#105 How have psychedelics changed me?
A colleague at the bar I work – let’s call him AS – asked me: “Do you find yourself or do your parents or anybody that loves you since you were young that you have changed through these iboga trips?” Thanks for the question.
I’ve already written about how psychedelics can change people, how we might be able to direct the focus of change by being proactive about it. In that stream, I unpack a friend’s question/concern/fear about psychedelics: “How would this experience change me?” That stream examined the theoretical how; in this stream we’ll discuss specific whats from my perspective. So, how has ingesting iboga, and other psychedelics by extension, changed me?
Another colleague said to me a couple of months ago that I’m much calmer than when he started working with me a couple of years before. My modus operandi in life and work is organization, precision, exactness. I really enjoy seeking order in the chaos, and bartending at a big, busy bar is a prime example of me being able to do that. From one instant to the next, I must make tasty and eye-appealing drinks to giving good customer service and making sure intoxicated people (at varying degrees) behave. Throw in social and emotional intelligence as well regarding putting out “fires” or issues and when I put on my psychologist hat when people talk about their at-times difficult issues. As you can see, bartending affords similar opportunities to psychedelic experiences, that being, structuring the experience to maximize order in stressful chaotic situations. When my colleague says I’m calmer now than when he started 2 years ago, I agree with him. I tried to control everything before. My approach now is more laissez-faire, or, to use a casino analogy, to let some chips fall where they may. I’ve been growing into this approach for some years now. I realized during one of my early iboga experiences that accidental circumstances, something that I had not planned for during the experience, turned out to be extremely fortuitous. In each iboga experience, and the observational experiments I’ve conducted, I allow space for and expect “wildcards” or contingencies. Some of the greatest insights I’ve ever come across while researching iboga’s visionary state has come from accidental happenings. Thus, one of the things iboga has taught me is to let some things play out without feeling the need to control them. Just let them happen, let them run their course, and intervene when absolutely necessary because amazing things might result.
It’s interesting that we can’t tease apart correlated factors from each other. Was it iboga or age that chilled me out? Would I have become more relaxed at my chaotic bar job had I never taken iboga/psychedelics? Would aging just a little longer produce the same results? Perhaps a bit of both; we’ll never know for certain. The thought just at the top of my head is this: does aging always make things or people or circumstances better? Yes and no. Wine and cheese, and some company stocks, definitely get better with age. Sometimes this applies to people as well. I’ve heard people say men age well, that is, they become more handsome with age. (Alright, I have a chance!) On the other hand, some things, people, or circumstances get worse over time. Some people become bitter and crotchety as they age. Early signs of gangrene or cancer surely get worse over time. I’m not sure where I’m going this… New thought pops into my mind: we’re discussing whether my experiences with iboga made me more chilled out at the workplace but also in other areas of my life. This idea is of course against the backdrop that the iboga realm is, I suspect, a timeless realm. The nonphysical/spiritual realm is timeless. Time seems to not exist. So, does temporary toe-dipping in timeless realms alter one’s psyche, one’s being, upon returning to wide-awake, sober states of consciousness? Hmm, that is an interesting question. If “that place” seemed familiar, like you’ve been there before, perhaps it’s a conscious experience of the dream state, the subconscious mind, or it’s that place or weigh station before birth and/or after death. And how does experiencing that timeless place affect one’s daily experiences downstream? For one thing, one’s mind races in all directions trying to rationalize highly irrational experiences. One deploys everything they ever thought about – whether from their imagination to ideas obtained in books and films. High strangeness leads to high speculation without concrete answers. I find there’s something comforting about: if everything is possible, then, everything is on the table until we get more information to confirm or disconfirm potential hypotheses. As Galileo said, and I paraphrase: all truths are easy to understand once they are discovered, the point is in discovering them. But you have less of a chance to discover them if your mind is not already primed with the crazy hypothesis. The point is that confirming evidence might be right under your nose or in front of your eyes, but you don’t notice it because you don’t have the correlating hypothesis already in mind to which to connect it. Anyways, I digress, back to AS’s question.
As to whether my family and friends who love me have noticed changes about me after my self-experimentation research with psychedelics: to be honest, I don’t know because I haven’t asked them. Some have made comments that I seem really passionate about my research, and AS says that I seem “quite motivated.” That’s only because few people are philosophically investigating the visionary state. It’s a virgin field of study. After reading so much about iboga and psychedelics in general, I suppose my excitement also stems from discovering things about these experiences that no one has written about in the published literature, whether in books, articles, or online fora. So, yes, I found my passion and am applying my analytical skills to this field.
Regarding my parents, we have a very open and honest relationship. As a courtesy to them, I tell them everything I do. I leave out some details like iboga can be cardiotoxic in some individuals and that each time I take it I’m not sure whether I’m going to die or not. No need to stress out mom. But if you’re reading this mom, I take all necessary precautions. In fact, two days ago, will tell you soon over the phone, I just did a full body health check, including a 12-lead electrocardiogram. The doc said I’m as healthy as a 20-year-old! My parents don’t really care what I do in life; what matters is that they believe in me. So, when I tell them all the crazy stuff I’m doing, it’s not the psychedelic experience or my research of it they find interesting; it’s that they see how I’m so interested in it, and that makes them happy. My mom once said regarding having children: when you have a child, you don’t know how they’re going to turn out, what kind of person they’ll be, what they’ll be interested in—with you, I got a psychedelic researcher.
Regarding my friends, those who knew me before I discovered altered states must have noticed a difference. They see me as someone directed toward a goal. Because my goals require so much time to achieve them, I’ve read and will continue to read many books on personal development to maintain my motivation. I’m honored to say that three people at work asked me to be their mentor. They wanted to know how my mind worked regarding setting goals and achieving them. It’s an interesting thing when you write down a goal here and there, you tell people what you’re going to accomplish years from now, and then you do it. The more you do this the more confidence you get, and the more people start noticing that you’re doing what you said you’d do. That’s one small example of how iboga and research of it (my passion) has changed me in my friends’ eyes.