We made our way through the jungle to a yoga studio that had been made out of a bamboo hut. As we entered, we were each smoke smudged and placed in a circle. People in the circle were already crying. Maybe I should make a run for it, I thought. But it was too late. The woman guiding us through the experience was already talking. She was explaining the power of the chocolate bean for healing as well as the concoction it came in that was being passed around: cacao, chilis, fresh coconut, local honey. This isn’t so bad, I reassured myself, at least I get dessert.
We were then asked to go around the circle and share what we would like to invite into our lives, what we would like to let go of and who we would dedicate our experience today to. She said whoever we dedicated it to would feel a shot of love straight in the heart wherever they were.
Forgiveness, happiness, action, self-love. Judgment, spite, over-thinking, negative patterns. This was reassuring, they shared what I have thought many times over and everyone nodded, smiled and seemed at peace. There were dedications to mothers, brothers, gurus and “those who needed love most”. When it came to my turn I felt my heart pounding in my chest. In a near whisper I said I would like to invite in calm and acceptance and let go of my desire to control the future ending with a nervous laugh (no one else laughed). My dedication was to a family member who was very sick…and very angry about it….and very scared. I hoped they felt that shot of love. I was skeptical but still hoped. I was choking on my words and tears were streaming down my face. Snot was bubbling out of my nose.
What the F*#! This is not happening. Get a hold of yourself! You’re making a scene, you’re being self-indulgent. Poor next guy, you’re stealing his moment. Selfish! But I couldn’t. I was hyperventilating. I felt a hand pat my back. I was floored by this reaction. I had not realized how much it had bothered me. But in this space of loving, non-judgmental people, it was pouring out of me in the most violent way. It was not sexy.
We then laid down in svwavasana to begin the dance. The drum beat started. We were going to dance our way through the elements. Earth. Water. Fire. Wind. Ether. I could feel the beat resonate through the floor into my body. We started with a crawl like animals of the earth. Growling and howling at each other. There’s no turning back now.
I shook my head vigorously. We rose up to our feet; we were to dance the energy of earth. I made my body heavy and solid, stomping around the room.
Water. The music softened and so did our movements. Fire: the beat quickened to a hot hot heat. There was a lot of jumping as if stepping on hot coals. I blinked my fists in a way I thought looked like fire crackers. By this point we had been dancing for an hour and another hour to go. People started to get tired. The older group members (myself included) started to dance more of a slow burn. Some of the twenty-somethings were still doing star jumps. I grappled with holding on and not waning.
Wind. Light fluttering. We were asked to feel like we had angel wings. Ether. Space. I expanded and contracted my body to take up as much and as little space as I could.
We ended in svwasana. Two hours later, panting and smiling. I felt like we had just been through a war together – a war with ourselves, an emotional detox.
So this is what “doing cacao” means.