I haven’t told this story in a loooooong time. It took place about 12 years ago. We were in Santa Barbara, California. I am not certain how the rest of the team felt about the restaurant selection, but I for one was stoked! I had pinned it out pretty much on arrival into town when I saw the Good Earth Restaurant from the highway.
In 2003 ultimate frisbee was my life and my family was the NC State Men’s Ultimate Team – Wolfpack Ultimate. We were nationally ranked #1 that year, and visiting Santa Barbara for a West Coast tournament to compete with teams from the west that would likely make it to Nationals. At the time, in a tournament such as the Santa Barbara Invitational we would play 5, maybe 6, games on Saturday and turn around to play 3 or 4 more on Sunday. Games lasted 75-90 minutes and the flow of the sport is non-stop, end-to-end on a football-sized field. Playing college ultimate was a grueling test of endurance, combined with the deft skill of releasing the disc with precision, and the athletic ability to outrun and outjump your opponent. The soreness from playing 8-9 games in a weekend is indescribable. After returning from tournaments, I could hardly walk around campus, my teammates and I could be visibly seen limping to class on the following days.
It was partially because of my desire to be a top athlete in the sport that I chose to be vegan. I wanted my body to feel light and lithesome. I recall as the tournaments progressed and most players were losing stamina, that mine was steadily growing. Maybe that had something to do with why I had convinced 20 other teammates to look past the Texas Steakhouse and join me at the Good Earth restaurant.
Inside we dined on chopped salads, wok-seared seasonal vegetables and couscous, a sublime feast. Well-fed and with ample nutritional value to prepare us for another day of sprinting, leaping, and laying out, mostly we were ready for bed. As we were leaving we were stopped by a quite jovial woman with a flowery hat and glowing skin, especially for one of her age. She captured our attention immediately, boldly stating she was dining barefoot, never wore shoes or a bra, and had just returned from her 8th tour around the world. I believe she was impressed with the large group of strapping young men who had selected a favorite restaurant of hers. We must’ve listened to Patricia Bragg than night for half an hour or more, telling us all the power eating whole foods, drinking purified water, fasting, cleaning our tongues and never wearing bras or other restrictive clothing for long periods of time. An energetic and mental fog was lifting inside of us, the lights were turning on.
Wolfpack Ultimate won 40 games that season, only losing 4 – the best record for any men’s team by far that season! We were a motivated group of tight teammates, now empowered with the an age-old wisdom, choosing to consciously purify and bodies and environments has a positive impact physically and mentally. The fact that we can take ownership of our lifestyle is often overlooked, and we were all inspired.
Patricia mailed us 10 copies of her book, The Bragg Healthy Lifestyle Book and 10 sample bottles of Bragg liquid aminos, a product that I have used regularly ever since. Several of us not only read the lifestyle book, but also read Water the Shocking Truth That Can Save Your Life, also. That initiated me to start filling jugs with reverse osmosis filtered water.
The Bragg Healthy Lifestyle Motto: “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say and do.”
The mental purification process was perhaps the most life-changing takeaway. As an individual, and as a team during that time there was a shift to mentally cleansing any negativity. On the field, and in life, we understood that not everything is going to go our way. The ability to overcome obstacles cooly and push on until things level out in your favor transcended the playing field and improves the quality of living of anyone. Although the Bragg motto was not directly from the yoga lineage it was an introduction of sorts into the yamas and niyamas.
In yoga the yamas and niyamas are ethical guidelines that guide our choices to align with the greatest good. Speaking, acting, and thinking in peaceful terms supports our path to liberation. Purity, cleanliness, and contentment affect our physical, mental, emotional layers. The first yama is ahimsa, non-violence. This was the first yoga term that I learned, and one of my teammates put an ahimsa sticker on his car. Before long many of our teammates were asking what it meant, and upon hearing the definition I could see the curiosity shift to understanding. All it takes is one step in the right direction. As a swami once stated, “When you pick one petal from the garland of yamas and niyamas, the entire garland will follow.”
We can all make a significant impact in the world, and a single day can change your entire life. Take small steps toward transformation, and share the joy of your progress with others. Live inspired, and don’t forget to clean your tongue!