A partial group picture from the retreat.

The 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat was a success! All my time and effort that went into creating the event was well worth the experience. When Leela Mata and I discussed a possible raw food retreat about a year ago, I had no idea how to go about creating such an event. I have never done anything like this, so I approached it by asking myself: "What would I want if I was attending a raw food spiritual retreat " From there, I created a retreat that I would love to attend, myself. In fact, when it was completely organized and guests began signing up, I wished that an identical event existed that I really could take part in, as well!

All this week we're continuing to feature a variety of answers to the question "Are Raw Foodists Crazy " from various friends of Pure Jeevan. If you're just now tuning in, please read the back story and introduction to this, as posted on Monday.But, for now, let's continue with posting more of the excellent responses sent in! Enjoy!! :-)

It turns out that planning a 40-day/40-night cross-country trip is a LOT of work! (Who knew ??!) Wendi and I seem to be spending every waking moment planning this thing, which may explain why we've missed a day or two's posts here on Pure Jeevan. But, we're gearing up for something absolutely amazing -- and it all starts next week!? So, if there is a quiet day or two this week, just keep in mind that the rawsome content is going to be absolutely insane here starting late next week and continuing through March into early April!

Today, we wanted to extend a huge thanks to Jeff and Helen Rose, owners of Natural Zing, for offering to sponsor the snack portion of Wendi and KDcat's trip. Jeff and Helen understand that, being a raw foodie, it can be a little tough to be on the road for such a long time. Sure, Wendi and KDcat will probably be snacking on a lot of fresh fruit, but it's also nice to have some packaged raw goodies as well while you're traveling. So, Wendi and KDcat will be loading up on some of their favorites -- botija olives, Love Force breads, Gopal's power wraps, some nut butters, some raw chocolates, and more. So, in thanking Natural Zing, we'll be running banners and so forth along with our content during Pure Jeevan's trip.

Jim here... As you're probably aware, Sunday marks the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. While the Pure Jeevan family certainly includes many raw foodies living in the southern hemisphere (*nods to our friends in Oz and beyond currently heading into winter*), the majority of our readers will equate Sunday with the official kick-off of much longer, much hotter days. So, we'd like to provide some topical, tropical inspiration for you.

How do you feel about heat Personally, I used to *hate* it. I thought I knew what real heat was, too, having grown up in St. Louis where the summers can be brutal. But, Wendi and I traveled to India once (so far!) and, wow, THAT was real heat. I clearly remember standing on an airport tarmac in a place called Trivandrum, just 8 degrees north of the equator, almost in shock over how hot it was there.

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.

Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).

When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.

But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).

Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."

Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...

Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.

In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.

So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...

Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.

So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).

Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.

But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!

For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.

In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On April 15, 2009, essie wrote:

Something has come up and it may put some of our projects on hold for about six months, or so! What could come up to make us give up our goals/plans for 2009? Umm...how about being awarded The Best Job In The World, the Island Reef Job! Australia is doing some major tourism marketing for their lovely Paradise Island. For six months an individual will live in a 3-bedroom home, comb the beach, blog about the experience, do some video blogging, respond to interviewers, feed fish, and just basically live a life in Paradise!!

To live this dream life, you'll be awarded $105,000 USD and be flown to the island!

Jim here with another intriguing installment of Weird Wednesday.Look, I'm a hugefan of gigantic, mondo salads. If you (well, not raw foodists but most SAD-diet Americans) were to visit our house at lunch time, you'd likely think that the individual salads on our table are as big as the salads bowls put out for entire families (for those few families, relatively speaking, that serve any salad at all these days, that is).

Seriously, when I have enough prep time, I like to pile 'em high with organic green leaf (though I'll take red leaf or romaine frequently), tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, apple slices, pepitos, sunflower seeds, raisins -- basically everything but the kitchen sink.

Hi everyone. Did you miss me on Friday? Was your entire day absolutely hinging on evaluating the quality of the raw salad dressing recipe that you very rightly expected to see demonstrated right here? ... and then I posted nothing at all! Well, missing one day isn't so bad, really. I think it's the first one I've missed since Wendi stepped away from the blog temporarily. Anyone want to guess what happened? ... Yep, a nasty case of the flu took me down!?

O, my raw friends, I thought I was a goner Friday -- thought for sure I had th' deadly swine. But, being the resilient, nearly infallible raw foodie that I am, I totally kicked it's porcine rear end, and am now supercharged and ready to rock and roll once again here on Pure Jeevan's blog!

Ahh, yes... Ginkgo Biloba. What a distinctive tree, don't you think? So easy to identify, and so many reported health benefits. This one belongs to a neighbor that seems to have an affinity with Asian landscaping motifs. They also have gorgeous bamboo growing in their yard, and other Asian elements. I would have liked to have harvested some leaves to dry for some Ginkgo tea, but the owner wasn't around to ask. Perhaps some other time.

Jim here... We're at an interesting juncture here at Pure Jeevan. For the moment, we're still living a little more "in the box" than we plan to in the near future. One example of this is my personal excitement about Fridays. Oh, I suppose Fridays will always seem special to me somehow. But after years of the corporate routine, Friday remains the most welcome weekday.

Friday signifies the end of the five-day stretch during which most people do whatever they happen to do to pay the bills, to keep (raw!) food on the table, and a roof over their heads. While I know of and admire many people for whom the work week is generally meaningful and rewarding, I suspect that the majority of people go through it simply for the money. Sure, many "like" their job (or, perhaps more aptly, "don't hate it"), but I have met too few who absolutely love their jobs. (Come to think of it, I've met quite a number who actually do hate their work!)

Jim here... Today marks the half-way point of the month of May. Let me tell you, time really does fly when you're as busy as we are here at Pure Jeevan. We're still working hard on selling our home, arranging for the acquisition of an RV for our national tour, reducing our worldly possessions to a minimum, packing up the ones we're going to? keep, writing for Pure Jeevan, keeping in touch with online Pure Jeevan friends and family, and even a new project or two that will, I promise, totally blow you away! In addition, it's beautiful outside once again, and we've been trying to get out more often for exercise, fun, and soaking in some Vitamin D!

As you can imagine, we need high energy to do all of these things, so you may be wondering:? On that low fat raw vegan regimen, how's it going ?