sâmbătă, 24 octombrie 2015

Iboga,between a divine state of sobriety and discovering a new continent within.

  It would be quite wise and responsable, to start with a disclaimer(eventhough I am perceived  as not a very wise and neither a responsable person):I do not advise anybody to consume iboga and its derived alkaloids.Iboga is knwon to be resposable of few deaths(mainly because of liver or hearth failure,mainly in persons with addictions).The mechanism of action at neurotrasmitter’s level is  not entirely known which btw,means that for the moment,is only speculated at a theoretic level.Eventhough we share the same brain structure, the neurochemistry has  its particularities to each one of us.But if you do,please do it with a sitter(preferably an iboga facilitator) and most of all, try to inform ourselves as musch as you can  about what is known about the dosage,the settings of the experience and in general about all the variables that could interfere with the experience itself.Take a small dose to check if you are allergic or not to iboga!Do not ingest a full flood dose because the outcome could be really unpredictible,leading to undesirable effects.Building slowly the substance in the body is way more recommended and the results are exactly the same as a flood dose. Sit tight,stay calm,breath and enjoy the ride!And the bumps,too!

  As a thinking model,l I am more inclined to use logic and a progressive line of evaluation .Even empirical evidence will suffice in most of the cases..I am not that really in the fluffy stuff preached by New Age gurus,about how you are a snowflake who sometimes has ocasional gases. Or the dogmatic knowlegde of any religion .I tend to believe in science more than I believe in God as presented in secular traditions,because at least science gives a fertile ground for common sense observation and most of all, an aproximatted description of what  probably  happens outside and inside. At the end of the day, it seems more reasonable to give credit to a theory that has at least some evidence to back its existence than to a system of beliefs founded, in most of the cases ,on  metaphysical propaganda .But I not am adhering  to scietism either!I feel that spirituality with all its paradoxes has the key to a lot of unaswered questions .So,I try to keep the  midline and to remain open to all array of posibilities. I am writing this rather boring note since a good amount of the psychedelics experiences descriptions fall straight in a rather strange and vivid fantasies category which makes me wonder is the usage of entheogens is twisting even more the illusion that already sourround us.And mostly because of ignorance of searching a little bit further than a flawed ideological system !


 A beast of no nation 
  There is not much in the plant world that have people  not sniffed,snorted,injected ,eaten in the hope of having some kind of magical respone.
Iboga is a perennial rainforest shrub and psychedelic, native to western Central Africa. Iboga stimulates the central nervous system when taken in small doses and induces visions in larger doses. In parts of Africa where the plant grows the bark of the root is chewed for various pharmacological or ritualistic purposes. Ibogaine, the active alkaloid, is also used to treat substance abuse disorders and depression.
  Iboga gave birth in Gabon and Cameroon ,to Bwiti religion which  is considered by its members as a monotheistic universal religion, accessible to anyone who approaches it with respect and humility. This is quite common around the world(Amazonian shamans have Ayahusca,Native American Church has peyote,etc) ,so no biggie there.

  Eventhough I had prior  experiences with psychedelics , iboga is the uncrowned king of all. In short, ibogaine interacts with many neurotransmitter systems to drive amygdaloid-brainstem dynamics into a critical oneiric state, with fractal time patterns of phasic events similar to those existing during fetal rapid eye movement (REM)  In effect, ibogaine pharmacodynamically destabilizes the functional connectivity of the brainstem and its habitual interactions with bihemispheric temporal lobe structures such as the amygdala, creating a functional state of plasticity in these areas which facilitates the reintegration of traumatic memories by altering psychopathological interhemispheric dynamics, ultimately dissipating addiction-related behavioral patterns.How cool is that?

