Monthly Archives: January 2013
Last post in this series, I wrote about creation myths with the note that I would return in this post to talk about creation from the Christian belief system. Again, as always, the whole point of looking at this is to investigate the human psyche as a naked psyche – our human psychology beneath our clothing and even our skin. Though it took six days for God to finish creating everything out of chaos, I want to focus only on the last, sixth day:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
This is the story of creation that all Christians know well and believe. This creation of the human species did not include the creation of clothing or the necessity of wearing clothing. Our stories of creation tell us that both Adam and Eve were naked in this perfect world, this Garden of Eden.
In this perfect garden, there is no shame, no need for modesty even though both Adam and Eve are without clothing. After all, they are crafted in the image of their creator. The nature of this Garden of Eden, a place where there is nothing but purity tells us that goodness does not come with clothing, that evil does not come with nudity, is a statement of what perfection looks like and acts like. That these two first humans were the images of God made manifest in material form tells us that God, also, is not a being wrapped in layers of clothing as all, an idea that would shock and disgust almost all Christians.
The typical image of God has him wearing long flowing robes that disguise and hide his skin. Other than the fact that this God is fashioned to appear in a male body, there is no hint of his gender other than the beard on his face. Of course, no one has seen this God, so our images of God have him caught in the same mental complexes as ourselves, ashamed of nakedness, disapproving of nudity,
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [Genesis 3.6]
And so began humankind’s introduction to clothing. With awareness, the dawn of consciousness, there was a corresponding awareness of the human body. That first awareness can be equated with the dawn of consciousness in humans in general. When a baby is born and for quite some time, there is no sense of panic in being naked. Being unclothed is natural and clothing is only a necessity in terms of protection from the elements. With consciousness developing, the messages of parents and society teach the child that nudity is nasty business, that one needs to learn modesty, shame and even fear of their own natural condition. The wounding of humans began with consciousness. And that wounding destroyed our belief in ourselves as perfect beings crafted in the image of a perfect deity.
I have to admit that there are events happening in the naturist world that I feel are hurting naturists. I wonder what the objectives are for these events though I think I do have some idea. It the larger picture, the naturist and nudist organisations are often pushing for opening up the access to the public areas, and in the case of San Francisco, public nudity on the streets has been legal for a number of years, but because of a growing fundamentalism in the American public psyche, that public nudity is being lost. Sometimes that SF scene was its own worst enemy pushing the envelope with some over sexuality.
In my opinion, most naturists simply want their own space to be respected. Within their homes, in the yards and gardens, naturists still don’t have legal permission. The rights belong to peeping toms who peer into the windows of those rumoured to be nudists. Should they spy bare skin, all it takes is a call and those within the home are guilty. It isn’t enough to provide a basically private space behind the house. Someone walking by and peering through the hedges or slats in a fence can file protests with legal authorities. Somehow, being nude in one’s own home or on one’s own property is a threat to children and public morality – somehow, this private nudity is viewed as worthy of arrest, defined as a sexual offender and facing fines and possible prison time.
The same applies to beaches and wild spaces. No naturist has a right to be nude regardless if there isn’t another person around to possibly see them. Should the naturist be seen by a passing boat or car, the fear sets in with wondering if someone will be coming to deal with the issue of their being nude.
I think we should be working for some basic, private rights to nudity. Mounting large campaigns for big projects which often only serve to further have the public get their backs up with regards to nudity only makes it more difficult for achieving basic private nudity rights.
I know that I am not asking for too much. I am careful to not push too hard and find that in return, I get a bit more leeway for my personal self. People are more tolerant and more willing to listen. That would immediately change if I was to push the limits and challenge with a mantra of “rights.” But then again, my opinion is simply my opinion. Perhaps I am wrong and naturists are determined to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of other naturists.
