An Interview With Loren Lockman by Steven Ferrel
I recently had the opportunity to share an insightful day with Loren Lockman when he came though Phoenix on a speaking tour. Loren is the founder and director of the Tanglewood Wellness Center in Costa Rica and a nearly twenty two year raw vegan. We visited the Superstition mountains, shared a raw meal, and had a chance to get to know each other beyond our on-line connection.I had a variety of questions for Loren, and wanted to share our conversation with you. Here it is:
Steven: You’re the founder and director of the Tanglewood Wellness Center and have worked with more than four thousand clients over the last sixteen years. You’re also a nearly twenty two year low-fat raw vegan. But tell us more about Loren Lockman. What are you most passionate about Loren?
Loren: That’s a tough question Steven. As I suspect is true for any truly passionate person, my passions span a wide range of subjects, including nature, health and healing, maximizing my own and my client’s potential, writing, reading, permaculture and environmentally sound building, music, dance, body-surfing, gardens, Non-violent communication, art, and not least of all, love.
Steven: Is creativity important to you Loren? If so, how do you express it?
Loren: Absolutely! I think that we’re naturally creative beings and must be creative to be fully self-expressed. I express mine in a myriad of ways including through photography, writing articles, poems, letter and books (coming soon), by designing gardens, fountains, and buildings, and by creating comfortable and beautiful spaces for myself and my guests, to name just a few.
Steven: For those who don’t know much about what you do, what’s the focus of the Tanglewood Wellness Center?
Loren: Tanglewood is dedicated to helping our clients take their health from wherever they are, to the highest level possible and empowering them to maintain that level of health for life.
Steven: And how do you do that Loren?
Loren: There are two primary things that we do at Tanglewood; the first is water-only fasting, and the second is education.
Steven: And how long do your average clients fast for?
Loren: A typical stay at the center is about thirty five days, fasting twenty six days and re-feeding for nine.
Steven: And when you speak of fasting for twenty six days, you mean consuming only water for twenty six days in a row? I haven’t experienced fasting for more than a week. Twenty six days sounds extremely long for fasting…in your opinion is this duration healthy?
Loren: I know it sounds radical to most folks Steven. I can well remember when it first sounded radical to me too. Most people have between six and eight weeks of reserves though, so if they’re truly resting as completely as possible, they can relatively easily go that long. And though this may be hard to believe, not only is doing so not harmful to the body, it’s probably the single most beneficial thing that most people can do.
Steven: What is it that you feel makes fasting for such a long duration beneficial?
Loren: Fasting is beneficial because we live in a very toxic world today. Poisons in the air, water, in our food, in our personal care products, household cleaning products, furniture, carpets, drapes, paint, etc. insure that the average body is overwhelmed with toxins and unable to keep up with the influx of toxins every day, or even properly handle the body’s own endogenous toxins (primarily the “intermediate by-products of cellular metabolism”…essentially, cell poop).
The impact of all of these toxins on the body is enormous; vitality tends to drop as energy is wasted on the fruitless attempt to eliminate these toxins, the body is constantly poisoned and so not functioning very well, and depending on where the toxins are stored, significant diseases including cancer develop as a direct result of the toxicity. In fact, one school of thought suggests that all diseases are simply various manifestations of toxicity. True or not, what’s clear to me is that no body can function as well as possible until it has eliminated all toxins.
Steven: But Loren, there are many ways to heal the body. People heal through juice fasting, by eating raw vegan diets, by using herbs, and a few other methods as well. Do you find it necessary for your clients to water fast for twenty six days when there are many other things that they can do?
Loren: It’s true Steven, that there are many things people can do to heal…and very instructive to more fully understand what’s actually happening.Let me start by pointing out that cleansing and healing are always actions of the organism. In other words, the body itself always does the healing, and there’s nothing we can take or do to the body to make it heal faster. Strictly speaking, neither juices, herbs, supplements, energy work, fasting nor anything else you can think of heals the body. Only the body can do that. The first four are simply treating symptoms…much like allopathic medicine. Often, we suppress symptoms and seem to be well because we feel better. If someone has an iron (or any other) deficiency, it can only be caused by one of two possible things: either the diet is insufficient – frequently the case when people eat a standard crap diet – or the body is incapable of getting the full benefit of what it’s consuming, either because of inefficiency on the part of the body, or because parasites or some other systemic issue prevents the body from getting the full benefit of its food. If the issue is that the body is incapable of getting the benefit of what it’s consuming, than we need to address that cause. How? By fasting to eliminate parasites and perhaps more importantly, to correct the underlying imbalance that made the system inefficient or the environment attractive to parasites in the first place.If the issue is a poor diet, than “treating the cause” would mean correcting the diet, not using supplements or juices – neither of which is natural – to get what we need. When we do use one of these unnatural means, we are actually creating issues; nutrients are found in natural foods in the same combinations that we need them in. Isolated supplements tend to create imbalances as we load up on one (or more) nutrients without all of their co-factors. Though this has been systematically hidden from the public, there are multiple studies starting with the Finnish smoker’s study (began in 1985) which have proven that supplementation often dramatically increases rates of disease, especially in the highest risk segments. And because science suggests that most of the nutrients in food haven’t even been discovered yet, the only way we can possibly get everything in the whole food is to eat the whole food.
Steven: Many herbs are thought to assist in healing the body. What is your opinion on their efficacy?
Loren: That’s the way many people think about them Steven, but I’m not so sure. As you may know, an herbalist may recommend that you take an herb for a specific situation, but invariably will also tell you not to consume more than a certain quantity of that herb, and/or not more than x days in a row…Why the precautions about using these healing plants? Simple: medicinal herbs are toxic to the body. Just like drugs, they work by causing the body to react to their toxicity in a way that provides symptomatic relief.And though you may avoid catching a cold if you take Echinacea at its onset, unless you’d been suffering from a deficiency of Echinacea in your blood stream, taking Echinacea is only treating the symptom, not the underlying issue.
Steven: And how about energy healing… do you find this beneficial with your clients?
Loren: Sure! It certainly can be beneficial; it can jump start the body’s own energy centers (chakras) to get them moving properly so that the body can then do what it needs to do. But ultimately, the body needs to take over, and energy healing will have no lasting benefit if the body’s own systems can’t be jump-started. As a Reiki master, I always make it clear to the people that I treat that any real healing is up to their body, and Reiki can only help get it started.
Steven: So how do you feel fasting differs from these other modalities?
Loren: Well, unlike all the others, fasting in no way attempts to treat or suppress any symptoms, nor to manipulate the body in any way. Rather, fasting – when done properly and long-enough – allows us to get out of the way as effectively as possible so that the body Can cleanse and heal as well as is possible.
Steven: And you said earlier that your clients fast for twenty six days?
Loren: That’s our average at Tanglewood. Our clients come for one to nine weeks and I’ve fasted over one hundred and fifty people for six weeks or more. The longest was roughly four months. How long each person can safely fast depends on each person’s level of fat reserves. Those who are, as I like to say, “wealthy in nutrient reserves,” can often fast much longer. And some, including the young man I fasted recently, have at least four months or more of reserves.
Steven: Ok, so some people clearly have more reserves than others, but does that really mean that they should fast that long? There are variables such as health conditions and prescribed medications that may influence how a person responds to fasting.
Loren: Though I wouldn’t “should” on anyone, I would suggest that fasting for three weeks or more is the single most beneficial and powerful thing that most people will ever do. Those who fast for six weeks usually find it to be absolutely life-changing in many ways. We work with many people who are well, but want to be well-er, and we’ve seen amazing things here with every client, including those people who are quite ill. We have 100% success eliminating hypertension, type 2 diabetes, MS, Lyme disease, lower GI tract problems, and many other conditions.
Steven: Interesting…a few of the conditions that you mentioned are health challenges that modern medicine would state are incurable. In your opinion do you feel that this is false?
Loren: Definitely false. Medicine seems to believe that true health and healing is impossible in most conditions…probably because they don’t know how to create it. But as I said earlier, our magnificent bodies were designed to function at an amazing level of health and vitality. In order to achieve this outcome, we simply need to give the body the chance to cleanse and heal as completely and effectively as possible. When we do, healing is almost always possible.
Steven: So there are times when you’ve discovered healing isn’t possible?
Loren: Sometimes there’s been so much damage to the body that it can’t repair itself; but this is unusual. In the vast majority of cases, if we’re still alive, the possibility to heal still exists. And even if a condition may never heal completely, every person can allow their body to take it’s health to a much higher level in every way by fasting properly and long-enough. It’s important to understand that fasting technically “cures” nothing… but rather simply provides the body with the optimal conditions to cleanse and heal itself. If something can heal, fasting is absolutely the most efficient and effective way.
Steven: Earlier, I asked you about the need for nutrition to heal; can you respond to that?
