Holland: Cuckoo for cacao

A couple of weeks ago I experienced something that I never expected to find in Martinsville.

On a Tuesday evening at TAD Space there was a Cacao ceremony with light breath work, yoga and a sound bath that was performed with the work of both Martinsville local Meredith Young and nomadic shaman and cacao ceremonialist Jack Howard.

If I were going to describe what the process of consuming the cacao was that made it easy to understand I’d call it making hot chocolate with the darkest chocolate you’ll ever have. However, there really is so much more to the whole thing.

I learned that what we think of as cocoa, even the darkest formats, is still very different from what is used for ceremonial cacao. All of the processing that cocoa goes through to make it sweeter and put into convenient bars to snack on strips nutrients, lowers the level of actual cacao and often contains sugar, milk, oils and artificial flavoring.

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Cacao beans, what the cacao comes from, is the seed from the Theobroma Cacao tree. The health benefits only come from the purest forms but include lowering inflammation, improving gut and heart health and helping control blood sugar, according to rituall.com.

These benefits result from the antioxidants (for inflammation, heart health and blood sugar), polyphenols (which act as prebiotics for gut health) and many other things that are said to have beneficial effects. At first I was a bit hesitant, as I’ve heard many are, but at the end of the day it’s the pure form of chocolate.

I’d say it’s important to do your own research on the topic to see in more detail everything that goes along with cacao and best usage tips if you plan to try it out. I got lucky and stumbled upon the ceremony right across the street from where I work and there will be another session on Nov. 10th at 7 pm at the same location if anyone else is interested in trying it out.

What followed the cacao was also just as relaxing to me. There was light breathing which was similar to some mediation techniques that I’ve experienced in the past, a sound bath performed by Jack Howard with all sorts of instruments including a gong and intentional thinking which acted similar to manifestation techniques I’ve heard of before .

After leaving the ceremony I had the best night of sleep I have had in as long as I can remember, and sleep issues is something I deal with frequently, and I woke up feeling rejuvenated even before I had my almost daily cup of coffee from The Ground Floor.

I don’t know if it was placebo or the effects of cacao but after having another cacao session with just a couple of friends and seeing the same results, I’m keen to think it was the cacao.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see this type of event in Martinsville, and to see so many people showing up (there were just under 20 people in attendance) and I’d love to see many more events like this in the future.

I’m in the spirit of trying new things lately and it’s been working out extremely well for me. Cacao may not be for everyone, but getting out of the house and trying something new sure does help someone get to know a community and make some new friends.

From fly fishing, paddling, hiking, NASCAR races, trivia night, hayrides, concerts at Pop’s Farm, Rooster Walk, riding on the parkway, new friendships and now ceremonial cacao — Martinsville has, for such a little place, helped me experience a world of new experiences.

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Monique Holland is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at monique.holland@martinsvillebulletin.com or at 276-734-9603.