Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wellness Activity 7: Gardening

I know I've written on this topic before, but for me, gardening maintenance is one of the best wellness activities there is. The odd thing is that my husband cares more about buying plants and flowers and planting them. What I enjoy is weeding, and trimming shrubs and bushes. We have a gardener as well so I don't have to mow the lawn, but I just love being outside with my hands in the dirt.

I know that the sun is an important healing element for me. Weeding is kind of a Zen-like thing. I don't think about anything but what I'm doing and it's total concentration. I'd probably be healthier if we lived in a more rural area. In fact, I'm fairly sure I never would have gotten ill if we owned a John Deere tractor and I could ride around acreage, cut down trees, and chop wood.

I must tell you that outdoor activities and exercise are far more appealing to me than yoga and meditation, which is what I've been reading about. Last night, I spent two hours online trying to find a yoga studio and a place to go for meditation, and the more I searched, the worse I felt. Maybe it's just because I live in Los Angeles--where everyone is a self-promoter--but the idea of seeing Zen masters on U-Tube was a real turn-off. To me, spirituality is a more quiet--less promotional kind of activity. But that's just me!


Tony C. said...

Hi Susan,

Im so glad your back. I too have picked up after a pretty black week.

I too find gardening helps me. Somehow when I'm getting my fingers grubby scrabbling around in the dirt and feeling at one with nature the world feels a better place. The planting of seeds and waiting and watching them grow is a simple but beautiful pleasure. The rhubarb I have cared for over the winter has sprung back to life and means that spring is round the corner, and sunshine will be with us soon.
This year its white and yellow carrots, white beetroot, land cress, alpine strawaberries, beans, radish and lettuce.

Thanks for mentioning me in your thanks too, although its me that should be thanking you for brightening my life from the other side of the world. Thank you, and God Bless.

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. said...

Dear Susan,

You speak from my heart - gardening is my favorite, too. And I share your suspicion of zen gurus.

Gardening works because it brings us outside and in contact with Nature. The sun plays a role, and so does fresh air and the ionization near water (especially the ocean).

One time a had a "full thickness tear" of my rotator cuff. Medical experts recommended surgery (don't ask me what stupid thing I did to get it...). I refused. Instead I weeded the garden. And that movement healed my shoulder. Took one and a half year. But now there is no disability left.

We need a bit of sun, daily. Now they have found out that sun prevents cancer. Just don't burn! So wear a hat and cover yourself up.

More natural health ideas in my book "Health20 - Tapping into the Healing Power of Water," McGraw Hill 2007.

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Glad to hear that you're doing okay. I've been concerned about you with your change in medication I am glad to hear from you. Your garden makes me feel like I should be doing more. And maybe I will.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Alexa,
Thanks for writing and for responding to my post in Roanne's blog! Actually, I think it's amazing that you "cured your rotator cuff" with gardening. Although I've written before about the benefits of horticultural therapy, I've never heard about it being applied in quite that way.

And since my depression has a seasonal element, I do know how important the sun is.

I'll check out your book--thanks for letting me know about it.


Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. said...

Dear Susan,

I chanced on this citation from "Inner Gardening: A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace" by Diane Dreher:

"One study of older women noted for their energy and accomplishment revealed that all of them loved gardening."

Haven't read the book yet - but I love the title and the citation. I just hope she doesn't want to exchange thinking about gardening for the REAL THING!


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Alexa,
Thanks for letting me know about the citation. I, too, will check it out. I appreciate the info.