Toward a Philosophy of Natural Living
This is an excerpt from Ron Schmid’s new book, Primal Nutrition.
Ronald F. Schmid, N.D., a licensed naturopathic physician, is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. He has taught at all four accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States and is the former clinic director and chief medical officer at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. He is the author of the The Untold Story of Milk. His company, Dr. Ron’s Ultra-Pure, makes additive-free food supplements and natural body care products. In 2015 Ron retired after 35 years in private practice. He and his wife Elly have a small farm in rural Connecticut, where they play tennis and walk the country roads around their home.
As a child, I loved animal stories, especially those by a turn-of-the-century chronicler of the Indians and wildlife of North America, Ernest Thompson Seton. Years later, as a young adult, I rediscovered these words of Seton in a little book entitled The Gospel of the Red Man: “The culture of the Red man is fundamentally spiritual; his measure of success is, ‘How much service have I rendered my people.’” I’ve tried to keep those few words in mind over the years.
My studies of the work of Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychiatrist, scholar, and founder of analytical or depth psychology, have been at the heart of my efforts toward self-knowledge and personal growth. Psychotherapy is part of the training of naturopathic physicians, and I have always incorporated psychotherapeutic work into my practice. In the words of Jung, the work of psychotherapy is “the healing of souls.”
And what is this “healing of souls”? No less than coming to satisfactory terms with the vastness of the unconscious forces that drive our lives from within. The depth psychology of Carl Jung and the men and women who have followed his pioneering path provides us with the means for understanding this undertaking.
The lives and work of Carl Jung and Weston Price parallel and complement each other in an extraordinary way. Both men were born in the 1870s and spent their lives seeking to understand fundamental forces that operate in the lives of people everywhere to determine health and well-being. Price, as we have seen, sought an understanding of the biological laws that determine physical development and health. Jung, meanwhile, by combining his encyclopedic knowledge of anthropology, history, religion, philosophy, and mythology with his understanding of psychotherapeutic processes, investigated and ultimately discovered forces in the human psyche that make us the individual psychic beings we are. His discoveries in the psychic realm were equally as profound and far-reaching as Price’s in the physical—and as little understood and appreciated.
Together, the work of these two great men provides a basis for understanding how a person must be if one is to find health of both body and spirit and truly make the most of one’s time on Earth. Price and Jung have given us blueprints for living and specific recommendations based on a marvelous understanding of all that has come before us.
People of earlier cultures developed highly accurate prescriptions for living satisfying and healthy lives, lives generally untroubled by the depression, loneliness, and personal turmoil that mark so many lives today. From native people, from men and women who studied and lived among them, and from healers who have understood, followed, and taught nature’s laws, we have had passed on to us certain truths about food, attitudes, and ways of life. This wisdom, some of which I have tried to incorporate into this book, may help us to live in relative health and happiness, despite the turmoil we see about us.
“Most men,” Winston Churchill once wrote, “occasionally stumble over the Truth, but most pick themselves up and continue on as if nothing had happened.”
Information is of little value until and unless it leads to action. Developing one’s own philosophy of natural living can only come with attempts to live by principles judged reasonable. Choice must be followed by commitment and by a willingness to work hard on our inner lives and learn from others. The reward may be the development of one’s sense of being, of one’s own unique and satisfying way of coping with the complexities of this often chaotic modern world in which we sometimes find ourselves lost.
It is this search for understanding—of myself and my world, of my gods and my demons, both within and without—that I live for; and out of the understanding comes a capacity for love, for relatedness. Carl Jung called the search the quest for individuation—that process by which the unconscious is integrated into the conscious personality, enabling a person to become a separate, indivisible unity or “whole,” a single, homogeneous being, self-realized, able to embrace his or her “innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness.”
In the spirit that all’s well that ends with a light-hearted smile, I offer up my top ten health secrets.
10. Exercise is overrated. My favorite workout is a thirty-minute walk, preferably in the sun, so I can then say, “Hey, I worked up a sweat!”
9. Take up a sport that’s fun and gets you outside. I love tennis. My second favorite workout is a set or two of doubles, followed by a nap.
8. Sometimes just the nap will do. A nap is a beautiful thing, especially on a weekday.
7. Want to lose weight? Eat animals and plants. Give up grains and legumes.
6. Dogs and cats make you feel good. Bigger animals make you work hard, and sometimes step on your feet.
5. Speaking of animals, whenever you start thinking you’re the cat’s meow, watch out for the Rottweiler about to bite your butt.
4. Whatever Mom and Dad did right, love them for it. Whatever they did wrong, get over it. You’re the boss now.
3. Your great-grandmother knew more about health and nutrition than your doctor. Start channeling her.
2. Wisdom may come with years, but that’s not a lock. Humility is the beginning of wisdom. There’s no fool like an old fool. Change now before it’s too late.
1. Nobody ever said on their deathbed, “I shoulda worked more.” Make friends, have fun. You only go through once, and you can’t take it with you.
To read more from Ron Schmid, please check out his latest book, Primal Nutrition.