Elizabeth Gibson – Self Care and Integration: An Excerpt from the Navigating Psychedelics Masterclass

Elizabeth Gibson


This is an exclusive interview with Elizabeth Gibson from Dreamshadow. This interview is a master class from the Psychedelics Today online course, Navigating Psychedelics:  Lessons on Self Care and Integration.

3 Key Points:

  1. A common mistake people make is thinking all of the work happens in the session, when really only a portion of the work happens in the session, and the rest happens afterward during integration.
  2. It’s important not to isolate yourself after this work, it’s important to search out people who will be understanding of your experience.
  3. Elizabeth compares journeywork to planting a seed. You can’t grow a whole plant in one session, you simply plant the seed. You determine how it grows by how you water and cultivate it (integrate it), it’s a process that can’t be rushed.

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Show Notes


  • Integration is one of the most important aspects of work with extraordinary experiences
  • “How do you take material that’s come up and bring it into your everyday life? How do you realize the benefit of the intense work that you’ve done?” – Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s Background

  • Elizabeth has been facilitating Breathwork for 23 years
  • She was a part of MDMA trials in the 80’s when it was legal
  • Elizabeth helped edit the MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy Manual

Integrating the Experience

  • A common mistake that people make is thinking all of the work is in the session itself, but really that’s only half of the work. The other half of the work happens after leaving the session, the integration.
  • Integration is about being more present with ourselves in every moment, not just yearning to get back to the state of the session
  • The long term subtle changes that happen over time are the most important
  • Stan Grof says that aerobic activity like swimming, running, etc is a way of connecting with energy and feelings that operate at deeper levels
  • Elizabeth says she likes drawing immediately after an experience to work with it symbolically, and then journaling a day or two later once she is able to verbalize her experience
    • “Just do it before you think too much about it”

Community Benefits

  • It’s important not to isolate yourself after this work
    • “The principle of community is really important. We can’t do this work completely on our own.” – Elizabeth
    • We are all the descendants of successful tribes
    • It’s important to search out people who will be understanding of your experience
  • If there is somatic stuff happening in the body, it is a good idea to do some body work, such as deep tissue massage
  • On the other side, if we are holding the space for others who went through a session, it’s important for us to make ourselves available for them
    • Just to talk and to be heard is so important on its own
  • Email follow up is tricky because a person can pour their heart out or be very vague or not get deep in their email
    • The email follow up method is also tricky because of difficult response time and interpretation of responses
  • Facebook groups can be a helpful way of finding the others and creating a community to be able to reach out to understanding individuals
  • Elizabeth says it’s like the analogy of seeds being planted, you decide how you want it to grow and how you cultivate it
    • Acting too quickly after an experience isn’t always the best idea, its best to keep it slow

Journeywork Tips

  • Safe setting
  • Access to people who will be able to support you afterward



About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Gibson, M.S., holds a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master’s degree in biology from The University of Tulsa. She has completed Herbert Benson’s Clinical Training in Mind/Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Previously she worked as a consultant at Arthur D. Little, Inc., and Radian Corporation in the areas of environmental protection and food research. She is a writer, editor and homemaker with interests in environmental literacy, yoga, music and gardening. Elizabeth is the editor of Stanislav Grof ’s The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death and a contributor to the teaching manual MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, both published by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. For the past 12 years, she has been responsible for local news for the Town of Pawlet, and from 2008 – 2014 she was the editor of the weekly environment section for the Rutland Herald and Montpelier Times Argus newspapers in Vermont.

Dr. Michael Sapiro – How Meditation, Mindfulness and the Psychedelic Experience Relate

Dr. Michael Sapiro


In this episode, Joe holds conversation with Dr. Michael Sapiro, Clinical Psychologist out of Boise, Idaho. They cover topics surrounding how meditation and mindfulness intersect with psychedelia as well as psychic ability, altered states and integration.

3 Key Points:

  1. Meditation and psychedelics have a lot of overlap such as ego dissolution and unity.
  2. Dr. Sapiro believes that meditation and mindfulness bring personal awakening in order to create collective transformation.
  3. Both meditation and psychedelics are the most beneficial when they are integrated into our waking life and when we use our experiences to help others and our planet.

