What is Alalaho?

Past And Present

In February 2016, the Experience Retreats was founded as a branch of the UK Psychedelic Society, becoming the first European organisation to offer this type of psilocybin-assisted retreat format, which went on to inspire many others.
Initially starting out as a 3-day retreat focused predominantly on a high-dose psilocybin ceremony, over the years the programme developed to offer 4, 5 and 6 day retreats, with increasing emphasis on preparation and integration. The vast majority of participants rated the retreats as “far exceeding their expectations” and much more than just the psychedelic experience they initially signed up for. After four years, and having supported over 900 people on their psychedelic journeys, it became time to more accurately represent what we had effectively become, and the breadth, depth and nuance that we stand for.

An all-embracing attitude

“Alalaho” expresses what everyday words cannot: a radical openness to experience, and to life itself.
The term comes from the Tibetan Buddhist lineage and encapsulates the joy and wonder that arises when surrendering to what is, when accepting and celebrating all aspects of reality. It acknowledges the great mystery, the immensity… and the simplicity of it all. More than just a retreat organisation, Alalaho is about cultivating this all-embracing attitude as a way of life
More than just a retreat organisation, Alalaho is about cultivating this all-embracing attitude as a way of life.

A psycho-spiritual approach

As humans, we contain a multitude of polarities. We have bodies and emotions, and experience ourselves as unique individuals existing at this time on this earth. At the same time, our ultimate nature is boundless, immaterial, and timeless. Psycho-spiritual work is about becoming an integrated human being, engaging with, and unifying the existential polarities of life.

Spiritual work invokes the sun, the ineffable dimension of reality which includes but transcends the personality, and is a tremendous source of wisdom, spaciousness and limitless skillfulness. Psychological work thins the clouds of our emotional wounding, taking us deep into our bodies and personalities, so that we may be here more fully, without wanting to escape or distract from difficult emotions or sensations.

We must address the two poles: We cannot navel-gaze our way to liberation, down an endless spiral of emotional processes and conceptual elaborations. We also cannot bypass our way to enlightenment, attempting to transcend, but actually suppressing the almost unbearable rawness of our vulnerable human hearts.

Aligning to the cycles of nature

One of our intentions with Alalaho is to come into and inspire greater alignment with the cycles of nature. Embodying a cyclical perspective helps us attune to the pulse of the natural world, especially in the busy drive of modern life that tends to hold a linear view of time. When we do so, it feels like going with the flow, as opposed to swimming upstream.

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the digital and the natural world, our website changes colours according to the seasons. The compass shows the yearly seasons and corresponding festivals, which consist of the year’s main solar events (solstices and equinoxes) and the midpoints between (Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain, named by their Celtic origins). It also indicates the phases of the moon, waxing and waning, as it circles around the earth.

Historically, more nature-based European cultures celebrated these points of the year, to acknowledge the previous phase and mark the transition to a new one. The solar festivals signify the changing availability of sunlight, which in turn determined whether the earth needed to be sowed, tended to, harvested or left to rest and regenerate. New moons are traditionally a time to go inward, dream and plant seeds, whereas full moons call for celebration and coming together.

At Alalaho, we aim to let the wisdom in nature’s cycles inspire our organisational planning, for example, when to begin new projects, when to celebrate achievements and when to rest and dream. It also influences how we hold our retreats, as we take into account the particular energy of a given time of the year or phase of the moon. Honing our awareness of the celestial movements, reminds us and celebrates our fundamental interconnectedness with all life.
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