A Snippet of Unimportant Trivia in the Life of a Prairie Naturist

Setting up my new wireless printer/scanner/copier

I was intending to print out some document related to my Retired Eagle Books business two days ago and found that my old printer had finally decided retirement was the best option for itself. I need a printer for my home business, so it forced me to go out and buy a new printer. I won’t say anything about models or brands because this isn’t supposed to be a post to endorse any kind of product.

What I did do differently this time around was to hook up the wireless feature. Life has changed since the last time I bought a printer. I have a tablet and a smartphone as well as my laptop. My wife also has all three devices. It didn’t take me long to test out all the features including connecting to the printer wirelessly from all the devices. Job done to my satisfaction. Now, I can redo my business cards for the next book-signing event set for two weeks from today.

Life seems to be settling down following the return from Ecuador. The cold, winter conditions have been the hardest part of getting settled in. I miss being warm while outdoors. I am already searching out options for next winter. As for the rest of this winter [it’s still winter on the Canadian prairies in spite of what the calendar tells me], it will likely be sometime in May before I can truly enjoy being nude outdoors. Hopefully, by the time Naked Gardening Day rolls around, I can begin working our garden area in preparation for planting.

Naturist Lens is Rising Out of the Ashes Like a Phoenix

A new look at a new URL for Naturist Lens

Well, I’ve recovered my domain name and have moved my blog site over to take advantage of that success story. It is as if Naturist Lens has found a way to rise out of the ashes of the old version that used to exist at this same URL. Needless to say, I am a happy camper. In the process, I have the opportunity to rebuild my other blog sites that disappeared.

Of course, I had to celebrate this momentous event with a photo. I will be taking the temporary site down ASAP so that there is nothing lost in the process because attention was split into two locations. I do hope that this doesn’t cause too much confusion for those who had followed along at the temporary site.

A Naturist Journey To Wholeness

Dark Night of the Soul

In the book, Dark Nights of the Soul, Thomas Moore talks about the need to come to terms with the fact that within each of us there is darkness and that we need to not only recognise this darkness, but to own it as part of the whole, the totality of who and what we are. Moore says;

“In your dark night you may learn how to become darker. It isn’t enough theoretically to believe in shadow. You have to live it in such a way that it is real but not literal.” [p. 115]

When we take off our clothes, we become more, not less, of ourselves. Clothing allows others only to see a small part of who we are, a controlled face of ourselves. We want to hide our self-perceived defects and flaws. When we are unsure of ourselves, we are desperate to have others see us as we imagine we could be “if only . . . “. The problem with this is the disturbing evidence that we are not really aware of others see of us. So, we hide more and more of ourselves which unfortunately makes us more and more of a stranger to ourselves.

Having hope in the darkest of hours

Rather than avoid disclosing ourselves on a physical level, we need to bare our bodies to our own eyes and discover every aspect of our bodies. Nothing should be left undiscovered. As we become familiar with all the defects and flaws that we hid from in the past, we begin to realise that there really aren’t any defects and flaws, Rather, we learn that we are more, much more than we have ever imagined. As we integrate all this, the fact that a human body can’t be anything but imperfect, there is hope that one will then have the courage to face the darkness within, the flaws and defects of our inner selves.

A person can’t just go half way on the journey to wholeness; both the inner and outer self has to be uncovered, exposed and then embraced. The dark self is real. In becoming familiar with that dark self, one doesn’t give the dark self permission to act out that darkness. What one needs to do is to recognise that within is a saint and a demon. Without awareness, the demon can erupt from within without our awareness and leave a trail of wreckage for us to deal with when consciousness returns.

With nudity, we steal the power of repression and replace it with a healthy sense of self and other. There is less pull to the darker side of the human body, to pornography, to rape, to sexual exploitation of others. With becoming familiar with our naked psyche, we earn the same power and become more respectful or ourselves and others. What is repressed is expressed unconsciously.

Perhaps this is the message of hope that comes with the Dark Night of the Soul represented by the Crucifixion of Christ, the promise of a return to light. Yes, this is a deliberate choice for today’s blog post, Good Friday.

