SunRaven A Holistic Living Sanctuary
A conversation with Dr. Michael Finkelstein, founder and medical director
Dr. Michael Finkelstein, founder and medical director or SunRaven
Anyone wanting to understand the concept of “integrative medicine” can find it at work at SunRaven, a healing center in Bedford, NY. Its founder, Michael Finkelstein, MD, combines his expertise in traditional Western medicine with a nuanced and sophisticated blend of common sense and wisdom, that address all facets of a patient’s life. He honed his mind-body-spirit approach during his training with renowned integrative physician Andrew Weil, MD and set up the Center for Health and Healing of Northern Westchester in collaboration with Northern Westchester Hospital where he also served as the medical director as well as the director of the Department of Integrative Medicine and the Department of Medicine. Finkelstein sat down with us recently to explain what happens at SunRaven and how anyone can benefit from “skillful living.”
Tell us about SunRaven.
SunRaven is a holistic living sanctuary that offers personal consultative services as well as experiential workshops and programs for individuals, couples and groups. The main theme for the work at SunRaven is to help people obtain extraordinary health and wellness by providing them with useful information and, just as important, the opportunity to witness and be part of a practical model for skillful living.
What do you mean when you talk about “skillful living”?
Think about “skillful” professional tennis players. When the opposing player hits a great shot—a difficult challenge—they have the ability to anticipate it, see it coming, move into the right position, adjust their attitude (including their body’s position, as well as their mental focus and plan), and then return it and win the point. To some extent these great athletes are gifted, but they also work on their game. They hire great teachers, they understand the rules and the strategies, and they practice.
Skillful living is similar, but the game is life. Given how important that is for each of us, it’s interesting that so few address it with the level of intention and focus that this important endeavor really requires. What I do is provide a method of coaching that makes complete sense, in that it incorporates all that we have become familiar with regarding medicine, but it goes well beyond that to consider all the other variables that factor into the challenges. This is quite unique. I advise individuals to approach life—health, wellness and overall happiness—as a skill that is cultivated through intention, focus and purpose. This is the key to a healthy, happy and authentic existence.
How do our emotions tie in with our health?
Unlike what is dictated by many, health and well-being are indeed a wholly singular unit, and the pieces cannot be viewed in isolation for too long. For example, if a person has a recurrence of an ailment, it implies that whatever initial treatment may have been offered was of limited effect. True, this could be due to the wrong diagnosis and treatment, but when things recur, or as things get more complicated, often something else is operating. At this point it is important to ask some additional questions, and often that process uncovers issues that reside primarily outside the physical body—that is, in the “emotional body.”
Emotions, then, play a significant role in our ailments, especially when they are chronic. In addition our frustration and upset with having to deal with things that are challenging can further complicate the problem to begin with. Thus as we go through life, things tend to accumulate and get more complicated. What I do is help people begin to unravel the knot, which often involves identifying and dealing with the specific underlying emotions that relate to the specific problem and working through them.. Ultimately, the quality of our lives is intricately linked to how healthy our emotional state is.
Are you taking new clients for your comprehensive holistic medical consultations?
Yes. My initial consultation is often two or three hours, which is required to really help people understand their own condition and for me, in turn, to effectively guide them toward a path of greater health. I ask them, “What would you do with your health if you were to get it back?” Because without a sense of purpose, it’s hard to muster the energy to tackle a significant project like achieving extraordinary health. I help people see their lives as a full picture. As a result, health and achieving health fall into the proper context. This is extremely rewarding work, and it’s something that all people benefit from, even when they are relatively well, but especially when their health is in question.
You and Robin Queen both have practices at SunRaven. How does your work differ?
Robin is a healer and psycho-spiritual counselor focused on achieving inner and outer radiance through her work, including her personal consultative services and her unique modality called Transcendental Touch. I am an expert in skillful living, integrating traditional education in the medical sciences with a practical understanding of what it takes to live well. Together we provide an especially beautiful and inspirational environment that offers a unique blend of private and group programs and helps people feel safe and comfortable—essential ingredients to feeling well.
Tell us about the Transcendental Facial that Robin developed and offers at SunRaven.
This unique 90-minute facial modality is designed to induce deep relaxation and spiritual connection, while rejuvenating the skin—a true body-mind experience. The goal is to create ease and eliminate “dis-ease” by going deep and accessing inner intelligence. Robin has designed and perfected a unique blend of talk therapy, intention-setting, guided imagery, transcendental touch, breath and energy work, restoring tranquility and balance to the entire being. During the treatment, Robin nourishes your skin and soothes your soul with carefully selected organic rainforest botanicals, oils and flower essences.
What are some of the other programs you offer at SunRaven?
We also offer a men’s group led by me, a women’s group led by Robin, a ReTreat Day of Transcendence, seasonal group juice fasts, a Mindful Gardening project, a monthly SunRaven book group, and a monthly Dream Group led by Warren Falcon. We also hope to develop a couples program and a weekly gathering, something like “A Day in the Life at SunRaven,” beginning in the fall.
What’s new on the horizon for you?
I’m working on a book, expected to be published in spring 2013 by the William Morrow imprint of Harper Collins. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s on the subject of achieving extraordinary health through skillful living.
SunRaven is located at 501 Guard Hill Rd., Bedford, NY. To make an appointment, call 914.234.6646. For more info, contact Dr. Finkelstein at Michael@sunraven.org or visit SunRaven.org.