Have you been finding it hard to switch off? Do you feel the compulsion to check your email one last time before struggling to fall to sleep? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Our increasing use of technology has been driving more and more people to seek out alternative approaches to switching off and reconnecting with ourselves as well as others.
Over recent years we have seen the rise in popularity of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. As these practices have become more mainstream, what have previously been considered fringe events are now gaining momentum. One such event is the sacred cacao ceremony. Don’t be concerned if you haven’t heard of it, I hadn’t either until a colleague of mine, Leiden’s resident holistic health and fitness expert Liz Wensing, told me all about it.
Cacao is not quite the same as the chocolate we know and love but it is in the same family. The cacao bean from the cacao tree can become many things. Cold-pressed unroasted beans yield raw cacao powder, while roasted raw cacao creates the cocoa powder we are more familiar with. While raw cacao has a high nutrient count, the process of producing cocoa powder reduces the overall nutritional value.
As well as being used as a food, raw cacao has a history of use as a medicine by ancient American peoples as well as ceremonial uses. Raw cacao is a source of antioxidants, flavonoids and magnesium, as well as a number of neurotransmitters linked to making us feel happy, resilient and motivated. Consuming raw cacao in a safe ceremonial environment leaves many people feeling open, relaxed and connected to something larger than themselves.
Sydney, Melbourne and Perth already have a dedicated sacred cacao fan base and now Canberra is set to build its own, with the first ever sacred cacao ceremony taking place last weekend. A group of four women came together to bring the capital a special and unique cacao event. Sarah Louise, Kara Walkington, Michelle Hanson and Liz Wensing each have a different background within the health, fitness and wellness industries, making them the perfect group to facilitate this experience.
With over one hundred tickets sold to this first event, there is no denying that the experience offered by a sacred cacao ceremony has garnered a lot of interest. There was an eclectic mix of people at the event, ranging from seasoned hippies right through to corporate nine-to-five types. There was a reasonably even split of males and females and a mix of both younger and older people.
Before coming to the venue, we were issued with instructions on how to prepare for the ceremony and what we needed to bring to get the most out of the experience. After we received our cacao, which was bitter to taste but not unappealing, we engaged in some breath work and then eye gazing with a partner, which was confronting at first but strangely hypnotic and calming. We then began to dance.
This particular event blended the taking of ceremonial cacao with meditation and chakra dancing. In yoga and meditation, the chakra system describes the movement and flow of energy throughout the body. We all have seven major chakras, each connected to different aspects of our lives. Chakra dancing is a deeply personal practice that allows you to explore these energies through freeform movement, matched to particular sound frequencies, which resonate with each of the different main chakras.
After an hour of dancing that felt more like ten minutes, we used meditation to quiet our energy and connect with one another. Over three quarters of guests then stayed on to eat and talk with one another after some final words from one of the facilitators, Sarah Louise.
I don’t identify as a particularly spiritual person but I have an open mind, and as a dancer I always appreciate the value of cutting lose on the dance floor without inhibition. As someone who is naturally shy, I was surprised at how easy I found it to connect with strangers. The four facilitators and a number of helpers created a safe and open environment and guided us through each stage of the evening, which flowed seamlessly.
Some people will naturally take to this type of event more than others but after having now participated in a sacred cacao event, I can safely say that if you are interested in new experiences and come with an open mind and heart, you will find value in attending a sacred cacao ceremony no matter who you are.
Follow the Sacred Cacao Facebook page to find out when the next event will take place.