It is another beautiful day here in Puerto Morelos. This morning I tried meditating in a different location other than tucked in a corner of the studio apartment. I was able to enjoy the sound of the breeze, the feel of the breeze, and the sound of the water lapping against the pylons of the pier. I sat at the far right corner which sticks out even further into the sea. Because of the hour and time of day, I did keep on my bathing suit while meditating. It was an experience worth repeating, only tomorrow [weather permitting] I will go there two hours earlier, before my morning coffee with my wife. While I meditate, she does yoga, so this is a shared experience in its own way.
Meditation is vital for me. Because of my history as a child and as a youth, I have lived in a self-imposed straight-jacket as I tried to contain the demons that haunted me. When it became too much to contain, it was in meditation where I first found the path to ease the strain and thus be able to move forward into another day of masking the psychic pain that wanted to swallow me. I needed meditation, but didn’t really know why.
“Well, meditation is dealing with purpose itself… Generally we have a purpose for whatever we do: something is going to happen in the future, therefore, whatever I am doing now is important — everything is related to that. But the whole idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. In fact, meditation is dealing with the question of whether or not there is a such thing as ‘purpose’.” [Trungpa, Meditation in Action]
Today, I know why I meditate. I know that this act of letting my ego consciousness give up control, in a way disappearing for a while, allows my body to feel the freedom from the prison of memories. While I meditate I don’t have any history of pain, of confusion, of betrayal or of being someone who has committed his fair share of betraying, confusing and of inflicting pain. I become a being, simply breath, sitting in my space which disappears leaving me freer than it is possible to imagine. I cease being a victim and a victimizer.
My body appreciates this momentary space where all is released, as does my spirit. I breath, I sit, I am. And, that is enough.
The sky is wild this morning. One minute it is dark with ominous clouds flying by as if they are on a freeway, and the next minute there is glorious sunshine. And the speed at which this is all happening makes the mind swirl. The wind has been blowing all night following a long period of rain yesterday late afternoon and all evening, and is still blowing strong creating whitecaps and pounding waves along the shoreline. Sometimes nature serves as a good metaphor for what is happening within one’s psyche. I know that in today’s case, it is quite the mirror.
I didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t because of the rain or the wind. Rather, it all had to do with the stirring of shadow contents within, stuff that lies below the surface of my awareness. I was asked why I was a naturist, why I needed to be naked when the rest of the world, the civilized world was doing well with their clothing on. I wasn’t able to give a satisfactory answer nor did I think that there could be a satisfactory answer in terms of having another person who is not a naturist, understand and accept. Of course, saying that, I open myself to the possibility of being very wrong. I don’t really have an excuse for not finding the words to answer this question, even if it is just for myself.
Because of my long involvement with depth psychology, I knew that the answers did exist, somewhere deep within my psyche. So this morning, I opened up the door to the question during my time for meditation which then lasted longer than usual. It was essential to let the question stew for a while, allow the contents within to become stirred up in the darkness of the unconscious. Later in the morning, after sitting for a while in silence with my morning coffee, not actually thinking but also not banishing thinking, I went for a long, two hour walk along the beach. I refused to force an answer but I also left an opening as if an opening in the clouds, for whatever needed to come to consciousness to have an entry.
As a child I was sexually abused, emotionally abused, physically abused in my family of origin by my biological parents. The sexual abuse extended to include my maternal grandfather and more than one parish priest. I was a docile child, the eldest of a large group of children. It was my job, the expectation that I came to embrace that I was there to please others, to take care of others, to put others before myself. I forgave my parents before they both passed away, enough years before their death so that I would be able to include them in my own children’s lives as grandparents. It also gave them time to acknowledge their part in my wounding – but that never came to be.
The patterns learned in early childhood that continued through to a few years after I was married with children of my own carried over into how I interacted within the family in which I was husband and father. It carried over into my career as an educator, coach and then as counsellor to students, staff and people within my community. I was well trained to put myself behind me and do my utmost best to be a good father, a good husband, brother-in-law, coach, neighbour. This is a story I knew well, one that I wrestled with through midlife and my own course of psychoanalysis. But where does this almost primal urge to naturalism come from?
