Naturism as a Conscious Choice for Self-Discovery

Probably the hardest part of coming to grips with oneself at midlife, is the realisation that one is essentially alone. Regardless of how filled one’s life is with people, there is a sense of aloneness. Though others may share the same house, or even the same bed, the space between self and other widens the more one becomes conscious. This is a very difficult time for relationships including marriages. As James Hollis points out what we already know, “Marriages often end at midlife.”  And if the marriage doesn’t end, it becomes more of a shell as both parties invest in diversions that keep the truth at bay.

When my wife and I got married, we both believed that it was forever, that we had found the one person in the world who would complete us and meet every unspoken need, every unconscious need. Since then, we have both felt betrayed by the other for ceasing to be the person we had imagined we had married. The person we had married was a flawed human. We had to learn to take responsibility for our individual selves once we realised, painfully, that the other couldn’t.

Naturism is one of those things that define the self that is evolving within me. I am a naturist, she is not. I have dug through the ruins of my early years in order to make peace with the past. There I found a young man who had discovered a healing space outdoors in nature where he hid without clothing. That young man has aged over many decades and now finds himself again in nature without clothing in order to feel the same sense of sanctuary and well-being that had rescued him as a young man.

Couples can agree to disagree yet still find enough in common to be willing to remain together. Those points in common are vital and need to be given the space needed for a relationship to survive the differences that would otherwise overwhelm the relationship. Yet, those differences need to be honoured as well. We need to learn to take care of our own separate needs rather than expect the other to take care of them for us, and we need to allow space and time for the other to do the same. James Hollis tells us:

“There is no one out there to save us, to take care of us, to heal the hurt. But there is a very important person within, one we barely know, ready and willing to be our constant companion.”

If one thinks about it, the journey at midlife is similar to the transition one has to endure when passing from childhood to adulthood. A child loses the Magical Other of parent and is confronted with his or her smallness in the world. Then, as if a miracle, the young adult who emerges from childhood finds someone who then takes on the mantle of Magical Other.Then in midlife, an older and wiser adult is forced to realise that in spite of a career, family, and societal connections, one is alone, a stranger to themselves and to the Magical Other who has vanished only to be replaced with a complexed stranger. It’s a wonder that any marriage could survive the losses of certainties about other and self.

“What is so difficult is to trust that one’s own psyche will prove sufficient to heal itself.”

The task then at midlife is to give up the idea that someone else will take on the responsibility of healing the broken and bruised parts of who we are. We need to let go of those infantile magical thinking beliefs and find an inner and perhaps an outer place of solitude in order to take responsibility for self. For me, that place of solitude is in naturism. Where is your place of solitude where you can take ownership of your own complexes and become a more conscious person who can have a conscious relationship with other?

Being Naked, Mindful and Dignified – It’s a Matter of Choice

Rainy morning reading.

I am sitting in my tiny camping trailer while a gentle rain falls outside. The temperature has fallen to single digits and the breeze is brisk. It definitely isn’t the most pleasant situation for me to go out for a nude walk. I tried and the walk was shortened as I hurried back to my warm, tiny trailer. There is no Internet here at Green Haven, so I spend most of my time writing, taking occasional breaks to read. Having had the foresight to have loaded this page into my browser when I had Internet access, I can build this post to give to you later. As I mentioned earlier in my previous post, I am reading Living an Examined Life, by James Hollis. Today I returned to that book to begin reading the first chapter – The Choice is Yours. Hollis begins with a tough challenge:

“Whether you show up as you in this brief transit we call life or are defined by history, or context, or shrill partisan urgencies substantially depends on you. No greater difficulty may be found than living this journey as mindfully, as accountably, as we can, but no greater task brings more dignity and purpose to our lives.”

It is all about a choice, making decisions rather than abdicating our authority to others who would rush in to make choices for us, others who avoid finding their own dignity and purpose in life.

The grounds at Green Haven

Naturism is one of those choices for me. Needless to say, almost everyone in my world, my face-to-face world would rather I didn’t make that choice. Making this choice creates tension with all relationships. I could pull back, in effect turning the power of my “choice” over to these others, but I don’t. In spite of going against the collective who resist being authentically individual, I have made the choice to stand naked in front of the world. I know that I am not a “fine specimen” of muscle-crafted, masculine power; and I realise that my body shows the ravages of time. However, it is my body and I have finally let go of the collective-induced shame of having a naked body that the collective tells us to keep hidden at all costs.

