Shamanic healing is one of the oldest holistic healing practices. Linked to indigenous cultures from around the world, shamanic healing is rooted in the belief that everything has an energy and that we can work to rebalance that energy should things be thrown off course.

Yoga and meditation teacher, Maren Lander is a firm believer in the shamanic cacao ceremony. After facilitating cacao ceremonies for over a year, her work with this sacred plant from the rain forest in Guatemala has become a significant, personal journey. The ceremony is a potent and effective system of self-transformation and personal development. It can help make you radiant, peaceful and strong so that you can meet life’s challenges with strength and compassion.

Here she shares her respect, new found health benefits and healing power of cacao that paved a path of enlightenment and self love.

The health benefits of chocolate

Ceremonial cacao is 100% raw chocolate. Once I receive them from Guatemala, the cacao beans have been shelled and slightly heated in order to make them into a paste. As this is the only process the cacao has gone through, it's considered to be a raw product. That means that it still has all the goodies in it that we don't usually find in store-bought chocolate, like cacao liqueur. 

Ceremonial cacao contains a number of vitamins, minerals and 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries. It's especially high in iron, magnesium and calcium and leads to a release of endorphins. It contains only a small amount of caffeine, but will still give you a burst of energy that will help you to focus and improve your memory. Cacao is considered to be the best creativity enhancer as well as facilitator of deep inner work. It's used by authors, artists, yoga and meditation teachers, dance therapists, tantric practitioners and so on.

Drinking cacao on a daily basis (as a hot chocolate or in a smoothie) is recommended if you suffer from depression, (feeling low, rather than clinical depression), high blood pressure or skin problems. It's a much healthier alternative to coffee. Cacao compared to other plant medicines is easy to integrate. With cacao we can laugh, sing, dance, be creative, think, do yoga etc. and most importantly be joyful and feel uplifted.

On a more spiritual level, cacao is said to help us reconnect with nature and the earth in general. It teaches us how to live in harmony with the world, seeing the bigger picture and not getting caught up in drama and low levels of bickering.

I use cacao in shamanic healing to help people open their hearts and look at situations in their lives with compassion and forgiveness. This will help them to change their perspective, release energetic blockages, let go of fears and bad habits.

What is cacao ceremony?

How to conduct a shamanic cacao ceremony

My ceremonies typically involve bonding exercises for the members of the group. Here are the steps:

1. Intention setting

2. Seated meditation

3. Guided meditation lying down

4. Sound healing using Shamanic drums and the gong

5. Group sharing at the end of the ceremony 

Individual cacao ceremonies however, can be extremely beneficial for people who are working with deep traumas that they would find difficult to share with others.

Although this sounds like quite an intense process, cacao ceremonies are a great introduction into holistic healing. The gentle energy of the plant and the support you receive from the group release such a positive energy. You're sure to leave with a new-found zest for life after your first attendance. 

Working with cacao can help to release feelings like guilt, fear and the feeling of never being 'good enough'. You decide if you are ready to let go and the cacao will take you where you need to go. And if you're not ready to let go of old beliefs or emotional patterns, that's ok too. The point is to listen to your inner truth as well as other people's stories. Together, you will learn how to take the first step in dealing with the emotional issues that you're facing. Again, the aim of a cacao ceremony is to empower you to release what doesn't serve you, and help you see what is truly important in your life.

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The holistic health benefits of chocolate

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