Loren: Sure Steven. Though one might logically think that this would be an issue, it virtually never is. The fasting and medical literature doesn’t show a single case of someone developing anemia, scurvy, rickets, beri-beri or other deficiency diseases even on prolonged fasts. I’ve seen for myself that people can fast months without running into problems. And perhaps more surprisingly, most of these conditions – and other deficiency issues – are actually resolved while fasting. Here at Tanglewood I’ve seen iron-deficient anemia, B12 deficiencies, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and other deficiencies regularly corrected while fasting and consuming only pure water.This suggests to me that the deficiency conditions weren’t caused by not consuming enough of the element in question, but rather because the body was unable to access or properly use what was clearly already present. We saw this just 6 moths ago again with a client who had a severe, clinical magnesium deficiency. She functioned well only when on massive magnesium supplements. But at my recommendation, she discontinued the supplements and came to fast. While fasting, all of her deficiency-related symptoms disappeared, and in the roughly 8 months since that fast she’s maintained a much higher level of health without supplements.
Steven: In your opinion…how long do the benefits of fasting generally last?
Loren: Excellent point Steven; It’s one thing to take your health to a high level, but another to keep it there. This is where the education component comes in. In fact, maintaining the benefits received while fasting is entirely dependent on the choices one makes after the fast. If one leaves the center and returns home to make the same poor choices that caused the condition in the first place, the problem will surely come back. Fasting is like a giant reset button; it allows us to eliminate the garbage and to literally turn back the clock – where we actually become physiologically younger while fasting.But to continue functioning at the high levels created via fasting requires that we make the best choices possible, and given my commitment to helping my clients achieve their highest level of functioning on all levels, I teach my fasting guests all I can about how to meet the body’s ongoing physical, mental, and emotional needs as well as possible.
Steven: That sounds like a wonderful approach. You mentioned that you had a business background Loren. You’re a Reiki master, but otherwise have no formal qualifications in nutrition, health, or alternative medicine. How are you qualified to teach this information?
Loren: That’s a great question Steven. You’re absolutely right that I have no “formal” qualifications…a fact that has allowed many people to dismiss my work. But I would point out that many of the greatest teachers and most influential people were self-taught in the field(s) where they gained the greatest influence. This list includes Ansel Adams, Hans Christian Andersen, John Jacob Astor, Carl Bernstein, Ray Bradbury, Richard Branson, Andrew Carnegie, Winston Churchill, Michael Dell, Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, George Eastman, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Fischer, Henry Ford, R. Buckminster Fuller, Bill Gates, J. Paul Getty, Barry Goldwater, Randolph Hearst, Peter Jennings, Steve Jobs, Ralph Lauren, Charles Lindbergh, Jack London, John Major, Herman Melville, Claude Monet, George Orwell, John D. Rockefeller Sr., Karl Rove, William Safire, William Shakespeare, Ted Turner, Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Steve Wozniak, Wilbur Wright, among many others.And what I teach practice is not taught at medical schools, or in nutrition programs, or even at Naturopathic Colleges (where I’ve had the privilege of guest-lecturing many times).But it would be both immodest and dishonest to suggest that I’m entirely self-taught. In fact, I’ve had two amazing teachers over the thirty six years that I’ve been studying health, nutrition, and healing; Experience, and Nature. Much of what I’ve learned I’ve learned from Nature. Though we may not be aware of it, our bodies our governed by the same laws of nature that affect every other species, and largely function very much like many other species’ bodies. I’ve simply distilled those laws of nature down to their essence and have done my best to understand and apply them to our own magnificent bodies. And they never fail; when we apply them completely we get consistently, predictably amazing results. And by having had both the opportunity to take my own health from terrible to amazing and the privilege to help thousands of others accomplish similar results, I’ve proven over and over – to myself and my clients, if not the outside world – that these ideas have real merit and lead to amazing health.
Steven: You are making a positive impact by explaining these ideas in ways that most find easy to understand. Helping to shift paradigms in a positive direction is a wonderful contribution.
Loren: Yes, thank you Steven. I appreciate that. And you’re right: helping people shift their paradigms is huge, and to the extent that people are emotionally attached to whatever they’ve been doing, thinking, or believing, often challenging.Steven: Sure. And again, people have had success with other methods, so they may find some of what you say hard to believe. Loren: You’re right. But this is because in every moment of our lives our magnificent bodies are doing everything they can to take themselves to the highest level of health and balance possible; as soon as we improve anything (get more sleep if deficient, improve our diet, get up off the couch if growing into potato-hood, or get more sun if not allowing our body this necessary element), our health will surely improve.People can go from a standard crap diet to almost anything else and will likely see their health improve. Even relatively poor alternative diets are almost always better than what most people have been doing, so when they switch, they feel better and see real benefits. The mistake many people subsequently make is in believing that because their health improved, whatever they did is the best that they can do. This is not necessarily true; as long as the new diet is even marginally better than what they were doing before, they will see their health improve. This creates a lot of confusion and has many people stuck enjoying better health than they were before, but much less optimal than is possible.
Steven: What do you feel is the optimal diet for humans?
