Cacao, connection and ritual
Why inviting ritual into your everyday can help slow down time
Have you ever complained of how quickly the days, weeks or years go? As if time is speeding up and our ability to slow down and pause is evaporating. We load our agendas to bursting point, keep a running to-do list in our head and tick things off as we go. This type of high intensity living overloads the nervous system and creates such stress that just getting to the weekend feels like an achievement. But this isn’t how we were designed to live. Our nervous system requires respite in order to function healthily, and while this is a widely known fact, so many people are unaware of how to create space in their lives to slow down.
We read about the benefits of meditation, and to practice breathwork and yoga. Although these are all proven ways to lower our stress response, they can also seem overwhelming to a time-sensitive novice. A far simpler way to create space for slowness is to turn a daily habit into a ritual, and the trick to this is to recognise it as a non-negotiable part of your day.
The word ritual is generally attached to ideas of ceremony or religion, but in order to allow ritual to enter your life it is important to view it as a pathway to connection. Our day to day lives are built around habits, all of which are constructed in a way to allow us to operate on autopilot from morning to night. This type of efficiency limits the presence and connection we could otherwise feel throughout our day. The importance of facilitating presence is often overlooked, yet it’s essentially what allows time to slow down, to feel more honest and purposeful.
Adapting a daily habit into a ritual is ultimately a life hack to create connection and calmness, all whilst operating productively. We are conditioned to believe that slowing down is a sign of weakness or inability, but engaging in a subtle ritual each day allows us to pause – to take off the armour that convinces us to behave as machines, rather than human beings.
Shannon Beard is an experienced energy healer and the founder and director of Nourish Hub Co. She’s also an advocate for the benefits of integrating ritual into your everyday. Nourish Hub sources certified organic cacao directly from family-owned Peruvian farms. This type of cacao is regarded as ceremonial grade and differs to any regular store-bought chocolate or even organic cacao powder. The entire bean is stoneground during production and, unlike it’s powdered relative, ceremonial grade cacao also contains cacao butter – the magic ingredient responsible for the medicinal properties that chocolate is known for.
Cacao is a plant medicine packed with antioxidants, flavonoids and compounds that quite literally make you feel incredible. Tryptophan is the molecule that assists in the production of serotonin and melatonin, which stabilises your mood and encourages restful sleep. Phenylethylamine triggers the release of endorphins responsible for those warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness. It’s linked to cardiovascular health, blood circulation, digestion and gut function – the list is honestly endless. But Shannon refers to cacao as a medicine of the heart.
“Ceremonial grade cacao works more potently and deeply when you partner it with an intention. To hold a cacao ceremony for yourself at home, I encourage you to sit, take a few deep breaths and think of an intention – something you'd like to feel, invoke, release, call in – before you start sipping. It can be as simple as this, or after you’ve set your intention, you can then go on to journal, meditate, or create. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, the most important steps are being present whilst brewing your cup of cacao and setting an intention.”
Some of you might be looking at your busy schedules and scoffing right about now. A ritual! Where do I find the time to fit one of those in? Well the answer is to select a daily habit, preferably one of priority, and contextualise it so it takes on the role of grounding and connecting you to the present moment. It can be as simple as adapting the preparation of your morning coffee (or cacao!) or lighting a candle at your desk while you work.
“I think that it becomes so easy to lose touch with ourselves these days. Life gets busy and so do we, and by intentionally creating time for daily rituals we reconnect with our true essence, our true selves,” says Shannon. “This not only benefits us, but ripples out into our workplace, our friendships, our family. Everyone benefits when our cup is full.”
And Shannon’s most practical tip for creating space for ritual; consistency.
“What I’ve learnt over the years is that consistency is key. Now by this, I don’t mean doing the same ritual or the same routine every single morning; that may work for some people but it never works for me. I ensure that I am consistent in making time for myself and engaging in small rituals throughout the day, mainly in the morning and evening, but the rituals I engage in change. I create a ‘ritual menu’ and choose from this each day. It doesn’t have to be a rigid, structured process, it can be fun, intuitive and creative. Having a consistent commitment alongside the flexibility of choosing your daily rituals intuitively – it takes the pressure off.”
Inviting some form of ritual into your everyday is the starting point to creating meaningful and deliberate connection with the present moment, and initiates a direct line of inquiry to the heart.
By granting ourselves the permission to slow down and reconnect with our inner landscape, we enable our presence in the outer world to truly shine.
Words by Zohie Castellano