The Importance of Nature Connection
We are literally of the earth. We are an organism within a larger organism and in constant relationship with the living earth. We are made up of the air, water and food that becomes our body every single moment.
Modern humans are often used to thinking of ourselves as separate entities moving around in an inanimate world, but this conceit merely hides the reality of how interdependent life is, and how utterly enmeshed we are in the processes of life. We are no more separate or unaffected by the natural world than the deer, the chickadee, the moss, or the stars.
We evolved within that web and are built to thrive in it. Modern science confirms this again and again, creating fancy words for this basic truth that we already know in our bodies. Our well-being, including physical, emotional and spiritual wellness, is inextricably bound to the natural world. Forests can enhance our immune function. Wild nature brings peace and wisdom to our souls. Animals and plants speak to us of how to walk this path of life. The list could go on, but the point is that we need the natural world to flourish.
Time in Nature:
~ Reduces stress
~ Boosts the immune system
~ Deepens our sense of interconnectedness
~ Increases our sense of well-being & relaxation
And clearly, the other side of the coin is that the natural world needs us to care for it. A list of ecological disasters isn’t needed to remind us that we have often sorely abused the earth and her creatures for short-term gain.
“We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense".
~ Richar Louv, Author
Why A Cacao Ceremony In Nature?
As a plant medicine, cacao is all about connections. Connection to our self, to each other, to the natural world, and to spirit or higher powers. It strengthens these threads so that we can experience them more clearly and powerfully. Cacao helps us to become more present in a loving, heart-centered way, so the natural affect of this is to increase our sense of connectedness.
A cacao ceremony in the natural world will bring us closer to the truth of our place within it. With heightened senses, we experience the full beauty of nature directly in our own bodies. This embodied connection is a powerful way to remember the importance of nature and to learn to see it with new eyes and in more meaningful ways. Cacao brings us into a flow state, full of wonder and curiosity, and when immersed in nature, this allows us to tune in to what is around us in ways that we don’t always do when outside. Perhaps we notice the quality of the breeze on our skin, the sound of a bird call nearby, or the smell of the trees in the summer sun. From this place, we can engage more fully, through play, our senses and communicating with the world around us.
Our ceremonial cacao is bean-to-bar crafted with organic, high-quality cacao beans. It’s cultivated with intention, so you can consume with love. Our cacao is a whole food, with none of the pure bean removed or modified with additives or sweeteners. This makes it a great fit for a ceremony focused your connection with nature.
Cacao can be a powerful tool to enhance your sense of belonging within the natural world and to remember your place as part of the web of life.
Suggested Cacao Drink Recipe
We suggest the following to use for your cacao ceremony in nature. Amounts are per person:
- 1.5 ounce of Ceremonial Cacao
- 5 ounces of water
- Dash of cayenne
- Sweetener to taste
Key Aspects To A Cacao Ceremony In Nature
1. Wildness: Whether it’s your backyard, a local park, or a larger wilderness area, choose a location that allows you to connect with wildness, within and without. The idea is to be able to focus on the non-human world, from the birds to the sun & breeze, trees, or wildlife. It doesn’t have to be deep backcountry to see how ever-present nature is in our lives
2. Curiosity: Let your curiosity and wonder guide you. Cultivate openness and excitement about discovering the amazing things in the natural world, both big and small.
3. Intuition: Connecting with the natural world involves using intuitive ways of knowing and communicating. Whether in images, feelings, colors, or words, the more we tap into our intuition, the more we can appreciate the natural world on its own terms.
4. Spontaneity: Be open to being surprised and following something in the spur of the moment. Be drawn by a beam of sunshine, or the feel of moss on a tree.
Basic Set Up For Any Ceremony In Nature
• Planning: Spend some time in advance doing the planning. Make sure you know where you’re going, what the weather holds, and pack a small backpack with water and supplies for being outdoors for a few hours.
• Cacao: Brew up your cacao drink at home and put it in a thermos to stay warm and bring it with you.
• Cellphones at home: Leave modern technology at home so you can focus on immersing yourself in the 3D world without the distraction or temptation of phones.
• Travel: Go to the place where you’ll do your ceremony. Walking, biking, and driving are all fine.
• Open Your Ceremony: Find a place to sit and drink your cacao. Begin with gratitude for the cacao and for the place you are visiting. From there, flow into one of our suggested practices.
• Journaling: Take some time at the end to journal and reflect on the experience.
There are many ways to have a cacao ceremony in nature, so here we’ve suggested 4 easy ways to get started.
Idea # 1 - The Wander
"Not all who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien
Drop into the rhythms of nature and let your mind take a backseat to the beauty of timeless immersion in the outdoors.
Time: 3-5 hours
Location: A wilderness area or larger park
The goal of this practice is to let go of our habitual linear way of thinking and acting and instead let intuition, curiosity, and the body guide us. When we open our minds in this way, we experience magic and beauty more easily and find that we feel recharged by the break from goal-oriented existence.
