Cacao Consumption beyond Chocolate
With over 1200 chemical constituents, the beans from Theobroma Cacao (translating from the greek: theo = god and broma = food and cacao = the mayan name for the chocolate beans) – or the chocolate tree, appear to be the most pharmacologically complex food in nature. Cacao has been used for millennia as a food and antidote to a vast array of health issues. It has also been used ceremonially by the ancient Meso-americans in conjunction with other plants and rituals.
The alkaloids, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, vitamins and minerals specific to cacao have a particularly nourishing effect on the human body. The effects of these properties are amplified when using unroasted and unprocessed cacao and consuming it in the context of a ceremony. All the properties found in cacao (discussed below) are already produced naturally in the body and perform essential functions, but appear to be less and less available when living busy lives in cities and following a “western” diet and lifestyle.
When you consume cacao prepared for ceremony using high quality raw cacao beans, all the mood enhancing neurochemicals in cacao become particularly active. There is increased blood flow and nutrition to the brain, heart and skin, the whole body is nourished, awareness and focus is heightened and sensations are intensified.
The context of the ceremony is a safe and beautiful space that supports meditation (reflection and connection to the “larger aspects of yourself”). This creates a rare opportunity to explore and sit with the stories of the heart and to identify areas that are causing you restriction, limitation and pain. You have the chance to relax deeply and receive insights, inspiration and creative ideas that can give you a clarity on the “next steps” of your life and where you can support your overall health.
Many people report a deep sense of joy and peace, a connection to something bigger than themselves as well as insights of limiting behaviors, thoughts and feelings that are able to be understood and released within the safe environment of the ceremony.
Some also find that as their focus holding ability improves, their overall success in life increases and a greater sense of contentment and satisfaction follows.
Relevant physiology of Cacao
Cacao contains the neurotransmitters serotonin, tryptophan and dopamine which assist with feelings of wellbeing, resilience to stress and anxiety and contribute to healthy motivation.
It also has the neuromodulator phenylethylamine (PEA) which helps the body create feelings of excitement and euphoria. It also assists us to pay attention and stay alert. With healthy amounts of PEA we stay focused, time slows down and we are not distracted by hunger or excess stimulation from the ‘outside world’. PEA also increases the effectiveness of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter related to joy.
Anandamide is a type of lipid (oil). The word ‘ananda’ (from which this chemical was named) translates from the Sanskrit language as ‘bliss’. This naturally produced chemical (which is part of the endorphin group) is most concentrated in the body after moderate exercise – also referred to as the runners high. Anandamide results in feelings of bliss and euphoria, but also plays a vital role in moderating pain perception and the memory of pain, as well as assisting in regulating appetite and mood. Cacao contains both anandamide and anandamide re-uptake inhibitors, which are molecules that slow the break down of the anandamide. This allows the anandamide to remain longer in the brain and with it the associated blissful feelings.
One of the most utilised major minerals in the body is magnesium. Magnesium assists in all metabolic processes. It helps relax all the muscles in the body and is thereby essential for the effectiveness and vigor of the pumping of the heart muscle, the management of stress and exercise recovery, the motility of the bowel, regulating the muscles pre-menstruation among many other functions. Magnesium is also utilised in almost all key functions in the brain, including those involved in memory and concentration. Cacao is the highest natural food source of magnesium.
Cacao is also one of the highest sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants clear corrupt cells from the body. The specific antioxidants in cacao are Flavonoids, from the Phenolics group. Primarily, this class of antioxidants are important as they both trap free radicals and chelate redox-active metal properties. This results in a reduced risk of cells in the body, such as lipids (fats, and fats often lining the artery walls) undergoing oxidation (corruption).
The flavonoids also support clearing of the blood vessel walls, flexibility of the arteries and a thinning of the blood, all contributing to a reduction in blood pressure and build up of fatty deposits (plaques) along the artery walls, as well as a reduced load on the heart muscle.
