Why Am I a Naturist, a Nudist?

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It all began in darkness, when depression became a matter of life and death.

Now that I have started to re-approach nudity as therapy in the container I will continue to call, Nude Psychology, I find that I need to explain something very important – Why? Why nudity? And the only way I can do this honestly is to speak of my own roots, my own initial experiences. Everything grows out of those early years. I have posted most of what follows below more than once, in more than one forum.

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The sky is wild this morning. One minute it is dark with ominous clouds flying by as if they are on a freeway, and the next minute there is glorious sunshine. And the speed at which this is all happening makes the mind swirl. The wind has been blowing all night following a long period of rain yesterday late afternoon and all evening, and is still blowing strong creating whitecaps and pounding waves along the shoreline. Sometimes nature serves as a good metaphor for what is happening within one’s psyche. I know that in today’s case, it is quite the mirror.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

I didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t because of the rain or the wind. Rather, it all had to do with the stirring of shadow contents within, stuff that lies below the surface of my awareness. I was asked why I was a naturist, why I needed to be naked when the rest of the world, the civilized world was doing well with their clothing on. I wasn’t able to give a satisfactory answer nor did I think that there could be a satisfactory answer in terms of having another person who is not a naturist, understand and accept. Of course, saying that, I open myself to the possibility of being very wrong. I don’t really have an excuse for not finding the words to answer this question, even if it is just for myself.

Because of my long involvement with depth psychology, I knew that the answers did exist, somewhere deep within my psyche. So this morning, I opened up the door to the question during my time for meditation which then lasted longer than usual. It was essential to let the question stew for a while, allow the contents within to become stirred up in the darkness of the unconscious. Later in the morning, after sitting for a while in silence with my morning coffee, not actually thinking but also not banishing thinking, I went for a long, two hour walk along the beach. I refused to force an answer but I also left an opening as if an opening in the clouds, for whatever needed to come to consciousness to have an entry.

As a child I was sexually abused, emotionally abused, physically abused in my family of origin by my biological parents. The sexual abuse extended to include my maternal grandfather and more than one parish priest. I was a docile child, the eldest of a large group of children. It was my job, the expectation that I came to embrace that I was there to please others, to take care of others, to put others before myself. I forgave my parents before they both passed away, enough years before their death so that I would be able to include them in my own children’s lives as grandparents. It also gave them time to acknowledge their part in my wounding – but that never came to be.

The patterns learned in early childhood that continued through to a few years after I was married with children of my own carried over into how I interacted within the family in which I was husband and father. It carried over into my career as an educator, coach and then as counsellor to students, staff and people within my community. I was well trained to put myself behind me and do my utmost best to be a good father, a good husband, brother-in-law, coach, neighbour. This is a story I knew well, one that I wrestled with through midlife and my own course of psychoanalysis. But where does this almost primal urge to naturalism come from?

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

It was soon after the sexual abuse from my grandfather, the last time I was sexually abused as a youth, that I found myself in a quiet meadow in a nearby small forest with a book of poetry. It was a warm late spring day, about six months following this last incidence. Feeling the warmth of the sun and feeling the words of classical poetry, I soon found myself naked. Over the next two years, my last two years at home, I took every opportunity, weather permitting to hide in this forest and meadow in order to be free.

Leaving home, I found other opportunities, especially the opportunity of sleeping in the nude, to recapture this sense of freedom. A job at the other end of the country found me enjoying social nudity in swimming pools and saunas with my co-workers, other young adults. The exhilaration of  body freedom acted as a sort of barrier that banished my history of being abused.

Alone in nature

Yet now, the pull to nudity is again strong so I look to these roots and it dawned on me that it is being nude where I claim control of my body, control of my identity, control of my sexuality. My body is not about pleasing others, making life easier for others. Do I remove body hair or make sure it is groomed for my own sense of well-being, or do I allow the needs of others dictate what I do or don’t do with my body hair? It comes down to control. Am I in control or do I defer control to someone else?

Now, in my sixties, I am saying this is my body and I will care for it, and my identity, and my psyche as best I can. I will not be a child and give control to another. I am a man, not a child victim continuing to seek approval, seeking to please others while disregarding my self.

