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« Big Grease | Main | Making Dreads »

Tree of Life

Five years ago, I became very interested in the raw food diet and one of the first books that I bought was Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine by Gabriel Cousens. After reading his book, I KNEW that someday...I would visit the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center.

Fast forward to last year when I watched the documentary Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days. It's filmed at Tree of Life and is an incredibly inspiring film. Definitely worth seeing. Add to that, the fact that I had been reading the blog of one of the staff at Tree of Life, Courtney Pool...and it was ABOUT TIME we went there! (side note: you can find more information about my love of raw vegan foods on my blog, Happy Foody).

What is the Tree of Life? According to their website...

The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center is the world’s leading spiritual, vegan raw and live food retreat center. It was founded in 1993 to promote spiritual awakening and to support an inspiring, healthy and “alive” lifestyle through education and first-hand experience. The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center serves as an oasis for the realization of whole-person, whole-planet healing. It is a place where people of all ages, nationalities, and religious and spiritual paths come to experience physical, mental, emotional and spiritual renewal and well being.

We offer expertise and support in spiritual juice fasting and detoxification, live-food nutrition, spiritual living, sustainable living, and authentic and purposeful living through more than 40 different yet integrated programs, including our global peace initiatives and Culture of Life Community. People from more than 93 nations come to The Tree of Life for inspiration, a relaxing vegan vacation, or to regain health and vitality from a variety of diseases. It is here under the shade of our tree that they are rediscovering a life of meaning. We welcome you and are delighted to serve you in becoming the alive person and spirit that you truly are.

Our friends, James and Jennie, were really excited to go there as we decided to all go together. We loaded the kids up in the minivan and headed one hour west to Patagonia, AZ.

You have to make reservations in advance...and the afternoon meal is $25 per person for the buffet. We arrived about 15 minutes early (lunch is served from 1-2pm), so we had a little time to explore. As the meal preparation was being finished, they gathered everyone who was there for a blessing. We all came together and held hands while the staff member spoke about peace within families (each day has a different focus).

After the blessing, we ran walked down to the kitchen and started filling our plates with raw food goodness. It was so heavenly. I wanted to just stand there for a moment and soak it all in. The colors, the people, the smells.

There was a salad bar with HUGE bowls of freshly picked greens and sprouts...4 different dressings, fruit + granola, nut/seed pates, spaghetti, "raw"violis with nut cheese between thinly sliced beets (this was the entree), sweet potatoes (my fav), two kinds of kale salad, and so much more! All of this food was 100% raw and organic. *swoon*

All of the seating is outside...with amazing views all around. Some people were sitting on the ground...others gathered at the tables, and some were praying/meditating off away from everyone else before they ate. We quickly realized that there were no high chairs at Tree of Life :) So, we took turns holding Lucy while the other ate. It was SO SUNNY and amazing outside...I could have sat there for several hours.

While we were sitting there, the lead chef at Tree of Life, Kosan, came over for a visit. Jennie and I talked with him for several minutes until Bella came back and booted him from her chair. Kosan is a master vegan raw food chef...he has been a chef, cafe owner, teacher of healthy cuisine and lifestyle for over 25 years. It was fun chatting with him.

After we ate, we walked around the grounds a little bit. They have several greenhouses where they grow all the food. If you've never tasted greens/salad that are freshly are missing out! So tender and soft...nothing like the greens that have been sitting on the grocery store shelves. We walked back to the teepee, which Bella thought was really cool. We've decided to add "sleeping in a teepee" to our list of things to do in our lifetime.

The babies were getting restless and it was time to head home...but not without a stop to the store/office to say hello to Courtney. I had meant to email her and let her know we were coming...but my forgetful mama brain won out. I knew I had to at least TRY to catch her before we left and tell her how much I enjoy her blog.

When we got to the office, I stepped inside and the first person I saw was Dr. Gabriel Cousens. Now there is a guy with a lot of letters behind his name!! I felt healthier just being in the same room with him :)

I walked back to the store and asked if Courtney was in, but was told that she had stepped out for a Q & A session. So, I browsed the store a bit and found a few items that I had been searching for at the last couple of Whole Foods with no luck...raw nori and green stevia. Yay!

Jennie came inside too and we had a nice chat with one of the staff members about cameras and dreads. Just as we were about to leave, Courtney walked in and we were able to meet and hug and chat briefly. Jump on over to her blog for some raw food inspiration!

It was a day that will remain in our hearts for a long much inspiration and beauty. If you ever have a chance to visit the Tree of Life for a retreat...or even just a it! You won't be sorry.

Here is a video that I made with some of the highlights of our day there. Many of you have expressed an interest in the Tree of Life, so I hope that you'll enjoy seeing it "in motion"!

Photos of our time at Tree of Life here.
All photos available for comment on Flickr here.

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Reader Comments (14)

Wow that looks totally amazing ... love it! The US hasn't been on my list of places to travel to as I went there as a teenager, but the places you post make me want to change my mind. I have total raw envy! What did Bella eat there?

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGypsy

What a great video! I am so lucky to have shared this experience with you and your family!

March 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

The Tree of Life looks like such an amazing place to visit! The delicious food looks so bright and alive! :)

I'm on my way over to visit

Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us.

Have a fantastic weekend!

March 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreely Living Life

I love that video.. Can you please tell me what song is playing in it? I absolutely love it.
Thanks for sharing about the Tree of Life center, I am definitly going to look into the Reversing Diabetes link you shared, as I have family with diabetes.

Love the new blog!

March 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKrystal

Gypsy...Bella ate salad and fruit.

Krystal...the song is Naam Leo Re by Aradhna (it's an Indian worship band)

Here are the translation:
Naam leo re, naam leo re, Yeshu kaa mangalkaari naam leo re
Paap haregaa, taap haregaa, paavan bhaavan sundar meraa Yeshu kaa naam
Shaanti vo degaa, shakti vo degaa, paavan bhaavan sundar meraa Yeshu kaa naam

Take the name of Jesus, sing the name of Jesus
The blessed name of Jesus, sing the name of Jesus
You are my shield from sin, you have taken my punishment
Holy, attractive, and beautiful is the name of my Jesus
Grant me peace, give me strength
Holy, attractive, and beautiful is the name of my Jesus

March 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterSara Janssen

I was so excited to hear Aradhna start up! I got to have lunch with them once at a missions conference they played at. They are great people. Love their music! :)

And I have to add that raw foodies look so... healthy. They just beam. I have meet to many vegetarians that look terribly sick and I was starting to think it was an unhealthy lifestyle. (I was a vegetarian for 11 years, by-the-way) They were also sticking to a pretty normal American diet and just cutting meat.

Looks like this raw stuff is where it's at! You all look fabulous!

Lots to learn,

March 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdustin burns

Looks like a wonderful day!

March 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleslie

lol, love Bella's quick nose pick in the video! Classic!

March 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeli

wow! That was a really amazing video! THanks for sharing...what a cool experience!

March 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Its so great to see photos of this place~

March 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCat

Once again thank you SO much for taking me with you to this great experience! Thanks Sara for your blog!

March 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatacha

I also have the website that relate to diabetes. Anyway, visit me for sometime!!
Thanks!! for the good articles.^_^

April 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteredingiweedymn

It sure look amazing, excellent post.
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November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

How do both of your husbands look so healthy on that diet?? Mine has gotten way too skinny and frail looking trying to eat raw with me. How can I help him be healthy and me at the same time?

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

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