Nudity as Therapy – Nude Psychology 101

Daring to confront depression with the nude self

I am once again turning to old posts from my previous blog site to re-visit the idea of nudity as a therapeutic process. I called the series, Nude Psychology 101. Over the past 30 years, I have been studying psychology as part of my role of counselling students, staff, and community members. Twenty years ago, I found myself needing to be counselled, a process that somehow went on for too long. Nine years ago, I basically gave up on all conventional modes of counselling as my depression seemed to only deepen. It was then that I remembered my first experience of nudity and healing, an event that happened fifty years ago. With that recollection, I began to seriously consider and apply the use of nudity in my own healing process. And know, I want to share my thoughts with you. Let me know what you think, please.

Eros and Psyche

Eros (Cupid) and Psyche

As the title of this post suggests, this is going to be the first of a series of posts looking at the idea of Nude Psychology as a valid and perhaps healing psychology. As a part-time prof and psychotherapist, I want to approach this series of posts with more structure as if I was teaching a course called Nude Psych 101 at some college or university in the modern western world. If the idea of ever having nudity included in the world of psychotherapeutic work is to be realised, there needs to be a serious study of the nature of psychology in relationship to nudism and naturism. That there will be attempts to blend the two together without knowing what is happening to the human psyche of both the therapist and the client, and in the process there is likely to be harm done, unconscious harm. There have been brief attempts with the practice of Nude Psychology and there are a few current attempts at using nudity in therapy practices.

Psyche by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon 1808

Psyche by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon 1808

At the right you will see an image of Psyche, Psyche is not a goddess. Rather, she is human, a woman so beautiful that she invokes both the love and wrath of the gods. The word psyche is Psyche has been a fascination for poets and artists for centuries. In almost all cases, she is depicted nude so that her full beauty in presented. Her beauty is magnified by her body, a beauty that brings about the union of mortal and gods and the birth of a child born of love between deity and human. Psyche is also the root of psychology.

The world of Psyche - a naturist paradise

The world of Psyche, naturist paradise

Depth psychology in particular, honours the roots of its beginnings in mythology and other human stories. The human psyche is not so easily defined as it contains all that is conscious and unconscious, both personal unconsciousness and the collective unconscious. The human psyche is beneath the surface, beneath any coverings we may devise be those coverings be clothing or plastic surgery.

Psychology attempts to both define and understand the human psyche as well as find ways to assist in reducing the suffering of humans who have lost the thread of their life journeys, those who somehow have lost their sense of purpose and meaning.

Psychology today often forgets its purpose as it focuses on making psychology more about making a living, an economic enterprise. Often the world of psychology finds itself battling its own shadow as competing schools of psychology vie for coveted endorsements of legitimacy. And in many cases, it devolves into nothing more than power and politics.

For my purposes here, I want to turn back the clock and the mindsets to the roots of our attempts to understand ourselves and others, roots which begin with a healthy appreciation of the body, the naked body, which houses our psyche.

Early Morning Sun

Not daring to go out into the sunshine.

The sun was up before I got up at 6:30 so I decided to sneak outside for a moment while the rest of the world in the compound was still sleeping. However, because of the security cameras, I didn’t dare to actually go much further than the porch which is shielded from the camera. I know that I have risked going out further, but not today. Don’t ask me why today was any different than the few times I risked being seen by the camera; likely, it was all of my shadow’s fault for when I am conscious, I don’t take these silly kind of risks with nothing to gain.

Kiniki tan-though swim briefs

This is more like the right way to be seen in Ecuador. In the two months here so far, I saw the first other person wearing a normal Speedo. I have seen two women, young women, going topless. The norm is to wear board shorts for guys with prerequisite underwear showing, and for sedate bathing suits with cover-ups for the ladies. I find it all so strange in a country whose history is nude pre-contact with the Spanish. And to think that it is the Spaniards today in Europe which lead the way in naturist resorts and nude beaches.

Tan lines

In spite of wearing this bathing suit, I am getting some decent colour. The bathing suit does allow some sun to seep through making me less like a “cotton-tail” naturist. With another four weeks left before returning to winter on the prairies, perhaps the tan lines will be even fainter. I am hoping that a few sunny days on the prairies will allow me to keep the colour as I head into late spring and summer when I will get to hang out with other naturists at our gatherings. There are some places where I feel safe and free to be fully me, fully nude in the company of others. The high I get at these times is much superior to the buzz I get with wine.