 The preparatory phase

  Iboga require some preparation, but not as strict as Ayahuasca, for example. In the dietary aspect, one -two weeks before, small changes in your diet, like less meat and more greens are beneficial and required for a better assimilation of the substance in the body.No alchool,caffeine or drugs.Psychoactive substances should be avoided at all cost since the interaction with ibogaine could be potentially dangerous.What is also very important is setting an specific  intention.A brief clarification of what this experience will serve you:healing, a better connection with the real self, or just plain exploration of the inner realms.It is better to put down on a piece of paper , the questions which it will be answered during the ceremony . I mean when your brain is firing 3 times more than usual , believe me, you got a lot of correct answers to any kind of  subject. 

   An iboga ceremony could be felt like a 20 years of psychotherapy compressed in only 24 hours.Most of the descriptions around the net , anecdotically,complies with this view.Just imagine the amount of stress which the mind will have to endure for the 24 hours.Processing and coming to a resolution with an overwhelming data output is a titanic effort that could put you in a even more undisireable position comparing to the one you begin withSo,in the light of this in evidence,a objectless awareness practice could come in handy,in order to prepare the mind for what is about to come.Navigating in the uncharted teritories of your mind is no easy business,especially when you don't have any ideea what might arise.Taking in consideration this aspect could be valuable .
  Another piece of advice is to reconsider your own mortality,  eventhough is higly improbable ,there are some chances that will not survive the experience.And in a certain way, it  will be feelt  like a symbolic death. In the end, you will surely doubt about what is the true reality of ''you'' .Is quite difficult to accept the fact , that at a deeper level, ''you'' is just a mix of consciousness, feelings, mental images, physical body  and perceptions or what Buddhist psychology calls "the five aggregates" What is unfortunate is the fact that all our physical life is a neverending clingging to these states .
And maybe from a evolutionary point of view, is understandable to be this way since under the scalp, you have three brains mushed in one!

Between the streams of ''you''
  Iboga and its main psycoactive compound, ibogaine are enough well known in the main psychedelic scene.It didn’t get the same level of popularity and attention as the other psychedelics such as MDMA or LSD,because it is not a party drug.You'll have to be  a masochist to enjoy the whole process from the begining to the end.It's not a magic bullet either which will rectify all of your life's problems.But it's a good tool to start inducing the changes and the corrections you desire.It produces the same range of effects on conciousness ,but it could be hardly considered as a typical hallucinogen.What could do justice to the plant is to look at it as a oneiric substance.The alterations of conciousness could be described as a dream state,in which the main stream of awareness is not fully distorted ,but just kept under control.In the psychonautic community this form of control is perceived as the plant’s spirit or the plant’s intelligence.And surely, it is very easy to have this kind of perception,but I am just guessing that in fact it acts as a dissociative state due  the lost of the syncrony between the brain’s emispheres.The whole experience is more of a dialogue between the perceived sense of self which takes a secondary role in the experience and well,let’s just called it for the moment ’’something else’’ which is resemblances a higher form of awareness.It is not mental chatter ,not even by a long shot because the patterns of actions(EEG raw readings  ) are strikingly different but an orchastrated form of guidance mainly through almost all personal registers of memory.

The ataxia and all the rest of body’s sufferings
   Well,in the moment you decide to ingest Iboga,from a clinical perspective you just poisoned yourself.There is little room to turn back or to eschivate what is coming.I know that is quite common to give to this phenomena a more metaphorical meaning ,such as purging and even detoxifyng the body.I do not think it is! I mean,called whatever suits you but in the end,from body’s direct perspective ,it just plain poisoning. Judging the sympthoms, could bring you on the ground! The taste is outwordly bitter, that persists at a oral level for many minutes after consumption.The body will try to eliminate as soon as possible the substance trough mouth(vomit) or anally (diarehea).Or you could just have both ways of expelling activated or worst both activated in the same time.Which,btw is called a combo! 45-90 minutes after the initial dose,you start to receive signals that something is wrong.The best way to approach this response of the autonomic system is to remain calm.It helps a lot to focus on the breathing.Shortly after,eventhough it is not see as a constant in all the cases,you will experience the debut of ataxia(lack of movements coordination).Moving around is totally out of the question.So no moonwalking and no pirouttes!The have an ideea what is the level of the ataxia ,consider that walking to the toilet a kind of mission imposible.After ataxia,you may know what a real state of diziness and nausea feels like.Anyway,not to forget the debut of these rather severe sympthoms, means that your body already tries to metabolises the substance in your liver(noribogaine).I cannot stress enough for remaining calm and not worry!Let’s just say that is just normal part of the process.The process of poisoning!And to certain extent,I think is quite understandable because it forces you to stay put and cut the contact with the external stimuli and focus on the inside. The whole process is has a wave form.You are in and out but mostly in,for at least 24 to 36 hours.Now ,when the first wave reaches maximum peak level will trigger the rest of the natural responses of the body:auditory and visual hallucinations.This is the first sign that the substance already been transported via bloodstreams to your brain and it’s affecting your visual  and auditory cortex .