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Show Notes

About Dr. Michael Sapiro

  • Attended John F Kennedy University where he received his PsyD
  • He focused on meditation research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences
  • He is from Chicago, IL
  • He spent time in Thailand for the Peace Corps
  • A lot of his experience was from his time in the Bay Area
  • There is more data coming out about awareness based meditative states and psychedelic states and how they relate subjectively to each other

Dr. Sapiro’s Practice

  • Transformational Psychology, Integration based
  • He integrates the Buddhist Dharma, Western Psychology, Non-dual meditation and philosophy, and Noetic Sciences into his practice
  • Michael sees 20-28 patients a week
  • Kashmir Shaivism
    • It’s a dissolving type of experience, Its a non-dualistic style of tradition
    • The non-dual tradition helps one just be “whole and unbroken” and focus on the present and now
  • He does the human work in the Buddhism Dharma style, and the spiritual work with the restful piece of being in the now, the focus being integration


  • His vision has been on enhancing personal awakening in order to create collective transformation
  • He wants to help communities and states and nations to transform via individual awakening
  • He has worked with law enforcement agents, military vets, community members, a variety of people at different levels all the way from grounding to stability to thriving
  • He always ends each Sangha with saying ‘take this work and apply it to your neighbors’
    • A Sangha is a buddhist community of monks/individuals in support of each other
  • “People have such a deep connection to nature when you come out of the psychedelic experience. You start taking care of the environment differently than before went you went in.” – Michael
    • “We now have data on greater environmental concern and stewardship after the psychedelic experience.” – Joe
    • People who are consciously interacting with things outside of themselves have a greater care for those things. “If I am hurting the world I am hurting myself.” – Michael
    • “Hopefully one of the bigger things that come out of the psychedelic movement are greater levels of environmentalism and global stewardship” – Joe
  • The psychedelic movement helps us see systems that are made up are a part of our tangible reality and our responsibility to take care of the people in the systems
    • We can use psychedelics and meditation, and integration from these experiences, to see how we can operate in these systems and help people find resources in these systems

Dr. Sapiro’s Work

  • He teaches as Esalen Institute leading workshops
  • One of his colleagues has reached over 200,000 people with their work since 2011
  • His goal isn’t to be the lead, but the support of leaders, especially women because he feels the need for a balance and the need for more female leaders
  • Michael says he loves surrounding himself around ‘world-changers’ and loves doing anything to be around them and learn from them

Boise, Idaho

  • Michael says its surprisingly conscious state
  • Its very community oriented
  • There are 6-7 Buddhist Sanghas, groups of dedicated folks to their practice
  • There is a lot of nature and nature is Dharma, it is the teacher

Psychic Ability and Altered States

  • It’s very normal for humans to have psychic experiences
    • All of us have access to these states, we just have to tap into them
    • Michael encourages people to accept and cultivate these experiences
    • It may be better to accept these experiences than to deny them
  • There is a difference between energetic flow and psychosis
    • Crazy Wise is a documentary that touches on spiritual emergence issues

The Overlap of Psychedelic States and Meditation

  • The Institute of Noetic Sciences had a program called The Future of Meditation Research
    • They found in the research that they were only looking at reducing anxiety and depression, the clinical applications
    • But they found that more than half of the people experienced psychic phenomenon, mystical experiences, terrifying experiences, the things that overlap/correlate with psychedelic experiences
    • Both meditative and psychedelic experiences point to ego dissolution and unity at the same time
  • Ego and anxiety both have wisdom in them, we don’t want to lose them completely, but learn how to balance them and use them wisely
  • “We need to be mindful of how we integrate what we learn in the psychedelic/meditative state into our waking life” – Michael
  • “How can meditation and psychedelics lend themselves to being the best version of ourselves while committing to others well being? That is what I am most passionate about.” – Michael
  • David Trellen and Willoughby Britton – Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness
  • “If we are choosing to be more compassionate to our fellow humans and the earth, let’s not tough it out, let’s help each other.” – Joe
    • “Let’s do the work that it takes to heal it.” – Michael
  • Be open, be curious. What might meditation be able to bring to personal awakening in order to create collective transformation?



About Dr. Michael Sapiro

Michael Sapiro, PsyD is a clinical psychologist, Dharma teacher, meditation researcher, and former Buddhist monk.  He is on faculty at Esalen Institute and is a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he engages in research on meditation, transformation, and consciousness.  He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in advanced psychology at the Boise VA Medical Center where he specialized in rural health, PTSD, and combat trauma.  Dr. Sapiro teaches nationally on the art and science of transformation, expanded human capabilities, self-care, and meditation for personal and community growth.  He is the founding teacher of Maitri Sangha Boise, an integrated Buddhist community, and director of Maitri House Yoga, LLC, serving the community through integrating meditation practices, psychology, noetic sciences, and social justice.  He can be found at maitrihouseyoga.com.  He and his wife, Chef Sararak, own and operate Lime and a Coconut: The Art of Thai Cuisine, and together lead international meditation and culinary retreats to Thailand.

Richie Ogulnick – Ibogaine Uses and Addiction-Interruption Therapy

Richie Ogulnick


In this episode Joe interviews, Richie Ogulnick, a long time Ibogaine provider and enthusiast. During the show they discuss Ibogaine and Addiction-Interruption Therapy.

