I’ve been working with cacao for almost a decade and with healing modalities for longer. My role as a facilitator is the result of this intensive personal exploration and a readiness to share that with others. My personal exploration and training has included body-based psychotherapy, awareness practices (such as meditation), nature connection, expressive arts (such as dance & kirtan) and plant-medicines (such as cacao). I have been influenced by many mentors and teachings and have ultimately found my own truth through personal experience and by continuously being available to what is happening in my inner landscape, even when painful or contrary.
My first deep dive into my inner world was through therapy. My therapy work and therapist created foundational blocks which became a constant reference point for the rest of my explorations in the inner realms. It allowed me to expand and deepen my forays in this field while navigating some of the common pitfalls that one encounters along the way. Deep-seated wounds, core beliefs about life and habitual reactions started to bubble to my conscious awareness so that they could be felt, integrated and ultimately dropped when they were no longer needed. My reactions, emotions, story’s and beliefs were laid on the table, each as they were ready, to be investigated and seen fully. This work was all hands-on-deck and encompassed mind, body and heart.
I developed an interest in spirituality and alternative healing modalities that ranged from meditation, ecstatic dance, chanting, the vision quest, men’s group work, plant medicines and nature connection among others. I also found much clarity and inspiration in the stories of in-tact hunter-gatherer cultures, as a template for human cultures that met human needs. I was always drawn to the effect that these tools and understandings had on the underlying causes of the blocks that I personally experienced.
Almost a decade ago, I first experienced a cacao ceremony at a ceremonial fire circle gathering. Being a chocolate lover, I was excited by the idea but thought nothing more of it than the delicious treat I had known. Sitting around the fire as the cacao took effect, I felt like I was falling in love with everyone there in an effortless way. I quickly realized that there was a lot more going on than the chocolate I was used to, and so began a multi-year journey of learning about cacao and how it supports healing and inner work.
As my attention was focused in this way, these patterns eventually started to ease up and I found more space around them. Core pains and beliefs started to resolve themselves with the result being that I experience a larger range of movement, expression and feeling. My old beliefs that the world needs to be fixed, that there is something wrong with me, or that I’m at the mercy of a malevolent world are gradually fading, along with their attendant behaviors. I am more able to share intimacy, take responsibility for myself, be moved by my inner motivations and have healthy boundaries.
From one perspective, the journey is over and from another, it will always continue. The underlying sense that I am on journey somewhere, seeking something, is mostly gone, yet old feelings and patterns still come up. Because I don’t judge these unconscious patterns, they don’t bother me as they used to and they don’t shake my world as much. They are part of the flow of my life, the way I am shaped, much like a tree might have grown bent over because of the wind.
What I would have used to have called my spiritual path has faded away, like a band-aid when the cut has healed. It is a reference point and belief system that is no longer needed because their purpose has been served. I am more focused on what is in front of me, what life presents and how my system wants to respond. Basic daily needs are more engaging and I find more satisfaction in them.
In terms of my experience and training, I have mostly created my own path by following what is of interest. My primary focus throughout has been to work with my own stuff which allows me to be more available to genuinely support others. This has never been solely an intellectual exercise for me. I have studied with teachers from different disciplines, working both in group and individual settings. This includes training under people doing group therapy work, guiding people on vision quest retreats, leading workshops and working with people one-on-one. Ultimately, doing this work has come from a sense of an inner readiness and capability that makes it clear that guiding this work is a natural fit for me.
My daily life these days is focused a lot on my two children and our homestead. Raising them in a healthy way is a passion of mine that brings all of this inner work into context. They keep me learning and growing so that the elements of a more in-tact culture can flourish more fully.