Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this story - no doubt if you’re reading this, something has propelled you here. To hear this story, perhaps you are also going through something and the information here may help you on your own quest in life? Who knows, but I’m truly grateful for you being here and reading this story of my path to spiritual awakening and healing. I have attempted to write it a number of times, so much to say and so many ways to say it… but for now, here it is:
What I share here is deeply personal and comes from the place ‘of my own truth’ about what were the most transformative experiences of my life. The vocabulary and language I have chosen to use is sometimes a little ‘child-like’, but this is my simple and humble attempt to convey the profound and mystical events that took place before, during and after my spiritual awakening that ultimately activated my path towards sound and energy healing. In sharing, I also hope that my story will help others who have also gone through personal traumas, who, in their current state are yet unable to see the bigger picture of our cumulative experiences and the nature of why suffering occurs, how it can be transformed and how it plays out in our shared karma.
Several years ago, I went through what many call the 'dark night of the soul', a number of traumatic events took place in my life that caused me to shut down and cave in. Looking back, I can see how I was already broken inside, even before the tragedy struck, from the beginning of my childhood right through into adulthood, I had stored up a huge stock of unprocessed emotions and traumas within me.
On 11 March 2015, my father lost his life to fighting cancer - it was the pharmaceuticals that finished him in the end, that, combined with his own unprocessed grief and sadness throughout his short and turbulent life; a refugee, one of the empty-handed boat people after the wars in Vietnam, a man who subsequently sacrificed his own life to provide for his family.
At the same time as my father was passing away, I was also going through the lengthy break up of my 9 year relationship to someone whom I still love dearly, but at the time it felt like I was also loosing my best friend. The greeting card business we had built together was dissolving and yet in the midst of this, I ploughed ahead, co-founding another start-up company with two other friends. There wasn’t the time or the space to grieve, the new online business was all consuming and only added to the pressure.
There were many other difficulties in my family that I won't mention out of privacy. What I have described so far is barely touching the surface, there's much more I could share with you, but for the sake of brevity and with respect to those who contributed to my life, I’ll continue with my own learnings…
Inside, I was distraught; I felt like the whole world had been ripped up within me. I lost complete and utter faith in existence. All I wanted was to feel silence in the chaotic world around me. I craved the restoration of hope, for a glimpse of humanity, a shimmer of love in our world again - to know that there had to be more than this pain and suffering that I’d endured. One night, I began to pray - because that's all I could do; so, I had asked the universe for the truth of everything - what was the point of this crazy and messed up existence? I wanted to understand what consciousness was, what death was and I just wanted to dispel all of my illusions and delusions I had built up in my life. I didn't have a care for the world, as someone who was masking all her pain and grief, I was a workaholic. But at this point in my life, I just didn't care for anything anymore, I wanted to just drop all the hundreds of knots and balls of anxiety I was juggling, so I could be with myself, for the first time in my life, without any demands, without anyone asking anything of me.
On the 20 August 2015, on my 34th birthday, after previously watching a video animated by my ex-partner who had taken Iboga the year before, I embarked on my own journey with that sacred plant medicine, in the form of ‘Ibogaine’. My brother had also tested Ibogaine a couple of years before which gave me both the incentive and the courage to go for it myself. The animation described how this plant medicine is derived from the root of the Iboga tree that comes from East Africa. It is used by the Bwiti Tribe in Gabon as a rite of passage going into adulthood - for me it was an initiation into spirituality. Ibogaine is also known for its ability to shift hard drug addictions and negative patterns of behaviour, it unravels the hard wiring of the neurones, resets the receptor cells and frees up the unconscious programs handed to us from birth, social conditioning, as well as those entrenched in the amygdala during traumatic events.
That journey with the plant took me to worlds I never knew existed and places I could never have imagined - It was to be the beginning of my healing journey that transformed my life in profound and magical ways. The Iboga spirit’s message to me was 'Be Playful' - well, I took that message to heart, playfulness is really a characteristic I have tried to live by since then. Over time I became lighter, freer and more creative. After all that I experienced in the visions and the messages I received - there’s no way I could possibly go back to my old life and old ways of being… they had become a dried up husk.
Since then I have been continually guided by the wisdom of nature that speaks to us through all the people, places and spaces I have experienced since my healing journey began. I let go of that online business I started with my two friends, despite losing all I had invested into it. I stopped caring for anything that took my energy. I started to become protective of my energy and looked to nature to heal - I travelled to far away places, alone and seeking out mother nature, finally away from everyone. I found comfort in her silence and I cried my whole world out to her, I became more ceremonial in my life, creating rituals and speaking into stones and plants and to the animals - I see now how I owe my healing to nature itself, though it’s medicines and to be enveloped in her womb again.
