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My journey with ceremonial cacao and kicking sugar cravings.

I've always liked chocolate, ooffff.... yes, strawberries and chocolate are still my most favorite dessert of all time. But getting to this point of liking the bitterness of chocolate in its purest form, cacao, has morphed me in ways I never even knew I needed. Like, ceasing to crave my usual caffeine and sugar every morning.

It all started after I had gave birth to my son, my beautiful baby boy. In the weeks that followed many close friends and family came to visit and offer gifts for the newborn and I.

A well trusted friend insisted I eat dark chocolate-like the kind that has 70% or more and without all the extra additives.

She said it would keep my moods and glucose levels more balanced, and from slipping into the all too common post partum depression that so many mothers suffer. So I began to eat and eventually tolerate the less sweet but more beneficial chocolate options.

Years later, nearly two decades into my wellness and healing journey with plants and organic herbs and spices I rediscovered the use of adding cacao nibs to smoothies and acai bowls. These are small and hard pieces of chocolate that add a crunch and a garnish that is pleasing to the eye. In 2022 I finally cut out dairy from my diet after years of knowing I am lactose intolerant. Soon realizing just how prevalent dairy is added to nearly everything that is packaged or frozen. The colder months proved slim pickins for me come hot cocoa season. Until... another good friend told me about Ora a sustainably sourced cacao company that works with the farms that produce ceremonial grade cacao. Now, from my love of matcha lattes I know the difference between culinary grade to ceremony grade. The quality, the color, the flavor is simply superior. So I began ordering and testing many cacaos from Guatemala, Tanzania, and Colombia. I quickly became a connoisseur of cacao.

This exploration of ''testing" also included a more ceremonious communion while drinking the cacao.

It became a complete mindfulness practice. The preparation, the slowing down enough to sit, light a candle or incense, play relaxing music so that I could connect deeper to myself and my intentions for the day. Cultivating being fully present to the smell, the warmth of the cup, the slippery feel of the drink itself from all the cocoa butters and natural oils that are still in it. The taste... powerfully bitter and strong absorbing deeply on my tongue.

This conscious consuming is a practice that has been a beautiful addition to my life. I feel more centered and anchored in the now to fully experience the sharp flavors wash through me and noticing my aversions and mental chatter that inevitably arise like knees jerking when something brings discomfort or newness.

Mama cacao is old, she is wise, and shoots right to the heart. She warms from the inside and imbues with love and nourishment.

Cacao is a true superfood-containing more antioxidants then blueberries, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium. The real gift of pure cacao is theobromine, which studies show can increase serotonin, the hormone that plays several roles in your body, including influencing learning, memory, happiness as well as regulating the body's temperature, sleep, sexual behavior and huger. In fact, lack of adequate serotonin is thought to play a role in depression, anxiety, mania and other health conditions. The Theobroma cacao evergreen tree is a natural anti inflammatory and is in the same class of stimulants as caffeine but is quite different because it doesn't not effect the central nervous system. Theobromine and flavanols are vasodilatory-which means they increase blood flow to the tissues of the body. They affect the muscles of the walls of the arteries and veins preventing the muscles from tightening and narrowing. As a result, circulation is increased as the heart doesn't have to pump as hard, reducing blood pressure. There's also evidence theobromine may reduce the bad cholesterol and improve the good cholesterol. It offers a longer, more relaxed energy without the spike and crash. Cacao is nootropic, meaning it enhances our cognitive performance. With a lifted mood our ability for greater capacities to focus and concentrate are available.

These are just some of the health benefits I have been geeking out on! In my own experience I notice my body not craving the excessive amounts caffeine and honey I was going for every morning. I feel more in tune with what my body is actually needing and more importantly, not needing. My discernment with intuitive eating has sharpened and I have found other ways to get the energy I need to sustain my active lifestyle. For example, I take a power nap when I need to. I'll do a handstand or do a set of backbends (spinal extensions) when I need an extra oomph to push me through the mid day. Or my best tool yet. I go to bed before 10pm.

Cacao has already improved my life so much that I felt the call to share! I will be hosting cacao ceremonies in addition to my monthly sound baths starting Dec 2022! I encourage all the busy and curious to attend! We can understand how logically all this sounds good, but until you actually experience the cacao coursing through you and rewiring of the brain that happens in a sound bath you really don't know what you are missing!

For these events it is important to not come on a full stomach. Please eat a light meal or snack a couple hours before the cacao ceremony sound bath so you can be comfortable as the cacao even in small amount can feel filling and we want to be able to notice its subtle effects. Also, we will be laying down on the ground for 20ish minutes for the sound bath portion, so please bring warm layers, a blanket and pillow and any other comfort items such as an eye pillow or comfy socks. Because we want to be able to relax deeply it is also recommended to please refrain from excessive caffeine the day of.

Cacao is not for pregnant women or people on high blood pressure or anti-depressant medications. Please acknowledge your body first and always before partaking.

Here is a referral link that offers $5 off your first order from Ora cacao:

Thank you for the privilege to share and support your wellness journey and I hope to commune together soon.

Blessings and grace, so be it!

Chastity Jewel

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