This is who I am. I’m not the bravest guy in the world, but I am getting there.

Naturists Taking Care of Nasties

Doing my part on keeping the nasties out of my life.

It’s the rainy season. It’s a fact of nature that is solidly in our face here in Ecuador. Thankfully, the rain isn’t constant. We seem to get breaks in the clouds that give us sunshine, often just when we wanted to go for a beach walk at low tide. The humidity is high and the temperatures are actually very pleasant making nakedness on the upper balcony almost sensible. Why “almost”? Well, it seems there are a legion of no-see-ums and mosquitoes that thrive in these conditions. And, mosquitoes love me. They get excited at the presence of my bare skin. And they feed on me.

Because of these insects, I have take to lighting mosquito repellent coils to place strategically on the balcony to discourage the blighters. And, when these nasty beasts find their way through the fumes, I have begun to use repellent cream. It all makes a difference though I don’t usually come away from being nude outdoors without insect biting scars in spite of all my precautions.

Lately, it isn’t just mosquitoes that have been giving me static. I am finding that I have been getting unwanted attention from equally nasty folks in the world of Twitter and Facebook. People who put out posts that are porn-focused, or show their proclivities by “liking” porn-focused posts, have been asking to be friends [FB] or simply following me [Twitter]. Since I do a study of each such event, I find myself blocking a lot of people. It seems that a naturist is perceived as a good target by these people. I’m not saying that they aren’t nice people at some level, but I don’t trust their motivation to being in contact with either of my accounts.

Originally it was easy to decide. If the parties had no identity so to speak – profile photo, etc.; or, if they had a locked account that prevented me from finding out more about them, they were blocked. But, that isn’t really fair for there are decent enough people who are hesitant to show their faces [eggs]. The majority are blocked, however, a few are allowed to remain. I check out their posts/tweets and their likes to get a better picture of their presence.

With those that I block, a number get reported for outright porn. I know that it is a losing battle as they simply create new identities and renew their attacks on decent naturists and textiles. Yet, it does serve notice to both Facebook and Twitter that there is a real difference. I hope you are doing your part as well.

Ordinary Life Isn’t Very Interesting Even For a Naturist

BuenDia – instant coffee Ecuadorian style.

It’s another rainy morning here in Ecuador, just the way it is supposed to be if one studies the average weather patterns for the coast of Ecuador. If anything, we have lucked out with more sunny days that are typical for January and February. March is supposed to be the rainiest month of the rainy season here. I will be taking a break from Ecuador for almost a week which will be spent back in Peru – an issue of visas.

Making toast on a gas burner stove.

Like any other morning, I start with coffee. Because there is no coffee percolator here, I drink instant coffee. It isn’t even remotely good coffee, but it is coffee and that’s all that counts in the end. After a suitable length of time between coffee and breakfast, I typically prepare some toast which will be covered with peanut butter [creme de mani] and fried bananas. Sometimes raw pineapple replaces the bananas. My wife says I’m a stuck record with toast and peanut butter, so on rare occasions I have fried eggs and fried tomatoes instead

Today, like every other day when the weather permits, we went for a long beach walk, somewhere between ten and eleven kilometres long, wearing a bathing suit of course. A romp in the surf followed the walk before we headed back to the casa for a late lunch. Now, I get a bit of time to do some writing and research. Such is a typical day here in Ecuador – same old, same old.

The Naked Problem of Instincts Re-Visited

A warning – there are a few images here that are not naturist. Rather, they are bad examples of amateur voyeurism and porn. I only brought these images here to illustrate the problem of instincts taking control and leaving consciousness in the dark.

It’s all about his penis.

I was going through the archives of my old site and found this post from January 2013 that I feel can benefit from being re-posted with some editing. I had been walking the same beach on the Mayan Riviera for five years with this year being the first winter being in a different location and country. Every year was the same thing – nudity and sex on the beach at Desires [or just outside the edge of the resort]. There are signs posted telling the clients of the resort not to engage in sexual activity on the beach, for good reason. It is a public beach with a significant flow of people walking by on their way from or to the other “textile” resorts and the town of Puerto Morelos. Most often, it was a woman giving her “man” a sexual caress, or vice versa. Sometimes it was a man looking at passing women on the beach while touching himself. Regardless, there is no thinking happening, simply a dic in charge of a man getting what he can.

