Cacao Ceremony as Yoga Practice

A cup of Cacao.
Image Description: A cup of Cacao in a dark mug with no handle, sitting on a white surface. In the background and out of focus is a white keyboard.

Tonight in the From The Hearth Collective we are gathering for a Cacao Ceremony.

This is something that we do to celebrate each Full Moon, as the energy of this lunar phase guides us to reflect on the full expression of what we have chosen to bring about over the waxing phase of the current lunar cycle.

Kind of like how the Moon (representing your mind) is fully reflecting the light of the Sun (representing your power) in the sky at this time!

So what is Cacao?

Ceremonial Grade Cacao is a sacred and gentle plant medicine that grows within 20 degrees north and south of the equator, all around the world. This is not your store-bought cocoa powder! This is a whole food with a single ingredient, which energetically supports you on your journeys within.

It is made from the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma Cacao) and is considered a superfood. With its relatively high levels of theobromine, magnesium, antioxidants, and love associated chemicals such as phenylethylamine and anandamide, it is truly a “food for the heart”.

Why practice with Cacao and participate in Ceremony?

The main reason is that, for some folks, it is an effective tool in opening a door to Self-Intimacy practice.

read more about self-intimacy here!

If you don’t have time to read more about Self-Intimacy right now, here is what will help you to understand this post:

It is very challenging to be intimate with something that you don’t understand, including yourself.

To assist in this understanding, Yoga offers a visual representation of your anatomy as described below.

Cacao is an effective tool in opening a door to Self-Intimacy practice because it is a complex whole food that targets all aspects of your anatomy.

These aspects are:

  • your physical body (the chariot)
  • your senses (the horses)
  • your mind (the reins)
  • your intellect (the charioteer/driver)
  • You (Lord of the chariot/the passenger)

This is a visual representation of human anatomy as described in the Kaṭhopaniṣad.

 

“Know the Self as lord of the chariot,
The body as the chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as
The charioteer, and the mind as reins.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses;
Selfish desires are the roads they travel.
When the Self is confused with the body,
Mind, and senses, they point out, [they] seem
To enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.
When a person lacks discrimination
And [their] mind is undisciplined, the senses
Run hither and thither like wild horses.
But they obey the rein like trained horses
When one has discrimination and
Has made the mind one-pointed.”

 

–  Excerpt from the Kaṭhopaniṣad, translation by Eknath Easwaren

How does Cacao do this?

 

Let’s start with the physical body (your chariot).

Cacao is a cardiovascular stimulant due to the main psychoactive ingredient Theobromine.

Unlike caffeine, theobromine has a relatively gentle energetic release within your body that doesn’t create cravings or cause you to feel a ‘crash.’ Namely, Cacao targets your cardiovascular system while caffeine targets your nervous system.

This cardiovascular system activation can lead to a more pronounced heartbeat, deeper breathing and an increase in blood circulation throughout your body. This results in increased physical energy and endurance, arousing the senses and heightening awareness.

Cacao also contains the aptly named ‘bliss molecule’ anandamide. Ānanda is a Sanskrit word (the language that Yoga philosophy was written in) and translates to ‘bliss.’ When one feels true joy or happiness, this chemical is naturally produced in their brain. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter and your body’s own natural anti-depressant.

Fun Fact: Anandamide has only been found in two foods, Cacao and black truffles!

 

Moving onto the senses (your horses).

Drinking Cacao is an incredibly sensory experience: the scent, the warmth of your cup in your hands, its rich and creamy aesthetic are all contributing factors. The most pervasive sensory experience however is likely its taste; according to Āyurveda, of the six taste components (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent), Cacao is considered bitter.

Anyone who is expecting a milk chocolate taste when they drink a cup of pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao will be surprised!

For many, this is a wonderful opportunity to tune into attachment (to sugar and milk products) and aversion (to the bitter taste of the medicine). After all, medicine is often bitter! Cacao is no different.

 

Now, for the mind (your reins).

In Yoga, your mind is not your brain (your brain is a part of your physical body); rather, your mind is a layer of your subtle body that serves as the information processor between your senses and your intellect.

How are you processing your sensory and physiological experiences of the Cacao? As your awareness grows, you might be able to choose to notice things like attachment or aversion. You might choose to notice previously unconscious associations with a pronounced heartbeat (i.e. anxiety/nervous system activation). There are a myriad of processes that you might be able to tune into once you are experiencing the effects of the medicine.

As the physiological effects start to take place, your awareness can start to grow regarding the connection between your sensory inputs and your choices (made at the level of your intellect).

 

And finally, your intellect (the charioteer/driver).

Now that this harmony of experiences may be being experienced in the different layers of your anatomy, what comes next is an opening to your intellect.

The Journey Inward: You are experiencing sensation, your body’s physiology has been affected, and you are noticing how you are processing this information. Now at the level of your intellect you get to start to make choices about how you manage that processed information.

Will you choose to continue to endorse your initial responses? Will you choose to change? Only you know what is the right choice to make! And you can determine that right choice by getting in touch with your intellect, noticing the reasons you have used to support this conclusion previously, determining whether those reasons are valid or not, then proceeding accordingly.

 

So what about YOU (Lord of the chariot/the passenger)?

Yoga is dualistic at its foundation, meaning that according to this school of philosophy there are two types of things: puruṣa (persons) and prakṛti (Nature). YOU are a person and are untouched by Nature. Everything else (your intellect, mind, body, senses and Cacao) are products of Nature and therefore are part of the dance of the guṇas (the building blocks of Nature). That is why the complexity of Cacao as a medicine affects your whole anatomy but not You!

According to Yoga, things are going well when all aspects of your anatomy are serving yourSelf (the passenger).

For example, if all aspects of your anatomy are serving your senses, your horses will pull the other aspects of the chariot in whatever direction is most appealing in each moment. They will run wild, likely leading to your chariot crashing and You getting hurt.

This is not Self-Intimacy, but rather sensory gratification leading to harm.

Therefore, if you are practicing engaging in Self-Intimacy as described above, you are engaging in a practice of Yoga – a practice of interrupting harm and coming home to yourSelf where all aspects of your anatomy work in harmony to serve yourSelf.

what is yoga really about? find out here!

This kind of awareness and depth of practice comes with practice!

It is very unlikely that you will know yourself after one Cacao Ceremony.. or after one hundred. The intrinsic benefit of this practice is what motivates the Yogi to continue to work with tools – such as Cacao – that will further the perfection of their practice.

This is devotion to Sovereignty. This is Yoga.

Join in for a single Ceremony here!
Save on the price of a single Ceremony by joining the membership here!

I want to emphasize that Cacao is a doorway; even if you participate and drink the medicine, you can choose your depth of experience and whether you want to accept the above-described invitations or not. You always have that choice.

Everything that I offer is trauma-sensitive, meaning that there is always a choice. Yoga itself is even trauma-sensitive as a philosophy: either you can choose to practice taking responsibility for your mental content (directing your senses by way of your intellect choosing to pull on the reigns of your mind) or you can choose not to (Yoga Sūtra I.1-.4).

 

Maybe Cacao as a tool is for you, maybe it isn’t! If you’d like to try it out in a community of like-hearted beings, please feel free to join us! We would love to have you.

 

Please leave any questions, comments or thoughts in the comments below!

With love,

Tara

 

This post is influenced by the work of:

Heartblood Cacao

Yoga Philosophy

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Cacao Ceremony as Yoga Practice – From The Hearth