My Life Changing Iboga Experience & Tips for Aftercare

life changing iboga experience

A couple weeks ago I participated in my first Iboga healing retreat. Iboga is an intensely powerful plant medicine from Africa. I heard about it from a friend who mentioned it casually in conversation. When I couldn’t stop thinking about it weeks post chat, I knew I was getting an intuitive hit that had to follow up with. So I contacted the healer, Michael DancingEagle, felt a strong sense that this was my right next step, and I signed up!

The Ceremony

The Iboga experience is personal, so I won’t go too much into what happened so not to set any expectations. Everyone in ceremony experienced something unique! It began outside on a warm summer’s night with each participant surrounded around a beautiful bonfire under a clear sky and a bed of twinkling stars. It’s a small group of 5 people, plus Michael, the nurse, and a helper. Michael shares the teachings of the Bwiti tradition, and once dark, comes around to give each person medicine based on their own personal needs. What I love about how Michael conduct’s ceremony is the way he continually nurtures each person with a gentle, supportive approach that by the end of the retreat had me feeling like a completely spoiled little baby!

The medicine, though tasting like absolute fucking hell, carries the same vibration of unconditional love. While people were dropping like flies needing to go inside to lay down, my pal and I felt like we drank a bottle of wine each! We felt amazing! So expansive, making jokes, feeling light and open, laughing, having the most incredible time!  Michael and our helper had to reluctantly drag us in to lay down!

Inside the retreat centre, each person is privy to their own air mattress, eye mask, and blanket. And for the first while I was still feeling great, laughing to myself and enjoying a nice body buzz. My body was uncomfortably cold because of the fibromyalgia I had been experiencing the past couple years, so the medicine was specifically working on my body.

Michael came around to guide me through a journey. First he guided me to my studio apartment where I found myself numbed out watching tv. Upon seeing this, I didn’t want to admit it because I was ashamed of this version of myself. So I immediately looked away, hoping to see another version of myself maybe in the kitchen preparing something healthy to eat or maybe doing some yoga! But Michael says, “no, go back, right there over by the bed.” And he was right, and I find it so cool that he knew that! So I went over to her, and said hello.

“Hey”
“What are you doing here?” She asks, full of sass and inconvenienced by my presence. I repeat what she says allowed for Michael to hear.
Repeating after Michael, I responded “oh I just came to ask you some questions! Is that okay?” 
“Alright” She responds, making sure I understood just how much I was troubling her.
Now Michael pulls out my journal with some questions I had prepared ahead of time.
He says, and I repeat, “Who am I?”
“Erika.” Duh. And as I tell Michael her responses I can’t help but laugh at her, our, sass.
Next, “What am I doing here?” 
Which as a question I was assuming a more existential approach, but to which she replied, “I don’t know, you showed up!” 
lol! And Michael and I laughed so much that he had to get a bit stern with me to get me to stop!

The conversation between us went on and when it ended, Michael shot me up into space where he asked me if there was anyone that had passed that I wanted to see. Immediately I replied, “Lucky!” My cat and best friend that had passed a couple years prior. Just as I thought it, I broke down into a hot mess of tears and sobs, that again I couldn’t get myself out of without Michael’s help.

After a visit with a few more late friends, Michael guides me to clean up my body. When I travel up to my heart, I visually saw this old vintage machine that was barely working and was held together with elastic bands and electrical tape. Michael instructs me to clean it up and once complete, it turns into this bright beautiful shining quartz crystal heart. Then I travel up to my brain where I find cobwebs and dust. Once cleaned up, it looks like a minimalist version of a computer room from Star Trek, like something that Apple would design.

As Michael leaves me to bask in my pristine new body, I felt the necessary release of everything that’s been cleared out. After a couple uses of my puke bin and a couple trips to the bathroom, I continued to lay, feeling somewhat uncomfortable and honestly tired of hearing my own thoughts, but surrendering to the intelligence of the medicine.

“The Break Through” or The Ego Death- When Creating The Journey Feels Fake

Some people who take Iboga receive visuals similar to those experienced in Ayahuasca. Michael says this may be a disservice if the person is distracted by the visuals, losing sight of why they’re really there. I did not have any Ayahuasca-type psychedelic visuals, nor did some of the other participants, and because of this, there was a common doubt and concern that they were making up their journeys.

The ego death is a complete loss of subjective self identity. Our ego is how we identify and navigate through our reality as a functioning human being. So the ego is not a bad thing at all, but who we are actually, our Self, is everything. There is no they or no other, it is all one. We’re not a fragment of the universe, we are the universe. And to get to this place, we need to experience the ego death. Psychedelics like Iboga make this possible.

