Skyclad Therapy and a Skyclad Healing Retreat

Tiredness isn’t always about something physical.

The blue armoire with my backpack resting above it is a suitable backdrop for the looking at the feeling of being worn out by life. It is as though the baggage we carry with us as we go through life gets lifted off of our shoulders only to be place above our heads where we have little we can do to shift that weight to a more manageable position. The baggage never does go away, All that we can do is come to terms with the baggage and become stronger, strong enough to carry that baggage comfortably so that it doesn’t overwhelm us. That is the goal of most psycho-therapeutic engagements.

I am a psychotherapist as most of my readers already know. I am doing the research into how to use  nudity as part of a healing journey in a therapeutic environment. As I see it the environment would use gentle stretching exercise [yoga], meditation, massage, art therapy, sand tray play, group dream work, and group investigation of fairy tales that expose the archetypal core of the human self-development journey. All these components would be done while nude. Perhaps this would be structured into a four-day weekend or a week-long event [seven to ten days]. The environment would necessarily be in a retreat centre in some sort of rural setting.

I don’t see this as a counselling-therapy model as there are too many factors involved that would make for complications in therapist-client relationship. I do see that it doesn’t prohibit a therapist leading sections of the activities in which the client is part of a larger group. How this would all be able to come about is yet unknown. At this time, I could only see this working as a life-coaching retreat rather than as a licensed-psychotherapy retreat.

With this as an idea, I am interested in what you, my readers have to say.

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Threats to the Status Quo

Facebook friendly nudity – pretend there are no genitals.

Yes, no genitals are in evidence. So what does that say about the image? It’s not like I have placed a censor strip over the genitals to play games with social media which invites one to do all manner of stupidity to beat the system. Was there an operation to indicate a gender shift? No, it’s just a matter of pose. And perhaps it is also a psychological statement by the photographer or the person photographed [in this case, both the same person].

Board shorts – disguising the fact of gender.

It’s not really any different from the wearing of clothing that similarly removes the idea of sexuality and gender such as board shorts. Bikini brief swimwear accentuates the hidden presence of genitals. For women, this is very acceptable and appreciated. After all, society likes nothing more than sexy women. For a man, it’s a different story. Ridicule and disgust are the typical responses in North America. It is much more appropriate to wear swimwear like board shorts, and preferably with another pair of shorts beneath them to reinforce the idea and the fact that the disguise works.

There is no doubt that North Americans are phobic about male genitals. The sight of them incites anger, hatred, fear, loathing, and disgust. Any male that dares to allow a hint of a penis to show in fact or in outline, is automatically viewed as a threat to the moral compass of North Americans.

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Selfies – Nourishment For The Naked Soul

Emma as a selfie

Emma was kind enough to send me a “selfie” she took in the not-too-distant past. Like many naturists or nudists, she takes selfies to record her life unclothed. I am no different. I also record my life sans vêtements. So what is it that has us turn to the mirror to take these selfies, or to use the delayed timer with a phone or tablet propped up to get an image? Is it simply just a record of “self” that fringes on narcissism? Or, is it curiosity? Or, in my case, is it a deliberate attempt to peer at myself in hopes of discovering something more about who I am? For most of us taking these nude images, I imagine that it is a mixture of curiosity and deliberate study.

The shadowy side of self.

We discover more about who we are through examination of the images we see of ourselves through the eyes of others. There is so much about ourselves that is unknown to ourselves. We often fool ourselves thinking we know and we are in control of who we are. But lurking beneath the skin and the ego, is a shadowy self, a stranger that confuses us. We know that the shadow side exists as we hear from others about ourselves, aspects of ourselves to which we are blind. Psychology tells us that what bothers us most about others is more about the shadows within us that are reflected in others, like a selfie in the mirror.

Knowing this, it should be easy to simply say, “Okay, enough is enough with these damned photos!” But, that’s easier said than acted upon. These naked images of ourselves are proofs that we aren’t locked in the prisons of personae that we live in the outer world. As time goes by, we record the changes and use them to reassure ourselves that we are on the right path to self-awareness, self-discovery. Okay, so maybe this is all so much psycho-babble and there is no legitimate reason for so many of us to take and store these images in our archives, sharing them with others we learn to trust, who have learned to trust us. But, I doubt it. This is real, this is deep, and it is a rich source of nourishment for the naked soul.

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The Accidental Alchemyst – Part 1

The archetypes – twelve masculine and twelve feminine presences in each human.

Forward

Jacques banged on the oak table with a repeated hammering as he tried to get the attention of the assembly gathered in the attic. There were at least twenty-four of them in attendance at the meeting – twelve men and twelve women. Trying to get any of them to pay attention was next to impossible. Each one in the group saw themselves as the most important member present and believed that the others should attend to them as though at the foot of a guru.