The dignity does show up in attitude. An example comes to mind. One bright, warm, late summer day I was trimming the bushes in my back yard. While I was busily engaged with the task, a neighbouring woman entered my yard with the intention of borrowing a tool. She was late in registering my presence, my nude presence. I had noticed her, but kept on with my task. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was naked, nor did I try to make myself more visible to her. When she finally saw me, she apoligised for interrupting, for invading my privacy. She didn’t protest my nakedness, nor hide from it. She accepted it for what it was. In the process, we both maintained dignity. In case you are wondering, my neighbour isn’t a naturist. I made a choice to continue working naked in my yard, and she made a choice to continue with her task – as Hollis tells us – “the choice is ours.” But he goes on to qualify that statement:

“We survive in this life by adaptation. We learn from our world – families of origin, popular culture, world events, religious training, and many other sources – who we are, what is acceptable, what is not, and how we have to behave, perform, in order to fit in, gain approval from others, and prosper in this world …”

Now obviously, this world really doesn’t want us to be present as naked people. Nudity is not acceptable unless there is an economic benefit to be made which renders the nudity to be objectively defined, rather than a subjective experience. Rather than approving human nudity, society goes to great lengths to censure nudity and those who adopt a lifestyle that includes being clothing free. Hollis goes on to say:

“We become too often a servant of our environment, given our need to fit in, receive the approval of others, stay out of harm’s way.”

On the open road away from Green Haven

Becoming a naturist or a nudist has a person, at least for the moments he or she is clothing free, make a choice to not fit in, to stop being ruled by the fleeting approval of others. And as long as we hide our nudity behind privacy fences, or behind closed doors and draperies in our homes, or behind the gated barriers that separate a group from the outer world, we can stay out of harm’s way. Yet, for a good number of naturists, there is a compulsion to be more authentic with the world.

Another personal example that comes to mind is my tendency to step outside the safe boundaries and risk. For the past few days while it was warm and sunny, I left the naturist grounds carrying a small bag on my back which contained my wrap – a cover in case I would be seen by others. I would then hike down the public gravel road to a junction where I would then follow a dirt road to reach a point about five kilometres away from the naturist site. I would then return following the same route back to reach my trailer. Everything I did not only wouldn’t have met with the approval of the world outside the gates, even those within the naturist community would have disapproved – my actions could have put their comfortable life within the confines of the site, in jeopardy.

I make choices, not always good choices in most other people’s opinions, and sometimes in retrospect, I have to admit that my choices aren’t always about being mindful or dignified in terms of my soul’s needs for authenticity. Regardless of the choices I make – to do or not to do, to be or not to be – I learn to become a better version of who I am, a more conscious person.

Skyclad Time Away From Home

Green Haven club house

In the wee hours of Sunday morning I will be leaving my home in a small town on the Canadian prairies to spend a full week at Green Haven Sun Club which is about a four and a half hour drive from here. I will make the journey alone and stay alone for almost the whole time at the naturist campgrounds. Needless to say, the past few days have been busy as I try to finish off as many tasks as I could before I leave.

Deconstructing wooden pallets for wood working projects with my grandchildren.

Today it was a planting morning as my wife and I bought shrubs and grasses in the city yesterday. I dug holes and she planted. We make a good team with these kind of activities. This afternoon while she was at work, I had a different task – to cut up old pallets so that I would have wood for building birdhouses with my grandchildren, as well as for other projects they might think of such as making decorative signs with wood-burning using magnifying glasses.

Once I finished with that task, I rummaged through my book shelves in search of books to use for a planned series of posts during the week to come. I will spend most of my writing time with my book project, but I will also be making time for a return to blending in some Jungian psychology with naturist themes.

Free-Hiking as Naked Walking Meditation

Free-hiking with White Bear Lake in the background

Today I went on my first extended free-hike into the hills and valley not too far from my home in a little town on the prairies. I drove to a suitable spot which was the beginning of this trail that would take me for a four mile, or six kilometre hike where there was an almost certainty that no one would see me hiking while skyclad as in the photo above. What cultivated fields had to be passed existed were already planted.

road closed

I walked to my usual turn-around point, a sign that said, “Road Closed.” I wanted a photo of the sign as I hope to use it for the third book of my autobiography told as a story. The photo has only the sign, not an image of me without clothing as the market for the book is almost entirely the older textile community.

