Learning The Vis from Coco

The Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the healing power of nature, is at the core of naturopathic philosophy.  This power, present in all living things, is the blueprint for optimal health and well-being.

In naturopathy, sickness is a result of an obstacle to the natural flow of the vis.  To obtain perfect health we must only identify and remove these blockages and then our body, with its inherent healing power, will take care of healing itself.  The truth (or Truth – with a capital T) of this theory is made apparent to me when I observe my dog, Coco, as he goes about his daily life.

Right now, Coco is barking at me, holding a toy in his mouth and wants me to play.  This has been a busy week for me and I haven’t had the chance to take him for his weekly run through the High Park leash free area, where he can run through trails and explore things buried in the woods.  When Coco doesn’t get the opportunity to burn off his energy in this way he becomes excessively hyper, as if his body knows it needs to expend the extra energy, that it won’t have another chance to otherwise.

Coco recognizes when he’s tired, when he would rather lounge in the sun or when it’s appropriate to run in wild circles around the living room coffee table (this stunt has earned him the title “El Coco Loco”).  He knows when he’s hungry and will eat just enough to feel satisfied before he becomes bored with his food, takes a sip of water, and finds something else to do.  His connection to his body is ever present and his mind, emotions and physical well-being are in constant communication with one another.  He intuitively knows exactly what he has to do in order to preserve his state of health.

If we want to observe vitality at its purist we only need to look to our furry, four-legged friends.  Even domesticated animals seem to be far more in touch with the vis than some of the most active humans are.  Perhaps it’s because of the fact that even domestic pets don’t experience the stress and lack of downtime or connection to nature that so many of us do. It could be that we’re over-stimulated by electronics, visual media, drugs and alcohol or processes foods.  It could be due to the lessons we’re taught from a young age to ignore our animal instincts.  In school, when we grew restless from sitting all day we were told to “sit still and be quiet!”  Now we ignore our natural urges to perform the equivalent of Coco’s “coffee-table run” as we simply stretch our legs, order another double-double from Tim Horton’s and continue on with our work.

Coco serves as a constant reminder of the importance of interpreting what my body is communicating to me when I experience a migraine, abdominal bloating, or feel excessively lethargic, anxious or emotionally down.  These feelings of imbalance challenge me to identify the blockages my unnatural lifestyle may have created that are obstructing the work of the vis.  They motivate me to ask myself what can be done to remove the obstructions and to reconnect with nature and its inherent healing power.  However, most of all, remembering the vis reminds me that obtaining optimal health is really as simple as listening to the subtle messages from our bodies and responding to them appropriately, letting the healing power of nature do the rest.


7 thoughts on “Learning The Vis from Coco

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