I wonder if this is an answer, or just the beginning of an answer?

Bits of Flotsam in a Naturist Life

The knee is getting better, allowing me to use a modified lotus position.

It’s been a busy time for me since my last post. When I have time for my computer, it has been primarily focused on the writing for NoNaWriMo 2018. As of this post, the first 12 days of November have seen me write 34,000 words. I have no worries about making it to 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Manitou Lake – Canadian version of the Dead Sea – from my hotel window.

On a different note, I have managed to begin walking in the countryside with more confidence in my knee. The past two times out I have walked 4 kilometres for each hike without stressing the knee. With that positive experience, I stretched it out to 5.7 km this morning with no adverse effects. I did, however, inadvertently twist the knee while dancing last Friday night in a dance hall by Manitou Lake. It worried me a little, but the time spent in the mineral hot pools quickly gave me relief allowing me to enjoy two days spent with extended in-law families.

On Saturday I will be heading to a nearby community to sell books at a craft and small-business trade fair. It will be the first such adventure for me that is filled with hope that I will be able to sell a few more books, the last time for 2018.

Morning Reflections on Nudity in Images

Pre-dawn

As with most mornings, I sit with my wife on the love seat in our living room, slowly waking up with fresh-ground coffee in our mugs. This morning, my head was swirling with scenes that could become part of my latest naturist novel. But it wasn’t just the novel that vied for my attention.

Yesterday, I sent out a tweet that bemoaned the inundation of images that purported to be naturist images. Of course, I am used to this phenomenon of men posting images of beautiful, trim and slim young women in all sorts of poses. Maybe the women were naturists, but the intent of the men tweeting the images was not about naturism.

I received the latest copy of AANR’s magazine called, The Bulletin. I had left the magazine on the kitchen table and my wife reacted to the image on the back cover, another “beautiful young thing” in all her glory in an advertisement for a nude cruise. The magazine was advertising the nude cruise for whom? The advertisement was selling a product using sex appeal. Now, how many women would resist booking such a trip, especially women of a certain age.

Of course, single men would buy a ride on the boat hoping that the promise of catching the attention of the “beautiful young thing.” But the problem is, very few single men belong to AANR, which is predominantly a club focused entity; and you typically can’t belong to a club when you are a single man. So, why did AANR accept the ad the way it was designed. I mean, the advertisement could have featured a man and/or a woman that didn’t look as if they were models.

Nude images are fraught with problems for the person captured in the image, and for the photographer, the worst of which appears to be how the images are used by others for an intent that has nothing to do with the photographer’s intent. It irks me to no end when images are turned into objects of fantasising and then hashtagged as #naturism.

Alchemy and the Naked Transformation of the Inner Self

Negro – Stage One

I am bringing here, a series of blog posts that I wrote in 2013 that look at alchemy from a naturist and psychological point of view. While doing so, I will be editing my original words, something I hadn’t done at that time. The images are from the original posts. I have four images, well one image with four different presentations based on the four stages of alchemical transformation: Negredo, Albedo, Calcinitras, and Rubedo. I’m not going to bore you with all sorts of psycho-babble as my wife calls it. I want to simply talk about how naturism works its magic of healing, beginning with the body and reaching into the depths of the soul.

I accept that naturism allows a person to achieve a physical state that is in holistic and in balance with the earth. As well, naturism allows on to develop a healthier relationship with others and with oneself.  it is desirable that one looks for a psychological balance as well since we are as much spirit as we are body. I am not an alchemist. However, there is much in alchemy which allows me to better understand myself, allows me to remove all the layers that hide the essence of who I am. In a way, it is the mental version of stripping off my clothes to reveal the authentic core of who I am.

In following the model of alchemy from a Jungian psychology standpoint, the exposure to the naked self allows for a transformation at a conscious level. With that transformation, one is able to live more authentically, more aware in the world. Awareness, enlightenment – these are the goals, to become as fully aware as possible, aware of oneself, others, and the world. Now, to begin

The dark night of the soul, this is something that is intimately known by all who suffer depression, a place of darkness, a place of shadows from which we want to flee. This depression and darkness appears to be something “out there,” something to which we feel we are victims. Typically, we run like hell trying to escape, trying to hide from the darkness. Drugs, sex, money, work, new places, new hobbies, redecorating our homes, a new car, a new spouse: we try anything to banish that darkness. But, the darkness refuses to be banished. This is the dark night of the soul.