As I started to adopt tools to manage my state of mind and being, I was able to shift
the trauma I had stored up and to restore the lightness of being again.
I remember one night in particular, something like what the Yogi’s call a ‘Kundalini Awakening’ that activated my DNA and recalibrated my energetic system and literally burst my pineal gland right open during my sleep; it came as a flash of bright light, like a star birthing into being, right in the centre of my brain.
The whole awakening process took 2.5 years to complete, I spent time with daily meditation, mantras, yoga, bio resonance, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), reiki and other alternative healing practices and being in nature as much as I could. I then began to witness almost daily synchronicities, clear visions, psychic dreams, claircognizance, astral projection, visions and connections from other dimensions communicating to me and guiding me to the path in sound healing and shamanic practices.
One evening, at the beginning of my awakening symptoms; I woke up to a man calling my name and a few months after that, I woke up in bed with a man’s voice roaring through my throat taking over my entire body - singing this beautiful melody out of me. When this happened, I knew something mystical and profound was happening to me. I had to ask the universe to go easy on me, some of the symptoms were becoming traumatic and physically debilitating- my hands burst into cronic-inflammation which brought on yet more episodes of anxiety and uncontrollable crying, I had an acute ringing in my ears like a radio tuning in my head and music playing like it was switching channels, feeling electricity and shivers up my spine and through my body, all of which I knew where associated with the memories and the past trauma. I was living a new energetic integration, the dense energy blockages were finally releasing their grip on me. I found that I could sense new energies and see them in ways I couldn’t before. Everything felt electric - the electricity reminds me of the Iboga energy - I had so many technical malfunctions at one point during the peak of the symptoms. At some points I felt like ‘I must be going crazy!’ and so had my family - over time we’ve come to understand my experience as a psychic shake up.
Again for the sake of brevity, I can only say there were many other events and shifts that took place throughout this kundalini awakening - my eye sight got better, my sense of touch changed, my sense of space change, my connection with the universe has become more vivid. Added to this I began to research what others had written and experimented with regards to energy / vibration and its connection to the human mind, body and the importance of the spinal column and pineal gland, expanding on my own personal experience. I read books and articles studying death and consciousness, philosophy, ancient knowledge, quantum physics, alchemy of the soul and the nature of sound and it's incredible potential to change our state of mind. I sought out all the information I could manage to fit in a day online to help me understand the symptoms I was going through - this video by Gary Lite was one of the videos that helped me integrate what I was feeling and going through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX0h6UAuXjo.
I'm not a scientist, physicist or doctor - I can only work with my own experiences and yet beyond the terminology of science, the vocabulary of the laboratory, my deeper truth - my greatest shift - was when I started to face my fears directly, to face directly my vulnerability and the issues that caused the trauma. I realised the importance of our auditory space and the words we speak to others and ourselves is incredibly precious, as they can leave energetic footprints on us. I consciously created a loving dialogue with myself, to accept myself at every point along my journey. I cut out negative media, people and spaces in my life. I re-evaluated my narrative and got rid of anything that cost me my peace of mind and so began a period of silence, without all these voices in my head. I could actually hear myself think as myself. I was a hermit mainly throughout those years, allowing myself to just feel sad and not try and hold things together, to have compassion for myself and I would hide away with my headphones and listen to lots of ambient calm music and mantras and I was also practicing a lot of meditation. During one particular session, I was at the Wilderness festival sitting in meditation whilst my friend slept next to me in the tent, I then started to observe all the voices happening all around me after some slow breathing. In stillness, I then noticed how clearly I could hear all the voices and conversation happening all around me and with such detail and I could tune into each conversation - experiencing it with such pristine clarity and then suddenly this message came to me like a bolt of lighting ‘Sound is happening around us all the time, whether we’re conscious of it or not and it can have an effect on our state of mind’ - as soon as I had that thought, a vision appeared in front of me of a rising phoenix or eagle bursting from the ground up into the sky in this glorious bright blue and white light. After this; I proceeded to experience a glorious array of synchronicities throughout my time at the festival. I had insights and epiphanies and felt like there were fireworks happening inside of me with visions and messages flashing in my minds eye. All of which are related to events that have since played out the past year.