Nudity and Holiness – Joyful in the World of Naturism

Joy of being alive, free, and nude

Nudity isn’t all about seriousness. I have been talking a lot about the spiritual aspects of being naked and somehow, I think that we mistake spiritual with seriousness. There is definitely an element of humour and goodwill in being a spiritual person, or in meeting with our personal spiritual aspect.

Nudism shares a sense of goodwill and acceptance of others whether they are naked or still shy of making themselves vulnerable to others through nudity. After all, we all know that in spite of beliefs of sin or shame or cultural codes – everyone is born naked and remains naked underneath their clothing. There are no real surprises when it comes to seeing each other without clothing. In spite of a wide range of sizes, colour, complexion, body type or any other physically defining trait, there is one thing we all share – we are humans, male and female [or some where in between because of accidents of nature], with the sexual organs of our gender which are primarily in place for the reproduction of the species as well as for the enjoyment of each other as sexual beings. All of this is common sense.

Something that seems to be missing from common sense though is some clear-headed thinking. When we see a new born child, nude; we say that the child is beautiful. When we see our children nude as they grow up during those normal moments in home life, we see them as beautiful. When we see our spouse, our significant other nude, we say that he or she is beautiful. For in our eyes, our children and our life mates are beautiful in spite of bumps, bruises or blemishes they may have. We see them as they truly are beneath the skin. When God saw the naked male and female of her/his creation, the same feeling of good was spoken and recorded as the Word of God. Yet, somehow, in spite of God’s proclamation and our personal knowledge as parents and mates, the nude human body has become something to be ashamed of, something almost evil.

The Church versus God in the modern world.

Did God screw up? Do we humans somehow know better than God when it comes to nakedness? Think about it. Either God is a bungler or he/she is being misrepresented by those who have a vested interest in demonizing the human body, treating it only as something grossly pornographic. It seems most of our churches have weighed in on the matter and declared God to have erred in his/her statements in the Garden of Eden. Our church leaders have made the corrections and have in turn instructed us to ignore these words and listen to their version of the story, the true version according to the holy church leaders. What do you think? God doesn’t have a clue and our church leaders have all the answers?

Having it backwards where nudity is about Satan and concealing robes are about Jesus.

Now, if one really things about it all, it is absurd, even humourous. I imagine our church leaders showing up at the pearly gates dressed to the max in order to impress God with their piety and holy prudery. Imagine God in heaven, in the Garden, clothed only in light, the model from which she/he created the human species, a species that was and is created with each new birth, naked. Thinking of this scene brings a smile to my heart. God obviously has a sense of humour as well, another one of the gifts passed on to the Children of God.

The Church has gone to a lot of trouble to convince us that the “good” nudity of the Garden of Eden becomes the punished state of being in Purgatory and Hell. Heaven, is a place to hide the human body.  Of course our bodies know better. As soon as we are naked in nature, the ecstasy and joy radiate and fill our inner self and then radiate to be a testament to the original state of being that we call Paradise.

Nudity and Holiness – Who are You Naked For?

Sucking in the gut to make an impression.

I am returning to Pastor Ed Raby’s post, Naked Before God – Part 1, and talk about the fourth positive spiritual aspect, that of genuineness. This one gives me a bit more trouble than some of the other aspects because, in my opinion, being naked has no guarantee that one is being genuine. A few days ago one of my acquaintances posted a brief note about his being with a few friends, naturist friends. The guys in the group did their best to suck in their increasing girth that comes with age as an attempt to . . . and this is where the issue of genuineness comes into the story. The wife of one of these men asked “When you get naked, who is it for?” This lady asked a powerful question that didn’t need any voiced answers. It was enough just to be said and to get all thinking about being honest with themselves.

Joyful celebration of spirit

Simply being naked has nothing to do with being spiritual, approaching the spiritual, or about being honest with ourselves. It takes more than stripping off the clothes to be genuine. As soon as one becomes part of a group while nude, there are other factors that consciously and unconsciously come into play. There are issues that deal with relationship with others of the same gender and of the opposite gender; there are issues with how various ways of holding one’s body, or the choice of words, or the tone of voice all interact to evoke emotion within us, the increase of affective energy both positive and negative – bringing into play projections. 