3 Key Points:

  1. Ibogaine is a compound found in the Tabernanthe Iboga plant that has been used to treat opioid and other addictions.
  2. Ibogaine has shown to have the power to reset the biochemistry of a person to a non-addictive state, and reduce/eliminate the agonizing symptoms of withdrawal, allowing a person to heal from an addiction.
  3. The combination of Ibogaine, relocation and integration therapy is the best scenario for healing someone and preventing them from relapse.

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Show Notes

About Richie

  • In 1989 he was Introduced to Ibogaine while visiting family and friends in New York
  • Its an alkaloid extracted from a West African shrub
  • He was ready to fall in love with doing something with purpose
  • He came across an article about a corporation called NDA created by Howard Lotsof
    • When Howard (a heroine addict) was 19 years old, a chemist gave him a dose of Ibogaine
    • A few days later, he realized he “wasn’t afraid” and then he realized he wasn’t having opioid withdrawals
  • In “Needle Park”, a park in New York, heroin addicts come there for free needles
    • Richie’s dream was to dose all the addicts with Ibogaine, and that only a quarter of them would show up to Needle Park because they were not addicted anymore
  • He brought 13 grams of Ibogaine back from Africa with him
  • He received a chapter from a book (Healing Journey) called Ibogaine: Fantasy and Reality by Claudio Naranjo
  • People were coming from all over the world to receive Ibogaine treatments
  • It was 15 years where he conducted over 750 psycho-spiritual and addiction-interception sessions underground
  • Upon training people, those people would then go and open their own treatment centers in Mexico, abroad, etc.

What is Iboga

  • Tabernanthe Iboga is the plant
  • Ibogaine Hydrochloride is the best product to use to interrupt addiction and symptoms of withdrawal from an addiction
  • Ibogaine is safe as long as someone has had an EKG that has been looked at very closely for any red flags
  • Other than cardiac risk and previous suicidality, schizophrenia, psychotic breaks there aren’t many more threats to being treated with Ibogaine

The Miracle Compound

  • “There is a miracle compound in ibogaine. There is nothing I have come across on the planet that can reset the biochemistry to a pre-addictive state, that can bring a person to make a choice without the agony of the symptoms of withdrawal.” – Richie
  • There is a 36 hour window where a person has a life review, what brought them to the addictive process in the first place, the person’s willingness and maturity
    • It creates a symbiotic relationship for a person to explore themselves with insight
  • Relapse is possible if they don’t work on the reason they became addicted in the first place
  • It’s the witness component that Ibogaine delivers that helps people process through their addiction
  • Ibogaine as a molecule has a really pharmacologically complex, alien like structure


  • Justin Hoffman, a DJ in Las Vegas runs Holistic House, a facility where people get to relax and get out of their previous context for a week or two after treatment
  • If a family wanted to help out their family member who is addicted to heroine, Richie says that he asks the family about relocation because it’s a big part of reducing relapse
  • He also says that finding a proper therapist to help afterward is huge too
  • The combination of Ibogaine, relocation and integration therapy is the best scenario for healing someone and preventing them from relapse

Big Pharma’s Impact

  • Joe says how he got a message from Dana Biel, talking about how the harm reduction movement has been manipulated by the ‘Big Pharma’ industry, especially suboxone
    • Richie says that drugs like suboxone are prescribed to be used everyday for the rest of someone’s life, and Ibogaine is a “one-time-only” style drug that doesn’t require alot of money to heal people
    • Ibogaine is not profitable so its not attractive to Big Pharma
    • “Ibogaine will never hit the streets like LSD did. It’s not a recreational experience, it’s a long, daunting 3 stage process.” – Richie

Use Cases

  • He knows of a story where these two ladies took Ibogaine daily for their Parkinson’s, and as soon as they stopped taking Ibogaine, they got their symptoms back
  • He knows of another lady who had been walking with a cane and upon taking Ibogaine she was walking a mile around her neighborhood without her cane

Final Thoughts

  • Joe asks if Richie thinks we are over harvesting Iboga
    • There is the Wakanga tree that contains a small amount of Ibogaine, so he thinks we are okay
  • Ibogaine is an important subject because a lot of people are dying from opiates
  • Ibogaine is available in Portugal but it hasn’t had much activity
  • It can be used for therapeutic use as well as addiction-interruption



Richie Ogulnick is a long time Ibogaine provider and enthusiast Over the course of fifteen and a half years, he conducted about 750 sessions, including addiction-interruption treatments. He spent the next several years referring close to 1,000 more people to other ibogaine providers. During that time, he also trained doctors and ex-addicts who opened ibogaine centers throughout the world. Richie feels a pull to focus again on the more therapeutic and psycho-spiritual treatments where he is able to offer his expertise in ibogaine treatment along with his knowledge of reintegration with individuals who are looking to deepen and enrich their life experience.