This retreat has been planned for quite some time, and we are very excited about it! It's going to be three days of feeding your body, mind, and spirit. We've kept the cost as low as possible, so that more people can afford to take the time to get away for some quiet time.

All the food is organic and raw, prepared for you with lots of love! There are yoga sessions, meditation, and even a beautiful bonfire if the weather is nice. I've taken some personal retreats at this ashram, myself, and it is so peaceful (it is called the Peaceful Valley Ashram, after all). ;-)? We've created a schedule of suggested activities, but everything is optional. This is a great opportunity to simply get away and calm your mind.

Jim here... As I hinted at last week, I decided to try changing things up a bit and seeing what I thought of it. The salad you see above included the first cooked food I've had in more than two years. If you look closely, you can see that I sprinkled on a few spoonfuls of black beans. Also, in the upper left corner, there's a small spoonful of quinoa. I don't want to give the wrong impression here: ?This blog will certainly remain a major go-to source for raw food nutrition information. It's just that, today, I want to talk about experimentation a little bit.

First, I think it's generally healthy to experiment with your diet -- especially when you get the sense that something isn't working in your current diet. The fact is, diet is a dynamic thing, not a static aspect of your life. It has to be this way because so many factors affect our physiology on a day-to-day basis. Off the top of my head, these include the facts that:

Three months ago today, we put up a post called "Is Alcohol Raw " I wanted to post a little follow-up to that today, while I'm thinking of the story. (And, by the way, a great conversation ensued in the comments section of that article. However, if you visit it now, you'll see that the comments have disappeared. We're hoping to have these and many other comments restored once a new version of Disqus is released.)

In that article, I touched on how the body can seemingly store states of consciousness (noting how I dreamed of being drunk and felt authentically drunk in the dream). This sort of phenomenon is well documented anecdotally (e.g., often associated with LSD use), although still not fully understood by medical doctors or psychologists. In any case, the term "flashback" comes to mind:

In Part 5 of this 5-Part series, Wendi talks with Leela Mata about meditation and diet. After discussing what meditation is and why people practice it, Mata Ji talks about diet and its effects on the mind. She then gives a brief explanation of how to meditate for those who are new to the practice, and demonstrates how to use a simple mantra (word or phrase) to aid in entering a meditative state.

Hey everyone!? I hope you're doing well. We started out the week with a great video from Joe, Tracey, and Heather. I thought I'd stay with the video blog format for a while, as I've been capturing some outstanding stuff here in Chicago. (We're here until Thursday.)? Well, a few of the vids are "okay," but the bulk of them are absolutely amazing, so be sure to check in every day for these great Chicago vids. (BTW, I'll dub this series, "The Chicago Raw Food Scene," although partially misleadingly so, as the videos are not always *about* Chicago, per se. Rather, we shot all of the videos *in* Chicago. So, pardon the slightly misleading banner graphic.)

Surrounding yourself with information about the raw food lifestyle is important when you're beginning your raw food journey. That's one of the tips I shared with many of you who are subscribed to our mailings--and it's a very important tip. Even after being raw for over three years, I still surround myself with information about the raw food lifestyle. It not only keeps me inspired, it allows me to feel an even deeper connection with the community of which I am a part.

One of my friends, Beth Berry (better known as Bunny Berry), has become a constant source of inspiration for many individuals learning about the raw food lifestyle. She puts out video blogs through YouTube and has developed a wonderful group of followers in her RawFu community. As most raw foodists can tell you, your mind becomes clearer on the raw food diet and creativity soars as a result. Beth was already quite creative before raw, but on a high raw diet she has become even more so. I want to share something that she has recently created for the raw food community!

I thought I'd put another fun week together here at Pure Jeevan while Wendi is away (although, actually, ALL of our weeks are fun-filled here!). This week, I thought I'd discuss herbs, spices, and essential oils. Of course, I can't cover those enormously important (and huge) subjects in-depth over the course of just one week, so I created that little banner (above) so that we can re-use it from time to time.

Herbs are fascinating, aren't they? Sometimes, you don't even consciously know why you use the ones you do but, invariably, there's a reason. Sure, sometimes recipes call for a specific flavor. But, often, there are other reasons as well -- such as to support digestion, or to provide a warming or cooling sensaiton. This type of thing is critical in ayurvedic principles, as we touched on recently on this blog, where the spices could be present for digestive or medicinal purposes, or of course as a preservative.

With love in my heart, I present this gift to the entire raw and living foods community:

Original Comments

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Jim here... I'm back from Raw Spirit Festival East with roughly 4 Gigs of pictures and videos to sort through, as well as 17 pages of handwritten notes about my rawsome experiences. So, tomorrow, I'll begin the task of sorting through it all and posting all sorts of fun stuff (photos, videos, and tales of adventures).

For now, all I'll say is that Rawbin Anderson, RSF East Manager, did a spectacular job in orchestrating the whole event. Here's Rawbin:

As many of you know, I'm more of an intuitive eater than anything else. I eat what I intuitively feel my body needs most of the time. Well, for the past two weeks what my body has been asking for is cauliflower. I went through a cauliflower stage sometime last year, and it seems I'm back to eating that lovely white flower veggie again!

At first I was making mashed cauliflower (like? mashed potatoes) and keeping the recipe very simple. I've made complex versions of the mashed cauliflower before, but I was really drawn to a more simple taste so all I was adding was some olive oil, salt, and a tiny bit of macadamia nuts. Yesterday, however, as I was cleaning the cauliflower (since my body was telling me it wanted more of it), I had a sense that I wanted something more vibrant, more fun than simple mashed cauliflower. So, I followed my intuition (picking up whatever I felt my body wanted to eat with the cauliflower) and here's what I created...

After so looooong, the much-awaited Episode 6 is here of "Know Your Food"! Aren't you thrilled? Well, WE are. We're fantastically excited to announce that we have SIX thrilling new eipsodes "in the can" (as we film buffs like to say). So, here's the first of those six, in which your humble nutrition researchers reveal the hidden secrets of cacao, that delicious tropical ambrosia that opens your heart like nothing else. So, grab a raw chocolate snack of your choice and curl up in front of your favorite flat screen. Here's the vid:

Whoa, what'd you think of the "Monkey Brains" scene ! Have we finally used EVERY SINGLE hoaky feature of the Windows Movie Maker software? (Don't answer... Those were rhetorical questions.) In case you couldn't read some of the nutritional information, here's a summary of the key components of this delicious bounty from the Earth's equatorial regions. Raw chocolate contains: