riggle Imperial College and Heroic Hearts Launch Psychedelic Research Retreat For Veterans With Head Trauma

Psychedelics Today: PT399 – Vital Psychedelic Conversations, featuring: Bennet Zelner, Ph.D. & Giles Hayward The Pollination Approach to Delivering Psychedelic-Assisted Mental Healthcare Expansion: Leadership Edition (original leadership study through Bennet Zelner) Candidates who support psychedelics as medicine get a political action committee

Markey with Amanda Feilding
Neil Markey

In this Episode

Neil Markey

Co-Founder and CEO of Beckley Retreats, Neil is passionate about sharing the science-backed benefits of psychedelics in conjunction with the contemplative practices that support holistic well-being. At Beckley Retreats, he’s dedicated to building a business that operates with the utmost integrity, both internally and across the many communities it will touch. ‍

A Captain in the US Army Special Operations 2nd Ranger Battalion, Neil was deployed once to Iraq, and twice to Afghanistan. After, in 2012, as an MBA/MIA masters student at Columbia University, he suffered from depression and PTSD. This led him to alternative well-being practices and marked the start of a profound healing journey with mindfulness and psychedelics. In 2015, Neil received a teacher’s certification in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reductions) from Jefferson University. Prior to Beckley Retreats, Neil worked as the Chief Growth Officer for a $450M, 3,500 person, private equity portfolio company where he was responsible for all strategy and growth planning. Before that, he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co, where he also co-led the internal mindfulness program. ‍

Neil credits meditation and plant therapy with saving his life. A gifted mathematician from a young age, Neil now sees no real divide between science and spirituality. “Yes, there are miraculous things that are difficult to measure, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, we can see them in the physics.” he says, “I think Einstein said it best: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ‍ ‍

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