If we are like many others, we head to a doctor’s office for some pharmaceutical relief; or to a psychotherapist’s chair for some answers, some other strategies to banish the darkness. We do this only as a last resort knowing that if we don’t do something we will descend into insanity or commit suicide. It isn’t a pretty picture, but it is real.

“Alchemy announced a source of knowledge . . . It is harsh and bitter or like vinegar, for it is a bitter thing to accept the darkness and blackness . . . and to pass through this valley of the shadow. It is bitter indeed to discover behind one’s lofty ideals narrow, fanatical convictions, all the more cherished for that, and behind one’s heroic pretensions nothing but crude egotism, infantile greed, and complacency. This is an unavoidable stage in every psychotherapeutic process . . . it begins with the nigredo . . .“ (Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, CW 14, paragraph346)

So, the pain of depression serves as an impetus to finally do something about the pain when all the other avenues prove fruitless. So, one enters into psychotherapy. However, before the work can even begin, there is a need to create a place for the work; a safe, even sacred place. Like a surgeon preparing for an operation, there is the need to build a sense of safety in the relationship as well as place. The therapist needs to become aware of the boundary limits (or lack thereof) of the person and to build a sense of trust in that person as well as to have the person enter into a trust relationship with the therapist.

As time goes by, the two begin to test each other, test the boundaries of safety. And when there is a sense of safety, the belief that the container of their relationship has become sacred in its own way, then the work may begin:

“In the early period of analysis, the primary work is the establishment of the boundary, the analytical temenos, in which the analysis is to take place.” (Hall, The Jungian Experience, p. 78)

There is real vulnerability for both therapist and the person entering into this work of depth psychology. It is as through the establishment of temenos, a safe and sacred space where one is safe enough to strip of their psychic layers, as if stripping off clothing in order to expose the wounds that have led to the therapists office.

“From a psychological standpoint, this stage is experienced as entering a dark and chaotic unconscious inner world. St John of the Cross has referred to this as the first of two dark nights, the dark night of the mind, which is an encounter with the darker aspects of our self (that which Jung called “the shadow”). At first nothing appears to make sense, indeed all the therapist can do at this stage of the process is to be fully present and empathise with the client, who in the process of articulating their experience, facilitates it further.

During this part of the work, the “client” tells his or her story as it is known and sensed by the ego, the clothed self, This telling is vital and it is enough for the therapist to listen and support without trying to fix anything.

The therapist tracks the appearance of complexes, contradictions, images and fears through the process of working with dreams, journaling, sand play, and other active imagination strategies. For the client, it almost feels that everything is getting worse as old sores are laid open, exposed to the light. It must be stated that the process doesn’t wait for all the shadows to be exposed. The shifting to the second stage, albedo begins when the therapist and client begin to tackle what has been exposed. Only so much darkness can be held at one time.

Naked and Vulnerable Even When Clothed

In the underworld of dreams

Sometimes there is a real need for darkness. Darkness is a place where we are the least sure of ourselves, and perhaps that is a good thing. Why do I say this? Well, more often than not, our ego gets in the way of our becoming wiser, more complete beings. In the darkness, we fall asleep and enter into a level of connection to something bigger than the boxes we put around the world and ourselves using our minds. In darkness, we give up control and the doors open to a universe beyond all of our imagining, a world within which we find ourselves at home – curious, isn’t it?

A suit of modern protective armour.

When we wake up to the light of a new day, when night is pushed away, we dismiss the dreams, the forebodings, the flying, the embracing of everything that is too absurd for our conscious mind to accept. We know better, or so we try to convince ourselves. And so, we arm ourselves to do daily battle with the outer world, encase ourselves in protective armour whether that be a business suit or other uniform that validates ourselves as “one of them.”

Sleep – a time when the self wanders free of the mind’s control.

