Cultivate a relationship with your heart and the medicine of chocolate through this mindful daily practice!
I am so grateful to finally be putting some of the many thoughts, feelings, recipes and rituals I have about cacao into the digital world, bundled with the intention to empower you to do something different, try something new, embark on a fresh path of self-discovery and circulate more energy into your life. I speak from my own experience having created and committed to a morning practice of drinking cacao with my husband Eduardo for the past two years, and for both of us, the positive transformations and higher states of wellbeing that have come in the process are crystal clear.
I believe whole-heartedly that cultivating a daily ritual, that helps us move from our heads into our hearts and connect to the wisdom within, has profound positive effects on our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and wider health. I deeply cherish the ability of cacao to assist us in opening to become more authentically ourselves, to awaken the seeds of love and joy in us, and the very real grounding that takes place when we connect with this ancient plant medicine.
I mainly use ceremonial cacao paste, which is the highest quality raw, unprocessed cacao you can find. But if I do find myself completely out of the cacao block, I’m not a complete cacao-purist — I do use raw cacao powder (this Navitas one is ethical and tastes good).
If you’re wondering what the difference between ceremonial paste and cacao powder (not to mention where cocoa fits in..?) read my other article which explains everything in more detail and includes my favorite online sources. If you want to learn what makes ceremonial cacao “ceremonial”, Eduardo has a great article going deep into the process.
To get you started, here are a few of my favorite ways to make a sacred morning cacao tonic. Feel free to adjust and combine whichever ingredients are calling you on the day! Recipes make 1 serving.
Morning Ritual — my favorite cacao tonic
30g cacao chopped paste (about 3 heaped tbsps) / 1/2 tsp cinnamon / pinch of cayenne / 1 medjool date (optional) / 1 slice ginger / 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling) 1/2 cup warmed oat or almond milk
(tip: use the mug you plan to serve the drink in to measure the liquid as it’s the perfect amount and warms it up ready for you!)
I love adding some other beautiful herbs and adaptogens too, just 1/2–1 tsp of each. Some ideas: Shatavari, Reishi, Ashwagandha, Mucuna Pruriens, Maca.
Blend for 30 seconds until frothy and serve.
Iced Cacao Tonic — for hot days or an afternoon pick-up
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder / 1 tsp cinnamon / 1 crushed cardamom pod / pinch of cayenne / maca or lucuma (optional) / 1 medjool date or maple syrup / ½ cup oat or almond milk + ½ cup cold water / 2–3 ice blocks
Pop all ingredients in your blender and whiz on high for 30 seconds. Serve over ice.
Meditation + Ceremony — ceremonial cacao for deep connection and practice
30–40g cacao paste (about 4–5 tbsps) chopped / 1/2 tsp cinnamon / pinch of cayenne / 1 cup hot water (not boiling)
Combine in a pot on the stove for a more traditional experience or mix in a blender for a blissfully thick, frothy cup.
If sharing in ceremony, you can gently reheat the blended mix on the stove when you’re ready to serve. Always keep on low heat and never let the cacao come to a boil as this changes its molecular structure and the way our bodies are able to absorb its nutrients. Try unsweetened for a deeper, potent dose. Cacao’s bitter medicine is good for us! I like to give people the option to try it first without any sweetner, and then they can add a teaspoon of raw honey if they like.
Heart Beams — sweet self love and tenderness
20–30g cacao paste, chopped finely (also optional to add 1 tbsp cacao powder for added richness) / 1 tsp cinnamon / 1 medjool date / 1 tsp sprinkle of organic edible dried rose petals / 1 crushed cardamom pod / 1/2 tsp Shatavari powder / 1 cup hot water (or try with this rose tulsi tea instead of using rose petals for a divine heart-opening flavor)
Blend all ingredients for 30 seconds til frothy.
While you’re making your tonic, take your time and look at all the ingredients that are going into making this healing drink for you. Give thanks — the ceremony has already begun!
Taking the time to create space, make a nourishing tonic and sit down to sip cacao is a mindfulness practice in itself. When we strip away all the embellishments, distractions and layers, we see that mindfulness — being present with our own consciousness — is our humanity. And on this level we have the opportunity to experience Truth and to see God, whatever shape that takes for you personally. Ultimately, you don’t need cacao to make this a powerful ritual — you can try it with your coffee, a cup of tea, or simply fresh water to experiment with what feels best and works for you to connect in mindfulness. But of course, cacao is so divine and I’ve found she helps me feel the divine all around and within with greater ease and grace.
Here is a simple flow of how my husband and I go about our daily morning ritual. I hope it provides an easy framework that you can alter and explore deeper.
A way of entering the space or beginning, setting it apart from the everyday and drawing you into sacred time and sacred space. This is important to cleanse yourself of whatever you’re arriving with and to create an empty vessel to fill with the experience of ceremony. Burn incense, cleanse your energy and the space with sustainably sourced palo santo, and take a few deep breaths to center yourself, bringing your total awareness to the sensation of the breath moving in and out. If you feel like it, you can chant 1–3 Oms (beautiful when there is two or more people to synchronize the group), call in the directions and elements, or simply fold your hands in prayer position at your heart center. Trust whatever you feel you need that day.
Expressing gratitude alters your consciousness, changing your perception and awareness of what is truly meaningful and abundant. Here you are opening your heart to offer blessings to the world and everything around you. Connecting with the spirit of cacao, with the elements (fire, water, air, earth, ether), with the sun, sky, earth, plants, ancestors, and thanking each of them for their presence in your life. Gratitude is a celebration of being alive and receiving the infinite gifts of the Universe.
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” — Rumi
Setting an intention is a way of signalling to consciousness that you’re ready, willing and open for whatever is going to come, and to connect in with your higher self and ask for what you need. Set one for yourself to work with that day by being specific and focused, yet simple and intuitive. Don’t overcomplicate it, just listen to your soul speak. Give it form by saying it out loud, even if you’re alone.
Once you’ve called your intention into existence, take your first sip mindfully and bring your awareness to the full sensations of the cacao (or tea or water) as it moves through your body — delight in the experience of the senses!
Now is a beautiful point to take time for meditation, journalling, singing, breathwork, stretching, or reading a passage from a book that inspires feelings of love and compassion within you. Take as long as you wish and flow with wherever it takes you.
Honoring the time, space, components and yourself, all of which came together to create the experience. Closing the space as mindfully as your entered it seals in the intentions set and wisdom gained. Close in whatever way feels most special to you — chant Om again, sing a song, bring your hands to prayer and bow to the Earth (your own heart), or give yourself (and loved one) a hug. Welcome in the mystical unfolding of the day. You’re ready to meet Life with love, compassion and energy!
You might notice you don’t need coffee (as much or at all) to feel energized, or that you don’t react as quickly to a triggering situation, or that you feel more connected and grounded in your body, providing a sense of stability and compassion. Embrace whatever comes as a result of your practice and watch yourself to grow in new ways!
If you’re interested to know more about working with ceremonial cacao, take a peek of my previous article discussing chocolate as medicine and the difference between powdered forms and ceremonial-grade paste.