Today is a very special day, primarily because I’m breathing. And, if you’re reading this, you’re probably breathing too. Hallelujah!
Shortly after I began the 30 Day Mindful Eating Challenge on January 1st, I decided that I’d heard enough about the benefits of only eating raw food to test it out for a month. I started the Raw Food adventure on January 7th, and what a great adventure it was. Especially after reading that Steve Pavlina considered it the hardest 30 day challenge he’s ever accomplished, excitement pulsed through my veins as I looked forward to a rewarding experience.
Thankfully, about 2 weeks into the challenge, I unsheathed a juicer from its cardboard home and put it to great work. (For a recollection of that glorious day of discovery, click here.) My mom and I hopped upon the juice bandwagon and most thoroughly reaped the harvest of the fruits and vegetables of the earth. The first juice we tried, which remains the fan favorite, is known as Elaine’s Vegetable Garden, a recipe courtesy of the legendary Jack LaLanne, consisting of: 1 tomato, 1 carrot, 1 sweet potato, 1 red pepper, and 2 stalks celery. Delicious, and, much more importantly – nutritious! One of LaLanne’s famous mottos, “If it tastes good, don’t eat it,” most definitely does not apply to this delectable taste bud tickler.
Over the raw food journey, I also discovered the deliciousness of beet juice, ginger, and all things carrot. Garlic is also apparently super healthy, but the morning’s of juicing garlic…well those days were eh…
What Yummy Foods I ate…
Staples included an avocado, usually 3 bananas, and a bowl of sprouted lentils per day. Also supported the cayenne pepper, sage, basil, and rosemary industries. Apple Cider Vinegar made a surprise appearance the last two days, just to give it a go, and still up in the air about my preference for it. The tree nuts of Professor Walnut, Master Almond, and Dr. Pecan kept me sane (or did they?). Also stirred up many kale / avocado smoothies, with optional additions of banana, honey, celery, or spinach. My mom enjoys throwing a kiwi into those green smoothies too, but kiwis are not my jam.
Results and Enjoyability…
1. Still Breathing. This is key. Eating only raw foods will not kill you, and you also won’t die if you don’t get 100 grams of protein a day.
2. Feeling calm, clear, and connected. Transitioning to raw food the first couple weeks posed some difficulties for the mind and the tummy, but I feel all the better for it. About 3 weeks into the 30 Day Challenge, I started to feel much more energized, alert, and began to more fully appreciate Life and this wonderful opportunity we’ve been given. One night I walked around the neighbor and hugged an abundance of trees, probably 9 or 10, expressing my gratitude for the trees and bowing to them, as they are like lungs to me (an idea shared with me by Thich Nhat Hanh). “Reverence for Life” and the wisdom of Albert Schweitzer certainly grew in my consciousness, and I felt much more united with everything I experienced.
I began the raw food challenge in the midst of a mindful eating challenge, and the two worked very well together. I attribute the insight I received to both. The mindful aspect of the eating helped me to see into the origins of the food. I opened up my storytelling sense to see the incredible journey of the food from being planted in the ground to arriving in front of me. I also began seeing beauty in ordinary objects. One day I spent around 15 minutes admiring a lamp that’s been in my life for all 22 years, but I never before spent the time to experience its essence. It’s amazing to see beyond the objective, physical sense of reality and open up to the history of all we are experiencing, stemming back all the way to the Creation itself. As I discovered and am continuing to understand more fully, Creation never stopped Big Banging. We are Big Banging right now, only now we are conscious of it and can exercise our free will to Big Bang our way to a more peaceful and compassionate world. 🙂
3. “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” Socrates said that. And everyone seemed to think he knew something. So what’s the deal?
Taking myself on mindful journeys of the history of my food and of objects in the world, I grew more and more aware of my own ignorance and how much I didn’t know. Each time I connected one piece of the puzzle, suddenly eight other unknown pathways opened up, and the experience becomes all the more miraculous. It’s like discovering that colors carry with them symbolic meaning, and that people often associate the color red with love. Well, great, so now you know what red might be associated with, but suddenly you’re left in ignorance of what all the colors might signify. The more we know, the more we realize how much we don’t know. As much as I felt I learned a lot during this challenge, I also grew a lot in awareness of my own ignorance, which opened me more up to humility, and so now I have even a greater desire to continue to explore – Hooray!
4. Within the past week, I discovered the RawBrahs, who are some of the funniest jokers around. I was looking into raw food videos on YouTube, and sure enough these three guys made a video of them eating 10 bananas in 9 minutes. As it turns out, they go far beyond stuffing bananas in their face, but actually share an inspiring philosophy.
In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, he talks about how valuable it is to remember the Angel of Death, and how at any time that angel might come to pay us a visit. In this way, it makes sense to cherish this moment for all it has to offer, because who knows when we might transition to the next stage of existence.
Of course, I forget Ruiz’s wisdom, we are such forgetful creatures!, but so graciously the RawBrahs reminded me of this wonderful idea. They made a video discussing who inspires them most, and they talk about living in the context of death, just one heart beat away. As morbid as that might sound initially, it’s actually an incredibly empowering way to live, and it allows us to laugh off of our fears and embrace this world for all it has to offer. It also heightens our appreciation of all we’ve been given. Thinking about death has connected me more fully with life, and reminds me of the wonderful opportunity life continuously offers me to grow, to love, and to serve. For this reminder, I am grateful!
5. Bearing in mind death, the increased clarity, energy, and connection I’ve experienced during the Mindfully Raw Challenge, I see little to no reason to go backed to cooked food, and I almost see it as a moral obligation to continue it, or at least continue to explore other ways of eating that might provide me with even greater energy, tapping more fully into my potential to serve the Greater Good. Of course, the whole raw food thing could be very difficult if I return to my ways of “No Money, No Problems.” Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there!
Until then, definitely encourage anyone and everyone to embark on any 30 Day Challenge that peaks your curiosity. You can choose any new habit you might want to try for 30 days, and make it a rule to endure through any adversity you face for the 30 days. Or, if you want, I’ll hold you accountable 😉 Pay me $1000 if you break your rule! Then again, just do it yourself. You’ll grow in self-knowledge, self-discipline, and self-esteem as you stretch beyond your comfort zone and begin to more fully realize your incredible potential for growing, enjoying, and loving.
A Final Word…
I believe that the greatest energy we receive comes not from food, but from faith. Our beliefs have much greater potential to energize us than any amount of beets, broccoli, and other raw delicious treats. This isn’t to say food is not important, but ultimately it is a belief and connection with something greater than your small physical self that will uplift you to a place of great Freedom, Power, and Peace. 🙂