26 years ago, back in the spring of 1993, a twenty-year old woman embarked on a journey that was to define her life for the next two decades and more.
This journey was “the raw food journey”, a journey that she had no idea she was embarking upon when she first set foot into the realm of fresh food, thinking and assuming, naturally, that eating more raw food was “a good idea”, “healthy” and “just” about eating more fresh fruit and veg in order to finally obtain that slim figure and youthful energy that had eluded her since her early teens.
Little did she know that as she began to increase the amount of fresh fruits, salads, leafy greens and all manner of other “perfect” whole foods into her diet, that it would be more than her digestive tract that would start to shift! In fact, very soon she came to realise that not only was she changing to a much more healthy shape and size physically (hurrah!) but also, alongside this external transformation, her whole internal world was metamorphosing in a very surprising way too.
I will cut to the chase and tell you now that that young woman was, in fact, me. Enthusiastic, excited, wanting to lose weight and feel healthy, (albeit a little green about dietary matters), me.
Not unlike the many thousands of people I have spoken to, taught or coached personally during the past 20+ years, I discovered very soon into my early and rather naïve raw food dabbling that there’s actually far more to going raw than getting creative with carrots or discovering the delights of a fresh durian along the way.
In fact, what started as a foray into the “ultimate” in healthy eating and healthy weight loss, very quickly changed into something much bigger and much more personal than simply eating more green stuff and loving it.
But before we go there, let’s take it from the top.
An interest in raw food usually begins when we are either dissatisfied with our weight, our health, or our energy (or all three) and often, though not always, we may have dabbled with some other form of healthy eating en route to varying degrees and with varying levels of success.
But as we start to bring more raw foods in, rather quickly (assuming we are doing it right) we can start to see some very real changes going on physically, finding ourselves grinning from ear to ear as we finally see a leaner figure starting to appear in the mirror, feeling as if we could work or play an extra hour or two per day, and also starting to sense something of the very subtle “movement” that seems to be happening somewhere inside that’s somehow not quite as physical.
It’s this little nagging feeling, this little “pull”, the sense that something more than just physical rejuvenation is going on, that is really where it all begins.
And this is where our story either stops or starts depending on who we are and whether we are ready for more than taking things at plate value.
In the early days, because most of us are usually more than a little clogged up after years of junk food eating and general body neglect, this pull I speak of can be so subtle as to be barely perceptible to many. Depending on how self-aware you are or have been in the past, what the more sensitive might pick up on a little more quickly but still not name, others can feel inclined to flick off as if a fly had just landed on their arm, not pausing for more than a second to feel annoyed, brush it away and then turn around and carry on juicing carrots and apples as if nothing had happened.
But give it some time and some more raw food input and that feeling does indeed start to grow ever stronger. It’s just a fact, and sooner or later it becomes too hard to deny, and that feeling, that feeling with no name, no language and that no-one else seems to understand, pops up again – and again, and again, and it’s almost as if it starts waving a bright red flag in our face reading: “Feel me, feel me!”
So what is this somewhat annoying or just plain odd feeling going on?
Now, so very many years down the line, I have worked with more than enough people one-to-one to know that this is not just something that happens to some people (including me), but everyone.
And the feeling that we feel, the growing sense of something emerging from within which we can initially neither detect whether it’s “good” or “bad” is, I have found, the unfurling of nothing less than our true authentic self.
Now considering in the early days all we signed up for was “to eat more healthily”, finding out that we have in fact turned a key in not just our physiology but also our emotional, mental and spiritual aspects can be more than a little shocking! I mean, I didn’t ask for all of that! I just wanted to lose weight – not start to question everything about myself, my life and why I was here on planet earth!
Because of what I have personally gained from feeling the fear and doing it anyway, and seeing others do the same, it’s for this reason that I became and continue to be so completely fascinated with raw food; not simply because of the food so much (although I do love it and it definitely loves me), but more because of the “side effects” which really is where the real juice is at.
Given time, as we allow the feeling to grow and we keep those raw and living foods going in, the question as to whether it’s good or bad becomes obsolete. At a deeper level it’s clearly good: all the mental and emotional rubbish comes up for detoxification as well as the physical and we can start to understand that this is actually a very good thing. But at a more surface level it can feel very disorientating, unnerving and really rather worrying indeed!
It’s here that I often come in.
Being with this feeling in a world that a) doesn’t generally appreciate truly healthy food and b) has no idea that such a transformation is possible, can feel truly scary, or at least disorientating. And that’s without the issues around being alone in this, and therefore feeling different and/or lonely. Then throw in a liberal helping of identity crisis, social barriers, questioning everything, and generally feeling like a round peg in a square hole at work or at home, and you can see why it is tempting to wish yourself back to the earlier moment in time when that feeling was just an annoying tickle!
But hang on in there.
“To get to the fruit of the tree you have to go out on a limb.”
Never has a quote been more appropriate for the raw food journey and all that it entails!
Yes, you do have to go it alone to pick that fruit, but what you might not know is that that fruit, the one that’s right at the other end that does take some getting to, is the juiciest, most luscious ripe and satisfying piece of fruit you will ever eat. And that fruit, we really should be calling it what it really is: Soul Fruit.
Through my work as a coach and guide for people going through this process, I never fail to be amazed at how very consistent the pattern is within each person going raw. From initial somewhat naïve longings for paradisical health, through the inevitable social issues, the “what’s raw?” dilemmas and the “how do I make this work within my family?” questions… It’s really not long before “is that cashew raw?” turns to “Why am I suddenly so much more miserable in my job?” and “what’s happening to me? I only wanted to feel better…”
The great news is that the level of health you have been seeking is so much more exciting and expansive than you could ever have appreciated or accommodated before.
When health just meant weight loss and lack of colds, now it comes to mean radiance from every cell out, reflected in your every word, deed and vision for the future. Every moment becomes valuable, every choice important. Never has life been so rich with possibility or meaning or potential. So far reaching can this raw transformation be, it appears that only a few people are brave enough to do it alone.
For this reason, I do what I do.
When this former 20-year old signed up for weight loss and feeling better, I can’t help but think that deep down somewhere she knew she was signing up for so much more than that.
Now aged 46 and utterly convinced of this pattern, even though I still on occasion struggle with the “woo-woo-ness” of what I teach, I can only tell you that from my own experience and every single client I have ever worked with, this journey is only ever about coming home, not just to the most pure and perfect diet, but to the most pure and perfect version of ourselves.
So compelling, so exciting, so enticing is this journey that really it can become all consuming. Is that a bad thing? It depends whether your version of happiness rests on being “normal” or being “real”. Very often we find out that the two are actually very diametrically opposed, and it’s at this point that we either jump ship or set sail.
If I could pass on one message to you today if any or all of this resonates with you, it’s that if you can trust yourself, trust the process and trust that what I say is true, if you allow yourself to travel along this yellow brick road to physical purity that really is second to none, then even though the outside might not always appear pretty or feel comfortable, you can bet that on the inside the landscape is becoming increasingly beautiful indeed.
Given enough time, enough patience, and enough trust you will also find that it’s possible not just to have the level of physical health that you seek, but also a level of mental, emotional and spiritual health that you also never could have dreamed possible before.
Now all you need to do is go after it!
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