Loren: As a student of nature, I see no other logical conclusion Steven. There are 800,000 different species and every other one has a species-specific diet; it seems incredibly unlikely that we would be the one exception. And with digestive systems that are nearly identical to our closest primate relatives, it seems clear to me that our optimal diet would necessarily be very similar to theirs: primarily fruit and soft tender leaves.
Steven: And this is how you eat, correct?
Loren: That’s right…for nearly twenty two years now.
Steven: What would you say to those who may find that they don’t thrive on this diet?
Loren: I would simply point out that no diet will provide good results if the body is incapable of properly digesting, absorbing, or assimilating what we eat. The condition of the body is just as important, if not more important than the diet.Steven: And to allow the body to process their food as well and efficiently as possible…Loren: Fasting.
Steven: Loren, of everything that you’ve done and taught over the years, what would you say is the single most significant thing?
Loren: I’d have to say that there are two things Steven; first, helping people understand that perfect health – or a close facsimile thereof – is what our bodies were designed to enjoy. If your body is not working as well as possible in any way, chances are extremely good that you can change that and enjoy a much higher level of health.Second, that like almost every other measurable aspect of our health, medicine is way off-track with regards to what constitutes proper hydration. We’ve been measuring cellular hydration at Tanglewood for the last seven or eight years and have measured more than two thousand people. We find that most people are where science says we should be.But we’ve also measured a few people who are considerably better hydrated than that; about 17.7% better hydrated in fact. And as you might imagine, this makes an enormous difference to how one feels and functions.Most significantly though, we’ve been able to consistently take people at an average level of hydration – or perhaps, dehydration – and bring them up to what we’ve seen is full or close to full hydration. And when we do, everything changes.
Steven: Do you have them drink more water?
Loren: It’s not more water Steven. It turns out that the most hydrated people don’t drink the most water. In fact, it’s often the opposite. The single most hydrated person we’ve measured has consistently been me…and in a typical week, I drink no more than a few glasses of water or less.Steven: Only a few glasses per week?Loren: That’s right.
Steven: So how do you stay well hydrated?
Loren: It turns out that the key to proper hydration is two-fold. First, we must consume only a high-water content diet; fresh, ripe, juicy fruits and soft tender green leaves should be the mainstay (if not everything!) that one consumes. Dried and dehydrated foods, cooked foods, salt, spices, culinary herbs, alcohol, caffeine and vinegar all chase water out of the body. Giving up these water-stealers and consuming primarily high water-content foods is the first necessary, but not sufficient step.
Steven: What’s the second step…or perhaps I can guess; fasting?
Loren: That’s right Steven. And though this may not seem obvious and one might reasonably question my motives for saying this, it’s actually really simple. Water is the universal transport medium in the body. Without sufficient water, nothing moves. And so when the body is toxic, it’s constantly using its precious, insufficient water to attempt to eliminate the toxic garbage from every channel. But whether we’re talking about the colon, the urinary tract, the skin, the breath, or the mucous membranes, without enough water in the system, nothing moves. And because nothing moves, the body winds up stuck in a loop where it’s constantly attempting to cleanse, but unable to. And unable to cleanse, full hydration becomes nearly impossible as the body’s precious water resources are tied up in attempting to cleanse.As soon as we do the work to truly cleanse the body and then eat an optimal diet, getting fully hydrated becomes relatively easy. And literally changes everything. Most significant for those who are over forty five or fifty, full hydration allows the body to begin reversing most of what we call aging. Most of it is nothing more than long-term chronic dehydration.Steven: And toxicity, correct?Loren: Yes, but I would suggest that the toxicity results from chronic dehydration as well. When the body is fully hydrated, it’s able to cleanse itself on an ongoing basis, so under most conditions, it’s able to eliminate toxins as they’re encountered. In other words, a toxic body (and that’s almost all bodies), is a dehydrated body.
Steven: I see why this is such an important issue. And you said earlier that chronic dehydration causes most aging…Are you talking about wrinkles, gray hair, arthritis, memory loss, vision problems, etc?
Loren: Almost all of those things, yes. Wrinkles are caused by the loss of elasticity in the skin which results from long-term chronic dehydration. Joint problems/arthritis happen as a result of our connective tissue drying out when there’s not enough systemic water. Memory loss – which can have many causes including typically bad diet, can indeed be affected by severe chronic dehydration as well. The eyes are essentially balls of jelly, and almost entirely made of water. With long-term chronic dehydration, they begin to lose their perfect shape as the body searches for available water. Even loss of height is primarily a dehydration issue; the discs are essentially bags of water, and they deflate over time.
Steven: But these are all very common signs of aging; in your opinion why do people consistently lose water from these particular places?
