When we first get into raw foods and we go through the "Oh my God, this is so amazing!" phase, it's pretty common to shut out other aspects of our lives so that we can focus 100% on revamping our diet, kitchen and everyday eating habits and get fully immersed in our exciting new awareness, food-related experiences and insights.
While this is pretty much par for the course (it takes a lot of time and energy to completely rethink this part of our life, after all), it's not going to be long before that laser-like focus starts to work against us, rather than for us.
Because we need to keep feeding and nurturing ALL aspects of ourselves - not just our mind, not just our body, and not just anything else for that matter!
Over the years I have learned and re-learned many times over just how vital it is to upgrade other areas of our life at the same time that we upgrade our food choices. Because when we don't, the gap between our physical energy and where we find ourselves located emotionally, spiritually or mentally in our lives can feel so great (as the body starts rushing around buzzing with raw energy), that the rest of us lags behind and eventually pulls us back. This is why the GoRaw!-then-Binge pattern is so unceasingly prevalent.
It's a bit like a race where all of the team members must finish together. If one runs out in front, it's not to the benefit of the group - at least not beyond a certain point. Sure it can inspire a faster race and illustrates what's possible for the rest of the team, but eventually if the other team members get left behind then not only are they going to feel miserable and incompetent, but the guy out in front is also going to end up feeling lonely and miserable too - so nobody wins! He really has no choice but to go back and support and work with the "weak links" whether winning is important to him or not.
And so it is with raw eating. If your body is revved up and vibrating at a million rawzahertz per second and yet your emotions are busy trying to cope with a recent break-up, a miscellaneous tough time or impending unemployment then staying raw is going to be challenging to say the least.
Although many don't want to hear it, far better to "downgrade" the food a little (compared to what you were doing at your peak), deal with the emotions and then, when all has been sorted, life is back on track and your heart feels happy again, off you can go again - together.
And this applies to all four aspects: Mind, body, spirit and emotions.
When I talk about this concept in my classes and talks I use what I call "the bar chart analogy". I ask each person to imagine that their M, B, S and E's are all bars on a bar chart. At the top (100) is "feeling absolutely amazing" in that department, at the bottom, well - not somewhere any of us want to be.
I ask each person to start with their body.
"What would you give yourself on a scale of 1-100 for how you feel in your body right now?" I ask. And each person gives me a very different number depending on where they're at, and they write it down.
Next, we move to the mind. "How sharp, clear, uncluttered and focused do you feel in your mind?" I ask. Same thing. They write their number down.
Third, the emotions. "How happy, peaceful, balanced and in control do you feel emotionally?" is the question. More jotting.
And finally, with a little trepidation, I ask: "How connected do you feel to your heart, your soul, your true essence, your spirit or even your version of what some of us might call God?" And after a little pause for thought, the final number is on the paper.
As we look together at these numbers, very rare is it that someone has anything like a match across the board. Most people have one aspect pretty high up (usually the body as we're all there exactly for this purpose) with one or two of the others pretty low down.
So what does all this mean?
It means that there's almost always work to be done. And before anyone can go 100% raw ongoingly, the dross needs to be addressed! That means a detox for every aspect of ourselves, not just the body.
Mentally - if your score is lower than you'd like this can mean that it's necessary to actively work on changing your thoughts and/or beliefs, emptying your in-tray, changing your work or daily routine - anything related to what floats around your mind on a daily basis, helps create your life experience (beliefs > thoughts > actions > results/ experience) and that is causing you to feel less than vibrant. For me, usually a good clutter busting session, finishing a big job or focusing 100% on something rather than flitting from project to project is a sure-fire way to get my bar chart score rising!
Emotionally - this all depends on the severity of the situation. Sometimes people just need to hear themselves a bit better and honour their emotions, even if they don't like what they see or hear. Being real and being honest - both with ourselves and with others, is the highest form of emotional intelligence as far as I can see. Sometimes one or two major issues might need to be detoxed, such as forgiving someone, choosing not to be around a person (or people) who bring you down, or dealing with an ongoing issue from the past once and for all. And also more common than you might think is the realisation that deeper work needs to happen, which usually results in employing the help of a professional therapist or counsellor.
And finally Spiritually.
Some people may term themselves as atheist or agnostic and don't really focus on this aspect of themselves, although I do have to say that in my classes and in my coaching, instances of this are pretty rare. My interpretation of the term "spiritual" is anything that transcends the mind and "feels" good beyond the everyday emotional stuff. A sense of connectedness inside, of inner peace, and/or a connection to something outside of ourselves, even if it's simply gazing in awe at the night sky or a blade of grass. I think that when people close off to the natural and magical wonders of the world (and of themselves) then the largest and most incredible part of what we can experience in life is lost. So sometimes there's a big chunk of connecting to do right off the bat in order to really "get" what raw food is truly about.
So when people come to raw food and start to integrate it more and more into their daily diet, it's no coincidence that often it's accompanied by some kind of spiritual awakening, as experiences like those I mentioned above become increasingly common, even if they might be very very subtle at first. No matter who you might be, no matter how tough a cookie - there's always some kind of gentle stirring going on!
That's what happened to me, and that's what has happened to untold others.
Because when you eat raw food, that activity, the activity of eating food that is pure, whole, natural - straight from the ground is, in and of itself a miracle - all life is a miracle. And when you eat more and more "miracles" then you can't help but start to subtly feel that magic running through your veins (quite literally) and this is when the raw transformation starts to occur - from the inside out.
So upping our game happens organically if we let it, but understanding the concept and how and why it happens, as well as why it must happen, is undeniably useful! Because when we don't understand it, we struggle. We blame "the diet", we blame the weather, we blame our partner, kids or our boss. But more often than not, when we just can't seem to "make the grade", we blame ourselves.
So if you're trying to go raw (or stay raw) then start with what's REAL. Enjoy what's already good, and build on that. Examine the not-so-good (which you're not going to build on!) and either ditch it, revamp it or replace it with something better - as "much better" as you can cope with! But don't put up with it, because it is quite literally beneath you.
And that, my friends, is the secret to going raw successfully. I think you might see that now if you didn't before.
So, I encourage you to now write down the numbers for your own "bar chart" and see where you're at at this point in your life today.
If you've been trying to go raw and struggling, then the solution to the problem may very well be staring you right in the face.
Start at the bottom and do the sorting. Keep what's good and build. And you know what to do with that and all of the rest - "Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade!" Aim for equal-ish measures first (say within 20 points from highest score to lowest), then build, build, build - as high up the chart as you can go.
What a fantastic journey we are all on!
© 2011 Karen Knowler WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.