What does a book about sustainable farming practices have to do with taking good care of your body? Last year when I picked up “The One Straw Revolution,” which was written in 1978 by Masanobu Fukouoka, I had no idea how it would apply to good health.

Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, introduced ecologically sustainable farming practices which were revolutionary in a time of large-scale industrial farming. In fact, “The One Straw Revolution” is a seminal book in the natural farming movement the world over — something I learned after reading the book.

Even though I live far from a farm, in the heart of NYC, I was fascinated by this book rich in farming techniques. This form of thinking with a heavy emphasis on respecting nature applies completely to how we view and manage our health, and in many ways it has become a personal manifesto. In discussing farming techniques, the book reveals much about how our society has failed to adequately respect nature’s way and how we have suffered accordingly when it comes to managing our health.

Though Fukuoka makes succinct and distinct analogies to our health and our relationship to the earth, I was eager to find another book that might further illuminate these connections when it comes to our health. (Indeed, there have been many written — starting with every one of Michael Pollan’s fascinating books.)

This year I spent my holiday reading a unique book that does just that: “Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up” by Daphne Miller, M.D.   Miller is a California-based physician who traveled to several innovative bio-dynamic farms throughout the U.S. to explore and document the correlations between how we grow and obtain our food and how we care for our bodies.

In Chinese Medicine, these correlations are supposed to be front and center of our self-care. Profoundly understanding “nature’s way” is not just a new idea — it’s the foundation of this ancient medical practice.

Indeed, Eastern medical philosophy has taken this understanding to a whole different level that in many ways we in the West are only beginning to unravel. As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, adapting these ancient understandings to our modern lifestyle I view as one of my primary tasks when I work with my patients.  Beyond using unique therapies like acupuncture and herbal medicine, my task is also to inform and educate on methods of self-care that are connected, sustainable, and effective.

That’s why I am so excited about Harlem Chi’s “Healer Within” Spring Reboot program. Last year we explored in depth these profound connections and correlations and worked through creating the mindset needed to successfully adopt lifestyle changes that honor this philosophy.

“The Healer Within Spring Reboot…was just what I needed right when I needed it!” explained one of our participants, whom I’ll refer to as T.M. “I’ve long been over the yo-yo dieting and short-fixes, but I was having trouble tapping into my own wisdom and resolve to execute a sustainable lifestyle change. I was clearly in need of some structure, support, and accountability, and I received all three through this program.

I loved the ‘East meets West’ holistic approach, tuning in to the mind, body, and spirit in a woman-centered group. While I dropped pounds — yay! — I learned to move beyond the scale and focus on increased energy levels, better mood and fewer mood swings, radiant skin, a sense of calm, deeper connection to others, etc.”

Indeed the program sought to explore as a group the far more important connections we should be aware of each time we decide to communicate with nature by putting food in our bodies – the energetics of food being far more determinative of the “medicine” it delivers.

In addition, T.M. said that the program especially helped with motivation that encouraged continuing to make positive lifestyle changes.

“I learned to slow down a bit (really hard to do here in NYC) and to make more mindful choices; so much of what I was doing and eating was out of habit, fatigue, and stress/emotions. Now, I feel empowered with some tools and strategies to succeed moving forward,” T.M. said. “Hopefully, the mind shift continues to propel me toward more positive changes and feeling whole again. I received many compliments during the six weeks, but one of my favorites was recently when my massage therapist told me that my energy was more awake. Yes, awake, that’s how I feel!”

Helping people like T.M. feel better and improve their health is amazing, and I look forward to another year of healthful connection with you in 2017! I am hard at work refining this year’s program, which will begin in April. (Sign-up here if you want more information about the program as it becomes available.) Here’s to starting our own “One Straw ‘Health’ Revolution” right in our own community — starting with our bodies!


Johanne Picard-Scott
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