Jacques stood above the assembly and went silent. As others began to sense Jacques’ presence glowing and radiating to touch all of them, a quietness began to descend. He glared at each of them for the briefest of moments. His piercing eyes told them who the true boss was in the gathering, like a principal staring down a bunch or rebellious high-school students. Then, his face became one that was lined with centuries of age and wisdom, the face of a man who has seen too much and lived too long.

“We need to get started,” he spoke when a rare silence finally filled the small room at the top of the house. “We need to make this happen now or we will lose him. We have lost too many souls to the darkness. The idea has been planted in his head to begin his journey.

Nodding to Sidd, Jacques continued, “Sidd has used his skills to have our subject believe that the idea of a pilgrimage was his own. We have been debating this long enough. It is time to now act. Since we can’t overwhelm the subject with all twenty-four of us, only a small company of us can accompany him on hispilgrimage. Here are the ones who will make the journey with our subject: Sidd, Akka, Mark, Freya, Marinya, and Gabe.”

Taking a deep breath before continuing and looking again at each of the assembled group, Jacques continued, “Of course, I can’t compel anyone here to leave well enough alone with the plan. However, I do hope that if you make an appearance while the pilgrimage is in play that you won’t get in the way of group’s goal, the goal that all twenty-four of us have agreed upon. We must … must not lose his soul.”

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Friendship – An I-Thou Relationship

Simon and Emma.

Sometimes it is so simple. Friends are just that, friends. Emma is my friend and a friend to countless others in face-to-face life and cyber life. The only expectation that one has of friends is that they are “friendly.” They don’t owe us anything nor do we owe them. Until there is an issue of trust being breached, all is good.

It doesn’t matter that one risks being naked with a friend, for friendship isn’t dependent upon what one wears or doesn’t wear. Could you imagine some sort of “rule” that defined friendship as dependent upon wearing a certain brand of clothing? I have friends who are clothed, and others that are naturists. Some of my clothed friends in my day-to-day, face-to-face life, have seen me naked (well more that you would think, especially when I add in the poetry books with nude images). They didn’t stop being friends when they happened to see me in my yard or in my house without clothing being worn. Friendship is tied to something that is intrinsic to one’s inner presence being seen because we dare to be authentic people with others whom we come to accept as authentic.

Martin Buber called it an “I-Thou” relationship.

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Whose Responsibility is it?

I’ve been having a discussion regarding the idea being responsibility for other people’s thoughts and feelings. Our society pays lip service to the notion that we all must own our own thoughts and feelings. But in truth, the reality is much, much different. For some reason, call it insecurity and self-doubt, we believe others when they tell us we are responsible for their anger, their sadness, their happiness, their very life. With the exception of being responsible as parents to care for our children until they can care for themselves, this is not even remotely true.

If I, as an adult male, smile at a child (I am a grandfather and father and not a paedophile), the child invariably smiles back. I didn’t do anything but smile. Yet somehow, if the child cries (what wound has the child suffered?) I somehow am responsible for that response. Why did the child cry when a hundred others smiled in return? If I am to believe that I am responsible for the tears and the smiles with the same action, logic gets thrown out the window.

How you respond to any stimulus is your responsibility. Of course, since most of those responses are unconscious responses based on complexes that grew out of your adaptation to life, it becomes easy to understand why you would blame others for your feeling responses. Society is nothing but a collective of this individual unconscious response, magnified. And it shows up in our laws, in our phobias, in our responses to others who appear different, behave different, think different, pray differently, and even eat different foods cooked in strange ways. These others become our scapegoats the ones we blame for our own fear and confusion. The last person we would expect to be responsible for our bad behaviours towards others would be ourselves.

“She deserved to get raped. Did you see what she was wearing?” We blame the victim. If a child suffers abuse, we still have a hard time with the child turning his or her parent in to the authorities. In the end, the child gets blamed for ripping the family apart. If a man gets raped, he is to blame for not having the balls to stand up for himself. He is punished for being weak.

And finally for this post, this last image spells it out clearly. Somebody is at fault and it sure as hell isn’t us. [Yes, this was said with a bit of sarcasm]

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Between Sunshine and Showers

A pause between torrential downpours.

Yes, it’s been that kind of day. The walk along the beach typically ends with a swim in the sea. Today, the gathering clouds had me decide to skip the swim after walking for just over two hours. I made it back in time to avoid the downpour. When it passed, it was time for me to spend an hour or so on the rewrite of my novel in the outdoor shade. No sooner had I completed a task that I had set for myself when another downpour had me retreat indoors. There’s no point in having the laptop get rained on.