So, as you can see, the journey with the Iboga isn’t a journey to be taken lightly. I recommend doing your research before taking it, in my case, I followed my ex-partner and ingested the plant in the same home of a couple with 2 young children in Valencia, Spain. Neither he, nor I subsequently feel like they created a safe or sacred space for me to journey in. The process of integration afterwards is really important too, often people go to a retreat, take the pills and then dive straight back into the old world that brought on the pain and suffering to begin with. That was what happened to my brother after the first time he tested it in London and the results didn’t stick. In both his, and my ex-partner’s case, they did not initially have the right dosage to bring about the full hallucinogenic experience. But when administered properly and with the right assistance the insights gained and changes brought about are profound and so the power of the plant commands respect. The messages and visions from the spirit of Iboga go deep into the depths of our being and pull out what is needed out for our healing. A common experience is that things which were once difficult can now be accomplished without the previous level of effort. Addictions, even those we didn’t realise we had, can disappear over night. It’s a deep emotional, physical, mental and spiritual purge. So it's crucial that this journey with the plant is taken after much consideration.
On reflection of all the events that have unfolded over course of my life, I realise that I was always being called by the spirit of Iboga for my healing. In my inner visions I saw my ancestors, the fighting, the connecting dots. Over time, outwardly, I see how it has woven its way through my family, my brother, the ending of my past relationship and into the lives of the people I touch today. They say that the spirit of the plant medicine - which I describe as a blue/turquoise male energy - shows us what we need. For me, it also activated my healing and extra-sensory abilities and I now understand myself as an intuitive empath - somehow, I’ve always had this ability to sense into what others felt, which previously I found debilitating when I was around the intense energy of my family - (all of us were suffering from grief and trauma). Yet nature has held me throughout, it has connected the souls in my story together and now with an expanded intuition, it guides me ever onward.
When it comes to the debating the use of alkaloids and psychotropic medications, I personally believe that there are many ways to experience consciousness - and these substances can drastically alter our perception of reality, shifting the paradigm and entrenched inner programs we were so attached to - if we dare to allow them. So many of us are too afraid to even try - afraid of what we might find, afraid of how it will shatter and collapse our entire 3D template of what we thought our world is or to face the things we fear the most. But by acknowledging the things we fear the most, we create space for love, growth, resilience and true freedom. I am not saying that everyone should take plant medicine, because it isn’t for everyone. Your physical and mental health must be taken with extreme care and caution and lots of expert advice should be sought out prior to doing anything like this. Mixing substances are an absolute no-go and your body must be in good health - again, plant medicine should be treated as sacred.
My gratitude for this magical plant from Africa, that holds such wisdom and healing powers, is immense. It has shown me the fragility of our existence in this physical realm and the importance of wild-life and nature. I have lived mother nature’s ability to heal us just by being surrounded by it and feeling into its energy. Now that I have gone through my awakening, I vow to place all my time in this human body and my effort in doing what feels real and adds value to humanity, our planet and to be of service to our world in whatever way I can apply my skills and knowledge. I see how each of us build walls up around us when what we need is to soften and love ourselves and our entire environment, to create community. I believe this is how we will shift our world collectively.
I feel blessed to continue the journey, witnessing the transformations of more and more people that come into contact with this medicine - to read more about who started it all, my incredible brother with his 20 year drug addiction, see this post: https://www.phan-tu.com/blog/my-dharma-my-karma).
Over the next few months, I’m embarking on a new journey myself as I’m preparing to transition from my London life to a nomadic one - a journey that has been communicated to me by my late father, Quoc Duong Tu, who continues to guide me along my spiritual path since his death and who I love so dearly for all that he was to me and my family.
Thank you for taking the time to read to my story - it is my gift to share with those that have the ears and the heart to listen.
‘Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.’
I also want to take this opportunity to send my gratitude out to all my mentors, teachers, friends and messengers who have played a part in my awakening journey - know your time with me whether small or large has activated me energetically - bringing me insight, messages and wisdom that have been fundamental to my journey and healing:
My entire family, Mathieu Costecalde, Kat Bumbul, Francisco Amoscotegui, Sander Jansen, Mike Lucas, Esmeralda Feijter, Benny Hoffius, Kaatjes Ankhart, Ursula Paralelepipedo, Tuline & Kyle Hollenback, Cara Marsh, Mike Kerry, Dave Towers, Rachael Blake, Kyle Dougsson, Urchana Moudgil, Mnandi Ridley, Lène Coste, Savitri Malakit, Victoria Mulhearn, Eduardo Vidal, Njeri Maina, Gayle Berry, Guy Harriman, Roni Jones, Asia Heczko, Mauro Rodriguez, Axel Drioli, Seolhee Kim, Shozab Khan, Adam Nicholas, Nico Elliott, Camilla Östergren.