Cacao practitioner | Ceremonial cacao | Morning reset
It’s 4:44 a.m. As the synthetic chimes from my inconvenient modern convenience shock me awake, I slap at the angel numbers on the screen prior to remembering why I chose to wake up before actual farmers: to begin my day by authentically connecting with my Self.
Waking up before the sun is not necessary for a daily Cacao routine; unless, perhaps, like me, you are a single parent with 5-year-old twins who are such light sleepers that they can hear a Cacao bean drop. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my children; and after 5 years of fatherhood and 2-and-a-half-years of drinking Cacao almost every day, I show up as the best father I can be after I have spent time grounding, feeling, releasing, and connecting within. My daily ritual with Cacao supports me in doing exactly that. You know those memes that say, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee”? It’s like that but said with more compassion. “I’ll be more present and more readily able to connect from the heart once I have sat with my Cacao.” Such a meme won’t go viral, but it’s true.
My daily practice started when my then-wife came home from Guatemala with 20 pounds of Keith's Cacao. This was early March of 2020, right before the world changed dramatically and everyone was forced to literally and spiritually go within. I was feeling lost, disconnected from myself, and feeling like I wasn’t good enough as a father, business owner, partner, and man. In other words, I was ready for an awakening. I was determined to grow, to shift, to remember who and what I am. But how? I was years into a meditation practice that never felt right. And I had 20 pounds of Cacao in my kitchen. Time to start drinking… Cacao, that is.
Cacao began to give me what I couldn’t otherwise get with traditional meditation. Regardless of how busy or uncomfortable my life was, I could sit with Cacao and slow down. Consciously connecting with Cacao, I began to understand what my wife had learned in Guatemala from Keith Wilson, the Chocolate Shaman himself. That there was a Spirit, an energy inherent to Cacao. It wasn’t just a thing, another food to mindlessly consume and receive as an inanimate hunk of nutrition. It was alive. I could connect with it. The more I quieted my mind and opened my heart, the more it opened me up.
I could more easily feel MY feelings. The emotions and topics I once stuffed down in my western, faux-masculine coping strategy and suppressed further with alcohol or comfort food were now accessible to me. And the more I felt them, the more they released. The more they released, the freer I became and the more liberated I felt in body, mind, and spirit. Once you have that… how do you not do it every day? It does not become an addiction. It becomes a point of integrity. If I have the opportunity to do something every day that helps me to let go of all of the self and societally-imposed nonsense that distracts and detracts from my life. Something that supports me in loving myself, everyone, and everything way more than I ever knew was possible. It becomes a point of integrity. And I did have the opportunity to do it every day.
This integrity piece has been a tremendous point of growth for me, and I have such gratitude for Cacao for helping me place it in my life. I’ve never been disciplined. I have been messy with boundaries, fallen in and out of healthy routines, and spent much of my life struggling with inconsistency. Once I knew, felt, and embodied the benefits of Cacao, I couldn’t ignore them. My daily routine was catch-as-catch-can. I would have Cacao whenever I could fit it in. It was daily yet casual. I started to see the difference in my daily interactions, demarcated before Cacao (B.C.) and after Cacao (A.C.). B.C., I found myself more stressed, with a shorter temper, more reactive, more distracted, impatient, and more in my head. A.C. me was more playful, less serious, operating with greater clarity and focus, joyful, a better listener, and more present. This led me to a daily early morning practice. I realized that I am a much greater gift to all others when I first give a gift to myself. The gift of Cacao, the gift of my own presence.
My relationship with Cacao and the resulting undeniable benefits has instilled in me a deep reverence for this plant ally. This reverence and appreciation for my daily drink bring deep intention into every part of my routine. As I chop my Cacao, I feel into what is present with me, emotionally, mentally, and energetically. I often ask myself, “Why am I having Cacao today?” and “What do I need to receive out of this experience this morning?” Whether immediately, from the first sip, or after I have finished off my Cacao drink, the answers always come, typically quite clearly, spoken from somewhere or something within.
I listen to know what ingredients need to be added that day: usually cayenne, perhaps some cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom, some ground ginger, a pinch of salt, sometimes nothing at all, just the earthy Cacao. Whatever it is, I listen. I light a candle. I draw an oracle card, committing to stay open to receive its message. I bring my cup to my heart, warming it as my beating heart reciprocates, bringing its own heat to the cup. I honor the Cacao Spirit and pledge to remain open so that I may receive and accept whatever medicine I need in the moment, trusting that it will come.
This practice, this relationship is about listening within and trusting that I am right where I need to be. I am honoring Cacao and honoring myself. When I can sit with myself, listen deeply, and have the integrity not to run from my feelings or circumstances, I connect with myself, with my spirit. Unexpectedly and magically, I let go of all those feelings of not being enough, of not being worthy. With each sip, these old stories and negative thoughts fall away like leaves from the Cacao tree. Here, I am grounded in the moment and see the truth of life: I am exactly what I need to be just by being me, as I am. What a way to start the day.
As I finish my last sip, my children walk in without a word, and I open my arms as wide as my heart to welcome them. They lay on my lap for a few moments before they ask, “Daddy, can we play now?” There are no thoughts of rushing off to work or my laundry list of to-dos. I am just with them, completely in love as the sun crests on a new day.
“Absolutely. Daddy’s ready!”