Lunch and again I was able to get out for a few moments of sunshine on my lounge chair. It was soaking wet, but since I didn’t have to worry about getting my clothing wet, it wasn’t a problem. But then it decided to rain again. I had planned on getting out for an hour or so of sunbathing, but the weather continued to tease, alternating between sun and being drenched. And now, I’ve given up on that idea and have returned to writing. It has been a good day.

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A Gift of Self in the Form of Art

A gift of self in the form of art

It’s Christmas Day. I spoke with my son and grandson via the computer this morning and learned all about the best Christmas morning ever that began hours too early for my son. It was a good thing that there is a bit of time-zone difference as I was more awake for the video call in which I got to see my grandson operate new toys and make his father play-dough ice cream cones. When the call was done, and breakfast was over, I took time for my morning meditation on the stoop that leads into our kitchen from the back garden.

With meditation done, I took this photo (well the photo that served as the source file) just so that I would have a photo for the day, a naturist photo. I have been able to do this for most days since we’ve arrived. However, this is the first time that I had “edited” the day’s photo. I guess it was my Christmas gift of art to myself. My mood was positive, if a bit tired from a late night with other “gringos” here in Mexico, an evening which featured a bit too much wine, games, and off-tune karaoke by the late hangers-on well after Christmas Eve had turned into Christmas Day.

It is now just about time to eat our midday meal before heading out into some unexpected sunshine to walk the beach. Hopefully today we won’t find a downpour that pelts us as we race back to our Mexican studio as happened yesterday. It’s a good Christmas.

Wishing each of you Joyeux Noel and Feliz Navidad!

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It’s the Day Before Christmas

Morning coffee on Christmas Eve in our Mexican garden.

We’ve been in Mexico for just over two weeks and already I feel some of the excess weight that comes with less activity with early winter on the prairies (considered to begin with the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in mid-October. Not only a drop in weight, but my colour is beginning to return. The tan line is due to my bikini swimming briefs necessary for strolling on a public beach. I have begun to use a beach location at distance from the busy public beaches for some sunbathing so that I can eliminate the tan lines.

It’s the day before Christmas and we walked to shop for wine, gift chocolates and a baguette in the neighbouring village of La Colonia, a three kilometre walk one way. We are heading out for a Christmas party with other snowbirds and expats for the evening. We will get our share of Christmas decorations, wine, and snacks with about two dozen others. Tomorrow we will head out for a Christmas dinner to include turkey, at a local beach side restaurant. It is truly strange as we are used to snow, our own Christmas tree and house decorations, Christmas socials with neighbours and family. But we’re in Mexico and this is just as valid as a way to celebrate Christmas.

A few years ago, we spent four Christmas seasons in China where we both taught at a university. Imagine classes scheduled for Christmas Day. It worked for us as we did Skype our children and grandchildren so that we could share, at distance, their Christmas stories. We had our first such exchange yesterday evening and expect more tonight and tomorrow as there is very little time difference to consider making it much easier than from China.

I don’t know if there will be a post tomorrow, so I’ll wish all of my readers Merry Christmas.

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Mexican Morning with Coffee

Waking up with a cup of coffee

Awake to a day where time seems to shift. I’ve entered into a realm I once knew as the future, yet I am still in the present as far as my consciousness is concerned. So the illusion of “yesterday” and the mindfield I found myself caught up in has vanished into some sort of magical place called the past. Now my mind has a different relationship to myself, a kinder relationship. If I didn’t know better, I would say that there is magic behind all of this.

As I walked the beach beside my wife late this morning, the sea continued being as I have known it, voicing its presence as it washes ashore broken bits of seaweed and debris. The sand beneath my bare feet shifted between my footfalls and it wasn’t long before there is no visible trace of my passage. Ahead of me and behind me the shore creates a scene that isn’t dependent upon me. In moments, it is as if I hadn’t existed as far as the sea and the sandy shore erases, shifts, realigns and does so again and again, even when I am not walking on the shore. Permanence and impermanence.

I look inside of myself and find the same rhythmic movements occurring. What I have defined as myself changes as soon as I have tried to contain that self. The only thing that is permanent for now is a name I have been given and a somewhat solid container called my body, which if truth be told, is never the same from one breath to the next.

Yet more confusing is how my mind wraps itself around the belief in identity and self-definition. Like the hours, days, and years that have passed, I exist as “me.” I drink coffee, I sleep and I waken, and who or whatever I am, I am authentically human. Beneath clothing, beneath persona – I exist.

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