Risking Authenticity as a Naturist

Stilling the monkey mind

It was hard trying to begin today’s post. I found it hard to sit still at the computer and get started. My mind kept racing all over the place. I was making plans for all sorts of activities over the next several months in my head without recording any of these ideas. The time out I gave to myself to sit quiet in meditation helped for a short while, but even that peace began to be drowned out by the constant chatter in my head. Finally, I was able to sit down and begin. My mind, my ego was rushing around doing its best to avoid this sitting down and return to the work of soul healing.

Now that I have my ego back under control, I can begin today’s post about respect and about values. Of course, as a naturist, I have learned that society, as a collective, has no respect for naturism, nudism, nude activism or just the simple enjoyment of occasional nude activity.  As a result, there is a growing underground collective of those who want to be naked, nude, au naturel, etc. It is understandable, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having the general population be respectful of a sizable group of citizens who pay their taxes, contribute to their society in various enterprises and work positions.

The cost of being different

Respect is a difficult term. For the general society, it really isn’t about respect at all, it is about obeying and conforming, or else. And to back up the “or else,” laws and religious edicts are continually put forth to enforce compliance. And where there are no laws, communities make up unwritten laws in order to ensure that differences are not tolerated. Why? Being different for many is viewed as a negative criticism of the group. In response to one’s being “not like the others,” a defensive response, the group reacts with demonizing, humiliating and shaming. As I say this, I want to make sure you understand that I am talking about groups, not individuals. In every group there are some that are more aware than others. And because they are more aware of themselves and others, there is more tolerance and respect. They have already learned that no human is either good or evil, but that every human is a complex blend of conscious and unconscious behaviours and attitudes.

Now, I realise that there are so many gray areas here. There are people who, on an individual level have reason to be “naked wary.” There are too many who have suffered sexual assaults, too many who have been humiliated about their bodies. I respect their position of being extremely discomforted by nudity. I have also seen how nudity has been abused by corporate industry through advertising all the way to hard-core pornography.  That has left even more people unable to separate personal nudity from the evils of a corporate world determined to make addicts of every one of us: addicts of sex, addicts of fear, addicts of whatever it is that they have to sell none of which is good for our heart and soul, and often our very bodies. So how do I show respect for these hurting individuals? Obviously, I don’t become a threat to their well-being by getting into their spaces and getting nude. Do I expect a response of respect back from them? Well, yes I do – but I don’t expect it or demand it.

Like almost all naturists, I just want to be left in peace, to not have to worry that if I get seen in some peaceful nature setting, or even in my own yard, naked, that I won’t have to deal with the threat of law, or be harassed and bullied. My getting naked is about my feeling good about who I am, it isn’t about trying my hardest to offend or traumatise anyone. My getting naked is about making peace with my body as part of my own journey of healing of soul.

Mental Buddhism and Skyclad Depth Psychology

A time for peaceful contemplation when simply being me was enough.

Today is starting off as an introspective day. After my morning meditation along the sea where I could feel the breezes and see the sun rising to bless this body with its first rays. Back at the casa, I continued to sit relatively still on the balcony with only a few stirrings. My mind was still and that was a blessing. Stripped of all of the normal chatter in my brain, it was as though my mind decided to embrace naturism as well, to dare being bare of all of those illusory thoughts that preoccupy the mind. For the hours from rising until the start of writing this post, I would say that I was a Buddhist Mental Nudist, a term coined by Domo Geshe Rinpoche, an American woman who is not really what she claims to be, a Rinpoche in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Be that as it may, I saw the expression “mental nudist” and knew that the term fits the experience of this morning. It is also a term that accords with what I would call skyclad depth psychology.

With this discovery of Buddhism and Nudism, I continued my search on how the two do become one. I know that as an organisation, Buddhism is not supportive of naturism or nudism based on the early teachings of Siddharhta Gautama (Buddha). Today, Buddhists are wrapped in robes and those robes serve a purpose of defining roles so that all will know who is a lay person, who is a monastic, who is a dharma teacher, who is a Lama, who is a Rinpoche. Buddhism is invested in the world, a world that doesn’t have much value for naturism and nudism. Yet, when I say that, I am talking about the container of Buddhism, not the stripped bare heart of Buddhism. At the heart of Buddhist philosophy, not Buddhism as a religion, everything is stripped bare leaving one fully exposed, leaving one without illusions.

It comes down to some basic facts. One is a human. One has a body. One has a mind. One has a soul. And perhaps most importantly, one is connected at all levels with the universe which is One. There is no shame in the body each human is gifted with at birth regardless of what the collective decides is beautiful or ugly or sinful – the body is the purest physical expression of who we are, an honest physical portrait, a temple for the mind, spirit and soul.