 The visual and auditory disturbances

Regarding the visual aspect,with eyes open the intensity of hallucinations may decrease to a certain level but you will still be able to perceive various geometric shapes melting in others.Also as the time passes ,fractals will become also frequent. What is worth mentioning is the ability to have an organic ideea how images and light are percieved by the eyes.This could be easily considered a ‚’’WOW’’ moment.The fact the images are directly received and processed without any kind of editing from the brain  is mindblowing.Seeing how white light dissipates in the main seven  colors and back ,perceiving a new intensity of the light spectrum it could give you an pretty good ideea how restrained is our proccessed perception of what could be called reality.It gives you that sense of wonder to question what is REALLY out there!With eyes closed the intensity of this disturbances is increased exponentially by the time unit. Allegory and  archetypal images in a high-definition quality are likely to appear.What still amazes me to this very day is the crystal crisp aspect of all the scenery, the richness and not ultimately, the origin of it .At a neurological level ,the prefrontal cortex and hipothalamus activity is impared and subsequently also the capacity of processing the data.So it doesn't make much sense to  ''see''these images!In a way, the Jung’s theories regarding the collective unconciousness come in handy because it could at least give a meaning to part of the experience.
   The audio hallucinations,  come in various forms:humming, buzzing , chanting.Things tend to become rather interesting and eclectic in the same time, when you listwn to an audio track.To facilitate a better experience, in the room we had the session were installed two speakers playing some shamanic music.I do remember that at a certain point, it became really difficult to recognise the repetive patterns of the track due the magnitude of interferences I was perceiving. Eventhough at the beginning is difficult to make sense of what you really hearing or not, eventually the melange of inner and external tones, is fascinating.

Archetypal imagistics.

                                       An accurate description of  one of the visual hallucinatory phases 

Body sensations
 Along these imparements ,another variable could be happen: the body sensations;feelings of vibrations,small electrical discharges will hit various regions of the body.It could be moderate or even strong sensations will swipe the entire body in waves.


What is feels like!

This is the tricky part of the description since it becomes increasing difficult to find the appropiate words to even begin to describe how it feels like.The flow of counciousness that you are experience in everyday life is just a second operant.The executive functions are partially, if not greatly impared and  only assisting ,what is happening in the still functional conectomes of the brain.So having a coordinated line of thought  is merely a futile desiderate.Basically, you are forced to watch and just be an external  observer of your cognitive processes.The other thing that strikes is losing the sense of quantified time.One minute could easily become one hour and one hour not more that a little tiny minute.Now ,this is the main moment when you realize that you lost control of what you could define as YOU."You" is not existing anymore!!Basically all your desires,hopes,sorrows,ambitions are just water under the bridge.You as a relative single  flow is shattered.And of course, this is the moment when the first reaction and attachment is likely to appear.To fight in order to maintain it or at least to save what is really left of it.Don’t fight it !This is the fear mother of all fears!The fear of no-self,that what you are in fact ,there isn't there!Just embrace the moment and see the beauty of it! Not being a form is rather exquisite! The harder you fight and resist the harder it’s gets.Right now you are at the limits of your sanity as would be described in psychological terms!From this moment it arises the first feeling that you are not just a mental construction.Or perception,mental patterns,or a body or just feelings,but rather something else !There is great beauty to this,not joy,not sorrow.I don’t want to give a metaphysical adnote to this because even so I would spoiled one of the most precious moments of my life .And it would be just another construction or an effort of the mind to find a category for something that could be beyond words.I am aware that everything happened within my brain’s framework that it could be a moment created under the influence of a high blockade of 2A(5-HT2AR) serototin receptor.But still...