Then, with the photo taken, I decided to take advantage of a sunny and warm day, and the mosquito spray that had not yet worn off, to go further west towards White Bear Lake.

It didn’t take me long to begin passing the

Pale yellow flowers on the prairies.

south side of the northern end of the lake which had taken a bend heading east. I was walking where there was no trail through the fields. I spotted some pale yellow flowers as I walked along through a grass field that would be baled by the middle of the summer. I think they were buffalo bean flowers.

And then, the mosquitoes decided that I was good enough for a mid-afternoon snack. It was time to head back to my truck parked three kilometres away. Three-quarters of an hour later I got to the truck and put on my shorts and tee-shirt to drive the seven remaining kilometres to my home.

Free-hiking had become a blessed act of walking meditation as my skin breathed in the sunshine without my mind getting in the way. It was an afternoon well spent. I’m looking forward to more such free-hiking adventures between now and the approach of winter.

 

Nudity – A Fundamental Moral Problem

China Daily

I was reading an article from the People’s Daily Online, a Chinese newspaper, called, “Should naked human body be used as art symbol?” After having spent a number of years in China, I remain interested in the people and the country. Over the years, there have been a number of articles that wrestle with the issue of nudity in public. Nudity in private is a different matter in China. But, this isn’t really about nudity or non-nudity in China, it’s about how humans have found themselves in a very tight spot.

Classical nude, Chinese style

All humans are naked beneath their clothing, an evident fact when one is forced to remove a set of clothing for another set (there are people who avoid complete nudity by changing clothes under a loose robe) or when one takes a shower or bath (and yes, some people take showers and baths with some form of clothing to hide their nudity). In spite of the fact that we are naturally naked, being born without clothing, as a modern human species, we have a problem with that body. In simple terms, we find our bodies to be our enemies. And, it isn’t simply a matter of body-image where the right bit of plastic surgery or the right diet and/or exercise program will gift us with perfect bodies and therefore put an end to our obsessive love-hate relationship with our bodies. The problem goes deeper than that, much deeper.

Those who claim to be wise, tell us that it is all about religion, especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Religion is the rationale for strictures against nudity in the western world. Legal codes arise from church codes. A good case can be made for this, but it too simple of an explanation as it falls apart when we look both within and outside of the purview of these religions when it comes to accepting the naturalness of a naked human body.

 

God Forbid we see His Penis

Christ crucified by Benvenuto Cellini, 1562

Sometimes images betray unintended information about the human psyche. Benvenuto Cellini had his reasons for creating this image of Jesus Christ crucified almost five hundred years ago. He wasn’t the first of the last to show Christ nude. What is vital today, is that this image has so much to tell us about our human psyche and condition today. That is the power of what I can only say is a numinous image.

A numinous image is one that is more than a recording of a visual fact. If the image takes us deep within ourselves, or out beyond the realm of ordinary life where we can almost touch whatever it is that we call heaven or nirvana, then the image is numinous. Evoking a sense of mystery, holiness, awe, and even the presence of whatever it is that we struggle to name as the creative force of the universe, such images take us out of ourselves and into ourselves. And where it takes us, isn’t always about light. As often as an image takes us to the awe of creation and heaven, an image also makes evident the face of darkness, of fear, of anger, of hell.

As a naturist, a psychological naturist, this image speaks to me on a number of levels: the personal, the spiritual and even the collective level. Cellini has crafted in marble, man’s vulnerability. Even the Son of God is vulnerable. Seeing this vulnerability allows me to accept my own vulnerability with honour instead of shame. The path back home, back to from whence we came, like our entrance into this life, is a journey that can only be done naked and vulnerable. There is a need to give up – give up our beliefs, our religions, our anchors, all that ties us to where we are if we are to enter. No brand name article of clothing or footwear will serve as a passport to heaven. We must submit, naked and vulnerable.

I mentioned a collective level response to this image, to this historically accurate portrayal of crucifixion by Romans two thousand years ago. In our modern world, we have such a dread of being naked and vulnerable and we have adopted a sense of shame for being naked and vulnerable. For Jesus to be Son of God, then we need to cover up his nakedness. For Jesus to be the Son of Man, we need to deny his sexuality. A visible penis is too threatening.