There are four levels to an ego death:

  1. The breaking down of social barriers and conditions that are limiting and take our power away. We realize life isn’t what we thought it was and we aren’t who we thought we were. We’re lead down a path of self-inquiry and deep self examination. We realize we’re apart of something bigger than our body and our identity.
  2. The lines between the body and the environment become blurred. We are guided towards understanding the connectivity between all things. The Self begins to disassociate with the ego. Pettiness, judgements and individual differences fall away and our deepest values and how we are connected and similar to others surface. This brings us into an expansive, amazing feeling of freedom.
  3. The individual consciousness dematerializes into the dimensions of infinite possibilities and the dimensions of creation itself. This is the dimension of thought itself, the Astral Realm, or the plane of the collective consciousness where all things exist simultaneously. We can be whoever we want to be and go wherever we want to go. All possibilities exist here in all dimensions beyond time and space. This new state brings out the limitations and mirage of the old identity, and we can now explore the infinite possibilities that exist within us and our capacity of consciousness that we already have within us right now as a human being. This realm is the connected consciousness of the universe, the place where all knowledge and experience emerges.
  4. The ego death. We are now in a state of pure consciousness. We do not exist in reference to anything external. This is the identity of our Higher Self, our true identity. This is the state that exists beyond thought itself. It is a complete loss of the ego self, personality, and any subjective association. We are pure awareness, pure bliss.

    (Reference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDJIsscCoGE)

What scares many people about psychedelics is the loss of control. Given the description of the ego death, this is valid. However, we’re actually holding on so tightly to the bit of spare change that we can hold in the palm of our hands, when if we were to let go, we would be connected with the wealth of abundance that already exists all around us. We just can’t see it because we’re so afraid to look, to trust, to surrender and let go.

Prior to Iboga, I’ve experienced the ego death through connecting with the guidance of my Higher Self in meditation and visualization. Iboga provides that guidance system for us, it’s a bit like training wheels before we can do it on our own. So because of my experience and understanding that we are the universe, I understand that to visualize something in my mind, makes it true and real- whether I believe I am the one creating it or not. We are all one. We are creators, our mind is our canvas, and the world is how our art comes to life. Thoughts are things. Everything we create in our minds exists, and to manifest these visuals in this reality, it takes receptivity, surrendering, action, gratitude, and total trust in ourselves as creators. I know and trust in what I created and how I collaborated with the medicine. This is considered a breakthrough in an Iboga ceremony, or an ego death, and it’s what people who attend multiple ceremonies are seeking.

My advice to get to this point is to first, trust yourself and learn to play with your imagination. If we are all one, then it doesn’t matter whether we are creating the visuals or if the medicine is creating them for us. It is a collaboration and like life, we need to participate to generate any results. I remember in an ayahuasca ceremony, the visuals were so incredible and I asked myself, as an artist, am I doing this?? Is this what I’m capable of creating?? And the answer was yes, I am creating with the medicine’s influence. What each of us creates is as unique as our individual creative expressions. Trust that! Trust yourself.

Second, learn to let go, hold space for yourself, and listen. When I was asking sassy Erika questions, I held space and listened, paused, waited for a response. And it came. This was me connecting with the collective consciousness, allowing infinite ideas and possibilities to emerge. But if you doubt it, you discount it like a smack in the face. How rude. If you treat a friend or a child with this kind of scepticism, they’ll eventually stop sharing with you. And often, this is what happens- we shut ourselves down and need to repair the relationship. So learn to sit with yourself to just listen. Listen to the kinks in your body, how she wants to move, and the emotions held in all the many cavities.

Integration Day

In the morning we are one at a time assisted up to our beds. Walking was challenging for me as I felt weak, tired, and nauseous. I spent the day resting, taking mini naps, and journalling. While my friend was clearly full of energy, I found myself feeling rather depressed. When Michael checked up on me, he asked me how I am and I told him I couldn’t move. He said it was normal and I objected, “but Kate’s taking a shower! I want to take a shower! I want to brush my teeth!” But he assured me that each person processed differently, and my body had undergone some major healing.

For meals, Michael, challenging the traditional Western doctor-patient hierarchy by bringing us up fruit for breakfast and the most incredible vegan wrap for lunch!! I can’t remember the last time someone brought me breakfast and lunch in bed! I felt so wonderfully spoiled and loved!!!! I was important. I mattered. The days following, while the medicine was still in my body, I could see energetic tracers around the room and was still able to connect with my soul to get answers to every question that I had. I was still connected with the collective, and after my ego death, was integrating my ego and my Higher Self to be in service to each other.

