Open Your Heart with this Daily Medicine

Print This

Chances are by now you’ve heard the buzz about cacao. The beautiful mood enhancing, and mineral rich drink derived from the cacao bean. This more natural and raw form of the chocolate we all know, may seem bitter to the tongue at first, but with a little time and commitment to the ritual the enormous benefits, not to mention cleansing of the palette (to a less sugar enhanced flavor) will surely have you singing its praises. On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of making Cacao directly from the source, but first let’s discuss the enormous health benefits for those new to the practice.

Many people first adopt the practice of drinking cacao because they want to reduce their caffeine intake. Cacao contains a small amount of caffeine but can offer longer lasting energy without all the jitters.  This lasting energy is a result of the enormous amount of minerals and antioxidants contained in cacao. Notably, magnesium is a mineral that as a culture, we are highly deficient in and yet magnesium is responsible for key brain functions, especially memory and concentration. It is also beneficial for the function of the heart, acting to relax blood vessels and decrease strain. Other minerals supplied by cacao include copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, sulfur, iron, and phosphorus.

Another reason for the recent cacao craze comes from its natural anti-depressant and anxiety-reducing properties.  Cacao contains: 

  • Serotonin – Helps with wellbeing and creates resistance to stress.
  • Cacao also inhibits the re-uptake of dopamin – Giving us feelings of motivation and pleasure.
  • Cacao also inhibits the re-uptake of dopamine anandamide – The bliss molecule which moderates pain.
  • Phenylethylamine – Known as the joy molecule, it helps with excitement, alertness, attention.

For me, the health benefits are just the backdrop to the delicious ritual of sitting with this medicine. Cacao has the distinct ability to help open our hearts, something in grave need for our over thinking population, me included! Drinking this medicine with intention and gratitude allows us to slow down our day to really sit with ourselves, scanning our internal landscape and allowing the warm medicine to slither through the cavities of the heart. I particularly love adding a little warming spice like cayenne to my medicine, to help me identify and connect with the medicine as it moves through the physical body. Some of my most powerful work with cacao has come when incorporating this medicine with heart opening yoga poses. Doing something as simple as a few bridge poses in between sips or meditation can enhance our connection with the heart and help us identify whether we are connecting to the heart when making our most important and poignant decisions about our life.

Making Cacao in Costa Rica

Last summer I had the pleasure of traveling to one of my favorite places, Costa Rica. Known for their cacao I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with a local, learning about the tradition and ways to make cacao. The process was simple and highlighted the raw purity by which this medicine can illuminate.

After the beans had been sliced open, we began scooping out the ripe beans out of the viscous white ‘mucilage’ coating. The white pulp can also be eaten  and is often consumed as is, or blended with water to make a cacao juice.

However, we were looking for the cacao beans inside this fluid, that then must be dried and then fermented or roasted.

For time sake, our friend Jose then supplied us with already dried beans that we began cracking or winnowing to remove the shell and harvest the cacao nibs inside.  Our final step, was to begin grinding the cacao nibs down into a powder like substance and begin to mix with evaporated milk and brown sugar. Obviously less refined than a commercial application or preparation, but the results were oh so satisfying. The chocolate was warm yummy goodness, bitter yes, but there was something so lovely about the simplicity and purity of our final product.


If you’d like to explore cacao further one of my favorite books on the subject is the  “The Story of Cacao” , this is a beautiful and short book that can be shared with small children or in a circle. If you interested in starting the ritual of sitting with Cacao, I recommend ordering ceremonial grade, Ora Cacao is one of my personal favorites.

Join Our Newsletter & Get the RITUALIST Guide
No Comments Yet

Comments are closed

Let's be friends! Complete the form to start your journey and be inspired with weekly rituals.
We respect your privacy.