“The gods made our bodies as well as our souls, is it not so? They give us voices, so we might worship them with song. They give us hands, so we might build them temples. And they give us desire, so that we might mate and worship them in that way.” [Martin, The Clash of Kings, p. 210]

Naked Beneath One’s Clothing

Nude meditation outdoors in May

I often meditate nude in the garden back home in Canada, so that I could experience the sense of spirit without any constrictions that pulled my attention back into my body. Sometimes, I use my dark blue housecoat which can be seen beside me here in the photo, especially on those breezy mornings when the temperature is still in the single digits in spite of the sun shining. It is important not to get stuck in routines for those routines can begin to own you and end up causing anxiety should one be forced outside to the time and space for the observance of routines. Here in Ecuador, my meditation is almost fully a walking meditation. Whether it is morning or afternoon, I wear as little as possible along the beach as I let the kilometres slip by. No camera of flapping clothing, or idle gossip to break the sound of nature’s presence.

Jesus meditating by Bruce Harman

Jesus meditating by Bruce Harman

In my opinion, it isn’t necessary to do always do one’s meditation nude as in my example above where I wear a robe or a mini-brief swimsuit. Nor is it necessary to depict meditation as nude meditation even if one is without clothing. The act of meditating has nothing to do with clothing. Clothing has to do with the psyche of the person and perhaps common sense. Given the scene painted by Bruce Harman here, it is possible that coolness was the reason for the robe that Jesus is wearing while meditating; or, perhaps it is more about Harman’s sense of modesty and not wanting to admit that Jesus as a man had a man’s body. Jesus as son of God is about spirit, not body. Once one looks carefully, one knows that under the robe, even Jesus is naked.

Clothing worn while meditating is a sensory reminder that one is in the body, constricted in that body and not free to be fully spirit. At least, for me, that is it feels like. Sitting in meditation is an opportunity to simply be, to have release from the body, the mind and suffering. Needing to wear clothing while meditation, with the exception of weather protection and perhaps protection from insects, is based of fear. Entering into meditation carrying one’s neurosis makes the journey to that freedom of spirit just that much more difficult. Yet even carrying one’s neurosis into meditative practice is a worthy act, one that allows growth of peace, one that allows the journey to freedom to move a few more steps forward. So, just a gentle reminder to you, my readers – just sit and be. Don’t debate the issue, just sit.

Negative Reactions to Nudity Are Based on Pain

When Things Fall Apart

So much anger, fear and pain is doing a number on all of us, regardless of which side of anger and fear we find ourselves at any given time. It doesn’t matter which side of an idea or conflict we find ourselves. All we know is what we feel, that we are under siege and that the world is falling apart, going to hell in a hand basket. There is no doubt that when it comes to the world of naturism and nudity, there almost feels to be an accentuated degree of believing that the world is falling apart.

Naturists have worked hard as a collective in North America, over the last seventy-some years to carve out a semblance of naturist community with naturist spaces. It was a long process that did result in having spaces and places to claim for the naturist world and cause. Those opposed to the idea of nudity because of religious beliefs, fear of paedophiles, personal experiences of sexual abuse, or simply out of personal shame for their own bodies are tortured by the same sense of loss of control and sanity in the world surrounding them. For both sides of the naturist equation, the world is falling apart, and the people and groups on the other side of the equation is the enemy.

“All over the world, everybody always strikes out a the enemy, and the pain escalates.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, p. 11)

These words by Pema Chödrön aptly express what is happening all around us, and even within us. The world is in pain, our neighbours are in pain, our children are in pain; and when we dare to closely enough and are honest, we are in pain. In our pain, we look outside of ourselves for someone to blame. It’s a normal response.

Femen protests

We blame those who carried the guns that shot the children. We blame organisations that lobby for a gun in every home, as well as those who lobby to have all the guns removed. We blame broken families and far away enemies. We blame our caretakers for failing us. We blame those who are actively pursuing the removal of rights to be nude, to swim in the nude. We blame those who want to force nudity down our throats. We blame others, nameless others for the most part.

Nude is lewd – be modest because the Bible tells says so.

But we rarely look within ourselves to see that we, too, are part of the problem. That darkness that terrorises us from somewhere out there is the same darkness that we deny within ourselves. The darkness seen in our societies mirror our own darkness. We look for scapegoats, and we hide behind our own guns, our churches, our medications, our addictions. But at some point it all falls apart and we come face to face with ourselves.

Evil does happen out there; but we have the echoes and the roots of that same evil within each and every one of us. We are left hurt, fearful, sad, angry, and often paralysed. So what can we do? We can approach all of this following Chödrön’s suggestion:

“Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening. It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel too bad about ourselves. . . . Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, pp. 12-13)

Yes, meditation is a valid response. But, it is not our only response. We do live in communities and we have a responsibility to act in the best interests of our communities. But how do we act? Do we act blindly with revenge and blaming and fear and anger? Or, do we first look for an inner balance and respond in ways that keep us somewhere in the middle, a way that respects the heart and the head for ourselves and the others whom we are so quick to blame for the problems that tell us our world is falling apart? I can’t tell you the answer, you have to sit still long enough to know your answer, to know the questions that need to be asked. Yes, sit still.

Nude Meditation and Bindu

I have brought this post forward from December 2012. Only four weeks later, I found myself on the shores of the Caribbean Sea meditating nude at sunrise. It seemed vital to me, today to do this for I have been struggling to fit meditation into my daily regime here in Ecuador in 2018. This has resulted in a loss of vital energy for me that I need to recover. Of course, I know what needs to happen. Now, it is up to me to take my own words to heart and find the will to match the need.

Naturist Meditation by the Sea at Sunrise

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability  and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.” (Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)

It has been an interesting day for me, one that resulted in delaying the writing of this post amongst other things. I took today’s image from the Smithsonian Magazine site as it resonated with what I was feeling, where I have been and to where I am once again heading. Though it is -20 C outside the walls of my home, I sense the upwelling of vital energy within me, an energy that is both body and spirit. There is a term for this – bindu.

Bindu is held to be the point at which begins creation and the point at which the many becomes the unity. It is also described as “the sacred symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state.”

This idea of becoming one is both a Buddhist and a Jungian concept. I now had a term for the energy field that was wakened, so I went in search of more, first turning to one of my books by Chogyam Trungpa:

“The physical act of sex has often been described . . . as an act of noncompletion. Sex is seen as a clumsy way of releasing your bindu. Bindu in this case is the essence of the body; often it is equated with semen, but that is not necessarily a good definition. Both men and women possess bindu. Bindu is the essence of the mind and essence of the body.” (Trungpa, Work, Sex, Money, p. 102)

As I meditate nude, there is a blossoming of energy that touches the roots of my body as well as my mind which embraces so much more that what I should know. And as I am awakened to this bindu, I experience a freedom that far surpasses that of simply being clothes free. I feel the fullness of being a man, the fullness of being a child of the god and goddess.of all creation.

Confronting the Truth of Our Naked Selves

The Yin and the Yang of relationship.

In real life relationships, the masculine and feminine are two separate things, polar opposites, just as black is opposite to white and day is opposite to night. Though they are separate and opposite, they are locked together to make a whole; a complete day, a cohabiting couple. The opposites circle each other and penetrate each other in an attempt to fuse into a singleness. In a complete day, this attempt of one trying to fuse into the other, is seen at both the dawn and sunset. In a human relationship, this is seen in the act of intercourse which leads to a momentary “petit mort” where the sense of separateness disappears. In meditation, where the dance becomes that of consciousness circling the unconscious, it is the tiny space, an empty space following an out-breath, just before a new in-breath has begun.

Day fusing into night, man fusing into woman.

When we live unconsciously, there are no deep, probing questions about who we are or who is this other person; there are no questions about the nature of the day or the seasons or the year. When, for some reason, a light goes on somewhere within us, we begin to notice our separateness from the world and from others. It is this dawning of awareness that causes us to experience both suffering and joy. This is the curse given to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Humans haven’t really been sent from the garden. Humanity has simply emerged from a participation mystique as an unconscious collective.

We now see that the Garden of Eden where we lived in natural harmony, lived without the need of clothing, artifice, or fear is separate from us. It seems that the more aware we become of who we are and who the other is, the more isolated and alone we feel, separated from each other and our Garden of Eden that is the Earth. And in response to our suffering of isolation and estrangement, we behave badly and at rare “sometimes”, surprisingly godly. But that can only happen when we finally accept the beauty and godliness of our own naked selves.

What is not noted for the most part is the joy that emerges. When man confronts his separateness from woman, and woman confronts her separateness from man, both become more self aware. Both see themselves through lenses that are constantly changing and enlarging. Rather than only seeing the self through the eyes of the other, and the collective, we begin to discover truths about ourselves that can only be dredged from our personal depths. In the end, we return to the truth that we are not really alone, but we are individuals in relationships with a significant other, a community, and the Earth.

Nude Meditation and Writing While Nude For Healing

Meditation in Thailand, January 2012.

Every once in a while my wife picks up my camera in order to note the fact that I am also part of the experience in a new country, or an event at home. This is a difficult task as I am usually busy with the camera or else we are busy with doing things that doesn’t involve cameras. One morning in late January of 2012, while I was meditating on my private little balcony, she took this photo of me in meditation at a time when I was experiencing intense suffering due to the wounds of childhood and youth.

We are all wounded. It is impossible to be alive and not have suffered wounds. Regardless of the degree of wounding, each of us needs healing. Too many deny that reality, telling themselves and everyone in their lives that they are just fine, thank you. The problem is that they actually believe this. Any niggling shadows in the background are banished as soon as they are registered.

Being in Thailand in 2012 was about healing,  as much as it was about spending the winter break in a warm place following the end of the first term at the university where we both taught. A major part of that healing work was meditation for me, and if given the opportunity, nude meditation in a private, out-of-doors location. I meditated twice a day in Thailand; once in the early morning when the sound of birds provided background music, and once in the mid-afternoon when the full sun fell on my body. I still find it especially healing with the sun and a breeze and sounds of birds which help banish “thinking.” I try hard to become “still” inside, a rest from the other work of healing while I meditate in my yard in Canada when the weather and the situation provides me that opportunity today. Otherwise, I meditate indoors.

The other part of the healing process was writing. Back in 2012, I wrote in two separate documents. The first document was a journal in which I recorded my dreams, associations, and bits of memories as they emerged. I also allowed my feelings and intuitions to take form in words in that journal. The second document was a purposeful recounting of life, my life, as I knew it. I had repressed much of my childhood, boyhood and youth and had been meeting with many blank spots in the process of writing. But as I continued the work, images began to emerge out of darkness allowing me to add more to my story.

This was my process and it still seems to be working for me. I build, or I should say, I am continually in the process of healing, even though to outward appearances, life just couldn’t be much better. My dreams tell me otherwise. We learn to live with the wounds much better than if we deny our wounds.

Meditations on the Naked Truths About Relationships

Meditation in our apartment in China, October 2011

I take time in my life for meditation. At least that has been the case for much of my adult life. Since leaving Canada for a winter sojourn through Peru, and now Ecuador, that seems to have fallen out of my life. I have tried meditation but somehow I find myself escaping the meditation with “thinking” and even leaving my seat feeling disgusted with myself for my failure to do what I know is vital to my well being. Of course, there is no one to blame for this, even myself. It is just part of the cycle of things.

A few of you also know that I am a naturist at heart. So, it has been my preferred habit to combine both nudity and meditation. Why did I choose this photo for this post? Well, for one thing, it taken by my wife in October 2011. She almost never takes photos of me when I am nude.  That morning, when she returned from teaching her early morning classes at the university, she saw something in the way the light was falling on me while I meditated and she tried to capture what she saw. She didn’t see nakedness, nor meditation. Rather, she saw something about who I was in this modern world. She saw something, and respected what she saw.

Relationships are difficult things. With two individuals who fall in love the initial image is one of unconscious projection. The person is more than the man or woman with whom one has fallen in love. One sees an image that is bigger than any one person can ever hope to be. As time passes and one begins to see this person without the projections. Time has a way of having us open our eyes to discover the real person before us. At that time, one must learn to respond to the reality of this person. Often we complain that this wasn’t the person we married, a true statement. One marries a real person, but one thinks one is marrying a different person, one that is created unconsciously within oneself.

As the years pass, we begin the process of discovering the real person we have taken as a mate. As we note the reality and adjust, we attempt to change ourselves to fit with the other in an attempt to continue the relationship. We want to be that person whom our partner fell in love with. Sometimes the changes are too much or go against the fundamental beliefs we hold of ourselves. When this happens the relationship enters stormy waters. We are forced to re-examine these fundamental beliefs and weigh them against the positives of being together, and there are always positives, in the relationship.

If one is honest with oneself and one’s partner, then a relationship will always enter stormy waters. We must be honest with ourselves and with our partners. That honesty will point out the differences between each other and the differences we hold about the other than are causing personal discord. This honesty isn’t spoken with the intent of changing the other person as that can’t be realised and have the other person be true to their own nature. With honesty there is an opportunity to see each other in a new light and consider how that person resonates or complements what one honestly knows about oneself.

Attempts to change the other, demand change in the other, or force change on oneself for the other always ends in fracturing a relationship, too often breaking the relationship beyond repair. Accepting the differences, and finding a way to honour those differences, allows a relationship to continue and grow. As the relationship grows, the strength of the individuals in the relationship also grows. The relationship becomes a sacred container within which both partners feel safe, the relationship becomes a holy marriage.