For the Self to be in service to the ego, the ego needs to surrender to receive the universal insights and wisdom available from the collective consciousness. When the ego is in service to the Self, it uses this information to create a life that is in alignment with the true values, principals, and purpose of the Self. Because when ego and Self are aligned, then we are in flow and in a state of freedom and bliss. Celebrating life and playing on this beautifully lush earth becomes possible because through this connection we feel completely secure, supported, and abundant. We begin to appreciate the gift of life the way that a gift is meant to be enjoyed; and this is the ultimate form of gratitude.

The Benefits I Received 

I feel like someone hit the reset button on my entire being. After 4 days and one ceremony, I feel like I’ve taken a five year sabbatical.

Physically

The day after ceremony, I felt that the fibromyalgia in my body was gone, but I didn’t want to get too excited so I wanted to wait and see. Two weeks later, it’s still gone. My body is completely healed of any pain! I feel so free and so amazing in my body. I don’t know when it’s going to rain now! Aside from checking the weather network, but who can rely on that!

I realized that the fibro related to how I was tightly still holding onto my old life. Two years ago, my relationship with my partner ended and my best friend Lucky passed away and I never expected everything to be taken away. It devastated me. So I’ve been unconsciously waiting, numbing out in front of the tv, completely unaware of what I was doing, hoping for my old life to come back. I haven’t been able to move forward or make any changes because I was trapped, and my body was showing me that. Iboga helped me let it all go. Looking through old memories the other day, I saw photos of the family I had created and lost and I felt peaceful, grateful that I had experienced it, and excited and curious for what I was creating now. I felt free for the first time ever.

I received clarity on how I want to create my life going forward. I want to be a digital nomad, live and work all around the world! I want to spend each day celebrating this life that I’ve been gifted. How lucky I am to still be here, to have this most incredibly beautiful planet to play and create in. I feel an excitement for life that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.

Mentally
My mind doesn’t feel all messy, jumbled and noisy like it used to. It’s like the difference between hearing someone mumble, and hearing them speak articulately with precision and intention. Every word is thoughtful and counts. I have control over my thoughts, what I allow myself to think and the direction of my thoughts.

I’ve become aware of how I create my own suffering with the meanings that I attach to things and the perspectives that I wear. It’s my responsibility to choose how I want to see things to create the outcome that I desire.

I’m aware of the power games that people play and I find myself watching them like a science experiment. I’m not taking the bait and getting caught up in their dramas. I feel like an old chrone watching kids play. No judgement, just, “oh that’s where you’re at, you’re doing that again, yea, I know that place.”

I quit TV cold turkey. I noticed what a time waster it was and if I was really going to do things differently and change my life into one I wanted to live, I needed to quit this addiction.

How I Continue To Work With The Medicine & Keeping The Experience Alive

It’s easy to fall back into old patterns, and while Iboga cleared me out and showed me the way to connecting with consciousness, it’s up to me to create new habits and behaviours that will support me being the best version of myself. I am responsible for creating these new neural pathways in my brain. Nobody can do that for me, that’s my work as a free will being and as a creator. I can choose to create what I’ve always done and follow those same pathways that take me down the route that I don’t want to go, or I can stubbornly commit to creating the new pathways that take me in the direction that I do want to go. And it’s like I’m fighting with myself, “No! I will not do that same shit, I’m going this way! Get up! No feeling sorry for yourself! Step up! Let’s go!” Because sometimes we need tough love and tenacity to get through a treacherous phase of our journeys.

What has helped me the most is having a morning and evening routine with myself. This is only possible now that I’ve quit TV. During Iboga, we are hyper connected to our intuitions. To get quiet allows that space to get reacquainted and reconnected. I use a journal to write. I’ll start with clearing- writing everything that’s bothering me and bogging me down, and when that’s clear, there’s a natural elevation that happens. I’ll feel gratitude to bring me up to a higher vibration and then I’ll feel her presence right there waiting for me, and just like in ceremony, I can ask her anything and get a response and have clarity. I’m again entering into a state of integrating my body with full awareness.

One morning when I was journaling, I was inspired to make three posters: Who am I, What is Life, and my big WHY. Having these up offer an incredible vibe that is pulsating off the wall right now. When I started to doubt myself while at work, I look up for a reminder and it instantly pulls me back up. It’s made me productive, driven, inspired, motivated and excited for life! I cannot wait to see what I create!

