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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Get into the Garden: The Slow Medicine Prescription

Jun 30, 2015 11:04AM ● By Dr. Michael Finkelstein

The wonderfully warm month of July may be the best time to reset our priorities and readjust our approach to living. Indeed, the living world around us is in full display. Growth is at its peak, and the long days and relaxing nights can be restorative to us, if we just take the time to let them.

Here on our small farm that we call SunRaven, the garden is bustling with activity, but we make it a point to slow down and soak it all in. Indeed, we find that gardening is the best prescription for what ails us.

Think about it. When we’re gardening, cultivating the soil for our plants, we have an ideal model for what we want to do for our bodies as well. We have to think of the nutrients, the balance, the water, the light, and the relationships between the plants and myriad other organisms, friend and foe. A farm is an appropriate metaphor for how interconnected life is and the necessity of integration. And as any good farmer knows, when all that’s taken care of, a garden requires patience.

Conceptually, this is also the wisest perspective to maintain when it comes to our health. Patience is not just a virtue; it’s a necessity. Alternatively, the rush for the quick fix often applies little more than a Band-Aid to symptoms, leaving the soil beneath untouched. People run from doctor to doctor, healer to healer, eagerly taking in the “healing seeds,” whether they be pharmaceutical or supplemental. They end up frustrated by the lack of results, short- and long-term.

Perhaps there is something to learn from the farm: we need to work both the soil and the seed. Great seeds simply don’t do well in unsettled soil.

A second benefit of getting our hands in the dirt is that it’s a way to connect the dots of our lives. Contact with nature is often one of the things the average person misses most. The rhythm of nature is the essential antidote to the rush rush rush of modern life: nature not only feeds us, but also restores us. When we’re cut off from nature, we’re cut off from ourselves. To be truly healthy, a stronger relationship with nature is a must. In fact, the medicine we need for this fast world is “slow.”

So take the time this month to work your garden—and enjoy the bounty of your labors come harvest time.

Dr. Michael Finkelstein is the founder and medical director of SunRaven: The Home of Slow Medicine, located at 501 Guard Hill Rd., Bedford, NY. He is also the author of Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness. For more information, visit Call 914.218.3113 to schedule a private appointment.