The heart of addictive mind is desire and attachment. The mind gets hijacked into the most pleasurable experiences, and all of a sudden the new, conditioned thought pattern is in place.

What is Iboga? This is a legend about the discovery of iboga. Hundreds of years ago in an African village a pygmy hunter found a porcupine caught in his traps and brought it to his wife for dinner. Upon eating the meal, she began to feel strange and developed visions of neighbors in her village, an innate connection with the natural world, and areas of the village that needed work. The chief of the village went to find out where the porcupine had been caught, and noticed the bark of a shrub had been eaten. 

In Gabon, women are sacred along with the choices they make. The chief needed validation from the trapper’s experience, so he had his wife eat the porcupine as well, and she would be the final authority. The results were amazingly similar to the trapper’s wife with insights, teachings about life, and a deep connection with the truth inside. The Bwiti tradition was born, and the Pygmies have used iboga in ceremonial rituals and practicing the derived wisdom ever since.

Iboga has the ability to show you what you’ve been doing to yourself, the nature of your mind, and give you the opportunity to connect with your soul. This isn’t just about healing the addictive mind and feeling physically better. This is a journey into the roots of your existence and understanding how to use your mind.  

For those who have experienced various levels of addiction, we know what a chaotic, tug-of-war it is in our head to justify making choices to further the pleasure and avoid pain.  And by pain I mean the truth buried deep inside our existence that gets showered with delusion to avoid having to face reality. How do we get to the truth and create a path of happiness?  

Enter the Bwiti…

Who are the Bwiti? Thousands of years ago, after the Pygmies of Central Africa discovered Iboga, usage and practice of the medicine eventually shaped the Bwiti tradition. 

Bwiti is not a religion but a tradition, a spiritual path of self-discovery. It is simply the study of life itself, and through that a mastery in the art of knowing.

For the Bwiti people, iboga is the teacher for the school of life. These are some of the ways they make their minds work for them everyday:

•Bwiti use iboga as a tool to connect to spirits and to innate truth

•The creator gave us everything we need, and this truth exists deep inside of us

•The value of one’s life is in highest regard

•They know that they are a part of nature and show it the ultimate respect

•Fear does not exist in their tradition. To them fear is only a thought and illusion 

•The Bwiti live in the present moment with no past or future to attach

The thought and feeling that you’re empty and missing something is an illusion. This is what drives the addictive mind and attachment in our lives. As soon as we buy into this belief that we are lacking is the moment desire hijacks our mind. It’s a scramble to feel pleasure, and fill ourselves up with a “high,” rooted in fear and delusion.  

The experiences that brought me to iboga were nicotine addiction, a broken relationship with self, and self-betrayal. At 40 years old, I had a serious nicotine and food addiction to heal or I was going to have a short life. At 313 pounds, high vital signs, attached to every pleasure, and unable to be intimate with anything, I chose to search for the truth in plant medicine. My addictive mind was running my life, and I was not the boss of my thoughts.  

My personal work with iboga and plant medicines of other traditions span a 10-year period covering locations in Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Africa. The wisdom and healing from these master plants, in particular, iboga has transformed my mind and life.

Iboga interrupted the attachment to my nicotine addiction, and I never used it again except in ceremony. It offered a complete physical detoxification of my body and mind and allowed me to purge the toxins inside whether thoughts, trauma, broken relationships, or substances.

Iboga first requires a detoxification before you can go on what the Bwiti call a “psychospiritual” journey to get answers from your ancestors and the spiritual world. Most people experience detoxification of some sort that can take the form of vomiting, sweating, chills, mental anxiety, aches and pains, itching, and so on. Every experience is unique to the person, and what the spirit of iboga needs to show you.

The medicine seems to know what you need, and each person’s experience is different. There is one thing for certain: you will receive a re-wiring of sorts that clears beliefs, opinions, and stories from your mind. Iboga offers a chance to begin with a clean slate and start making choices that are truthful for you. But, you still have to be mindful everyday and be real with yourself. This is not a magic bullet that works without you having to make the choice to be happy and make your mind work for you.

So, where is the truth? What is it?  From my experiences, I have learned two things; the truth is where we come from, and it’s synonymous with love.

Working with a 10th generation, Bwiti shaman I surrendered to my pain and suffering. I had to get underneath the addiction to take responsibility for every experience in my life, see the root cause of my desire and attachment, and forgive myself so healing could happen.

I would have paid ten times the money to open the portal to healing and happiness that iboga offered me. No amount of counseling, therapy, meditation, or drug would have been able to guide me to experience the truth with such a “high” that I would never want to consciously betray or harm myself again. 

A few years after my initial psychospiritual journeys, I was able to connect with the truth of my existence and begin to enjoy the freedom to create something instead of  trying to escape from something. There is only one intention required of someone to be able to transform their life with iboga: surrender and do the work.  

That’s the beauty of iboga, it teaches you how to literally “mind your own business” or live your life to the fullest by creating, not following. Do I choose the path of truth and happiness or do I follow the old, conditioned karmic path that led me here? It’s not a hard choice, but it is one you need to make nonetheless.

The reason behind my choices to disrespect life, nature, and my soul were the root causes of my addictive mind.  he best of what iboga has to offer comes when you’re ready to go inside and meet your soul. It’s not scary or difficult once your mind is clear, heart is open, and you completely surrender to the journey.

I had to gain a deeper understanding of truth and love, so I could create a healthy and respectful relationship with myself and with others. So, about an hour into my second psychospiritual journey and a flooded dose of Iboga, a gentle, familiar set of eyes looked back at me. Iboga brought me to meet my soul, and together we would learn how to love on this journey.  

There was no fear, and I felt for the first time a connection with who I really am. During an iboga journey we have the opportunity to see life from the eyes of spirit as opposed to the relative mind. What you’ll see is the truth of your experiences, and the root cause of your suffering.

It was difficult going back through experiences to see how others felt from my actions,  to put myself in another’s mind to understand the magnitude of my relationship with them. It was painful to experience all of the times I chose to betray my soul and not love myself first. Finally, learning to listen with all my senses until I wanted to crawl out of my skin was iboga’s way of showing me tough love to understand true compassion for the world.

The simple truth about compassion is that you listen with everything that you are. That’s how I learned to feel the love inside on a 24-hour journey with Iboga. I released any attachment I had to others and began to protect my life. No more red carpets for others to judge, mistreat, or hurt me. There wasn’t anything missing inside after all; this was happiness.

How do I live my life now? In the natural world, hiking, doing breathwork, yoga, physical exercise, creating sacred space for my soul, being in relationships, and, of course, the Bwiti and iboga.  I became an “insider,” willing to be vulnerable and look at myself in such a real way, developing a deeper knowledge about love, and taking responsibility for everything that happens in life, good or bad.  

I wondered how on earth I ever made the choices to treat myself and others the way I did. I don’t worry about the past or the future, and I allow others to be who they are with no judgment. I just share the love and wisdom inside and let the world accept what they’re open to. I have found the key is using what you know to be true and evolving within the journey of life, being kind to yourself and grateful for everything you have.

I continue to experience a deeper knowing of life and myself through iboga. I can honestly say from my heart, “there is no better high than experiencing the truth.”  For the Bwiti, there is only one prayer said to start each day:

“Life is a gift, and nothing goes above it.”
– Wisdom from a Bwiti Shaman