I walked into a house full of women of all ages and backgrounds in the Puerto Rican jungle. It was a full moon and my only intention was to learn how to let go of control; To surrender. I'd be doing it through the ancient Olmec, Mayan and Aztec ceremony of sipping cacao.
That's half the reason I ended up here. A semi-introverted control-freak in someone else's house, doing something I've never done with people I didn't know. I figured this would be the ultimate classroom. Like going to Harvard for law.
Everyone was kind and relaxed. People told me stories about their childhoods. Some of the women pet me lovingly. I was asked to open the ceremony since I teach meditation so I simply expressed my gratitude for the humility and warmth in the space.
Cacao meaning, "heart blood," is used as a medicine to open and heal the heart. Like other plant medicines, it's best experienced after a fast and will deliver whatever healing message you need.
When it was time to begin the ceremony, our guide explained that the rest of the night was to be done in complete silence, starting with chopping the cacao.
I ended up first in line to chop, despite being the only one in the room who'd never done this before. A brick of raw, pure cacao was placed on my cutting board. I nervously picked up the knife and began the process.
Chk, chk, chk.
I wondered if I was cutting too loud. How fast am I supposed to chop? How powdery to they want it? Where do I put it after this? How long will this take? I'm hungry!
My brain was already trying to hijack the entire experience. Thankfully my meditation practice helped me realize this quickly. I began to breathe a little deeper, trying to make nothing wrong. Trying to just be here now. I felt my shoulders fall away from my ears.
The gentle grainy sound of the knife through the cacao sound was satisfying. The comfort of these women in the room in silence was calming. We chopped and chopped and chopped.
Chk, chk, chk.
Mine felt ready. I made eye contact with the woman stirring the macadamia nut milk on the stove and she gave me a nod. I gently scraped the brown, splintery powder into the saucepan as she swirled it into the creamy liquid.
I watched mesmerized as the liquid deepened and one Puerto Rican woman broke the silence to sing a gentle song in Spanish to the medicine.
The woman stirring nodded at me and gestured to the mixture, offering me to stir. I took the wooden spoon and began to stir as cacao poured in and deepened the color and viscosity.
It was ready. We were ladled our servings to sip in two hours of darkness and silence.
The hot cacao wafted in through my nose as I took a seat on the floor. It was sweet, rich and chocolatey. My mouth watered. Taking a deep full inhale, I revisited my intention: to let go of control; To surrender.
My lips touched the rich, creamy drink and I sipped lightly to awaken every taste bud and sense in my body. Delicious. My eyes practically rolled back in my head. It tasted like everything I needed.
I took my sips slowly, really luxuriating every moment. Nothing was rushed, nothing was wrong. I let my body flow the way it wanted to flow. From stretches and positions to visions to sensations. I let myself unfurl.
I swayed my body as I closed my eyes. I felt a remarkable, wildly deep sense of self-love. Even the word "sense" doesn't do it justice. I felt deep, true, unshakable self-love to my core. It was my core. I felt it as my absolute truth. Like there was no separation between me and it.
I love myself. I am love. I am love. I am love.
My body broke out in goosebumps. I ran my fingers over my skin and melted into the ground. My body felt delicious, like melted caramel. My delicious melting caramel body.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I told myself as oxytocin pumped through my veins. I felt like I was snuggling with a lover or a baby. I worshipped every part of my body. Devotion poured out of me. I was so unbelievably alive and in love.
This feeling brought me to a vision: a sensual, beautiful, powerful amazon woman. Shakti energy was coursing through her. She was wild, warm, sweet and strong. She was grounded and flowing. She was brave and free.
I swooned over her, inspired.
How can I be like her? I asked the medicine.
Just be. She whispered to me.
I felt as if my heart had unlaced. I realized I had perceived the feminine inside of me (and in turn within everyone else) to be soft, delicate and gentle. I had pigeon-holed my own power.
My feminine is a beast. A sexy, untamed goddess warrior beast.
I am a sexy, untamed goddess warrior beast. The flow I'm looking for is grounded in my wholeness. I need to lean into me. I am safe in my own, luscious body. I am my own hero. I can rescue me at any moment. I can trust my damn self because I am the damn universe.
One by one, without words, all twelve women walked out into the moonlight. We danced in the warmth of the night.