Loren: What these things have in common is that they are all not-critical to our survival. Every day, the average body is trying to figure out how to meet its most critical needs for water in a system that is deficient. While the body does everything possible to insure that the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood stream and brain all have the water that they need, when there isn’t enough systemic water, these needs can only be met by taking water from those organs/systems that are not critical to our survival…like all the ones mentioned above.
Steven: So we “age.”
Loren: Exactly. Primarily because we become increasingly dessicated.And when we can reverse this situation by getting the body clean and then meeting it’s needs optimally, we can become fully-hydrated and reverse almost all of this dehydration-caused aging, regaining elasticity and eliminating wrinkles, re-inflating deflated discs and regaining lost height.
Steven: Interesting! And you’ve seen this with your clients?
Loren: Yes, many times. And my own full-hydration is the reason that I have no wrinkles, perfect vision, and that my body works better today at fifty two than it did at eighteen. But more importantly, Anyone can experience these same benefits.Steven: You’ve been around the raw world for a long time (nearly twenty two years), you are a wonderful speaker, and having empowered thousands of clients over the years with your expertise…I’m surprised that more people aren’t familiar with you.
Loren: Thanks for the compliments Steven. Generally speaking, in the raw world…and most other environments…the people who are most well known tend to be the people who are the best self-promoters; that’s never been me. Steven: So what has happened recently that has made you more popular?
Loren: For sixteen years I’ve been quietly supervising water fasts and helping people achieve amazing results. And up until about ten years ago, I was very active on the lecture circuit, speaking not only at raw food restaurants, as the keynote speaker for EarthSave International twice, Friends of Animals, and at the North American Vegetarian Society, but also at all of the big Raw events of the day, including the Portland (Oregon) International Raw and Living Food Festivals, the Living Now Festivals outside of Buffalo, New York, and others. I also wrote for Just Eat an Apple, Get Fresh, and many independent magazines. But as Tanglewood got busier and busier, finally becoming the largest fasting center in the world at that time, I gave up traveling and speaking and focused on working with my clients and running the center. We stayed nearly full all the time via word of mouth and repeat clients for six or seven years until the economy started to take a nosedive five years ago. I finally realized that it was time to come out of hiding, and once getting past my fear of YouTube (I’m not really a technology guy) I started posting videos sixteen months ago and started to book more speaking engagements, including my first big raw event in many years, the Best of Raw 2013 in Sedona, just a few days after we met.
Steven: Do you enjoy traveling, speaking, and doing these big events?
Loren: I do! I love sharing my knowledge and experience and love to speak to groups as it seems to be one of the most efficient ways to get the information out there…and like anyone else who gets on stage as part of what they do, I also enjoy being the center of attention. The ego is eternal, isn’t it? At the same time, I live an idyllic life in paradise, and don’t really want to leave most of the time, so I have mixed feelings about it. Like most things in life, it’s not black and white.Steven: How do you embrace the challenges of life? Loren: I can only imagine that everybody faces their challenges. Without walking in someone else’s shoes, I can’t know what they face and how difficult their lives may be. And I see every challenge as an opportunity for growth. Even when I can’t see how something could possibly benefit me, I do my best to remember that my inability to see it in the moment doesn’t mean that it’s not true. And usually with the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it becomes much easier to see how those challenges and difficulties turned out to be blessings in disguise.
Steven: Well you’ve certainly had your share of challenges, haven’t you?
Loren: I have.
Steven: You were convicted of practicing medicine without a license by the Maryland Medical Board. What happened there?
Loren: We had a young diabetic client who decided to self-medicate with insulin when her blood sugar started to climb while fasting. She had both a fast and a slow-acting insulin and apparently, took only the slow acting. When her sugar hadn’t come down in an hour or so, she took more, and repeated this several times, but each time using only the slow-acting insulin rather than a combination of slow and fast-acting as would have been appropriate. She finally overdosed on it and went into cardiac arrest. The Naturopath on our staff at the time revived her and we called the rescue squad who got her to the hospital. She died a few days later and we were blamed for it, even though an MD at the hospital said that she died as a result of mismanagement by the hospital. The board refused to hear her testimony.
Loren: Yeah. The whole thing was a circus actually. They’d charged me with practicing medicine without a license 2 or 3 years earlier, but eventually had to admit that Tanglewood/I weren’t doing any of the things that constituted practicing medicine: diagnosing, treating, or prescribing. When the young woman died though, they came back with the same “evidence” that they had used several years earlier, plus the young woman’s death.
First they said that I was “prescribing” fasts, but I pointed out that recommending that someone undertake a completely natural process couldn’t be considered a prescription.
