RECHARGE THROUGH NATURE’S MEDICINE:
My Experience, by Editor-in-chief: Lolo Stubbs
“I was completely new to the world of Nature’s Medicine Ceremonies, and if I’m honest I was both excited and daunted in equal measure when the day of my weekend retreat arrived. Now, having experienced the ceremonies first hand, I had no reason to be wary of them. Each ceremony raised a lot of emotion, sometimes opening deep emotional wounds, but somehow, even when sobbing my heart I felt enveloped in warmth and love, and it actually felt good to release the emotions. These ceremonies do not just stir up sadness though, they made me feel empowered almost immediately. I felt completely centred and at peace – and I don’t even think I have ever used the word centred but there really was no other word to describe that feeling that I had post ceremony – it was complete bliss! It was also very powerful to be in a room with other people who were also showing up, opening their minds and willing to be vulnerable. I’ll admit there was one part at the beginning of the ceremony where I did open one eye just to check I wasn’t the only one dancing around and shaking off my bad vibes to Makeba.- I wasn’t by the way – but overall I didn’t feel silly at all, in fact I felt completely accepted as my authentic self. Since the ceremonies I would say three of the most noticeable factors for me are that I feel more confident, I’m more content both with where I am in life and with who I am as a person and last but by no means least – I’ve started wearing colour! That may sound strange, but for everyone who knows me will know that I have pretty much worn black for the last 10 years, I may have got as adventurous as wearing white or khaki, but in the main it’s been black all the way. But not anymore, I have bought Orange, Hot Pink, Sapphire Green and Electric Blue dresses since and I have worn each and everyone one of them comfortably. It’s like I’m not afraid to be seen anymore. It’s quite liberating! So, if you’re wondering whether it’s something you should do or not, I would say absolutely go for it. Find someone with a good reputation, as I’m sure a lot of my experience was equally down to the fact the amazing earth angel Ashleigh Guthrie was holding the ceremony, so make sure you attend a ceremony with someone you trust and have a good connection with and you won’t regret it!”
Cacao ceremonies have gained popularity for their potential physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental benefits, all of which can contribute to a deeper connection with oneself, enhanced creative flow, self-expression, and self-acceptance. Here’s a breakdown of these benefits:
- Heart-Opening Properties: Cacao is often associated with opening the heart chakra, which can help people experience a greater sense of love, empathy, and connection with themselves and others.
- Stimulant and Mood Enhancement: Cacao contains natural stimulants like theobromine, which can provide a gentle energy boost and improve mood. This can aid in maintaining focus and mental clarity both during and after ceremonies.
- Nutrient-Rich: Ceremonial-grade cacao is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can support overall health and well-being when consumed in moderation.
- Enhanced Senses: Some participants report heightened sensory perception during cacao ceremonies, which can lead to a deeper connection with the environment and oneself.
- Emotional Release: Cacao can act as an emotional catalyst, helping participants release and process repressed emotions. This can lead to a profound sense of emotional clarity and healing.
- Stress Reduction: The relaxation and grounding effects of cacao can help reduce stress and anxiety, facilitating a more open and receptive emotional state.
- Self-Discovery: Cacao ceremonies often encourage introspection and self-reflection, allowing participants to better understand their emotions, thought patterns, and past experiences.
- Enhanced Empathy: Cacao is believed to promote empathy and compassion, which can lead to improved relationships with oneself and others.
- Connection to Inner Self: Cacao is sometimes referred to as a “plant teacher” and is believed to facilitate a deeper connection with one’s inner wisdom and intuition.
- Spiritual Insight: Many participants report experiencing spiritual insights, heightened intuition, and a sense of oneness with the universe during cacao ceremonies.
- Ceremonial Ritual: The act of participating in a cacao ceremony itself can be a spiritual practice, fostering a sense of reverence and mindfulness.
- Connecting with Spirit Guides and Loved Ones Who Have Passed: In some cacao ceremonies, participants report experiencing a heightened spiritual connection, allowing them to connect with spirit guides, ancestors, and even loved ones who have passed away. This connection can provide a profound sense of guidance, comfort, and closure, leading to emotional healing and spiritual awakening.
- Enhanced Creativity: Cacao ceremonies can boost creativity and inspiration, allowing participants to tap into their creative potential more freely.
- Increased Focus: The mild stimulants in cacao can enhance mental clarity and concentration, making it easier to access deeper parts of the mind.
- Self-Acceptance: The heart-opening and self-reflective aspects of cacao ceremonies can lead to increased self-acceptance and self-love.
It’s important to note that the benefits of ceremonial cacao can vary from person to person, and individual experiences may differ. Additionally, the effects of cacao depend on the quality of the cacao used, the intentions set during the ceremony, and the facilitator’s guidance. As with any practice, it’s essential to approach cacao ceremonies with an open mind and a respectful attitude toward the traditions and cultures from which they originate.
- Relaxation and Grounding: Cacao contains compounds that promote relaxation and grounding, making it particularly effective in reducing stress levels. When consumed mindfully during a ceremony, it can induce a calming effect on the nervous system, helping participants find a sense of peace and tranquility.
- Cortisol Regulation: Cacao has been linked to the regulation of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. Consuming cacao in a ceremonial setting may support the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels, which can, in turn, alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms of stress.
