My blood, bones, organs, joints and skin are all in better shape than 20 or 30 years ago. My yoga stretch is phenomenal and except for the fact that I’m balding and finally had to get reading glasses, everything about my body seems to be getting better, not older. People are surprised when I tell them my age, but it doesn’t begin to compare to the pure joy of feeling good.
Now, about the mind. I think better and I feel better than I did 10 years ago, and not because I’ve had 10 more years of life experience to get wiser. My psychological and emotional well-being have been greatly enhanced by eating raw food, eating green, and engaging in regular juice cleansing. When we go from being acidic (grain/animal-heavy diet) to alkaline (green diet), fuel ourselves with an abundant supply of minerals, live enzymes and pure water (from within the plants), and regularly flush the system, this machine and all its parts including the parts allowing us to think and feel emotions work better. We become calmer and kinder, confident and decisive and more patient while accessing creativity and seeing more humor in life. When we go green, the transformation of our emotions and thinking is as dramatic and palpable as the rebuilding of our physical bodies, making this a profound journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
So how did I get so healthy in body and mind, and what are the keys to success? First I’d like to acknowledge that my life hasn’t been all sunshine and daffodils. I’ve been a food binger, sugar addict, alcoholic, obsessive/compulsive, had the usual childhood traumas, plus all sorts of back problems, sciatica, joint pain, torn ligaments, bad skin, poor digestion, irritable bowels, infections, severely suppressed immune system and more. But that’s all history now, because I play hard to be healthy!
Greener eating and cleansing is the core of my program, but there’s much more: yoga, meditation, weight-lifting, bike or walk, breath-work, rebounding, skin brushing, tongue scraping and possibly the most important, I regularly cleanse myself with “green juice feasting.”
I started working on being well long before I became a raw foodist. In 1986 when I was 26, my partner died of AIDS, catapulting me into a world of holistic healing and transformation. I was led to a big “healing circle” in New York that had grown out of workshops with Louise Hay and evolved into a community of hundreds that met weekly for guided meditation, music, sharing, hugging, hands-on healing, holistic teaching, spiritual rituals from different cultures, harmonic toning and more. It was all wonderful and new to me, and it was through this community that I made my first vegan friends and began to look at and change my diet.
In my 30s, coaching and support came from transformational seminars like “The Forum,” where we look at human behavior, examine our “rackets and winning formulas,” confront our character defects, hone communication skills, have “conversations for possibility” and design who and how we want to be in the world. However, at the same time, my career took me deep into New York’s night club and catering world and for a decade I fought between my vegan values and the lure of free wine and leftovers from weddings and bar mitzvahs. I drifted from the healing circle, forgot yoga and meditation, and in between empowering seminars and noble community projects, sank into depression, isolation and cheap Cabernet.
On my 39th birthday, I got sober, became a 100% raw vegan and my lotus blossomed again. I developed GrandSpace, a holistic event center in Brooklyn, and over the years, our old warehouse welcomed a diverse range of communities and practices, including raw food, fasting, yoga, meditation, trance dance ceremonies, qigong, energy balancing, massage, breath work, essential oils, naturist groups, shamanism, goddess circles, mediumship, past life regression, feng shui, tantra, fire spinning, clown classes and the list goes on.
So how are these vastly different practices relevant to our overall health and happiness? My experience taught me that we need to work at our mental, emotional and physical well being from different angles and get coaching, guidance and support from different schools of thought and cultures. To get at what ails us, to “work it out,” we may need to stomp and shout, sit silent in reflection, abstain from solid food, read and research or be worked on by any number of holistic practitioners. There is no right set of healing modalities for all people and different practices will be effective at different junctures on our path. The key is to be enthusiastically “in the gameâ”and open to lots of possibilities. Be the contractor of your own health construction team and if one thing doesn’t work, try the next.
We are blessed to be able to play this “game of life,” to have access to so many healing resources while many around the world are only looking for their next bowl of rice or safe shelter. At the same time, we who live in a toxic, affluent society and have been lucky enough to stumble upon the buffet of holistic healing can get overwhelmed by the cornucopia of possibilities. We can spend the whole day doing things we’re told are essential to our well being. So let’s acknowledge here that although there is a galaxy of healing modalities, the core of any powerful multidisciplinary mind/body health program is proper fuel, proper cleansing of the body, and proper exercise. Nothing can replace putting the right food in the body, keeping the inside of the body clean, and moving, stretching and strengthening the body the way it was made to be run. After 5 years of being eating 100% raw vegan and regularly cleansing with juices, I regressed off this program about 50% and flip-flopped for a few years. During that period, none of my other practices were as effective or made me feel as good in body or mind. I began to feel “middle-aged.”
When we go green, the transformation of our emotions and thinking is as dramatic and palpable as the rebuilding of our physical bodies, making this a profound journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
There are contributing factors when I’ve strayed from a program, whether it’s sobriety or raw foods. I didn’t grow up in a health-conscious society, and it’s easy to drift back to the old ways – temptation is everywhere. I’ve disconnected from the people, groups and places that helped me get well.
Bottom line – I don’t have a strong enough structure to keep winning my game. And this is the challenge for all of us: forging the path until the scales tip and society healthier than not, to reach the point where we are swimming with the tide.
Most of the practices I’ve used to get healthy have not been introduced to me by mainstream venues like schools, hospitals or TV, but by friends and acquaintances. If we’re going to change the world, we must bring the holistic alternative further into the mainstream: public education, houses of worship and health and social clubs. How do we build the army of peaceful warrior-teachers? How do we replace the coffee stations in our offices with green juice bars? What can each of us do to share the healing gifts we’ve received, to transform our local communities? If the “enlightened ones” organize ourselves, we can transform the world, bringing health and vitality to all. The key is in giving the gift away.
Does all this healing work sound like a burden? My adventures in healing have given me the richest, most rewarding experiences and cherished memories, whether whining my way through a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation, pooping my way through a 33-day juice cleanse, barfing my way through the Dieta with the shamans in the Amazon or arguing my way through my ego with some seminar leader. I see a common theme: release and detoxification, letting go to move forward, going through the dark valley to reach the light. Bonding with fellow seekers on the path to wellness forges strong friendships and communities based on sharing the profound lessons of healing.
What if getting healthy became our favorite pastime? What if healing was hip, fun like shopping and cool like sports? As we enroll the world in holistic health, let’s start with ourselves and focus on the basic practices: eat green, clean our insides, stretch (yoga), be still and quiet (meditate), dance, sing, hug, breathe, walk in nature. These simple practices are affordable and don’t require technology, equipment, or becoming a consumer. I don’t own many material possessions, yet I feel quite rich. I rent an apartment and drive an old car, but I eat the best raw plant food and drink as much green juice as I want. And I make time to do the things I just mentioned above to maintain a healthy body and mind. This body and mind carries me through the Game of Life, it is my mansion and Jaguar.
There are always more layers of the onion to peel, more stuff to dredge up and release. Our character defects won’t all disappear, and we may still go off our game, that’s part of being human. It is the Nature of Life – day and night, seasons and cycles. But the longer we stay “in the game” the quicker we get back on track, and the more we are bound to succeed. We have more tools for ourselves and more compassion other’s struggles. The healthier and more wholesome we become, the more our attention turns outward to be of service to others and the happier we can be in a chaotic world. This is the game. It’s a good game.
Alan Pratt is a spiritual energy healer and coaches individuals and groups to greener eating and juicing, in Palm Beach County and beyond. His article, The Green Juice Revolution, appeared in the January, 08 issue of Hippocrates magazine. For more, visit Vol”>www.AlanPratt.net.
Vol 29 Issue 3 Page 32