Ultimately, they said that it didn’t matter if I was doing any of those things or not; “if someone came to Tanglewood and got well, I Must be practicing medicine.”
I had one of those experiences where it wasn’t until later that I realized what I Should have said in response: “If someone comes to my center and get’s well, then clearly I must Not be practicing medicine”…but I didn’t think of it at the time.
I pointed out that if they found us guilty of practicing medicine, they would need to prosecute every health club, restaurant and hotel as well, since each of these businesses was similarly helping people meet their body’s natural needs without a medical license.
Steven: And how did they respond?
Loren: They found us guilty anyway.
Steven: And their official story was that you fled the country…true?
Loren: Not exactly. They sent us an order to cease and desist from practicing medicine without a license. I wrote back saying that because we had never practiced license, we couldn’t very well stop doing it. I suggested that they mind their own business and then we continued to operate for thirteen months until we were ready to make the move to Central America that we’d been planning for seven or eight years.
Steven: You created a beautiful place in Panama and spent more than six years there, then left. Why did you move again?
Loren: I’d signed a lease-option agreement on the property, giving me a leasehold interest and the right to buy the property at a fixed price any time during the contract period. I invested everything I had personally saved from my earlier life, and everything that that center was earning in the property, completely renovating the place from top to bottom, adding a garage with an apartment for myself, a hundred meter long eight foot high wall along the road, a guardhouse, three beautiful cottages at the top of the property with amazing views, several stone patios and two walled gardens, eight fountains, amazing gardens and landscaping with beautiful sculptures all around the property, more than one km of improved stone trails with four thatch-rooved structures, and twenty five benches and sitting areas, and roughly one thousand fruit trees.
Near the end of the lease, I let them know that I was ready to sign the purchase contract, and they drew it up according to our prior agreement, and then saw an appraisal saying that the property was worth nearly $1 million more than I owed them. They refused to sign their own contract and we saw no alternative but to pursue them legally. We were told by various law firms before choosing one that this was an open and shut case and that we had a valid contract and would certainly win, but that it would take three to four years to get to a judge.
After four years in litigation, they paid off the judge who then ruled in their favor, and seized everything on-site including all of our organic-cotton covered furniture, natural fiber rugs, extensive art collection, large library, audio/video equipment, large video collection, five computers plus office equipment, full kitchen to serve twenty five or more people, high-end laundry equipment, organic cotton linens and towels and bedding for twenty five people, two vehicles, etc, etc.
Steven: That must have been devastating! What did you do?
Loren: It was certainly a major shake-up. I was on a lecture tour at the time and was about to leave for the venue in Toronto when I got an e-mail from my assistant in Panama.
We were due to open again two weeks later, so I immediately contacted some folks in Costa Rica who had a retreat center (I knew of no other similar places in Panama). Fortunately, it was the rainiest time of the year, so they were practically empty. I arranged to rent some space from them for that next session about to start and then arranged to have my guests change their travel from Panama City to San Jose, Costa Rica, at Tanglewood’s expense.
I completed my tour a week later and then flew back to Panama. Incidentally, my last stop was in Washington, DC, where I grew up and I spent the last couple of nights in the United States staying with my father; I couldn’t have known it at the time, but I would never see him again as he died just a few months later.
I got the center in Panama to find myself locked out. They had seized everything on-site and I was prohibited from taking anything but my clothing. I got on a bus for San Jose with two suitcases and $200 in my pocket to start over.
Steven: Wow! Loren I didn’t know all these details. It sounds like a truly harrowing experience.
Loren: Well, it certainly offered me plenty of opportunity for reflection and growth. And I refuse to look at anything that happens as other than that: a chance to expand my awareness. And because I believe that I create/attract everything that happens in my life at some level, it required some serious contemplation.
Steven: What did you discover?
Loren: This was the last, at that time, in a series of events that have made me realize that I was all too often ignoring my intuition in favor of believing what I wanted to believe. Unfortunately, I see this as a common issue. People often either do as I’ve done, or allow themselves to believe that their common fears are intuition – they’re usually not – and allow themselves to be stopped from acting. In the first case we act when acting might not be in our best interest, and in the second, we don’t act when acting would be in our best interest.
Steven: Have you been successful at getting better at listening to your intuition?
Loren: Marginally. God knows I’ve had plenty of opportunity for practice!
Steven: Have you had other similar major challenges?
Loren: I have. And I’ve consistently found this a challenging area to master, though I have gotten better at really tuning in to it.
