monkey holding a banana

Letting Go of the Banana

It’s New Year’s Eve. The annual ritual of closing a chapter and turning a new page begins. As one might expect, I decided to make this year’s ritual a bit different. I attended a Cacao Ceremony.

The word “cacao” comes from the Mayan words “Ka’kau” meaning “heart blood,” and “Choko la” meaning to drink chocolate together. This blood connection comes from the belief that the Mayan gods bled onto the cacao pods, and cacao was considered one of the ingredients used to create humanity.

“A Mayan legend tells us that whenever there is an imbalance between humans and nature, cacao comes from the rainforest to open people’s hearts and return the planet to a state of harmony. Some shamans, therefore, consider cacao the ‘food for the shift.’ It represents the new order of love and peace, which is being cultivated right now.”  

– Keith Wilson, the Cacao Shaman

I had no idea what to expect other than ingesting some form of chocolate. What actually happened was a beautiful evening of guided connection between strangers practicing something we’ve perhaps lost site of recently…the practice of authentically and intentionally seeing each other, hearing each other and celebrating each other in an environment full of self-expression and free of judgement and expectations. In our fast-paced, instant gratification, stress ridden culture, there is much to be learned and appreciated from ancient rituals intended to help us focus inward and connect with our humanity.

What resonated with me the most as I look to turn my page was a story the Shaman told about how to catch a monkey (I know what you’re thinking…because that’s a modern day skill we all need to learn. But wait…). As the story goes, the ancient way to catch a monkey was to place a banana in a narrowly barred cage, and leave it in the forest. The monkey comes, sticks its hand into the cage and grabs the banana. But the banana is too big to fit back out through the bars of the cage. As the hunter approaches, the monkey won’t let go of the banana, and thus is captured, soon finding itself inside the cage, right along with the desired fruit. What is the moral of this story as we look to a new year? Sometimes we just need to let go of things so we can be free; free to see new pathways, new opportunities and new experiences.

Anything we cling to can become problematic. This includes the assumptions, preferences, prejudices and biases we have. This includes fear of the unknown or fear of past negative experiences repeating. This also includes people and relationships that don’t serve us. The person who cannot discard anything becomes burdened, unable to fully stretch their wings and realize their talents and potentialities.

As I look to the new year, there are a few things that bubble to the top of the list of priorities for me.

  1. Take care of my mind and my body.
  2. Settle for nothing less than quality relationships built on a foundation of equality and trust.
  3. Have fun and play more.
  4. Be a good human.

Don’t start the new year with your hand stuck in a jar. Let go of the banana!

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