About My Recent “Trip” to Tijuana

I’d like to delve deeper into my experience with iboga, a journey that was both enlightening and transformative. Our group at the retreat was diverse, consisting of four individuals, including a chaplain and a man grappling with heavy addictions for three decades. Another notable participant worked at MAPS, a renowned psychedelic organization, and was well-versed in ayahuasca, having experienced it hundreds of times. Despite his extensive experience, he asserted that ibogaine was the most powerful psychedelic he had ever encountered.

Ayahuasca, a shamanistic ritual from Peru, involves boiling tree bark to release an enzyme essential for the absorption of DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the active psychoactive compound. My only encounter with DMT was through smoking, which led to a fleeting seven-minute experience.

At the age of 47, amidst a personal crisis often associated with mid-life, I was inspired by various podcasts, particularly one by Shawn Ryan, a former Navy SEAL. His discussion about the therapeutic potential of ibogaine, especially for PTSD and other deep-seated issues, resonated with me. While I didn’t suffer from PTSD, the constant stress from my past, especially related to my experiences as a trumpet player, made me curious about the healing possibilities of ibogaine.

The retreat was carefully organized, ensuring a safe and supportive environment. This included thorough medical check-ups, participation in a sweat lodge ceremony, and engaging in intensive breathwork sessions. The ibogaine treatment itself was meticulously structured, beginning with the consumption of four pills spread out over an hour and fifteen minutes, each intake marked by specific ceremonial rituals.

Initially, I felt no effects, even after a booster dose was administered. However, soon after, my perception shifted dramatically. I started seeing visual tracers and hearing a sound described as a mechanical swarm of bees, a common auditory hallucination associated with ibogaine. This marked the beginning of a profound psychedelic experience. The world as I knew it dissolved into an indescribably beautiful realm of infinite possibility. A spirit guide emerged, leading me through this new universe, showing me the interconnectedness of all things and the foundational role of love in creation.

This journey was not just about awe-inspiring vistas; it was a deep introspection into my life. It forced me to confront my past decisions, the pain I may have caused others, and the shortcomings in my own character. This confrontation was painful but necessary, serving to break down my ego and rebuild a more humble and empathetic self-awareness.

The experience extended to the use of 5-MeO-DMT, which initially filled me with apprehension due to the intensity of the ibogaine trip. However, this subsequent experience further solidified my insights, emphasizing our divine origin and the paramount importance of love and empathy in human interactions.

This journey profoundly altered my perception of life and humanity. It instilled in me a deep sense of humility, an understanding of the universality of the human experience, and a newfound compassion for others, irrespective of their life circumstances or personal struggles. The lessons I learned about interconnectedness, empathy, and the beauty of our shared human spirit were transformative, offering me a perspective that I will carry and cherish for the rest of my life.

Reflecting on my experience with 5-MeO-DMT, it was a moment filled with intense apprehension and fear, much like how a dog behaves anxiously when visiting the vet. I was genuinely terrified at the prospect of undergoing another intense psychedelic experience so soon after my encounter with ibogaine.

As I lay on the mattress, preparing for the session, my nerves were evident. I requested Gabriella, one of the staff members, to sit beside me for support, which she kindly agreed to. The room was filled with staff holding clipboards, perhaps anticipating my reaction to the substance. The apparatus for smoking the DMT resembled something out of an A&E intervention episode, adding to my trepidation.

Despite my deep-seated fear, I proceeded with the inhalation process. I deliberately avoided using my advanced trumpet breathing techniques, which might have intensified the experience, due to the fear and anxiety I felt after overhearing the chaplain’s intense reaction. After inhaling and holding the smoke as instructed, I let go, and the experience that followed was unlike anything I could have anticipated.

I experienced what they call ‘ego dissolution’. My sense of self, the Nate Mayfield I knew, completely dissolved, and I felt my consciousness merging with the universe. This sensation was indescribable – it was a reunion with the cosmos, an embodiment of formless love. Unlike the previous day’s experience, there was no dramatic ‘rocket ship’ launch; instead, it was a peaceful, enveloping embrace of universal love.

Gradually, I started regaining a sense of my physical self. The first thing I felt was my hand being held, reminiscent of a mother’s comforting grip. As I returned to my full consciousness, I realized Gabriella had been holding my hand, mirroring the nurturing love one receives at birth. This transition back to reality was profoundly moving, leaving both Gabriella and me in tears.

After this journey, I was offered another opportunity to experience the 5-MeO-DMT, but I declined, feeling content with the profound insights I had gained. I later learned that the chaplain had gone through the process twice, despite his vociferous reaction during the experience.

Returning to San Diego the next day and then heading home, I encountered Wiff Rudd. This meeting sparked a deep realization about my connection with the trumpet. The instrument started to represent more than just music; it became a symbol of the love and profound experiences I had just gone through. It reminded me of the universal essence of love and how the trumpet could be a medium to express and share this love.

This journey with psychedelics profoundly impacted my perspective on life and music. It highlighted the importance of love in our existence and how instruments like the trumpet could be powerful tools for expressing and sharing this love. This realization urged me to embrace and share the joy and love I derive from music more openly, helping others on their musical journeys.

Reflecting on my psychedelic experiences, I’ve realized they’ve significantly sharpened my understanding of what playing the trumpet truly means to me. These profound journeys have peeled away layers of distraction, enabling me to see, feel, and appreciate the instrument’s finest qualities more clearly.

This newfound clarity has brought with it an immense sense of gratitude. I’m deeply thankful for the numerous opportunities I’ve had, not just to play and excel in music, but also to give back through my art. The trumpet has been a constant companion in my life, a means through which I’ve expressed myself and connected with others. In moments of self-reflection, I often think about how my musical contributions might be perceived in a grander, spiritual context. I humorously imagine citing my musical achievements in a conversation with the Almighty, hoping they might offset any shortcomings in my character.

More seriously, though, this journey has reframed how I perceive the impact of my music. I recall concerts where my performance moved someone to tears and moments when my music seemed to resonate deeply with others. I used to downplay these experiences, but now I recognize their true significance. The trumpet, for me, has transcended being just an instrument; it has become a profound vehicle for expressing love and making a meaningful impact.

This realization has transformed my approach to playing the trumpet. It’s no longer just about the technical mastery of the instrument but about the emotional and spiritual connection it fosters. It’s a tool through which I can express love, evoke emotions, and touch lives in ways I hadn’t fully appreciated before. My journey with psychedelics has thus not only altered my perception of reality but also deepened my relationship with music, highlighting its power and purpose in my life.

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