The peculiar state of bliss.

This is the moment of hemispeherical desyncronisation when a sensed presence appears.It could be also due an electrical anomaly at the level of temporal lobes.So,theoretically ,this is  still the self located in the right emisphere but perceived as a different and outsided entity.This is in fact, the plant’s intelligence.And actually is quite intelligent.It could be a voice ,it could  be an image of an old creature mostly very funny and extremely direct.At least in the begining!Well,at this point you see fragments of your childhood in the begining and after full chunks  of your life with a striking clarity and abundant details.Like for instance,seeing clearly the shape and textures of your first girlfriend's robe at a random party,all the discussion ,word by word you have with anyone in the room.The level of detail is literally insane.Without any exageration,it was very likely to activate all my memory registries.My life memories ,almost day to day.After this rewinding at a large scale,the experience seems to be narrowed only to just  specific moments.Buddhists called this sankaras.Or  the Ghost of Pasts Christmases if you wish .Technically,is pretty accurate to describe your  important memories as a data written on a hard diskThe only difference is that to each memory ,we attach a emotional value,positive,neutral negative.Sankaras are the ones with a negative value.Which at micro-electrical level,in the brain, it causes a energetic loss which is pepetuaded in time.The energetic cost of maintaing a memory is directly proportional with the emotional intensity and in the same time is reinforce by the emotion itself in a continous circle of action and reaction. Imagine, for a second, what energetical imbalance could produce a lifetime of this sankaras .Strangely ,for the moment,at this point of the jouney,is very difficult to have any kind of associated emotions seeing the good,the bad and the ugly of your life.I suspect that it is a form of transitory integration of various experiences that could led to a closure  .Regarding almost emotionless all kinds of scenes of life could be regarded as a de-sensibilsation to memory's value and most important as a break in the energetical loss circle.Narrowing the path of searching memories with intense emotional values becomes is narrower till the moment of looping. The loop and what  it becomes the most difficult part of experience is a continuous and strucured repetion of a set of images  that are still hard to process:moments when you hurt peoples,moments when you got hurt.Another process that comes to fortify the initial one is the dillatation of time.Basically, you see the same images over and over again in a infinite display for what you consider to be months and years.This relativity of time is atrocious and unforgiving.I spent more than 4 hours seeing this elaborate managerie of repetitive films and I still consider the show ,one of my worst nightmares to date.I was under the impression of getting old seeing the same mistakes and what could be considered painfully memories on and on.And on!But in the end I am still pretty sure that is  what I had to see to get full closure and to gain some kind of insight.Eventually,the infinite loop ended and a feeling of lightness sourrounded me.It was almost over!

The plant's spirit

The randomness and goriness of ''punishment''.