When we are asleep in the night, we are naked whether our bodies are clothed or covered with blankets and sheets. We find ourselves in scenes and scenarios where we are participants but not the author. We are unable to hide, even from ourselves. And exposed, we come to see the shadows that make us feel uncomfortable and uneasy. We come to realise that these shadows are other faces of ourselves, denied faces that rebel against being banished. In the night, while asleep, we are stripped of our ego, our conscious control.

What emerges is a rare kind of honesty which we dismiss when the light comes on moments after waking. In the light, we quickly put on our clothes to banish the lingering sense of vulnerability. But, we can’t cover up the gnawing sensation that we are still exposed, still vulnerable, and that life will discover our unease and unmask us as frauds. expose all of our warts, wrinkles, all the stains on our soul that lurk in the shadows waiting to erupt and embarrass us in the eyes of others in the world. No matter how many layers of clothing or makeup we put on, no matter whether there are designer labels or no-name brands of camouflage, we continue to feel naked, exposed, and vulnerable.

A Naked Writer and Winter

Wintry old weather, stormy old weather, when the wind blows we’ll all go together.

Yes, it’s snowing again. This isn’t the first such photo posted since the first of September. However, this time it appears that winter is here to stay until spring. Though it was afternoon when I took this photo, it was -1 Celsius with a wind chill of -10. Yes, it’s windy. The forecast is for falling temperatures and several days of sporadic snowfall thought the amount of snow isn’t expected to be overwhelming.

Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month. So far I have written more than 7,000 words of the 50,000 word target for November 30th. With the weather being what it is, I don’t imagine I will be tempted all that much to spend much of my time outdoors rather than at the keyboard.

Hopefully, she becomes one of my readers of naturist fiction.

As for what I am writing, it’s a mystery, even to me. Other than having already planned for a cast of characters and location for the story which is set in today’s world, that is about all I know.

I finished the revisions of the third book of my autobiography and it is now out to several Advance Copy Readers before I take the next step of publishing. If any of you wish to become one of these readers, just drop me a note here in the comments section and I will get right back to you. Now, it’s time to add in another few hundred words while there is still time today.

Naked Perfection Isn’t Found Out There

Art by David Joaquin

Sometimes I find images without looking for them, images that are powerful statements. This image to the left is the latest image that found a path through my thinking mind to reach deep into the core of my psyche, that place that we call “Soul.” The artist who created this masterpiece has many images that evoke the voices and stories of North American First Nations.

The image is powerful. The raven embraces the feminine, Mother Earth, as though to protect her.in the darkness with the shadows pressing. And, I am left with the question: Will he swallow the sun?

Adobe Photoshop Perfection

There is no doubt in my mind that we are hurting as a human race. We know that there is something wrong, but we aren’t exactly sure what it is that needs fixing in us as a people, and in the world in general. When we look in the mirror, we flinch and protest that this can’t really be who we are, this stranger in the mirror, especially when we are faced with our naked selves. Somehow, the internal images we have of ourselves don’t match what our eyes see. How do we solve this problem? Most often, we cover up the outer self, as well as engage in all manner of efforts to physically change what is seen in the mirror. Make-up, diets, exercise programs in expensive gyms, sunlamps, designer label clothing, tattoos and piercings, plastic surgery: the efforts to reshape and hide behind disguises attempt to hide the ugly truth that stares at us in the mirror. Yet, in spite of all the money, time and effort we devote to erase that ugly truth, we can’t unsee the self hidden from the eyes of others.. Life just isn’t fair.

Perfection has never been so simple

It isn’t just our bodies that are betraying us, we see that so many people around us are working overtime to convince us that we need to work harder and spend more money to become worthy humans, to be lovable. We try to convince each other that we are only worthy if we embrace the latest in everything.

Yet there are voices that would tell us that we are already beautiful and perfect. In spite of those closest to us who love us as we are and tell us that, we dismiss these affirmations of our outer and inner self. After all, regardless of the truth, we convince ourselves that they are obliged to affirm us in spite of our ugliness, our imperfections which we so desperately want to banish. We look out and see the images of perfection in all of our media. We see all those smart and fashionable people who seem to have what we are desperately seeking. And we become angry, especially with ourselves. We hate being defective, imperfect. And so we hide and deny as much about ourselves as we can.