A conversation of spirit and light

There is a reason why Jesus counselled people to pray alone and in a private place [Matthew 6:6]. For it is when one is alone that all the environment and psychological distractions will allow for an opportunity for each of us to finally be genuine. Alone, we can then ask ourselves, “Who is this for? What is this all about?”

Now, this is not a criticism of social nudity, for there is much that is positive that comes from being with others, being in a like-minded community. The way we act with each other can be genuine as much as it is possible to be genuine; however, that is so much different than the approach to the spiritual centre within each of us. For so many of us, it is easier to be genuine with others than it is to be brutally honest with one’s self. The presence of our inner shadow gives us pause, a pause that is based on fear and when it is sensed, even a bit of shame. This shame has nothing to do with being nude, physically; rather it is about being naked psychologically where all that is within us is exposed. The fear of this exposure causes us to bury these dark shadows that are faces of ourselves, so deep that we forget that they are even there. This psychological nakedness is often too much for us to handle, so we rush back to our safe places, our carefully constructed versions of self that exclude the shadows. We then begin to believe that our physical nakedness presents the genuine self, and that should be enough.

Now really, for whom are you naked?

Nudity and Holiness – Intimate Relationship with Self and Other

Secure in an intimate relationship

Intimacy is about relationship, a significant relationship in which one discloses the fullness of oneself, more than what one knows consciously about the self. Nudity tells our significant other that we trust her or him enough to make ourselves vulnerable. We open ourselves to everything that comes with intimate relationship; not just sex, but everything. Part of that intimacy with other is as much about cultivating an intimacy with oneself as it is with the other. When my significant other sees me, naked, she sees more than skin. She sees things about me that I am unaware of, things that I am blind to – perhaps she isn’t even consciously aware of what she sees and senses in me, but it is all there because of the gift of vulnerability and openness. Sharing these two gifts with each other, we experience something deeper, an intimacy of soul as well as body.

It still isn’t all light – there are shadows.

I understand this and accept this as the way it needs to be for cultivating a relationship. I am one of the lucky ones and have been rewarded with forty-six years with my significant other, my wife. That said, I have not been so lucky when it comes to having a positive, relationship with myself: my body, my psyche and my soul. I have not given myself the gift of openness or vulnerability in order to enter into an intimate relationship with the whole of who I am. And needless to say as a result, the same can be said for my relationship with God in whatever name or form I choose to acknowledge her/him.

Meditation at home

For many, many years, I have done the work, the psychological work to develop a healthy relationship with my psyche. Yet for all that work, so much remains clouded and wrapped in shadows. I have never been able to find the clarity that I craved about who I was. No sooner had I achieved a breakthrough and begun to believe that the work was done, when a new crisis would present itself casting me deeper into the shadow world, into darkness. I began to turn to more spiritual avenues with the adoption of Buddhist practices and philosophy while trying to enlarge my psychological field of self reference. I travelled much of the world to stop in at as many places of worship as I could, hoping that somehow one of these places would provide the key. But, the key wasn’t to be found in India, IndoChina or anywhere else in Asia and Europe.

Ecuador meditation

Discouraged, I returned to my home and watched things fall apart, taking refuge in my meditation. For whatever reason, I meditated while nude. It somehow felt right. I found myself going again and again to meditation for release from the grips of darkness. I admit that I am a slow learner as it took quite a while for me to realise that it was more that meditation that was giving me release. When I was able to meditate outdoors when in Latin America, the feelings of health increased dramatically. I fell in love with the sun as it warmed my body, as it gave light to guide me from the shadows. It wasn’t long before I dared more than nude meditation, I risked sun-bathing and was rewarded with a sense of wellness that had been missing for so long. The we returned home to Canada and a withdrawal from nudity with the exception of my daily meditation. And I crashed.

Today in Ecuador, days until the return to home.