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Erika

To participate in an Iboga ceremony, contact Michael at
[email protected]

To learn more about Iboga:
http://bwitihealing.com/

How To Create Genuine Relationships

It’s not as black and white as this, but it’s a way to simplify. We have casual friends and best friends. What’s the difference?

Casual friends we see once in a while for short periods of time, catch up, keep it light, update each other, maybe network a little, and celebrate each other’s successes. We could talk about deep, esoteric subjects and even share moments of deeply connected intimacy, but there’s a lack of something that keeps us from contacting the person on a more regular basis.

Best friends are people who share a deeply connected, intimate friendship all the time. They’re like family. They walk alongside you in life. They invest into you. They’re the people you call when something happens. Without making a list of expectations of these kinds of friends, we can agree that they make an effort on a regular basis to show you that they care about you and that you matter. They find out how you need to be loved- your love languages, and then do them because watching your happy reaction makes them happy.

There are several questions we can ask to investigate into why a casual friend isn’t become a best friend. They are:

Connection- Does someone have up walls that can’t be permeated?
Time- Is there time right now to invest into a close friendship?
Other priorities- Does someone already have strong relationships that takes up their time and energy?
Common interests- Do you want to do the same things together?
Common values- Do you want the same things from your life right now?
Common goals and vision for the future- Are you working towards the same things together?
Location- Do you live close enough to spend quality time together?
Spark- Is there a spark that keeps you wanting more of each other? Sometimes we just meet someone and think, “I like this one” and want to spend all of our time with them.

And maybe we’re in complete alignment, but still can’t further our bond. It comes down to vulnerability- being able to show that we love each other. Those that we’re closest to are the people we feel most loved by, the people that show us that they care, and the people we’re able to love in return. Best friends remind us that we’re loved on a regular basis, not just when it’s convenient for them. And this will look differently for everyone. The Five Love Languages is an excellent resource. It speaks to how people give and receive love.

love languages
Balance is important. How are we showing up in our relationships? Are we a giver, a taker or are we balanced? Giving includes things and ourselves- our time and energy. If we’re always taking, then the other person gets depleted and stops giving. It’s not always conscious, but they’ll start to feel unappreciated, taken for granted, drained and maybe even resentful. Are we always the one complaining and needing support, or do we reciprocate and show our appreciation for our friend?

Communication is also important. Ask your friends what they like and do this for them. Nothing extravagant- small gestures go a long way. If you’re the one feeling unloved, notice if you’re over giving and if so, hold back so your friend has the opportunity to give. Also notice how you give to yourself, show the world how you deserve to be treated. And finally, have that conversation. Try not to accuse them of anything or demand they give things to you, but tell your friend that the relationship feels unbalanced and ask them if they notice it. Maybe they’ve never learned the gift of giving. Write down a list of things that make you feel loved so if they ask you what you want you know how to respond. It helps if you look back at things people have done. Remind them that small gestures go a long way and that you care about them so much that you want more of them, not less.

We’re not trying to complete each other or get things that we can’t give to ourselves. And we’re not feeding our anxious attachments here or creating obligations for the other person to meet. We’re simply communicating our needs in relationships that help us to feel loved and fulfilled in this area of life. Expectations lead to disappointments and expectations are just unspoken needs. So let’s communicate our needs! When we’re two whole people coming together, we’re celebrating life by celebrating each other. We’re appreciating our friendships and doing things to see our pal’s reactions because it makes us feel happy and alive and we love experiencing life with them because we adore this beautiful human being! It’s about playing with life and it feels fun showing up in adorable ways for each other.

Can we have friends we don’t love and that don’t love us? No. Those are bullshit friends. They’ll waste your time and sap your energy. They’re most likely opportunists trying to get something from you. Sure, some people are on the path of learning about love, but there needs to be SOME kind of genuine caring feelings with the potential to grow into more. If they don’t care about you based on their actions, not just their words, swipe left.

Fulfilling Our Physical Needs for Mental and Spiritual Expansion

My Spiritual path began in early 2010-ish when I was suffering from health issues. Specifically, gallbladder attacks. I couldn’t eat anything without having an attack. I was under 100 lbs and it was recommended I have my gallbladder removed. Personally, I don’t do well with people telling me to remove my organs so I took it as a challenge to heal myself. It started with changing my diet.

I experimented with the elimination diet. This is where you eliminate EVERYTHING (basically, emphasis for drama because seriously it’s hard as f*ck) and slowly reintroduce foods back into your diet to see what affects you. I ended up not reintroducing certain foods because being on a gluten free vegan organic diet was the most supportive for me at this time. By eating this way, my body was able to take a break and detox a lifetimes worth of toxins.