What we need is what we can’t seem to give ourselves, a compassionate acceptance of our body, mind and soul.

Naturism – I Say Good and Society Says Bad

Why good people do bad things.

It has been a while since I have looked at James Hollis’ book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, so it just felt right to bring the book out from the shelf where it has lain idle.

Why? Well perhaps it has to do with the fact that being nude, even in one’s own yard, is doing something bad when it comes to the modern world. If this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be hiding in the back yard while nude. If nudity wasn’t “bad” from a societal perspective, I wouldn’t worry about being seen. Yet, there is a need to worry in my part of the world. It only takes one phone call to the local law enforcement agency to have the weight of the society deal with me “bad” behaviour.

Of course other naturists/nudists wouldn’t view my nudity as me doing something bad – maybe for some, my choice of place and time for nudity would be viewed as a bit controversial or risky given the environmental and societal conditions surrounding my nudity.

Getting back to the book, I found something in it that bears repeating here, a quotation that fits what I am talking about.

As children, we learn to “read” the world around us to find what is acceptable, what is dangerous. Many learned that matters of sexual character were not permissible in their family or religion, and so associated their own natural impulses and desires as something evil, or at best furtive and contaminated. [p. 205]

Nudity, in spite of all the noise made by naturists and nudists to the contrary, is sexual. One’s skin is the body’s largest sex organ and allowing oneself to free the skin from the constriction of clothing elicits a sensual presence to oneself. Sexual does not mean that being nude implies that one is on the verge of copulating with another person (willingly or unwillingly on their part). Sexual does mean that one’s sexuality is not disguised or denied as though that sexuality – bare skin, exposed genitals (overt or implied) – was indeed something to be ashamed of.

Toddlers exhibit a “natural” way of being when they lose their clothing to run freely in their “birthday suits.” We teach these toddlers that it is unacceptable to be natural in this manner. We, as a society teach our children based our beliefs that come from religion, societal prejudices, law, and our personal world of unconscious complexes.

Hollis goes on to explain further.

The by-product of our necessary collusion with the realpolitik of childhood vulnerability is guilt, shame,inhibition, and most of all, self-alienation. We all, still today, reenact these collusions, suffer this shame, and retreat from our wholeness. [ibid]

And here we find the hidden roots of body shame. Because of the silence from others, the self comes to believe that he or she is wrong in being different, even bad. Stolen moments for nudity where one feels pure joy, soon turns to feeling guilty for standing outside the norm. After all, everyone else can’t be wrong, right?

I will be back. Until then, ask yourself a few hard questions and see just how much you want to avoid admitting that this also speaks about you and your experience.

Rewilding – Naturism as Therapy

The call of nature to rewild one’s very being.

Naturism is a therapy, nature’s therapy for the soul. There is no better way to simply experience the fullness of being alive in the world than to make oneself fully vulnerable to that world. It doesn’t take long for a person to “fit” within the natural world, the world of nature, when one chooses to be intimately present.

Joy Nelson shows us just how powerful it is when one risks being fully and authentically present in nature, a process she refers to as rewilding. Tossed away are more than one’s clothing. One is stripped of persona and becomes the primal human, the original man or woman before the artifice of social constructs.

Nature in a hesitant tension.

Daring to be a primal man, I have found that I am able to get much closer to animals, to be seen as less of a threat when I put myself in their environment without need of camouflage, of clothing. When there is a need to hide, there is an aura of danger that then emanates from one’s body and psyche, an aura that permeates the natural world which then becomes wary of something unnatural in the shadows. Animals quickly disappear. Not only animals, but that vulnerable inner-self returns to the shadows to hide.

Becoming the hero of one’s own journey.

Yes, making oneself vulnerable is risky, very risky in our modern western world which understands that the norm is to be hidden in the shadows, to be cloaked in camouflage and disguised behind a grab-bag of roles. Strangely, the more we hide our essence as a human, the more we are trusted, the more we suffer. We find ourselves aching for something that has been lost somewhere along the way. Yet, we too often cling to the camouflage as though a child holding some sort of security blanket.

