The Abode of the Toad

I was recently at Crossroads Treatment Center in Mexico supporting veterans who were healing their service trauma with earth medicines.  All but one of us had previously been together in Peru for a 10-day dieta of jungle plants including ayahuasca with three Shipibo shaman brothers.  I did not participate in the ibogaine treatment having done so a few months earlier at the facility when I participated in the psychospiritual program for the first time.  I did however repeat the 5-Meo-DMT portion.  This neurotransmitter in the human brain is contained in a number of plants and also in the milkable glands of the Sonoran Desert toad, Bufo Alvarius.

Supported by the two guides for my session I was sequenced last by the staff in the list of six veterans.  I knew what to expect of the power and intensity from the 5-Meo-DMT.  I wasn’t fearful of what was coming, but I was respectfully anxious of the infinite potential for anything to happen.  I was guided through meditation by the female facilitator.  She gently spoke to me mentally preparing me for the experience as I focused on my breathing and clearing my mind and bringing my best intentions to bear or maybe laid bare might be more accurate.

I slowly inhaled the vaporized medicine and then lay down and held it in my lungs with an eventual release. I began to deepen my breathing to counter my ego wanting to operate in fight or flight mode because of this new threat to its survival due to the intensely rapid change of consciousness induced by the medicine.  As my breathing got deeper I used my yogic Ujjayi breathing to keep going further.  I got to the point where I could hold my breath and turn off the ego response of needing to breath (gasp reflex) to stay alive even though my higher self still somehow knew that I would need to breathe eventually.  When that breath finally released I let go and found myself in an ocean of love. I was in a state of cosmic bliss.

My ego was somehow still there but no longer in the way.  This was amazing.  Even while being bathed in cosmic source juice I was ready to still follow my own advice that my higher self told my ego in my previous 5-Meo-DMT session out loud which was to “let go.”  I knew that I was ready and requested a second dose of the medicine to push all the way through.   After releasing the second dose of the medicine held in my lungs I let go and went all the way to the source.

I was merged with the One. I asked myself is this all there is?  That question was instantly answered within me and I knew that the divine source of creation, the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God let go to create creation.  Creation was a divine release.  A divine out breath.  I began to thank God out loud while crying tears of gratitude.

I had come to understand in my more recent medicine work that life all boiled down to letting go and surrendering.   Doing so would allow me to trade up from belief in to actual experience. When I let go and completely surrendered to source, source itself showed me that life is a letting go and surrendering to the continual unfolding of creation from infinite potential and possibility to actual existence.

I eventually sat up and began talking to the two facilitators as I came down from my peak experience debriefing them on what I had just undergone.  After sharing back and forth and lots of hugs I went upstairs to reunite with the rest of the crew.  We all had huge grins and gave each other big hugs.  We had done it.  We had come together for a mission to heal ourselves with these natural medicines and in the process given others the hope and courage in order to do it for themselves.

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About Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a West Point graduate, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, US Army officer and combat veteran who participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama. This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the Fort Ord, California military base was shut down. Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture. He has been healing himself of trauma for over 25 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany. Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990's. He is a casualty of the drug war having been busted for a friend’s cannabis while in law school. Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel. He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas. Ian has also been the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years. Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic. In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers. Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT. This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary on March 16, 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine. He is member of the team working on the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that will chronicle the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis.