Why is it Necessary to Take Nude Photos of Oneself?

October sunshine

It is a beautiful, sunny morning here on the Canadian prairies even though it was only 5 Celsius when I took this photo. The fence kept the breeze away making for pure bliss. I took the photo for my private journal, something that I have been doing for years. Once I returned to the house to have some breakfast, I questioned myself about this practice.

I have been wondering why I find it necessary to take skyclad photos, why anyone who is a naturist/nudist or someone who simply enjoys being nude. Why the images? Why are they posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, or other social media sites? Having spent way too much time wondering about this, I think I may have arrived at an answer that fits many who are like me.

Images are there to help us, to help me, get out of our heads. They become a visible proof that we are more than just feelings and thoughts.There is an honesty, or at least an attempt at honesty, expressed in these images. Risking being vulnerable enough to be honest, is not the same thing as posting images for exhibitionist purposes. The images I am talking about have nothing to do with lewdness, lust, or then tension of sexuality. Intention, it all comes down to intention. Images that are exhibitionist have a motive of obtaining sexual satisfaction or to shock. So, what is the intention?

If you take photos of yourself au naturel, why do you do so? What is your need? Why do you allow others to see these images? Why the risk? All images have a purpose and meaning. However, we rarely know what the purpose and meaning of our own images are about. There is a story, a story of at least 1,000 words for each image. More often than not, the story is yet to be discovered, as the image is more about unconscious projection than that it is about conscious intention.

As for myself, the images tell the story of my reclaiming my authority rather than having the authority projected onto others. I refuse the authority of the shadows from my childhood. I refuse the authority of a church that would tell me that my naked body is sinful. I refuse to be a victim. Of course, there are laws and a broader society within which we all find ourselves. For our own safety, we find that fine line between “in your face” confrontations and in hiding from the world and our own fears.

Why do you take and post photos? Why do you take and then bury your photos so no one ever knows they were taken? Why do you avoid taking photos of your authentic, human reality? Pick your question and then share your answers below..

A Buddhist Meditating Naked

The view from my meditation cushion.

Every morning I meditate when I am at home in a special spot, special for me. On the wall I have photos of lotus flowers that I took in Vietnam as well as an image of Buddha that I found in Thailand. On the small altar are books, incense, a candle, a silk scarf and name card that were presented to me when I took refuge as a Buddhist. There are more things in my special space, a sacred space. When I meditate here, I do so completely nude. Even the glasses and the hearing aids are set aside. This is the authentic self, not my ego self, daring to cut through all the illusions we create with our minds.

Why am I a Buddhist? I don’t know the complete answer as I am still discovering what Buddhism is after my introduction to Buddhism forty-six years ago, about the same time as I discovered the healing power of naturism. I didn’t connect the two for a long, long time. It wasn’t until nine years ago that I was pulled into sitting in a pool of sunshine, sitting naked and totally vulnerable. During one of my retreats in 2009, while in Mexico, I found myself searching for a secluded area and stripped off my clothing and meditated. It was the beginning of my present practice. However, it wasn’t until I was teaching at a university in China after having retired from teaching and school administration in Canada, that I made nude meditation a common practice.

Meditation in China

This photo was taken by my wife one day while I was meditating by the window in our apartment in China. She saw the sunlight and suddenly understood why I meditated nude. We had both begun formal meditation practice in 1973, based on the Transcendental Meditation model though we had tried meditation informally a year earlier. We kept our clothes on for meditation not knowing there was another way. Over the years since then, I have consistently turned to meditation when life got too difficult to handle.

With the decision to enter into a formal relationship with Buddhism, I took refuge in 2012, a year after the above photo. It didn’t matter that I had read about Buddhism, or meditated, or had my own little wooden effigy of Buddha in my home – the act of taking refuge took me to a different place, a place that I realise isn’t about Tibet, or Thailand, or even any particular school of Buddhist belief. I was discovering more and more about the bare facts of who I was. And that, is a journey that is still in progress.

Nudity and Authenticity

Roses in full bloom.

Naturism is not just about taking off one’s clothing. Nothing is that simple for us humans. For example, this photo was taken in the summer while the roses were in full bloom. In spite of the beautiful roses in the photo, the central focus is not on the roses, but on my face which isn’t betraying much in the way of emotion. It doesn’t matter that I am nude, with pubic hair removed. I was physically exposed, but paradoxically still disguised so that no one could see the truth of who I was behind my eyes and beneath my skin. There was no way that I was willing to expose what lay beneath the surface of the skin.

Naturism almost always talks about the honesty of being naked, as if by removing one’s clothing, one reveals the authentic person that one really is behind the clothing. That is simplistic thinking. Who we are as individuals is so complex that even we are not really aware of our own depths. We have a limited consciousness about who we are. We consciously carve out an identity in relationship with others, or so we think. With this conscious knowledge of who we are, we make decisions about just how much to reveal.

The naked body is just that, a naked body, not our identity or our conscious sense of self. When others meet us when we are naked, they still have a lot to learn about us in order to know us as more than just a body.

This image above lets us know that in spite of nudity, there remains a real mystery. The play of shadow lets us know that not everything is exposed, that there are things hidden in the shadows.

What do you think? Is nudity enough for being authentic? Is it all  you see is all there is?

Men and Their Unconscious Fascination with Their Penis

It’s slightly depressing out as far as weather is concerned and I have a cold adding a level of misery to the situation. Of course, this means that my approach to the world is tinged with a sense of greyness rather than the clear light of sunshine. As a result, this post reflects my mood – and in a way, that is honest as it can get.

Are you staring at me?

So many images of men, posted by men, featured the penis. It was as if for many, the male identity has been reduced to the penis. The images which elicited this response showed male penises standing up proud, more often than not, but with the faces of their owners, for that is what the men have become, owners of a separate thing of power. Clear sight has been compromised. By empowering the penis, men have become blind to what they do as they follow the will of instinct, blind to what they do others and themselves in service to primal instinct.

Just another Dick pic?

This image is an old image that I found a number of years ago, stored away in my archives of psychological images and promptly forgot about. This morning, as I turned to Twitter and Facebook in order to see what my on-line community was up to, I met with a few images that at first made me mad, then changed to sadness.

I am not offended by the sight of a penis. However, I am saddened at how men have lost their sense of self as they use their penises as their avatars, use them to tell the world that they are real men while hiding their faces as though ashamed of being discovered. For, if discovered, the world would then learn their lie – that they are victims.

Headless dick pic is not something new – Sukuh Temple, Indonesia.

All men have a penis. Real men have consciousness and awareness of their responsibility to the world. Real men are compassionate, thoughtful, insightful beings who make the world a healthier, safer, and better world. Real men aren’t servants to the penis, the symbol of power of body over mind and heart.I have heard too many defend the images of penises without the critical identifier of the faces of the men who now belong to these penises. What was troubling at first was the defense that these were natural images of a man, rather than a psychological statement of importance of how some men, perhaps too many men, have unconsciously stopped looking at the whole picture of themselves and the world. By following their dicks, men become blind to what is happening to the world around them.

 

Navigating Depression with Nudity

Navigating depression

I took this photo more than eight years ago while suffering from a bout of depression. I was rebelling against the work, the psychological work of uncovering the dark stuff within me, stuff that I often projected onto others. We all do this though we don’t realise it, nor would we admit it if we were cornered.

It is hard for me to understand which came first, the tendency towards depression, or the trauma that was visited upon me during my childhood, boyhood and youth. I guess it doesn’t really matter. But at times I wonder. Did I have a genetic inheritance of depression? Was that predisposition to depression a factor in marking me as a candidate for abuse by others? Or, was the realities of being abused the root source of depression? I am lucky; I survived where many others didn’t including one of my brothers who couldn’t handle the shame and the pain.

Nudity is one of the reasons that has allowed me to navigate through depression and emerge back into the light. I consciously made the choice to make time for myself while clothes-free time. I learned this strategy at an early age, in my teenage years. It wasn’t a reasoned or conscious choice. Rather, it was more about rebelling against and finding sanctuary in my body, in nature.

Over the years, I have met many who have turned to nudity as a “feel good” place whether it is in a tiny apartment, withing a locked bedroom, or in a quiet place in some secluded nature setting. Nudity has this surprising side effect of being a light in the darkness. In a state of depression, there is a heavy darkness that steals one’s energy. It seems there is little one can do to escape the gloomy situation. Yet, within very little time, being nude somehow creates a condition where the repetitive scripts that haunt one’s head is short-circuited. The body begins to feel awakening awareness that one is more than one’s thoughts.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is yet another face of depression that steals life from those who suffer the disorder. Nudity has become one method of therapy that works:

“Several Vietnam veterans living in Tampa Bay, Florida say that being nude relieves feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear more than any other treatment they had received before.” Marie Meador

For most people, depression is not a very serious problem. This isn’t to say that one doesn’t experience depression, but the depression doesn’t interfere too much in one’s life. Among many I have met who have no issues with depression, nudity still ends up creating a better sense of wellness, even a sense of joy. When one feels the spread of wellness within, one wonders why the world has such a hard time with nudity.  But that, is a different story completely.

Naturism as a Light in the Darkness

Nudisterna by Lisa Stålspets

Turning towards an intimate relation with nature and the universe is, in many respects, turning one’s back to the modern world as a man. I don’t mean that is turning away from those things that have given us a better way to talk to each other, or the means to work towards healing the earth. Much about our move from a hunter-gather existence to become citizens of the modern world has worked towards making the world safer and friendlier. But sadly, too much of our progress has been at the expense of our own humanity and the earth that serves us as our only home.

We have choices in all that we do though few realise that or acknowledge it if they are aware of their options for choice. Becoming a more conscious person, a more aware person puts us into a hard spot. Unlike those who don’t have the capacity to be able to make reasoned choices, once we have that option, even refusing to make choices is a choice – usually for the status quo where we only continue being part of the growing illness that is invading our bodies, minds and souls. We see that growing illness reflected in the media which does its best to polarise in order to make newsworthy bites for mass public consumption. The increase in fear and anger then marks our public debate whether it is about NAFTA, Politics, or social inequality.

Katikati Naturist Park, New Zealand

It isn’t as if we must reject everything, strip off all of our clothing and run wild in uninhabited places in an attempt to set the clock back several thousands of years. What is needed is for each of us to make those small decisions presented every day, decisions that force us to choose light over darkness and despair. Accumulating wealth and fame doesn’t heal what is hurting inside of us. No addictive substance or activity can heal either. Yet, choosing to be kind, to be generous, to smile, to appreciate nature and all who surround us, and that includes those who we see as the enemy – to wish all well and to do what we can to make it happen – all of this is the path we need to follow in order to heal our own pain and to provide the support to others so they can in turn learn to choose light over darkness.

Turning one’s back to the darkness and striding towards the light is a gift.

I Hate My Naked Body

Industrialization was beginning to put money into the pockets of more and more people who had moved from the countryside to the big cities where there was work. More money in the pockets of the middle class meant that smart and savvy businessmen began to invest in attracting that money into their pockets. People have money, and some people wanted that money and were looking for a legal way of getting that money.

At the same time, during the Victorian Era, there was a decided shift in the social moral code, especially in terms of women. The prevailing notion came out of a warped sense that seeing a naked woman would tempt men into sin. Women became the agent of Satan – well at least the bodies of women. This wasn’t really strictly about religion as prior to this, the Church had few misgivings about portraying Mary with an exposed breast feeding a nude baby Jesus. Adam was painted, front and centre in the holy of holies, the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

It wasn’t long after women were draped from head to toe that the mere glimpse of a woman’s ankle would excite a man. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a sexually stimulated man is a man who typically shifts his thinking from his brain to his instinctual nature. And it was in this context of the Victorian repression of sexuality, especially in terms of seeing the body of a woman, and the growing middle class with money to spend that advertising came into existence.

Pearl Tobacco Company

“The earliest known use of sex in advertising is by the Pearl Tobacco brand in 1871, which featured a naked maiden on the package cover. In 1885, W. Duke & Sons inserted trading cards into cigarette packs that featured sexually provocative starlets.” [Wikipedia]

In our modern world, it is hard to avoid the constant inundation of sexual images trying to convince us to part with our money. Something happened along the way that wasn’t intended – we began to compare ourselves to the images that were attached to the products. Real men drink xxx. Real women wear yyy. We buy the products and they don’t deliver the value we were really looking for. Repeated images get burned into our psyche so that we begin to unconsciously believe that to be a real man, we have to look like that man AND drink that kind of be; to be a real woman we have to look like that woman and wear that sexy lingerie.

The result – dissatisfaction with our bodies. Diets, exercise regimes, plastic surgery, an endless chase to have the perfect clothes, designer clothes so that worth can be found. It’s easy to understand, however, not so easy to make a conscious move to rid ourselves of this cancer. I want to get personal with this as I am a father of two beautiful daughters, father-in-law to a beautiful daughter-in-law, and husband to a beautiful woman. Now, these women are intelligent women, educated women and all-around very good people and excellent mothers with husbands who love them and stand beside them through the ups and downs of married life and the raising of children. Yet, there is a strange dissatisfaction that lurks quietly, unconsciously for the most part, with their bodies. I say strange because their mates are pleased with the sight of their wives, clothed and unclothed.

It’s easy to see and identify the problem. We need to somehow return to the idea that a woman is beautiful, naturally beautiful, in the eyes of both men and women. We need to somehow dissociate authentic, natural sexuality from advertising. Why? Look at our children. We live at a time when teen-aged young women are wanting and getting breast augmentation – fake boobs, a time where there is a virtual epidemic of medical conditions called anorexia and bulimia – eating disorders suffered as these young women try to get their bodies to be good enough according to the mass media versions, a version that is unconsciously and consciously accepted by their parents and peers, For the typical young woman and young man, looking in the mirror at their own unclothed bodies is frightening and depressing as what they see is filtered through the collective unconscious.

So what can we do? As fathers and mothers and lovers, what we say that is positive is expected, after all, we are their parents and their lovers. Until a person can see themselves without filters, over and over again in real-life contexts with others who truly see their authentic bodies, uncovered; there will be little chance of achieving body acceptance, especially as bodies change with age. Time spent in social nudity somehow affects that change. Regardless of body type and weight, in social nudity situations, the real authentic person emerges, a person almost always accepted and valued by others. And when there is no acceptance, it isn’t because of looks, but because of psychology.

Nudity and the Shock Value Within a Clothed World

Femen – Women using partial nudity in protest.

The issue of nudity and sexuality is one that haunts all attempts at normalizing nudity in social contexts. It is also an issue in couple relationships. The problem is that we are all hard-wired, as mature and maturing adults, to respond to visual stimulation, perhaps more so for the male than the female. A naked body is sexual – instinctively. How we respond to nudity is biological, as well as conditioned by our societal programming and the setting (context) within which one

finds oneself when presented with the sight of a nude body. No surprises here.

World Naked Bike Ride 2014, London. England.

Being nude in a clothed public space is often about shock and perhaps awe. The Naked World Bike Rides are one example. The approach is different, more of a social party than protest, but the protest is real. The intent is still to challenge society and governments. It definitely isn’t about being at one with nature, about relaxing into one’s body and connecting with one’s inner self. Nor is it about simply being transparent and honest about oneself with others.

There is an agenda, a point that is being made, a protest even if that agenda is driven by the unconscious self. People respond to that protest and typically equate nudity with the protest. Often the focal point of the protest is lost by the impact of the nude body which cuts below our consciousness into gender responses and unconscious personal and collective shadow (complexes) triggers.

Protesting Doukhobors in Langham, SK

Nudity laws first appeared on the books in the Canadian Criminal Code because of Freedomites, a radical sect of Doukhobors using nudity to protest against the Canadian government. Both men and women took part in the naked protests which often included burning their own property buildings. Nudity was all about shock, about forcing the government to do something to honour promises made. Governments rarely respond well to shock confrontations. And of course, governments actually represent the typical psyche of the people for whom they govern.

So, why do we get nude? Why do we want or need,to be nude, especially when society has strictures against nudity? The truth is, in spite of all the words that rush out in defence of nudity, we really don’t know the answers. The truth is, we all struggle with a basic question of identity and purpose. “Who am I, really?” I spend a lot of my time nude. I am learning to respect the need for nudity and perhaps I am also learning, somewhat, where this need comes from. As a result, I do my best to ensure that my nudity doesn’t get in the way of meeting my needs when with others. With most people, I remain clothed though many know I am a naturist and spend time nude. With others, I am comfortable being nude as they are also nude – nudity is something in common, not a challenge.

Obviously I don’t have any answers. What I do offer is simply that each person becomes just a bit more conscious of their intentions and their needs. Perhaps, we can then find the world to be less affronted, shocked, or fearful in response to our nudity.

Naturism and the Rejecting of Shame

“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.” —George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903

George Bernard Shaw – The Thinker

George Bernard Shaw embodied this rejection of shame, rejecting sublimation to the collective unconscious which brings out the worst in humans in communities across the world. It doesn’t take much for neuroses to become embedded into a culture. We gather together in communities, primarily out of fear of being alone. We view the others outside of our communities as inferior or even enemies. Within our communities, those who don’t accept the collective neuroses as moral truths are shamed with the intention of having conformity, unity.

In the end, no one naturally fits into the collective paradigm and as a result we end up with individuals who suffer in shame, in self-doubt and expend a lot of money and energy to hide their natural differences from the average modern man.Freedom from shame, a state of being that can best be thought of as a free spirit, a person who rises above the collective, or as Friedrich Nietzsche called this type of person, an uberman, a superman.

Today we all credit the beginnings of modern social nudism to the FKK movement. In reality, nudity was a normal part of life in Europe until the 18th century. Driven underground and declared an act of deviancy, it took a rebellion of youth encouraged by Nietzsche to live in harmony with nature, to embrace nudism, meditation and natural healing to bring nudism to the modern world, in spite of modern man who was and remains, ashamed of his naked body.

Shaw wrote the words above more than a hundred years ago. As I read them, I realised that nothing has changed, unless we have moved even deeper into a collective culture of shame and being offended by differences.

Naked Before God

In a world where nudity is not about shame.

I am bringing back a piece I wrote four years ago. I hope you enjoy it. …

I know that it has been said so many times that it almost seems redundant to say it once more, but it has to be said. We are born naked – all of us – without exception. It doesn’t matter what religion or what philosophy or what ideology one has; we were conceived the same way – a naked penis inserted into a naked vagina in order for naked sperm to join naked ova (yes, I know that science has allowed a few other options) and create new life. Love doesn’t have to have anything to do with it, but it is better for most humans when it is done in during a moment of shared love. A number of months later, a new human slips through the birth canal of a woman to emerge, still connected with the mother via an umbilical cord. This new human emerges through the vagina which is again naked, that must be naked if the baby is to actually emerge into the world. This new human is naked.

Now, if we listen very closely to what our society, we learn that this natural, naked body that we are all born with, is somehow something to be ashamed of, something to be hidden for it is gross, leads us to think and do all sorts of perverted things. We almost become sure that it is even evil. For example, what about the idea of praying to whatever version of the creator, deity, God that you believe in – would you pray naked? What about your visions of heaven, or whatever form of afterlife there may be according to your faith – is heaven clothing optional, clothing obligatory, or nude only?

Try to remember that the Creator went to a lot of trouble to create the earth, the heavens, all the animal and plant life and humans. And, with all of them, the creator didn’t plan on clothing factories. The first humans were nude and the creator stated that it was good. This is the same creator that somehow knows everything, or so we claim. We know we can’t really hide from the Creator – not behind doors, behind trees, behind others, or behind clothing. The Creator sees all, knows all. And most importantly, the Creator doesn’t make mistakes. The words of this Creator are treated as gospel. Humans are fallible, but the Creator is infallible. For those that believe in any religion that has a deity, this is just the way it is. I come from a Christian background and in Christianity, that is the way it is as well.

God created Adam and Eve, naked. It’s in the Bible. When he was done creating the first man and woman, naked, he said it was good. He didn’t tell them that they had to cover up or he would condemn them to hell. Nope, it was all good. A little further along in the story of the Bible, Adam and Eve try to hide from God, not a smart move as God knows all, sees all, sees right through their hiding and their covering up. And that wasn’t so good for Adam and Eve. They covered up their naked bodies and felt ashamed of their nakedness. Can you imagine the audacity to question God’s take on nakedness? He created two beautiful humans, nude; and these two fallible humans were ashamed of that creation. So begins a sad story of man’s fall from grace.

Today we have absolutely no problem believing that this perfect creation was a botched job, that God messed up big time. And, we have absolutely no issues with fixing that initial problem any way that we can – jail time, shunning, stoning, murder, shaming, slandering and the ultimate threat – God will send you to hell. Yep. Our good churches and church leaders have had a long conversation with God and got Him to see the error of his ways and straighten out His act. We’ve even convinced God to set up some robe factories so that all the angels, saints, and God Himself have their offending bodies covered.

Listen in – I’ve gone through the trouble of transcribing the conversation that took place between a gathering of Church leaders in Constantinople about 1800 years ago.

Church leaders: Why did you have to make people naked? It’s just not right!

God: I didn’t see a need to cover their nakedness. As I said in the good book. I saw what I had done and said it was good.

Church leaders: Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it hasn’t been good. Have you seen the stats lately? Fornication, rape, murder, mayhem, adultery – you name it, it’s all there.

God: Umm, what’s that got to do with me inventing humans naked?

Church leaders: Everything! Naked people have no shame, no morals.

God: I can’t say as I exactly see it your way.

Church leaders: Yeah, we know. You still haven’t admitted that your mistake with Adam and Eve being naked was the reason for them breaking your rules. Can’t admit that you screwed up there – yet. Well, we have hope that you’ll come around and make it better.

God: How do I make it better in you viewpoint?

Church leaders: Well first, no more of this naked nonsense. It’s got to stop. We thought that from now on, you wear a big robe and a beard so that only a few parts of your face and your hands are all the skin that shows. What d’ya say. Can you do it?

God: In case you didn’t notice, I have a perfect body.

Church leaders: Good lord already. We can’t have you running around with your dick flopping around. First thing you know, everyone would be running around displaying their junk.

God: Junk?

Church leaders: You know, penises. Now as we were saying. This has got to stop. Cover up the angels, the cherubim, the saints. Clean up your act and let us edit your words so that it stays that way.

God: Edit my words? What do you mean? You want to re-write the book? Wouldn’t that be like, lying?

Church leaders: Think of it as problem solving. We could have you add in another commandment. Thou shalt not be naked. We’ll take it from there as your representatives down here on earth.

God: Are you out of your minds? Ten commandments, not eleven. You can’t just mess with the truth, guys.

Church leaders: Yeah, we hear you. We took a vote earlier just in case this was a sticky point. How about we toss out the “coveting of neighbour’s goods?” It will be easier to fill the church coffers and we force people to keep their damned clothes on.

God: Count me out on all of this. I still like my work so far. As for wearing robes, I don’t think so. Heaven has perfect climate if you want to know. Everyone up here is naked, just like the Garden of Eden. No crime to speak of either. In case you guys haven’t yet figured it out, sin is a state of mind, nothing to do with a lack of clothing.

Church leaders: Yeah, we thought you’d say something like this. As a precaution, we’ve hired the best advertising agent money can buy to sell our message.

God: You can’t be serious? You actually have signed a contract with the devil?

Church leaders: We sure as hell couldn’t count on you, could we? We’ll clean up your mess. All we ask is that you keep your mouth shut and keep your nose out of our business.

God: Nothing good is going to come out of this. I feel sorry for humans with this lot in charge. Life on earth will become like living in hell.