When we dare look within ourselves, beneath the layer of clothing and persona, we find a hero or heroine, a primal being that if given a voice and presence, teaches us that we are whole and healthy if only we dare to be whole and healthy.

Naked and Safe in Darkness

Safe in darkness, waiting for day to come.

One of my favourite times of the day is in the early morning while I get to sit in my living room in what is mostly darkness, waiting for daylight to appear. The scene outside my window changes from a black sky with one small lamp lighting an entrance to a building to one side, a flickering light atop an antenna tower about seven kilometres away on the hills in the south, and that is about it – until the darkness begins to shift, slowly, to dawn.

I feel comfortable in this early morning darkness, but I much prefer sunshine and warm temperatures which invite me to be outside, skyclad. It wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t many years ago that I hid my need for being skyclad in sunshine. Back then, I was going crazy, slowly losing my soul. If it hadn’t been for my feeling at home in darkness, I would never have survived this long. Darkness held my sanity intact. In the darkness, no one saw or cared if I spent those hours without clothing.

Turning on the lights in dark corners.

This morning, I took advantage of the darkness to go outside regardless of the fact that the temperature was at the freezing point, 0C/32F. I set up my camera with the timer set, and then set the scene for my daily photo for my journal. Then, I turned on a few lights. I was outside, exposed. Down the street, I saw lights on in a few houses, as well as two vehicles warming up. The town had begun to wake up and the possibility of being seen by anyone passing by was real. Then, I took the photo which you see above. I wasn’t hiding in darkness anymore.

I began to spend time in darkness, awake and unclothed, when I was a teenager, and adolescent on the verge of being a man. It was the only quiet time for me in a house filled with eight children. I had a lot to process and found being naked and listening to classical music being played at very low sound levels in the darkness to be an act of healing. It was all about privacy and freedom and safety. Perhaps these early experiences taught me more than I realised.

I still enjoy darkness, but I don’t hide in it anymore.

Unconscious Responses to the Naked Body

Unconscious Self by Souzix

“Those who do not consider the implications of the divided human soul remain unconscious and are therefore dangerous to self and others. Those who do stop and look, and ask why become more and more attuned to the complexity  of their own psychological processes; their lives grow more interesting to them; and they become less dangerous to themselves and others.” p. xiii

Okay, so where do fit into these set of statements made by James Hollis? Is what I am doing by reading Hollis’ book – Why Good People Do Bad Things, analysing so much of my present life and my history; part of what he is asking each of us to do? Perhaps, I hope so.

I can’t pretend that I really know what I am doing or why I am doing it all the time. Nor, do I think that most of the human race can claim to such awareness. I know that personally, I catch myself and wonder “what in hell was that all about,” hoping that somehow I didn’t cause too much damage in the process. I can’t absolve myself if I have caused damage simply because I didn’t realise it, consciously, at the time, that I had no intention.

As for my life becoming more interesting, I would have to say that it has, at least to me. I am fascinated with the human body and its response to nature when one is not wearing clothing. I know that my nudity doesn’t harm my body as long as I keep alert for environmental conditions which require that I cover up in order to protect my body. Does my nudity cause real harm to others – physical harm, psychological harm? I don’t think so. If anything, others harm themselves psychologically in their irrational response to seeing a human body in its natural condition. However, the modern world I live in is working hard to having simple human nudity be legislated as something decidedly evil. Is the collective right? Not even a little bit; however, the collective has power on its side and has little patience with being questioned on its irrational responses to nudity.

I have to admit that psychologically, I am far from being aware of all the nooks and crannies that exist within me. I have learned that I, and by “I” I mean my ego, am not consciously in charge of all that I say and do. Study and analysis has taught me about complexes and archetypes, including a personal shadow. I know that I need to be wary of my own self so that I don’t project too easily my own shit onto others. That is part of the key, monitoring my anger, my frustration, my moments of hatred, and signals that I am holding too hard onto some belief or idea. Perhaps this is a good start to being attuned to the complexity of my own psychological processes.