Why my psychedelic journey was a perfect start to 2020

Are you curious about coming on a psychedelic retreat? Read this personal story of one participant, Sibren de Preter, who came to Synthesis to improve his confidence and continue his journey of self-growth.

On a Friday morning early in the new year, somewhat excited and somewhat nervous, I boarded the Thalys train towards Amsterdam. It was the official start of a journey into unknown territory, miles and miles outside of my comfort zone both physically and psychologically. 

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Usually I find relief in having some control over my day, my actions, my body, at the very least my mind. Yet I was about to let go of my desire for control in the next 54 hours to join a Synthesis retreat and have my first psychedelic experience. Despite some nervousness for the uncertainty to come, I felt ready. After reading, listening and researching a lot about how to optimize the chances of having a profound experience with psychedelics, I was convinced the right “set & setting” would guide me through.

On “set” (or mindset), I am aware that I have been on a transformational journey for a few years now. The once shy and insecure boy who I was has slowly but surely been changing and growing with all the ranges of experiences that life threw at me. I felt the next leap could be this psychedelic experience by getting to the root of my self-limiting beliefs and looking at how my feelings around “not being good enough” can change.

When thinking about the “setting”, Synthesis’s professional team helped me to prepare fully over the weeks leading up to the retreat. The comfort I felt with the preparation was strongly reconfirmed once arriving at the Lighthouse. Every single detail was crafted to perfection, from the venue interior to the friendly facilitators. I’ve never witnessed such pure beauty in excellence, even before ingesting a single gram of truffles.


A mindset to make every detail perfect was ever-present, from the one-on-one coaching and the thoughtfully planned schedule, to the atmospheric setting and the nourishing, light food was prepared with love. Personally being quite ‘scared’ to go into a psychedelic experience and give up control, the setting was a true lifeline. The patience of the facilitators explaining and comforting me truly helped me relax into the experience.

If there’s one thing I could share about my psychedelic journey, it’s about The Rolling Stones. My facilitator guided me towards this wisdom, and the Rolling Stones’ lyrics got a whole new meaning for me: 

“You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime,
You'll find,
You get what you need.” 

- Rolling Stones

After my experience, the lyrics made sense to me! My journey was very different from what I expected it to be (or hoped it to be), but it was exactly what I needed the most. It might not be easy and fun the whole time, but you’ll come out as a transformed person, you can trust on that.

When softly “landing” back in the room, I had a sense of sheer overwhelming beauty. I felt the care, passion and love of the team taking care of us. From the gentle words and their pure presence to the almonds roasted to perfection served as the first snack. Thank you, thank you, thank you…


On the final day, the focus was on unpacking and making sense of the experience. The integration sessions and tips resulted in me grabbing my notebook every few days to write down some new insights that just came to me. The experience keeps on giving, even back home.

Another peculiar and subtle change, that I welcome very warmly into my life, is how I look at other people now. When walking down the street, sipping a coffee writing this article in my favorite café, I feel like I finally truly see people. I can feel them, I can see them, I can hear them. It’s a revelation on its own.

Speaking from the heart, if personal development is something important to you, I cannot recommend a psychedelic experience highly enough, especially at Synthesis. I couldn’t imagine a better way to begin 2020. I wish for as many human beings on our small planet to be able to experience this for themselves. Because after all, words are just words, feelings and experiences are at a whole different level.


Written by Sibren de Preter

Tags: Stories