This practice is simple. Once you’re outside, preferably in a larger area with room to move, and finished your cacao, your only “goal” is to wander and explore. It might sound easy, but at first we often need some practice to get out of our heads and into our bodies.
Let yourself be drawn along by whatever sparks your interest, or whatever direction your body is inclined to move. Resist the temptation to know where you’re going, where you’ll end up, and if it’s the “best” direction. Just trust the process, knowing that there is no ultimate goal here.
It’s helpful to give yourself ample time and choose a location that has some boundaries that you recognize, so as not to get lost.
Take breaks as you go, exploring what you discover and using all senses to engage with the natural world around you.
Spend at least a few hours wandering and end when your body feels ready.
Idea # 2 - Sacred Wound Walk
This practice focuses on how the natural world is a beautiful mirror of our inner landscape and the healing that can happen when we open the tender places within to the world around us.
Time: 2-3 hours
With curiosity and reverence, let yourself wander outdoors. Let yourself be moved by what draws you, following your intuition more than a path or logical route. Drop into natural time, where your body leads you. As you go, keep an eye out for something in the natural world that seems wounded to you. Take your time in choosing.
Once you do, find a comfortable spot to sit near this thing, ideally with some part of you touching it. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Once your mind settles, introduce yourself and begin a conversation. Learn more about this thing and allow it to learn more about you and your wounds. Take your time with the conversation. See what you learn about the places you feel vulnerable, hurt, or sensitive.
At some point during the conversation, ask how this wound relates to its beauty, its uniqueness, and its gift to the world. Be open to this as a reflection on your own wound/gift relationship. When the conversation is done, thank it and head slowly back for home.
Make sure you take some time to journal and integrate, especially if the conversation brough up deeper emotions that are still in process.
Idea # 3 - Sit Spot
Often the natural world seems a mystery to us, a wall of indistinguishable green, or a cacophony of sound that we can’t identify. One of the secrets to getting intimate with the natural world is a spit spot.
Time: 1-2 hours
Location: Backyard, park or wilderness area that is easily accesible
In its basic form, the spit spot is deceptively simple. Find a spot outside, and sit quietly alone.
The natural world has its own rhythms and ways, and often when we humans want to connect more with it, we are unaware of the impact we cause. This impact creates ripples that usually mean that most creatures disappear, and the forest seems silent or empty. In fact, it’s teeming with life, we just scared most of it away!
A sit spot allows us to get attuned to the rhythms of a single place. When we sit quietly for at least 15-20 minutes, life returns to its regular rhythms and we get the opportunity to witness it all. As we quiet our minds, we can start to pay attention to details we might otherwise overlook when we’re in the goal-oriented, from A to B, mindset. We can pick out nuanced colors on a particular bird. Or notice the complex array of sounds all around us. As we do, we start to learn about both the parts and the whole, breaking through the barrier of green and getting to know living things as unique individuals.
A sit spot practice with cacao is an opportunity to do a longer sit and benefit from the enhanced calm and sensory awareness. The real benefit of sit spot practice is in repetition over time, and coming to know a specific place intimately. It’s preferable to return to the same spot regularly, and in varied conditions and times so that you get a chance to see the full picture of life in this place.
A sit spot journal is a great companion to this practice, where you can write down what you see, hear, smell, and feel, along with questions and observations.
Idea # 4 - Play!
As adults, we often forget the value of play in our busy, get-stuff-done lives. Play is an essential way of rebalancing ourselves and the natural world offers an unparalleled opportunity for creative play.
Time: 1-3 hours
Location: Backyard, park or wilderness area
As kids, we were primarily focused on maximizing joy, fun, and pleasure! If given the space and unstructured time, we could play for hours and hours on end. Creating imaginative worlds, building forts and fairy houses, and never thinking twice about getting wet, muddy, and scraped up.
For this practice, your ‘goal’ is to have as much fun as possible. Run, climb, sword-fight, dig your toes in the mud, catch frogs and howl like a wolf.
Play is a combination of physical engagement and creative imagination. Let both run wild as you reconnect with that inner boy or girl who never stopped loving to play! Use all your senses and allow yourself to move your body in ways that you don’t often do, like balancing on a log or swinging from a branch. Be loud. Get dirty. Go barefoot.
This can be done on your own, and it can also be done with the right friends. Follow what feels good and unhindered by adult reservations.
Notice how you feel after a solid session of play and what this “unproductive” time does for your well-being.
Get Outside Today!
A cacao ceremony is about reclaiming a plant medicine for its healing properties and being open to its essence or spirit, in guiding us. On its own, this is a form of nature connection as it reminds us of the power that the natural world has to transform us. We can take that a step further and actually bring our cacao ceremonies outside and into fuller immersion with nature. The benefits are huge and as we remember the magic & beauty all around us, we also learn how to take care of this delicate planet we call home, which needs us more than ever. Next time you’re planning a cacao ceremony, consider doing it in nature and experience the deeper connection to the earth for yourself!
Moses Draper, Co-Founder embue cacao
I've been working with cacao for over a decade and am passionate about sharing the love & beauty that is possible with this medicine.