Doctors Take Care of Sick People: Nature Takes Care of the Healthy
Jun 29, 2017 12:09AM
By Dr. Michael Finkelstein
A young man visited SunRaven a few weeks ago. He was applying for a job as our farmer for the upcoming season. Among the many things that impressed me about him, along with his vibrant energy and enthusiasm, was something he wrote in his cover letter. Indeed, he deserves the credit for the title of this article. It made me think, and I hope it inspires you to do the same.
It struck me as a salient message, and reflecting on my own experience, practicing the medicine that I was taught in medical school, I fully understand and embrace the not-so-subtle point here—that when we are sick, the healthiest among us go to nature, not to a doctor.
Notwithstanding the life-threatening emergencies for which Western medicine is well suited, I couldn’t agree more with the notion of nature as the first choice for almost everything else. The fact is that my practice over the past 20 years has evolved to bring this level of care to my patients—individuals I now prefer to call friends and neighbors, because it is actually in the garden where we meet and where I do my best work.
To be clear, I mean nature, not “natural products,” as the source of healing. Here I want to distinguish between the power of immersing our whole organism into the natural environment in its totality versus a subset of its elements, even “natural” ones, that you buy in the store. Similarly, while I wholly appreciate the work of my “holistic” colleagues who skillfully offer their remedies and heartfelt healing practices, I am speaking of nature— the dirt and the hidden world of life beneath its surface; the plants and trees above; and all the animals that walk, crawl, fly or swim beneath the sun, sea and stars—that provides us with the greatest source of what we need.
Continuing on with the garden as metaphor, much of what we consider medicine is actually the seeds for healing; we still need to stick them into soil for them to grow. However, when our soil—our personal ecosystem—is not fully prepared, the results are limited, no matter how much potential the seeds have. Indeed, this is the experience of many people who work hard to heal. The seeds they are using may be great, but the soil is still lacking.
Thus the question becomes, “How can I best prepare my soil?” And the short answer is, “By rolling in it!”
So get out there. Swim in the ocean, walk through a forest, put your hands in some dirt and enjoy that feeling of deep connection with the vitality of living earth. Soak up some sun, and dance in the moonlight. Nature is truly the best doctor. See you on the farm.
Michael Finkelstein, M.D., is a holistic doctor and the owner of SunRaven: The Home of Slow Medicine, located at 501 Guard Hill Rd., Bedford, NY. For more info, call 914.218.3113 or visit SunRaven.org.