In our modern world, an irrational fear grows more and more powerful. Mothers cover the eyes of their children at the first sign of nudity, especially male nudity. Any male caught exposed is branded a pervert and punished by the collective as a sexual offender.

In our modern world we learn to hide ourselves from others, even from ourselves. We learn that our bodies are not to be trusted. We learn that our bodies are imperfect and need serious modifications through diet, exercise, and surgery. We unconsciously come to believe that God messed up big time and had nothing to be pleased about at the end of the seventh day of creation. So, we cover up our bodies and cover up the body of a crucified Christ.

BRRRR! It’s Cold Out There and In Here

Charging the battery.

I’ve just read the news that it has been the warmest and driest on record for the past five months. Looking out the window at the clouds scudding by at breakneck speed with the occasional fleck of moisture that is trying desperately to call itself rain while the thermometer on the deck tells me that it is cold, I find myself huddled in two layers of clothes.

The day began cold with a temperature of 5 Celsius, but at least there was a hint of clear skies when I went out to set up the battery charger for my truck – the battery died as I haven’t driven the vehicle in over a month. Being brave, or perhaps not so bright, I didn’t wear clothing. After all, at at 5:30 in the morning there is little to no traffic in a tiny town on the prairies.

I did remain clothing free while working in my office thanks to an electric space heater. However, the moment I stepped out of the room, I retreated to the warmth of clothing. It’s just that kind of day.

Taking Care of Business, Skyclad

The final preparations for the garden.

The visit to Lethbridge is done and a good number of books were sold at the Chapters store in that small city. Now, I am back home taking care of business. The business included tilling the garden for a second time, and then taking a spade to the section that was still too wet for the use of the tiller. Now that is is ready, my wife will soon plant seeds which will provide us with a welcome harvest in the months to come.

Another part of the business that was waiting for me at home was the preparation of second editions, Canadian editions of my books. The René Beauchemin novels are now available at Amazon in their new formats. The Broken series of autobiographical books will be available in a matter of days as I have only proofs waiting for my attention. New size, new ISBN, and a new look for each of the four books. Now, I am back to re-writing book three for both series.

Free-Hiking as a Spiritual Communion with Self and the Word

July, 2017

I went through my private archives to find something to write about while I am visiting extended family in Alberta. I found this post written four years ago that I thought work revisiting and updating. The topic was hiking while naked. Since the first such attempts of hiking while nude in 2011, I have rarely gone a year without walking new trails and for longer distances. I imagine that I will continue to add to my free-hiking experiences with this coming season of warmth and sunshine. Below is the old post which features the trail pictured above which I have walked while skyclad many times now.

“To I was able to get out for a walk in the warm sunshine without having to wear clothing. I only had to drive about seven kilometres where I parked the car on a rarely used dirt road. From that point on, there were no farm houses or highways to intrude on my privacy. It was an incredible feeling having the sunshine warm me to the very core of my being while I walked another two kilometres on the faint trail. I have claimed this small part of the universe as my retreat centre.”

“Going without clothing is not about exhibitionism, at least when there is no one around and very little likelihood that anyone would appear on this long abandoned trail. Just in case, I did have a pair of pants as a cover-up if I was to see a farmer out seeding his new crop. Being alone on the back-country prairie hills, I have no intention of creating drama within my home area. Going without clothes is, for me, something very spiritual in nature. On the trail there is just mother nature, father sky and myself. This becomes my church, my place to be honest with myself and my creator. No cover-up, no lies.”

Back on the Road Again

A Buddha moment

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we are off on another road trip, this time to Lethbridge, Alberta where I have a book-signing event, as well as some making and smoking of venison sausage at my brother-in-law’s house. Today was all about taking care of a few chores around the house, and doing some editing work on one of my books which will then be re-published as a second edition in the relatively near future.

Mowing the back lawn with Buddha supervising

First on the agenda was the mowing of front and back lawns. As usual, the back lawn was done while I was skyclad. Once that was done, I hauled out another section of basement wall wood slats which were removed to further expose cracked cement. The repair person will becoming in mid-

Removing nails

June to patch up the cement which will then allow me to replace the wood and drywall on the two walls that I have exposed. Once the wood was outside, I removed the nails so that the wood could be reused. Then, I took the wood into the garage to be stored out of the sun and possible rain until it’s time to reuse the wood.

With the outdoor tasks done, it was time for a Radler in the sunshine before heading back into the house to return to my work of editing another book. Until the next time, “Cheers!”