I led a chocolate meditation during the opening plenary of the Wellbeing Summit for Social Change and was very honored to have Silk Road Ensemble musicians, Mark Suter and Yoshiro Umezaki, welcome me onto the stage with an original composition.

I would be delighted if you would find a piece of chocolate and go on this short journey into interconnectedness with me.

The scope and depth of the offerings at the Summit were staggering. I appreciated the thoughtfulness, the mindful curation and the unapologetic ambition of the whole endeavor. Given my long-time commitment to art and cultural expression, I was especially delighted by the complete integration of the arts into the whole program.

Take a moment to experience the magic. Watch the opening and the closing plenary.

May chocolate and pleasure be part of our collective wellbeing,



Transcript of Chocolate Meditation:


Edwin: Coming right after me is somebody who I just met a few minutes ago. And she’s such a ball of energy.

She spent 40 years as a human rights advocate. She won the Skoll Award in 2016 for her work at Breakthrough and is globally recognized for what she does. And she’s now spending her time thinking about interconnectedness.

She said something really really beautiful, which I will butcher, but I’ll try and convey the message. As we were backstage, she said: “we are living in a paradigm of rupture, a physical, spiritual and metaphysical separation from others and everything around us.

How do we define and find space for the paradigm of interconnectedness, of being together, of holding that space together?

So I invite Mallika to join me on stage. Mallika, if you could please come up.

You’ve heard the incredible folks who are playing theme songs as people are coming on stage.

We have Yoshiro and Mark, who will do a brief introductory song.


Mallika: It’s not every day that you get welcomed with that much grace. Thank you, Edwin.

And that much beauty. Thank you, Yoshiro and Mark.

If you have your chocolate, please find it and put it in your hand and do not eat it until I tell you to do so.

If you don’t have a piece of chocolate, no worries. Use your imagination.

As you’re holding your chocolate in your palm, I want you to close your eyes. And if you don’t have one, close your eyes anyway and let’s go on a journey.

We’re in a tropical, gorgeous, beautiful jungle in the Ivory Coast. And the cocoa trees, the pods on them have come to fruition and the machetes are gently harvesting the pods.

A sustainable forest, fair trade practices, an ecosystem that is thriving. The pods are harvested, the beans are fermented and dried and then sent off to be roasted into nibs, and turned into molten liquid.

All of that then turning into pieces of chocolate molded into the shape in your hands with the wrapper and the design and many, many humans along the way that have participated in creating this alchemy, this moment where you are holding chocolate in your hand, feel the weight of it in your hand.

Open your eyes and look at it. Allow yourself to slowly start to open and listen with your ears as you hear the rustling of paper. And this beautiful mahogany dark brown color emerges. And just allow your eyes to feast for a moment, take a finger or two and just touch and feel the sensation of this piece of solid velvet in your hand that has traveled all the way from the Ivory Coast to be here right now.

All of the senses of our bodies come alive as you look and you touch, maybe now smell the spices, the sugar, the milk, the cocoa.

Can you feel your mouth salivating? Can you feel the anticipation building? Are you getting angry with me because I’m not allowing you to eat your chocolate just yet?

And just soak in this moment of this gorgeous, beautiful, alchemical piece that is sitting in your hands that brings together water, air, the sun, the earth, the plants, many human hands, design, alchemy, creation. You are interconnected with all of that creation with this piece of chocolate in your hand.

And now the moment is here. Maybe a lick. Maybe a small bite.

Oh, my God, there’s liquid inside.

How is your mouth feeling as you savor, feel the sensations as it melts, moves down your throat?

The gifts of the earth of our great mother, the gifts of so many human beings in your mouth at this moment.

Imagine if every time we received something from the earth and from one another, imagine if we received it as this gift with our full cells. With our hearts, with our bodies, with our senses.

Imagine if pleasure was at the heart of wellbeing.

Imagine if the wellbeing of the forest and the cocoa trees, and those who harvested the pods, and those who made the chocolate and those who ate the chocolate here in Bilbao were connected.

Imagine if our inner wellbeing meant the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Imagine if our collective liberation centered this kind of pleasure, and receiving and gratitude and sensuality and happiness and satisfaction.

Imagine we just made it happen. Thank you.