Cacao Ceremony and Yoga, A Collaborative Heart Opening

Gillian Grant, Paris


"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart." Buddha


As a Yoga teacher, I have been trained in many styles of movement and meditation techniques. As a Reiki* Master, I have been trained in energy healing. But, nothing I have experienced before prepared me for a recent introduction into Cacao Ceremonies in my continuing pursuit of holistic healing.

A budding friendship with a student who is also an energy healer led to a collaborative workshop of combining a Yoga Heart-Opening sequence followed by a beautiful Cacao Ceremony and guided meditation. Just as we can practice heart opening in our thoughts and emotions, we can also experience opening the heart space in your physical body.

Energetically speaking many people believe that "opening your heart" implies receptivity to love and intimacy in a romantic relationship. However, everyone, including Yogis on their mats, can experience an openness to universal and self love. Because how can we love others if we don’t first love ourselves?

Using Yoga asanas (commonly known as postures) as a guide for my students, I lead them on a journey of creating space in the heart center to allow for self love to flourish. The practice of Yoga also prepared their bodies to be receptive to the cacao and meditation.

Revered as a food of the Gods by ancient Incas and Mayans and was dubbed Theobroma (Theo = God, Broma = Food, in Greek), cacao was first used as a health elixir and in medicinal ceremonies, especially in ceremonies devoted to fertility and worship. Today, cacao has made an entrance into the culture of mindfulness and it is becoming a part of other practices that encourage self-compassion.

I was very fortunate to be able to take part in the ceremony that followed. Ilaria Rubei, my dear friend, is a master in both Reiki and guided meditation. Ilaria is the perfect person to lead this journey. She is emotionally and energetically connected to everyone that she connects with and is a master healer. She took our students and myself on the intense experience that is the Cacao Ceremony.

After carefully preparing the sacred cacao, we drank in silence. The taste of raw cacao is bitter, very similar to baking chocolate because of its purity. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the richness of the flavor. Then, I noticed almost immediately that I was more alert. But, not in the way that coffee can make me over-alert. This was different. The cacao brought awareness. Awareness to the sensations within my own body, but also to the energy of those around me.

Photo courtesy  Ayanna Mojica

Photo courtesy Ayanna Mojica


For the next 90 minutes, I went on an adventure within my own body. I felt more open in my mind and heart, more receptive. As I sat in lotus position, my body began to sway like a pendulum. "I've had the same experience before, but it was back in India in ashrams where the energy was particularly charged. That was my first time experiencing the pull of the energy around me in a very "normal" setting, but I recalled that experience was a little troubling. At that time I was eager to know why, so afterwards I turned and asked a Swami in the ashram, and he told me that I was being guided by the energy around me, but to not become attached to it. It could hinder my meditation practice.

Photo courtesy  Little Yoga Festival

Photo courtesy Little Yoga Festival

So, I let it go, like a good Yogi and didn’t have the experience again. But, the intensity of the cacao ceremony with Ilaria brought it back. This time, instead of being troubled, I found it comforting. Like coming home.

I encourage anyone that has a heartache, heartbreak, or just a need for more openness to please consider the cacao ceremony as a way to find peace and become more connected to yourself.


Translated by JESSICA KOU







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