Desires Resort on the Mayan Riviera

It was a beautiful day on the Mayan Riviera, especially after an evening’s quick rainstorm did it’s job of cooling things down. Not only did it cool down temperatures, but it cooled down some of the behaviours at the nearby Desire’s Resort. Today the nudism was just nudism, not overt sexual posing or as was the case as my wife and I passed the resort, a couple performing on their second floor balcony just metres from the beach, performing while looking at the passing by beach-strollers. Human behaviour is all over the map from “natural” to “contrived.”

Human behaviour is about relationships, relationship to oneself and relationship to others. What makes human behaviour hard to understand is the fact that our behaviours are often instinctualunconscious or mediated by our consciousness. Here is what Daryl Sharp, a Canadian Jungian analyst, has to say about instinctual behaviour, a description that fits one of the scenes witnessed above:

“Instinctual behavior is just that – innate, automatic. It has its own rhythm and there’s nothing conscious about it. A man driven by his dick is unconscious. He comes and goes. Or maybe he stays. Who knows? Not the man himself because he’s not in charge. (Sharp, Getting to Know You, p. 19)

Sexuality under conscious control on a shared beach

In the naturist / nudist world, sexuality is present, but it is contained. Living as a naturist or nudist is a conscious act for anyone in the modern world, a decision that is carefully considered in each and every moment where one sheds one’s clothing. It’s about safety, about protecting one’s freedom, and often about protecting one’s economic situation – no one wants to risk losing a job or being black-listed for career advancement. In a way, this helps to explain why the naturist / nudist community is “gray,” as often the decision to engage more fully in the lifestyle is delayed until retirement.

He’s thinking with his dick on a public beach.

Naturists and nudists know all too well the darker face of instinctual behaviours. Most safe zones are quite restrictive in terms of allowing single males to enter their spaces. The same sense of safety on public nude-friendly beaches doesn’t exist. There one finds the instinctual behaviours appearing all too frequently – men masturbating, sneaking photos of exposed genitals and being obsessed with staring as though in a trance. We can try to regulate through public awareness, beach patrols and through legal penalties; but, one finds it next to impossible, if not impossible to solve the problem as the problem has its source in instinct, not in consciousness. Of course, this reality makes it very difficult for single males who aren’t ruled by instinctual behaviour.

Improper behaviour is easily resolved if that behaviour is not regulated by the instinctual which is one dimension of unconscious behaviour. Often, unconscious behaviour is changed when brought to the conscious attention of the individual who has manifested improper behaviour. It is about learning what is appropriate in a given situation. Unconsciousness is perhaps better described as not being aware of. For example, in certain situations, one commits a faux pas in using the wrong item of cutlery when dining in formal situations. Unaware – unconscious – of what is acceptable or not. Another example, a young child urinating by a tree in the park where he or she is playing learns that she or he must learn to “hold it in” until a toilet can be visited.

It makes for a messy world, but it is the world within which we find ourselves.

Naked and Enjoying Nude Moments as They Appear

Rainy morning

I risked stepping outside of the safe zone into the area surveyed by the security camera this morning. It seemed that was the only way to get an image of rain [you can see the streaks] falling on me. I doubt that anyone would be checking for intruders on the property at this time of day and in this weather, so I’m not too worried.

At the moment, I am busy researching air flights for a tour of Eastern Europe for the fall. Should the plans come to fruition, I will be taking my wife to visit her ancestral homeland in Ukraine, as well as touring parts of Russia, Finland, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. I am looking at various landing airports for the return flight, as well as varying time frames, any where from 48 days to 60 days. With that research done, I will then come up with alternative touring plans for the two time frames.

One thing I know for certain, there will be no naturist venues on the agenda as this is “her” trip. That doesn’t mean I won’t take photos for my skyclad journal, those stolen moments of private time captured by a camera. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to resist taking advantage of those stolen moments such as I did this morning when I took the photo above.

In terms of honouring a relationship, I feel somewhat a sense of unease with this “secrecy” of sorts, because it feels secretive. Yet, I “know” that it isn’t secretive at all. She knows that I take photos, nude photos and that I place them in my journal as I showed her and told her about it in the past. In a way, it’s about not being in her face when the camera comes out. As long as I don’t put my blog posts on social media with my real name attached or where our friends and family would be confronted with my nudity, all remains at a sort of truce. To be honest the truce is more like walking a high wire over a bottomless canyon, tense as I don’t know what will appear to disrupt the truce.  Something always appears.

However, today is a good day. I am able to write while nude on the upper balcony without disturbing that precious peace, even when she is present. Rather than worry about a tomorrow to come with a bump on the road, I have learned to breathe and enjoy the moments as they appear.

The Darkness in Our Collective Soul Uncovered

This gloomy weather is being accentuated by the gloom and doom of events in my country, and our neighbouring southern partner, the USA. I don’t often use my blog site for commenting about any of these gloom and doom events such as the recent shooting of 17 in a Florida High school, or the Racism uproar in Canada following the acquittal of a farmer in Saskatchewan following the shooting death of a youth from a nearby Reserve. But, I find that I have to speak out my mind. I am torn in the process. The collective unconscious being set loose in both countries is troubling, and downright scary if one follows the polarisation that is growing in both countries. So, I will take a few moments here to talk about the shit in my own back yard – Saskatchewan, Canada.

We have a problem. One faction wants to have farmers better able to protect their families and property, their livelihood that feeds our country and many other countries of the world. The problem is that enabling the use of firearms to protect private property and life hasn’t worked anywhere else in the world where laws permit the ownership and use of guns. Our neighbour to the south are the best example I can use to illustrate this “solution” to a real problem of violence being suffered in rural areas, especially rural areas near reserves, though not limited to those areas. Shooting deaths don’t really solve any problems, however they do highlight the fact that there are problems laying beneath the surface events that are cancerous and festering.

In Canada, the recent case involving a white farmer and a local aboriginal youth has resulted in a lot of spillover anger on both sides of the ever-growing divide:

The online response to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the death of Colten Boushie has taken on a life of its own with people hurling hate and throwing a substantial amount of money at two rival GoFundMe fundraising campaigns.

No one, it seems, wants to look beneath the surface. It’s too confusing and too much work. Besides, one needs to be willing to leave polarised truths aside to actually listen to what the “enemy” is saying. I have a background in First Nations Studies, have taught in First Nation communities, as well as having a strong background in Canadian History. I know everyone keeps saying that we have to let go of the past and move on to building a better future. But how do you do that without knowing the roots of the problems that have led us to this point in time?

We have an Indian Act, the Constitution of 1763 when the English took control of Canada, the treaties signed between two “nations” or “peoples.” The First Nations people didn’t even have the status of being Canadians until the 1960s. No matter hard hard you try, or how much sense it makes, you can’t dismiss history. The Supreme Court would have no choice but to continue to apply all these past documents to any legal challenges.

The world has changed. When I went north to teach in the furthest north school in Saskatchewan, trapping was a legitimate economic activity. With the work of environmentalists, that way of making a living was destroyed. However, no other economic livelihood took its place. You can’t farm or ranch in the north. You can’t get a part-time job at MacDonald, or be a cashier at Walmart on a northern reserve. This is a fact that creates new problems in these modern times on northern reserves. When you factor into the problem how Residential Schooling created a generations deep problem that left parents dysfunctional and unable to properly raise their children, life on the reserve becomes chaotic and dangerous. I don’t want to turn this post into a litany of woes, but it is necessary to realise that if you live on a reserve, especially as a young person, life sucks big time.

So, the voices clamour, “Get them off the reserves so that they can get a decent education and jobs.” Do you have any meaningful solutions to make this happen? These solutions have to fit within the legal guidelines upon which our country was built if there is a chance for being put into place.

If there is to be any effective solution, it can only come when the leaders of the First Nations, the provinces, and the Government of Canada sit down together to go back to square one and build a new accord. Nothing else will work because you can’t through out a few centuries of law. If I had my way, we’d have all these key players put into a room with the doors locked and the keys hidden until there is a consensus on doing the work to solve the roots of the problem.

However, even should this miracle come to pass, we still have a problem with racism. Of course there are no innocents in this. Both sides are racist, seeing the other as a threat. It doesn’t matter if one is black and the other white, or any other colour in between. Racism exists. It takes a lot of guts to look at oneself in the mirror and admit this and then to work at rooting out behaviours and attitudes that feed racism. There is no law or government agency or law court that will solve the racism problem. This is a problem that can only be solved by each individual, on their own. A wife can’t turn her husband around. She can only make sure that she becomes a more open and accepting person. Even after all the work, the “racist within” will always be lurking waiting to escape and cause havoc. It isn’t easy. No one said it would be easy.

Until then, the best that one can do is not feed the anger and stoke the fires of racism, of darkness. Thing of your children and grandchildren, and the young people yet to be born in our country. No matter how hard it might be to work together, the rewards will be worth it.

What it Truly Means To Be a Naked Person

Early morning rain and bedhead.

A bird was very, very loud in its early morning serenade. I decided to slip out of bed and go downstairs to see if I could catch sight of the bird and get is portrait for my collection. No such luck. And, as is has for many days now, it was again raining out. The air was cooler and the flying bugs that like to feast on human flesh were out in force. Of course, with a security camera above the door on the outside of the casa, I wasn’t about to go outside and challenge these bugs.

I read an article posted by a Twitter friend of mine, Holly, called, “What it Truly Means to Be a Naked Person in 2018.” I have to say that I found the article more than interesting to read; and to my surprise I agree with most of what Elizabeth Siegel had to say.  She began her article with:

There are two types of people in this world: The ones who are totally comfortable being totally naked, and the ones who’d rather jump into a burlap onesie than go streaking.

So far, so good. In my experience, I have to agree. I know of a number of people who have given naturism and nudism a good try and still would rather remain clothed than enjoying life clothing-free. One has to realise that the reasons have little to do with fear of being seen nude, but something that is deeper than that, something in the psyche that needs to have their body covered. Of course, there are a whole host of others who have never tried being clothing-free in a naturist or nudist setting, let alone when not taking a shower; a group of people who would force the naked “others” to keep their clothing on under the threat of legal sanctions that include imprisonment.

A naked person might be someone with a deep and sensitive soul — at least, that’s how other people see them, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

If I would have to think of many of the “naked” people I have met, I would be forced to agree with this study. On average [which is what the study says] one is more likely to be sensitive than insensitive. I think it has to do with making oneself “vulnerable” to others and having them risk being vulnerable in return. Risking vulnerability demands a certain level of trust and openness.

The article goes on to talk about the obvious, and some curious things as well: is happy when naked, buys organic food, likely to attend opera, dance and theatre, has a more intellectual frame of mind, and plain doesn’t like to wear clothing. I encourage you to read the article and see how you resonate with it. And if you want, add your thoughts below in the comments.

Re-Approaching Nude Psychotherapy – Part One

Working nude on Naked Fridays

Working nude on Naked Fridays

In my retirement I wonder what it is that I could do that would be of service to others in a way that would ease suffering and enhance consciousness. It is the Buddhist in me as well as the therapist and educator that calls for me to do what I can to somehow make a positive difference. Since I have paid off my mortgage, as well as other debts and have a modest pension to take care of my needs, I began to wonder if I could make a critical difference in reshaping psychotherapy, by pushing the boundaries in order to perhaps arrive at an increased level of both self and collective consciousness.

I began to plan for my renewal with a plan. My focus was a re-designed approach to providing psychotherapy services, at least re-designed from how I practiced in the past. First off, calling myself a psychotherapist would have to go. I would call myself a life coach. I have to admit, that last idea came from a friend who is a Jungian analyst. I had the skills and more than enough training to re-approach people’s needs as a life coach. Perfect, the box of therapist, a self and collective set of practice boundaries had been dismantled. So what would I put into practice?

Obviously, I still needed to include depth psychology approaches if my work was to be truly about coaching someone about being fully in life. I knew that I had to include body work (Gestalt influences showing through here) as a means of dealing with a client’s stress levels and overall health. That put meditation and exercise as part of the approach to life coaching. I knew it was also important to bring active imagination into the process as a means of finding ways around a client’s defensive barriers so that he or she could finally learn what was making them be unhappy in their life and in their relationships. I needed to use every tool that I could find to break through the masks and disguises that hid the true self.

I wanted my work to be about transparency. I wanted truth and honesty to emerge and be the vital centre of our work together with the goal of a transparent self waiting for my clients. How can one reach self awareness if one doesn’t cultivate transparency? I wanted my work to be freeing, liberating for both myself and for those with whom I would work. It was this realisation that led me to consider Nude Psychology. I was quite familiar with the work of Paul Bindrim and a few others who pioneered nude psychology and was fascinated with the possibilities. That I was, myself, a naturist, added perhaps a deeper level of awareness to the potential for practice. There is no question, when it comes to honesty and transparency, nudity doesn’t allow for cover-ups. 

The bare, honest truth

The bare, honest truth

So the pieces are all there. It was now a simple matter of arranging the pieces to create a model that would work for both myself and my clients. The time is ripe if there is ever going to be a time. Nude yoga, nude meditation, nude beaches, nude cruises, nude flights to nude resorts, nude bike rides through major cities, nude protests, and the massive photographic work of Spencer Tunic who shows us a collective nudist world. It’s time for nude life coaching. With that decision made,

Sarah White - Naked Therapist

Sarah White – Naked Therapist

I found that I wasn’t going to be the first kid on the block to structure psychotherapy with nude psychology. Here is what I found along the way. Nadine Sabulsky – The Naked Life Coach, and Sarah White – The Naked Therapist. Neither of these use a model which I have in mind. Perhaps it would even be safe and honest to say that there is some validity to their practices, but I doubt that it has depth. If anything, perhaps nudity on the part of the therapist is more of a distraction than it is about having a client face his or her own issues that are getting in the way of living the life they envision for themselves.

Images as Symbols

Image and respnse

Image and respnse

As you likely have noticed, I always seem to be using images in my posts here on Life Through a Naturist Lens. As a therapist, images play an important role in my work with those coming for some kind of assistance. Images often are able to unlock those spaces within which we have all buried things, things that don’t really go way in spite of being locked away. The images I choose come from both a conscious and unconscious place from within me. And, this is the same thing that happens to each of us when we get caught up, even momentarily, in an image. If an image brings a strong positive or negative reaction, then something deep within us has been activated. For therapy purposes, these are the images that demand more attention as they provide a key to the hidden contents.

“Symbolic images are not stored in the psyche somewhere to be released when the need arises. They occur on the interface between individual and environment, through the interaction of archetypes with perceptions and experiences.” (Van Eenwyk, Archetypes and Strange Attractors, p. 89)

Mary and the Christ child

Holy Mother breastfeeding Jesus

Archetypes – think of the shadow, think of the saint, think of mother earth or holy mother, think of the harlot or the evil witch – these are words as well as images that evoke powerful responses from us, positive and negative responses. And the heat of those responses tell more about our inner selves than they do of the images or words themselves.

Our responses to nudity, the unclothed human is worth noting. For some the response is simple curiousity. For others it might be a scene that somehow doesn’t evoke any response as though the nudity is not significant enough to warrant a response. For a large group, perhaps the majority, it elicits a sense of discomfort and unease, one wonders where to put one’s eyes and how to respond. And for another significant group, nudity evokes over-the-top anger and rage.  The same image, just an image, reveals so much of the viewer through the viewer’s response.

Maggie Gyllenhaal breastfeeding

Maggie Gyllenhaal breastfeeding

So what does it say when a significant and loud portion of humanity reacts with anger in seeing a mother breast-feeding her child? What does it say when a large portion of humanity reacts with lust to another woman’s breast, especially barely covered, when used for advertising purposes? Our responses are anything but rational.

A group of young men skinny dipping is viewed as simply “boys being boys” while the image of a man in midlife seen skinny dipping is viewed as a “sexual offender” who has no regard for the sensibilities of others. The images are simply images, even if those images are breathing scenes from life. The responses to those scenes, those images are the food for thought.

For those who may be wondering, I wrote this original post in January, 2013. It seems nothing has changed for the better. If anything, the polarisation in North America has become louder and angrier.