I’m actually not very into health. Because in our modern-world, we define health as “the absence of disease.” It’s this utopian dream that is entirely unreachable in a flawed and fallen world. More than that, our system of “healthcare” has degraded into a system for disease-management. And for that reason, I’ve tired of the term, “health.” One has to be somewhat brazen to say something that radical. And so I am.
So if I’m not into health, why am I a doctor, and why do I coach my patients on how to better care for their bodies? Because I am passionate about wellness.
“In my practice, wellness is tangible – like an art form. I would go so far as to say that wellness is art. And it comes from the Hand of the Creator – the Ultimate Artist.”
His canvas is open in my pasture. In the early mornings, I wake with the cows and walk the pasture. All the while, I experience aspects of wellness: eyes to take in the pasture scene. A nose that smells the grass. Feet that can confidently walk through it. My breakfast digested well and my joints don’t hurt. I have enough energy and mental clarity to succeed in my work today. This energy came not from caffeine or a bottle of prescription drugs. It came from the pasture – from the meat and milk of the grazing cattle enhanced by the life-giving rays of the sun. This is wellness, and I can feel it. And so I go from my pasture to my chiropractic table. While I work, I can hear the bellow of happy cows on green grass. All day long, I converse with and lay hands on my patients – chiropractically directing their bodies towards better alignment, and coaching their tendencies towards better nutrition, thus, improving their wellness.
“In my pasture, in my practice, and in my body, I feel practice the art of wellness. And I know that good art is an experience.”
On the other hand, healthcare today has become a mechanical checklist. It hit me the day when I went with my mother-in-law to her doctor’s appointment. At the beginning of the appointment, she carefully reported the medications she was using. The nurse dutifully entered them into the computer system, and for each drug, there was a dropdown list of options. She selected options, and clicked through the case. It was entirely generic, mechanistic, if you will. At the end of the appointment, the checklist was complete. Like so many other patients that day, her drugs were lined out in a supposedly improved way, suggested and guided by the dropdown lists.
Really? There’s a good way to lose the joy of the journey. No wonder so many people are on anti-depressants to counter their anti-depressants. So do you feel tired? Burned out? Disinterested in tackling the duties of the day? Perhaps your “health” is mechanical and intangible.
Because in modern healthcare, we’ve lost tangibility. We’re disconnected from the things that give us life – nature and the pasture. And truly, we’re all searching to reestablish that connection with nature – God’s art canvas. Why does the epitome of a western cowboy stir the heart of a young boy? Why do urban dwellers plant flowers? Why do people vacation in the country? Cowboys and businessmen alike know this: we come from the soil, and someday, our bodies will return to the soil.
“I submit that in pursuing the God’s creation of the pasture, we can restore our connection to the soil, and thus, our connection to our wellness.”
So what does that mean? Wellness is practicing the art of living from the soil up – and allowing nature to affect your daily habits – how you eat – did you chew, did you digest, and did you know the farmer that your food came from? Have you rested? Have you breathed? Have you felt sunshine on your face? And more… All of that is tangible.
If I tried to define wellness more, I would reach for words like vitality, strength, “spring in the step,” light in one’s eyes, joy, and good feelings produced by properly performed bodily functions of digestion, assimilation, excretion, respiration, reproduction, and more. You can touch and feel all of those things. When they work together in the symphony God created them to, they encompass wellness. And wellness is art. There’s a realness to it that can’t be forged.
It’s an art form that’s all encompassing, yet specific – the principles of free-range living, and how free-range living applies to YOU. It’s general – back to the principles, and it’s razor sharp – your individual case. As I work with my patients, I have learned that if I can convey principles of wellness, my patients will be on the road to finding small definitive areas where they need specific work and fine-tuning.
It will include rough spots as well as high spots but that is all a part of the journey. In the end, our journey of wellness will culminate in ultimate health – something that God has promised in Heaven. Thus, we will not reach that ultimate health unless we have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and finished our days on earth for Him.
Then, with the life that He gifts to us, we have the hope of ultimate health in Heaven, and we are free to pursue the journey of wellness on earth. To that end we work, we pray, and we practice. After all, wellness is art. And to master any art form, practice is key.
– Dr. Michael