It was my wife who noted what had happened. I listened to what she had to tell me and then I thought on it for some time, wondering just what it was with nakedness that made a difference. Nakedness didn’t mean more sex or better sex with my wife; nakedness wasn’t about getting thrills and attention from strangers. Somehow, nakedness was about giving myself the gifts of vulnerability and openness. And somehow, in the process, within myself I found a path back to my soul. In moments of nakedness, the intimacy of mind and soul naturally led me back to the original source of all life that dwelt within me as it does within each of us. Nudity allowed me to participate in an intimate relationship with holiness.

Nudity and Holiness – Nothing to Hide

In spite of the scene, there is an openness to be in the world, fully vulnerable. Photo by Glyn Davies.

I am returning to Pastor Edward Raby’s post, Naked Before God Part 1, as there is more there that I have been mulling over these past few days. In a previous post I had a few words in response to vulnerability, the first of six positive spiritual aspects of nudity. As a counsellor I am well aware of how vulnerability is vital in working with someone who comes for help because of the wounds suffered in living. A good listen regarding vulnerability is available as a T.E.D. presentation by Brené Brown for those who want to have a deeper psychological understanding of vulnerability. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean that one becomes a victim or powerless. What it does mean is that we open ourselves to the truth of who we are, and usually in doing so, discover our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

In this post I want to focus on the second positive spiritual aspect of nudity, that of openness. Openness is not simply being clothes-less. It is a state of mind that has barriers removed so that one allows the self to be seen as well as allowing the self to see without filters, without preconceived notions. The image to the right shows a woman who is open to the universe in front of her, partially immersed  while reaching up to the heavens. As I look at the image, I get the sense of vulnerable while being open as she would be experiencing it at a deeper than surface level, at a psychological and spiritual level.

Hiding from God. Hiding from ourselves – body and mind.

Openness as Raby proposes, is an admission and a realisation that there is nothing to hide, that God sees through us whether we hide behind several layers of clothing or behind positions of power, behind whatever persona we adopt including that of being a victim. One has to admit that there is no place to hide. There is no doubt in my mind, that the fact that we don’t, perhaps can’t, live lives of perfection, without sin leads us to hide. Psychologically, we begin by hiding from ourselves. We hide those faces of ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to see; we hide them so well we even forget that they ever existed. They fall into our personal shadow. We also hide behind lies, big lies and little lies, in order to protect ourselves, to avoid being so vulnerable. We hide behind our roles in life, sometimes so much so that we begin to think that the sum total of who we are is found in those roles. We also hide behind denial, addictions and distractions. The last thing we want to do is to be present with ourselves. However, openness demands being present, fully present.

Nudity forces us to confront the reality of at least our bodies. Curiously, it also opens the doorway to more as we begin to accept the fact of our bodies, the fact of our vulnerable nakedness. When one dares, then, to consciously reach toward whatever it is that we hold as our spiritual centre – God, Allah, Yahweh, etc. – it is as though a doorway opens between self and the One. There is no place to hide from God, whether it is in the mind, or in the body, or in the spirit. For as was written:

 “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

There is no hiding when God is to be found in your body, in your mind, in your heart and in your soul as well as in nature, in the works of man, and the places we would feel would be the last place on Earth where she/he would be found.

Nudity and Holiness – Return to the Garden of Eden

In the Garden of Eden, naked and unashamed.

As I try to understand more about nudity psychologically and spiritually, I keep finding myself being presented with conflicting  information – nudity and pornography versus nudity and spirituality. Somehow the conflict makes sense from a perspective of depth psychology, but I wrestle with it as a spiritual person. Everything about the human psyche has a duality which is captured in the image and the idea of yin and yang. We actually get to feel this duality within ourselves as we cycle from good feelings to dark feelings. The words hate and love are words that get a good work out in our daily speech. And in our world, the response to seeing a human without clothing evokes responses that range from intense goodness to intense darkness.

If I shift perspectives for a moment, I can begin to grasp an elementary idea of what might actually be an answer. I am a parent. I took part in a creative act with my incredible wife which led to the birth of three children. I saw each of my three children as they emerged from the womb into the world. They were perfect; they were unclothed; they could do nothing that was wrong in them, no possibility to commit any conceivable sin. And, as far as I could tell, in the beginning of each of their lives, they were Eve and Adam in their turn. Their presence in my life evoked a sense of awe. All doubts were cast aside. I believed.