 After seeing over and over the same images you have the impulse to turn away the "eye of the mind".Cause is way too much!It took me some time to realise that iboga seems to create a coercitive response by activating a series of gory and random images in which death, blood, cadavers, rooting and all sorts of atrocities are the leitmotif,everytime you diverge your attention. In a sense, it becomes much easier to focus back to your set of personal problematic display.It could easily considered a descent to hell.I remember that at a certain moment I was contemplating the risk of remaining for the rest of my days in this tumultuous state which projects indefinitely my "hungry ghosts" and to spice things up also grotesque and horrible pictorials.I am guessing that this is the thin line between a comfortable sanity and plunging in the abyss of real madness.The realisation that death is not, even by a long stretch, the worst thing that you could experience is the first thing that comes to mind.Still, the question mark regarding the source and the nature of abominable shows remains till this very day. Speaking afterwards, with one of the facilitators ,she believed to be images from past lives trapped in a sort of cellular memory.Well, it is a most interesting hypothesis. So, is it possible to store recordings of past traumatic events from a generation to another ? Transpersonal psychology believes that the statement is indeed correct.What is curious remains the fact that all this scenery of death,decomposition, despair seemed familiar and personal.

The loop.

A explanation of the intensity of my experience could be attributed to the large dose of Iboga(22mg /kgx 98 kg =22 grams) which now if I think a little bit was a lot but still is the minimal effective dose.And maybe because and did’t vomit or had diarehea.
I tripped in and out at a lower intensity for another 24 hours which totally cumulates to 36 hours of reevaluating who I am .Or I am not!

The post-experience

  You come to realise the toll of the journey after it’s finished.It is still difficult to make some move ,you still seeing tracers when you do fast movements.But it feels like a readjusting and rebooting.
The rebirth.

The integration

 Without the integrative part, the psychedelic experience is almost pointless.Tripping just for the sake of tripping is not really that productive for the psyche.Even if the integration process of the psychedelic journey has a passive part, the real work is to make sense of most of what you experienced.The psychedelic community defines that as concious integration and it consist in discerning the internal truth thuth from the ilussion of mental fantasy.In this light,the change of perspective could be radical.The journey is neither pleasant or unpleasant but just a depiction of the dictone:"As above, so below !".Making sense of the "insights" is rather complicated because the unconscious mind operates with distinct set of images and logic.Many people prefer to write down during the experience (of course if the intensity of permits such a luxury) the content of their discoveries in order to have an anchor for a latter investigation .As I said the integration is part passive since iboga stirs so many neurotransmitters. The most noticeable is the regulation of serotonin.For a period between one to 3 months most of the people will live what is called "the state of grace" , which means elevation of mood, seeing the outside world in a new light where the array of possibilities is infinite.The joy, spirit of communion, empathy, openness are high.This is a time that facilitate a personal change with great easiness and not much struggle. Overriding bad habits and replacing them with new and useful ones is relatively easy since the opiod receptors are also regulated.Ceasing smoking , drinking and cutting all sort of unwanted habbits is highly probable.From a neurophysiological stand your receptors are brand new so therefore the level of craving is insanely low.But, this doesn't mean that your psychological cravings are gone too.So, a word of advice , it's way much easier now , keeping a straight road will eventually erode your neural pathways of missconduct. Just hang in there and it will pass much easier than you anticipate.Well, physiologically speaking there are also few downsides:first and most noticeable is the hunger.Is quite common and normal since the brain is experience neurogenesis trough BDNF and NGF.The second one is the liver pain even though liver and pain is a contradiction in terms.Fatigue is quite common so a good multi vitamin and multimineral could be quite handy to support the changings .Are there a lot of them and most important is the way the brain allocates the energy that was before trapped in different traumas and repressed feelings.The perception in all its totality is greatly enhanced .New sounds, textures, smells, tastes are become widely available. So, do not miss the state of grace! This is the ticket out from the old you.Eventually,this stage will subdue and I will return to a previous state .But it will not be the same !

I am writing this after 6 weeks and I still trying to make some sense of what happened.I still  live in a world full of wonders and magic.I am gracefull for everything ,eventhough ,at the time ,there were very difficult moments.In a sense I could look at it as the Journey of the Hero battling the monsters  in my head!

    The article points out just a few highlights of the experience as a whole ,and not all of it.The things like out of body experience,traveling in other planes of ''reality'' ,memories inside mother's womb which are difficult to wrap my head around it and still not having a clear explanation,I prefer to let it out for times when I'll have the necessary understanding.