Eating a very basic, clean diet allowed my Self to focus on other things. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the bottom section that all other sections depend on is Psychological Needs: food, water, warmth, rest. In order for us to have safety, love and relationships, esteem and self-actualization, we need to have our basic needs met. Eating a healthy diet is part of fulfilling our basic needs so that we can gradually grow and expand into more complex beings.

maslow-pyramid
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Similarly, the root chakra at the base of the spine represents survival. When our bodies aren’t fully nourished nutritionally and is being hounded with toxins and junk food, then the body is in survival mode. It isn’t able to move beyond doing repair work to express it’s full potential. Because all the chakras above depend on the health of the chakra below, we need to create a healthy environment for our Selves to grow and expand.

7 chakras in the body
7 Chakras

When my diet changed I started to develop a connection and a relationship with Spirit. I grew up Catholic with my mom telling me each night before bed in her heavy Italian accent, “say your prayers, Erika!” *kiss* However, every Sunday we would go to church and come home to my dad’s tyranny. I still remember the moment that I told God, “this is bullshit you’re not listening and I’m not talking to you anymore.” It was heartbreaking. And for over ten years I was very lonely, empty, and terrified having gone through everything that I had to go through alone.

But when my connection with Spirit started to develop again, I realized that what I rejected wasn’t God, it was religion. Spirit had been there for me all along, like a parent, watching me sleep through a nightmare and trying to wake me up. The cells in our body hold onto old memories and patterns. By detoxing, I started to flush out emotional, mental and psychological baggage as well. Everything is connected. I had taken “the red pill” and I started to wake up.

So here I am 6-ish years later with a healthy body, including a gallbladder that is healed and in tack, and an incredible spiritual maturity- just read my blog 😉 As I’ve been traveling down the rabbit hole exploring life from new perspectives, having existential crises and navigating the underworld, I, ironically, didn’t think to develop my mind at the level that I brought my body and especially my spirit. So now I question, how can optimal physical health impact my mental focus?

The mind is what we use to act. It’s how we focus our energy into creating what we want in this world. The mind is what’s responsible for envisioning our dreams and setting out to make them happen. In Tony Robbin’s “Awaken The Giant Within,” he challenges us to do a mind detox where you are aware of your thoughts the entire day and only stay focused on the positive. I couldn’t even make it a day. So I’ve met with both a nutritionist and a physical trainer, and as I strengthen my physical body further to reach its optimal health and challenge myself to a kidney flush, I’m going to do this mind detox again and see how the mental and physical relate.

As well as exercise and nutrition, other ways to nourish and fulfill yourself physically include:

– Dry brushing
– Massage
– Acuballs and acupuncture mats
– Organic body creams, essential oils and makeup
– Filtered alkaline water, I use the Akai machine
– Light daily stretching first thing in the morning, I do kundalini yoga to activate the chakras
– Restorative yoga at the end of the day
– Getting silk pillowcases and Egyptian Cotton sheets with a high thread count
– Being intimate with yourself or with someone you’re comfortable and safe with
– Snuggling an animal and enjoying their softness
– Speaking with your cells, thanking them for all that they do and sending them some love each time you shower
– Cup of tea
– Breathing exercises, just take a deep breath right now
– Trip to the spa!
– Be out in the sunshine
– Floatation tank

Do your best to enjoy being in your body. You wouldn’t be here without her. Allow and accept her as she is, and then take the initiative to change what you don’t like. The power is in your hands. We are all capable of much more than we think we are. The first step in achieving happiness and fulfillment in life is proper self care.

Feeling Safe To Be Our Authentic Selves

After being with my partner, Matias for four years, we split when he got a new job and moved to California. It was the most painful decision of my life. With him, I always felt safe in the world. Now I felt I was left to fend for myself. I still always have his support, but it’s different now. I’m here in Toronto alone. He is currently visiting, a few months after our split, and I can see the difference of how I am with him and how I am without him. When I’m with him, I feel safe. I am able to let my guard down, open up completely, relax, laugh, have fun, be my authentic self. When he’s not here, I tense up. As a way to protect myself, I unintentionally, close my heart, build a wall between myself and everyone else. In the process I become numb, depressed and cold. I check out, disassociate because it’s hard to be in the world when you don’t feel safe. I am still functional but I don’t feel like myself. I am not able to take chances and put myself out there, nor am I able to easily connect with others until I know them well enough that I feel safe again.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 10.18.27 PM

Photo by: Laina Briedis

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