This is deep stuff Steven…but I told you that I was open to discussing anything…and I am. First of all, women tend to be more intuitive, and I think that’s simply about how we’re wired. Men have historically been the ones to go out and make things happen through their force of will, and so perhaps have been less connected to their intuition as they tend to rely more on their conscious mind. But women’s connection to their intuition probably varies a great deal, and if I’m right about the reason that men have tended to be less connected it would suggest that woman are likely to become less connected as well as they continue to move into positions, roles, and mindsets once occupied only by men. I’m not suggesting that this is inevitable, but rather a potential pitfall.
I’m all in favor of women having every door open to them. But clearly there are negative aspects to this shift, and their increasing disconnection from intuition may prove to be one of them.
Steven: Right…and you were going to address why your own connecting to your intuition has been such a challenge…
Loren: Yes. In my work with more than four thousand clients, I’ve clearly seen that most – if not all – have suppressed emotions. Most of us have been taught that it’s not ok to feel certain things and much of this stems from our own core-wounding.
Steven: And what exactly is “core-wounding?”
Loren: This is the idea that deep in our core, we carry beliefs about ourselves that are completely disempowering – and virtually always false. These beliefs are usually “gifts” from our parents.
Though parents love their children as much as they possibly can, most are never fully capable of the unconditional love that we need to thrive because having been denied this precious gift from their own less-than-perfect parents, they don’t fully love themselves – a prerequisite to loving others unconditionally.
As little children, we sense this lack of unconditional love and we tend to internalize it and make it our “fault.” We begin to believe that there is something deeply wrong or lacking in us. That we are not good enough, that there’s something wrong with us, that we are strange, or like me, that we are unlovable. But my ever-present inner 2 year old who never got his needs met still, at some level, feels unlovable. And so I tend to do everything I can to meet other’s needs, while sometimes neglecting my own. This is great training to ignore my intuition, and after so many years of practicing this perfectly, retraining myself has been challenging.
Steven: And so you continue to manifest challenging stuff until you truly learn what you need to learn.
Loren: Exactly. While I was in that first temporary location in Costa Rica I found a place that could work for us and signed a lease. And in this case, I was pretty clear going into it that the owner was going to be challenging. I signed it anyway and found after six months that the situation was simply untenable.
In the meantime, I was introduced to another property owner that was desperate to find someone to come in and take over her property – which might have been the first red flag. I went to visit and though I wanted to ride out the first year of my lease at the other place, her own situation had her pushing me to move in as quickly as possible, which I did without a signed contract. I knew better, but didn’t listen, in this case once again habitually over-riding my intuition. It turned out to be a true nightmare as she ignored one agreement after another, refused to repair anything, and interfered with the center’s business and practices at every turn.
After two sessions there hoping to renegotiate and sign something that made sense, I finally realized that there was no way I wanted to be involved with this person and found another site.
We moved in four months ago, opened for a nine-week fasting session, and are now involved in major renovations to make the center as comfortable and beautiful as possible.
Steven: So you’ve moved several times in two years. That must have been very stressful.
Loren: No doubt. And to be honest, it still is; having lost everything just twenty two months ago, it’s been very challenging to make all of this happen and raise the funds to support it. Fortunately, I have very loyal clients and we’re nearly fully-booked for our next session (which runs 8/3 to 10/5) and nearly half-full for the following session (12/7 to 2/8.) We will be fine and Tanglewood will continue to be the best place in the world for those who are ready and committed to take their health to the highest level possible.
Steven: Loren, we’ve been communicating for some time on-line, and have spent hours together in-person. I can see that your heart is in the right place. As you have said, you have many loyal supporters and many repeat clients.
Loren: That’s true; at any given time over these last years, 70% of our clients were either returning or were referred by another guest.
Steven: And yet I know you also have some detractors…
Loren: Yes, absolutely. As Paul Newman said, “If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character.” I have always been honest and direct and that pushes some people’s buttons. And I take people through a process which can be Very emotionally challenging; as the body cleanses, suppressed emotions are released. And because my goal is help people take their overall health and functioning to the highest level possible, we do everything we can at Tanglewood to eliminate the typical distractions that people employ to keep from experiencing those emotions.
Those who are emotionally mature-enough have an amazing opportunity to truly deal with those inner demons as their “stuff” inevitably comes up. Those who are not emotionally mature-enough tend to look for someone else to blame when they start feeling angry, etc.
After many years of trying to help anyone who said that they wanted it, I finally realized that there were people who were simply not a good fit for Tanglewood. And this came directly out of losing everything in Panama and reflecting on what I wanted to create as I moved forward.
In the last two years, I’ve told three clients who wanted to come back that I believed that they weren’t a good fit for Tanglewood and that I wouldn’t take them again.