Yes, it’s hard to accept that his creation of darkness, the face of darkness, was part of his plan. Yet, we can’t ever fathom that any God could or would make mistakes. God made humans naked and called it good. The original human response to being naked was without shame. Clothing didn’t exist, the need for clothing didn’t exist. Questioning anything including their nudity didn’t exist. But [there is always a “but”] the truth of our own lives tells us a different story – a story that also must be good and true if there is such a being as God, and if we are to believe in her/his Word also known as the Bible.

Humans and the spiritual face of creation where all is good.

So, how can I understand the apparent contradictions of human responses to nudity? What is the message, or the messages that are being given? I have to assume that none of this is by accident. I can’t accept that God bungled the whole mess and it has spiralled out of his/her control and into the hands of his arch enemy, Satan who then would become more powerful than God. I needed to dig a bit deeper.

So where did it all go wrong? Before I answer that, I want to step back to look again at the scene in the Garden of Eden. What is present? God is there of course, as are the two humans, an assortment of flora and fauna, and everything else that had been conceived in the grand plan of this God – everything else. Adam and Eve didn’t question anything as there was no need for questions – everything was perfect. Even the idea of questions was absent in their minds. They were engaged in living a live of perfection, a sort of participation mystique with their creator. Yet hidden in this garden are two other elements, the tree of knowledge, and another being of sorts, the face of darkness. If one truly believes that God created everything, every sentient being; we have to accept that this tree of knowledge and this face of darkness were also his/her creations. God knew that his creation was perfect and said so.

Adam and Eve at peace in the Garden of Eden before their fall from grace as illustrated for bible studies in the modern world.

We all have bodies; we all are born naked. There is no dispute about these two facts but that is where agreement seems to end. For a significant portion of the modern western world there is a belief in Christianity where God made these human bodies naked and called it a good thing. Adam and Eve, the creation of the first man and first woman, lived naked in a place called Paradise, or The Garden of Eden. The place was a place where there was no darkness, no sin, no awareness of anything that wasn’t good. Though these two humans, a man and a woman were naked, able to see each other completely, there was no shame in their nakedness. Their bodies were simply their bodies. Penis, pubic hair, vagina, breasts, skin, arousal, movement – all of this was as it should be, all of this was good – at least that is what the Word of God tells us. Now, if you can’t believe the Creator, who can you believe? Yet, we cringe as a society with the thought of Adam and Eve being fully nude and rush to cover them up, even before the fall.

Time passed in my home and these incredible little beings that my wife and I had brought into this world began to be aware of us as parents and of themselves. I watched in fascination as they became more and more conscious of life. Life began to be difficult for them. In place of a oneness with their universe, consciousness brought separation. Consciousness brought an end to their life in paradise. And when I think back on the story of creation, it was consciousness that caused Adam and Eve to become aware of their separateness from God and the Garden. A little bit of knowledge does more harm than good as they quickly found out. With consciousness came suffering for my children as well as for Adam and Eve. God sent them out of the Garden; and in time, I sent out my children into their own adult lives.

I have to assume that God has more love within her/him than I do; and with that being the case, the door to come back home will remain open and that the return to the Garden will be a return to perfection. The difference will be that the return will be a return to Paradise as fully conscious beings; beings that have eaten of the fruit of life to its fullest. The return as fully conscious beings to the Garden where clothing will not be an option, for shame will no longer exist. There will no longer be a motive for hiding the perfection of creation.

Nudity and Holiness – Being Naked is Not Sinful

Standing naked before God

I’ve been reading a series called Naked Before God, written by a Congregational Church pastor called Edward W. Raby Sr., and it has me thinking, re-thinking just what it is about nudity that has jumped up to capture more and more of my attention. Nudity isn’t a stranger in my life. On reflection, nudity became a part of my conscious life during my last two years of high school. I had wondered why it came into my life then and have since credited its appearance as a way for me to handle the psychological wounds that grew out of years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. It “fit” and that was good enough. But now, I wonder if there was more than that at work, something at a deeper level. Yes, the psychological benefits were and are undeniable. Perhaps, the escapes into private and isolated naturism were all that stood between the darkness and depression and my self-inflicted death.