- Emotional Resilience: Through its heart-opening properties, cacao can foster emotional resilience, allowing individuals to better cope with stressors and emotional challenges. Participants often report feeling more emotionally centred and better equipped to face life’s difficulties after a ceremony.
- Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Cacao ceremonies encourage mindfulness and being present in the moment. This practice of mindfulness can help individuals manage stress more effectively by redirecting their focus away from worries about the past or future, leading to a calmer state of mind.
- Community and Support: Participating in a cacao ceremony often involves coming together with a group of like-minded individuals in a supportive environment. This sense of community and shared experience can itself be a powerful antidote to stress, offering a feeling of belonging and connection.
By reducing stress, ceremonial cacao contributes to a more harmonious balance between the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of an individual’s well-being.
Healing Childhood Trauma and Overcoming Self-Sabotage:
Healing Childhood Trauma:
Cacao ceremonies have been increasingly used as a tool for healing childhood trauma. Childhood trauma can leave lasting emotional scars and deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour that can undermine one’s self-esteem and well-being. Ceremonial cacao can play a significant role in this healing process by providing a safe and nurturing space for participants to confront and process their past experiences.
- Emotional Release: Cacao’s heart-opening properties can help individuals access and release deeply buried emotions related to childhood trauma. This emotional release is a crucial step towards healing, as it allows participants to acknowledge and let go of painful memories.
- Inner Child Work: Ashleigh’s Cacao ceremonies often involve inner child work, a therapeutic approach that focuses on nurturing and healing the wounded inner child within us. Participants may gain insights into their past and learn to provide the self-compassion and care that their inner child needs for healing.
- Self-Reflection and Integration: Ceremonial cacao encourages self-reflection and introspection, enabling individuals to gain a deeper understanding of how childhood trauma has influenced their beliefs and behaviours. This self-awareness is a crucial first step towards healing and transformation.
Self-sabotage often stems from unresolved issues, including childhood trauma. Ceremonial cacao can aid in breaking self-destructive patterns by addressing the root causes and fostering self-empowerment.
- Increased Self-Awareness: Cacao ceremonies promote self-awareness, allowing individuals to recognise self-sabotaging behaviours and thought patterns. This awareness is the foundation for initiating change.
- Empowerment and Self-Compassion: Cacao’s heart-opening properties can help individuals develop self-compassion and self-love, which are essential for overcoming self-sabotage. It can shift the inner narrative from self-criticism to self-acceptance and empowerment.
- Clarity and Goal Setting: Cacao ceremonies can provide mental clarity and focus, enabling participants to set clear intentions for personal growth and positive change. This newfound clarity can be harnessed to break free from self-sabotage.
- Support and Guidance: The supportive environment of a cacao ceremony, often facilitated by experienced guides, offers guidance and tools for participants to address self-sabotage constructively. It can be a transformative experience that catalyses lasting change.
Incorporating ceremonial cacao into a therapeutic or self-help journey for healing childhood trauma and overcoming self-sabotage should be done with care and ideally under the guidance of a trained facilitator or therapist. It can be a powerful complement to other therapeutic modalities and self-improvement practices, offering a holistic approach to personal growth and healing.
Combining a sound bath with a cacao ceremony can enhance the overall experience and provide additional benefits for participants. Sound baths involve the use of various instruments, such as singing bowls, gongs, and other sound-producing tools, to create a meditative and immersive auditory experience. Here are the benefits of incorporating a sound bath into a cacao ceremony:
- Deeper Relaxation: The soothing and harmonious sounds produced during a sound bath can induce a state of deep relaxation. When combined with the calming effects of cacao, participants may experience a heightened sense of tranquility and inner peace.
- Enhanced Meditation: Sound baths can aid in meditation by helping participants reach a state of mindfulness and focused awareness. This can complement the introspective aspect of the cacao ceremony, making it easier for individuals to connect with their inner selves and explore their thoughts and emotions.
- Stress Reduction: Sound baths are known for their stress-reducing effects. The gentle vibrations and frequencies produced by sound instruments can help release tension and promote a sense of ease. When combined with cacao’s stress-reducing properties, this can lead to a profound sense of calm.
- Chakra Balancing: Sound baths are often used to balance and align the body’s energy centres, or chakras. When integrated with a cacao ceremony, this can help participants achieve a greater sense of emotional and spiritual balance, which is conducive to self-understanding and self-acceptance.
- Enhanced Creativity and Self-Expression: The combination of sound and cacao can stimulate creativity and self-expression. Participants may find it easier to tap into their creative flow and explore their thoughts and emotions through artistic or introspective means.
- Heightened Spiritual Connection: Sound baths are believed to open up channels for spiritual connection and exploration. When used in conjunction with cacao, individuals may experience a deeper connection to their inner selves, spirit guides, or the spiritual dimension, enhancing the overall sense of spirituality during the ceremony.
- Increased Self-Awareness: Both sound baths and cacao ceremonies encourage self-awareness. Together, they can create a synergistic effect, allowing participants to gain deeper insights into their thoughts, emotions, and life experiences.
- Community and Connection: Sharing a sound bath within the context of a cacao ceremony fosters a sense of community and shared experience among participants. This collective experience can strengthen the sense of connection with others and promote a feeling of unity.
It’s important to note that the combination of cacao and a sound bath can be a deeply personal and transformative experience.
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