The True Nature experience
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took a tour of True Nature Healing Arts’ Peace Garden in Carbondale.
Co-owners, Eaden and Deva Shantay, were the tour guides, weaving in their philosophy and approach to life along the way.
True Nature is a therapeutic, meditative space with yoga, a spa, the garden and a kitchen offering vegan and raw foods full of prana (energy). Eaden and Deva have been offering yoga and workshops since 2007 on Main Street and then moved to 3rd Street in 2011.
Steeped in mostly Eastern philosophical and meditative traditions, such as Buddhism, the Shantays said they listen in to those passions and then build the business around that — the passion of finding one’s true inner self and life purpose.
“The work of going inward through the baggage to find your life purpose is hard work,” Eaden said, in his soft-spoken, whispery way.
The Peace Garden starts with the Prayer Wheel, inside of which is a roll of 50,000 prayers. You’re supposed to offer your intentions to it, pray and then spin the wheel. It’s a beautifully designed and intricate piece amid a walkway adorned with an overflowing of clovers.
Next is the Labyrinth, a meditative, patient task in walking around its spirals, but, as Eaden noted, it’s not meant to confuse you. Rather, it’s a metaphor for walking into the center of yourself, he said.
Finally, the Reflexology Path, surrounded by Canadian Red Chokecherries, allowed myself and the other attendees to get hands-on — or rather, feet-on. We all took our shoes off to walk around the path of stones with varying sizes. The goal is to heal the arches in the feet. Digging my arches into the stones was discomforting, but in an oddly good way. I felt better for having done it, even if I wasn’t totally sold on the soundness of it as therapeutic.
At the end, we sat around in a circle on big boulders to listen to more of their philosophy. Eaden and Deva certainly seem sincere and stressed that their business isn’t about getting people to be like them or Jesus or Buddha or anyone else, but about finding one’s passions.
As a philosophy major, I gravitated more toward their musings on a healthier state of self than whether the Reflexology Path really would cure any foot pain. And to that endeavor, entering the Peace Garden and hearing the Shantays is an immersive experience. It is like coming out of a movie theater and having to adjust to the light again.
There is something to being in nature, tuning yourself to yourself and washing away everything on the outside. In that sense, it is a form of catharsis, even if I felt a little silly curling my toes around the white stones at the end.
Eaden and Deva, collaborating with Dave Avalos and Pam Davis, their culinary alchemists, as Eaden called them, went out of their way to provide a spread befitting all the residents of Garfield County.
Offerings included pulp crackers, butter, cheesecake, muffins and other plant- or nut-based foods. It was my first time having a fully raw and/or vegan meal. I don’t know how they did it, but the blueberry muffin I had tasted like the usual processed, dairy-based ones I’m used to, but better and moister.
On the other hand, the Dandelion Chai Chiller bottled drink I had made with raw cashew, dandelion and spice blend only cajoled a few curious sips out of me. I should have gone for the pepper water instead.
All the recipes were created by Avalos and Davis themselves, which is the part they like best.
“That’s the fun part: the creativity,” Pam said.
As we spoke to them, they were finalizing deals to get into Whole Foods — first locally, like in Boulder, and then nationally. We are at the door, Pam said.
With the detail they put into presentation — optics are half the battle — and the creativity they bring to bear on interesting recipes, as a satisfied first-time vegan-taster, I would be surprised if they didn’t find success with their lofty ambitions.
I came into True Nature with a healthy skepticism of New Age-like practices, promising a new you for only X amount of dollars. But it’s hard to walk away from the Peace Garden without feeling the sincerity and gregariousness of the Shantays.
There were no promises of a quick fix or magic healing. Eaden did mention clearing away one’s baggage was hard work, after all.
And it’s not truly New Age; it’s the old age of Buddhism and meditation packaged in a sleek 21st century sensibility tailored for our yoga and mindfulness-obsessed Western culture.
I can’t think of a much better place to engage in mindfulness amidst nature than in the shadow of Mount Sopris.
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