One of them, the day I told her this, posted all over the place that I was a bait-and-switch artist because I had advertised my place in Panama and was now offering a different location in Costa Rica. Of course bait-and-switch is a purposeful intention to scam someone, and I made it clear to my clients that we had moved and what had happened. But out for vengeance for being turned down, she had no interest in the truth.
Another former client who has posted a mountain of negative material about me/Tanglewood on-line was a wealthy woman who had spent 4 weeks at the center…the most challenging 4 weeks of my life. Her husband and three children flew to Panama for a week to visit her while she was there, and roughly halfway through her process, they put up a video of her talking about how amazing her experience had been so far and what a wonderful place Tanglewood was. The issue was that though our policies were clearly stated on our website, had been sent to her before coming, and had been discussed in a mandatory pre-fast phone consultation, she believed that the rules didn’t apply to her.
We don’t do this now, but at the time we offered a free shuttle from the airport to the center at 4 or 4:30pm each Saturday afternoon. She contacted me a few weeks before coming to tell me that her plane arrived at 10:30 am and that she didn’t want to wait at the airport all day. I told her that she could either bring a book and keep herself occupied or that we could arrange transportation for her at her expense, which is what she opted to do.
After the other guests arrived later that day, she came to me and said that she should get a refund of her taxi fare since no one else had to pay for their ride. I explained that this was because everyone else had opted to take the free shuttle. She persisted in telling me that it wasn’t fair, and I informed her that I wasn’t going to pay for her ride, and frankly, wasn’t in an position to.
We charged .10/minute for internet access at the time both because getting service in the middle of nowhere where we were was expensive, and more importantly because we wanted to discourage people from being on-line anymore than was necessary. After she arrived, she told me that because she had 3 children and needed to speak with them every day, she shouldn’t have to pay.
I explained that many people had families or businesses that they needed to be in touch with, that if she spent thirty minutes per day we were talking about a total of $84 for her four week visit, and that she had been aware of the policy before coming. She suggested that I could just do it for her, and need not tell anyone else.
At the end of her stay, a business issue meant that her husband needed to travel out of the country and that she needed to get home a day earlier. She came to me to tell me this and suggested that because this was an emergency, I should pay for her ride to the airport. I explained again that we offered a free shuttle on Saturdays only, and that it wasn’t my emergency. I told her that I would not pay for her ride.
Finally, before leaving, she told me that if I didn’t pay for all of her ground transportation and reimburse her for her internet charges, she would “slam me on-line.” I told her that she could do whatever she wanted, but that I wasn’t going to give her special treatment. Her husband wrote to me telling me to tell her I would pay, and that he would then send me the money in secret. I wrote back and told him that I wouldn’t lie to her, that we were all adults, and that I was going to do what I believed was the “right” thing to do: live by our agreements. She left furious at not getting her way and from the airport in Panama, immediately posted a scathing report on her terrible experience at Tanglewood. It was 6 months or so before she thought to take down the video she had posted to youtube talking about her experience in glowing terms.
And we’ve had one or two other clients who similarly posted blatantly false, negative material in an effort to hurt the center. Fortunately, the intelligent people who are our ideal clients can usually see that this garbage is just that.
I’m certainly far from perfect Steven, but working very hard to both help as many people as possible and to continue my own growth and evolution.
As Ken Wilber, “I’m not nearly the saint some of my fans imagine and I’m nowhere near the devil my detractors wish, so you simply take both of these with a grain of salt.”
Steven: Loren, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to deal with some of these folks while going through such a challenging experience.
Loren: It’s often infuriating, difficult, and at times humbling. And it’s provided me with many growth opportunities. And though the negative nonsense on-line has had some impact, I continue to be confident that those who are a good fit will find their way here. I feel incredibly blessed to have found a way that I can truly serve humanity and make a difference for so many people.
Steven: Loren, I truly appreciate you sharing with us so openly. I’ve asked you some challenging questions and I appreciate your honesty. I know that no one is perfect and I think your sixteen plus years of taking people through this amazing process speaks for itself. I look forward to seeing you again on your next trip through Phoenix and to continuing to get to know you better. Are there any last thoughts that you’d like to leave our readers with?
Loren: It’s truly been a pleasure to spend the time with you Steven. And yes, there is one last thing. I’d simply like to remind you that perfect health is our natural birthright and that if we are willing to give the body the chance to cleanse and heal itself and then learn to meet it’s needs as optimally as possible, you can feel and function better than you ever thought possible, can reverse much of the aging you’ve experienced or delay that aging if it hasn’t occurred yet.
Steven: Wonderful Loren! A great message to end with. And for those who wish to find out more about your work?
Loren: Sure. Here are some resources:
And if you’d like to get in touch to inquire about fasting, consultations, coaching, speaking engagements, or anything else, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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