The portrait on my bedroom wall as a child.

I was a soulful child and I firmly believed in Jesus, in heaven and in hell. It was assumed by my extended family that I would become a priest. It was normal for one child in a large French-Canadian family to be dedicated to the Church. It seems that my way of being in the world was such that I self-selected to be that person. I loved going to church, the magic and mystery of the mass; the smells and the costumes; the soaring ceilings that reached to heaven itself. I attended Catholic schools for a number of years and learned my Catechism lessons well.

The first molestation by a priest got buried under guilt. I assumed that it was because I was a sinner. There was not even a thought that the priest had done wrong, only the belief that I was bad. I tried harder and harder to please the priest, the nuns at school and my parents at home. I desperately didn’t want to let them find out about the devil that was hiding in me. As a child and youth, others defined who I was and defined the value of my body. My mind was tucked away, somewhat safely, in a distant corner when the blows came – the blows from the anger of my father, the blows to identity from my mother who sought my father in me, the blows from priests and a grandfather who thought my physical body was to serve their sexual need.

Dissociation

My body got separated from my psyche in order for my psyche to survive. And when I took to hiding in a natural setting and stripping off my clothing, I now understand that I was acting to reclaim, reunite my body and my mind. That should have been enough of a reason, but somehow something else continued to bubble beneath the level of consciousness within me. Before I can speak of that bubbling, I need to go a bit further back into the past to see what else was missing, what else got lost along the way, what else got hidden into a box that was buried deep within the inner dark regions of my psyche.

I reading Raby’s article, a light came on. My journeys into the fields where I would remove my clothing and soak in the sunshine while reading poetry, was a spiritual act. Unconsciously, my psyche was trying to reconnect not only body with mind, it was seeking to make me a whole person again. After the second molestation by a priest when I was nine years old and trying to learn my lessons to become an altar boy, the magic for me in the church disappeared. And with that magic, my soul seemed to disappear. I was abandoned by Jesus, perhaps found to be not worthy of being one of his soldiers that I had pledged to be when I took the sacrament of Confirmation.

Vulnerable

Raby highlights six things about nudity that resonated with me: vulnerability, openness, intimacy, genuineness, wholeness, and equality. At home, at school, at work or anywhere else, I did my best to make sure I was protected, building barriers that eventually even I couldn’t get over or around. The last thing I wanted was to be vulnerable as it hurt too much. When I was vulnerable, others exploited that vulnerability. If I hid, psychologically hid, only my body was vulnerable. But in hiding from the world, I also hid from my soul. Those first experiences of naturism was as much about soul recovery as it was about my body.

This is a vital piece of information for me to have as it reaffirms in me the idea that being naked is not being sinful. Sin is about intention. Being nude can be about participation in acts of darkness, acts of sin; or, it can be about honouring both the creator and his creation. I can see that I have a lot to think about and a lot to write about as I journey to the healing of body, mind and spirit to become a whole person, perhaps even a holy person.

Nudity and Authentic, Holistic Holiness

Nudity and holiness

I will be shifting gears here for the next while. I will be talking about how naturism and nudity become vital ways of being that allows one to become a more authentic person. In particular, I want to look at the issue of how nudity somehow evokes a spiritual dimension, one that is holistic in terms of union with creation [or evolution] and the universe. In a sense, one can even approach this theme with a reverence that holds the human in relation to the essence of the universe that is holy.

Each of us has a unique way of relating to ourselves as individuals in spite of not knowing the fullness of who we are as individual human beings. We know, intuitively that there is more to us buried within us that sometimes emerges in dreams, or in reflections we see of ourselves through the eyes of others, or in the acts we have done. We often lie to ourselves in the attempt to prove that “what you see is what you get and that there ain’t no more.” In spite of our loud protests that rail against all things spiritual, we know, even if it is with a sense of dread and negative foreboding, that there really is more to us that being a collection of molecules. It is within these spaces that “spirit” enters our awareness. We find that spirit within us, and somewhere out there, a spirit that is paradoxically both separate and united.

Whatever it is, it is the source of all that humans regard as holy.