The Way of the Heart with Cacao
“Like a river, the qualities from your heart can flow powerfully from the inner to the outer world. Imagine what it would be like if your deepest longings, strongest intuitions, fiercest loves, most passionate desires, bottomless compassion, wildest dreams, highest truths, your core values flowed out into the world. When you meet people, compassion could be the quality you exude rather than self-interest. As the idea of separation starts to melt, narrow self-centeredness becomes less of an option. You get to be heart-centered rather than self-centered. As you [stand in a queue], the qualities of your heart can be available to you. When you meet people for the first time, your heart can speak rather than your judgments. Your words can have the quality of depth, love, compassion, and wisdom all because of your connection to your essence or heart. Decisions at work can come from your core values, rather than grasping self-interest. The way you are at work, from your relationship with your boss to your relationship with clients, can come from a deeper sense of teamwork, service, and emotional intelligence.
What does this mean for the Super Busy? When you talk on your phone, you can feel the quality and energy of your heart. When you walk down the street on your way to work, you can feel the current of your heart, like the currents, tides, and swell of the ocean. When you meet people, you can connect with their hearts. Perhaps inspiration moves you in new ways. Maybe creativity comes alive in you in ways that you couldn’t imagine. Can your relationships be colored by the texture, fibers, and fragrance of your heart? Could your relationships with your loved ones deepen the quality of love that you’ve always known was inside you? Can love finally flow freely, no longer blocked by the surface drama of your days? The still, quiet power of your heart gets to move about in the world, creating its blessings for all you meet. Maybe people sense something’s changed in you, although they may never know what that is. The scent and fragrance of your heart, its uniqueness, its rare quality, can flow out into the world.
This is the way of the heart, your heart, no longer a forgotten phrase, but a daily experience.” Mark Thornton
What people are saying about Cacao Ceremonies Perth
“I have been a regular consumer of raw cacao for some time and had attended a workshop with the Roar! Superfoods crew to learn the secrets of this amazing food. I thought I knew a fair bit about the sacred bean but nothing prepared me for the deep, rich and insightful experience that awaited me at the cacao ceremony. After a very tasty and heroic dose of raw cacao I was transported to a deep and meditative place of profound contemplation, so wonderfully unexpected, what a gift. Thank you to Willow and Catherine for a magnificently planned and executed event”. – Tony (Fremantle, WA)
“Our circle comprised about 25 people from all walks of life, ages, and nationalities. I instantly felt a sense of acceptance, comfort and felt loved amongst strangers. Willow and Catherine guided us through the ceremonial imbibing of a raw cacao drink with an extensive knowledge on the “sacred bean”, creating an authentic, heart-opening experience. The cacao served as an amazing meditation aid – I soared all over the world, visiting friends near and far, feeling absolutely full of gratitude and connected with every being on the planet! The power of cacao to tap into one’s heart space is undeniable. After the ceremony, we shared, laughed and cried. Simply beautiful.” – Claire (Oregon, USA)
If you have any significant health challenges (i.e. having chemotherapy treatment) or are on high levels of anti-depressants, this could preclude you from working with Cacao in a ceremonial context so please talk with us before committing to this event.
Preparation required for this event:
You will need to avoid caffeine on the day. We also recommend you to follow a fairly simple and alkaline focused diet the day before, and on the day of the ceremony (including avoiding alcohol).
You’ll also need to arrange a quiet, gentle evening for after the event as symptoms of physical and emotional detoxification can arise unique to each individual.
We work with Organic Raw Criollo Guatemalan Cacao Paste: Exceptional quality cacao beans that have been milled very finely but not roasted or processed in any other way. We ensure this quality by using a wild variety that is traditionally grown and hand-prepared by indigenous Mayan people in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. This is the variety and preparation method that the ancient Mayans used to ensure full potency. This cacao is grown and processed without any chemicals and the Mayan women who prepare the cacao receive fair pay for their work. We have a direct relationship to our cacao source.