It was soon after the sexual abuse from my grandfather, the last time I was sexually abused as a youth, that I found myself in a quiet meadow in a nearby small forest with a book of poetry. It was a warm late spring day, about six months following this last incidence. Feeling the warmth of the sun and feeling the words of classical poetry, I soon found myself naked. Over the next two years, my last two years at home, I took every opportunity, weather permitting to hide in this forest and meadow in order to be free.
Leaving home, I found other opportunities, especially the opportunity of sleeping in the nude, to recapture this sense of freedom. A job at the other end of the country found me enjoying social nudity in swimming pools and saunas with my co-workers, other young adults. The exhilaration of body freedom acted as a sort of barrier that banished my history of being abused.
Yet now, the pull to nudity is again strong so I look to these roots and it dawned on me that it is being nude where I claim control of my body, control of my identity, control of my sexuality. My body is not about pleasing others, making life easier for others. Do I remove body hair or make sure it is groomed for my own sense of well-being, or do I allow the needs of others dictate what I do or don’t do with my body hair? It comes down to control. Am I in control or do I defer control to someone else?
Now, in my sixties, I am saying this is my body and I will care for it, and my identity, and my psyche as best I can. I will not be a child and give control to another. I am a man, not a child victim continuing to seek approval, seeking to please others while disregarding my self.
I wonder if this is an answer, or just the beginning of an answer?
I have to admit that I am troubled by what I see in my statistics for this blog site. Five of the top thirteen search items are: nudist children, nudist kids, nude children, nudist child, and nude kids. Other search terms include nudist boy, child naturist, kids nude beach, kid nudist, children nude, naked kids, nude child, naturist boy, photos naked nude boys, nudist youth, nude-child-blog, naked kid sea, nudists kids, nude kids at beach, kids at the beach nude, all thin naked nude kids, naked kids on beach, children nudist 2013, and young naked kids showing penis. Ugh!
I haven’t included all of the search terms that included children and nudism. What I have included here is more than enough to raise an army of red flags. Who are these people doing these searches? I can’t think of anything other than they are either paedophiles or else cops in search of paedophiles. Either way, none of these are welcome visitors to the site. Is there any way to block searches to this site that those arriving using those particular search terms will be “disappointed” to find a site that is more about the psychology of nudism and naturism with a touch of Buddhism thrown in, than it is about being a haven and gold mine for paedophiles. Ugh!
And then I looked at the top posts for this blog site: leading all posts “Pedophiles and Nude Children: A Mismatch with 1,283 views. Second is “Naturism and Nudism” with 160 views. Again, the words paedophile and children are prominent. Who are these people? Ugh!
Is being nude an invitation to sexual activity? The answer is both yes and no. It all depends on context. Of course, when it comes to fundamentalist response, there is no context that needs to be considered. Nudity is sin, nudity is a precursor to debauchery, the playground of the devil. Thankfully, fundamentalists are still in the minority and are not likely to soon come into full political and legal power to impose its narrow view of nudity. The scenario of fundamentalists in control brings images of the Spanish Inquisition, where alternate views were vigorously attacked and if possible, exterminated.
There is too much money to be made in our modern society that is cashing in on highly sexualised nudity. Television sitcoms, movies, documentaries and advertisements have clued in to just how lucrative it is to show a bit of skin – a bared breast or backside, skimpy clothing that accentuates the sexuality of a scene, stirs the blood of hot-blooded men and women. So many perfect bodies that tell us we could have it all and be satiated beyond belief if only we would . . . The porn industry continues to enjoy booming business, enough to have its own lobby to protect the industry from too much regulation, for example the requirement for condoms to be seen and used in productions. Not only profits, but the world of sexualised nudity creates jobs. All of this suggests that sexualised nudity is here to stay, as long as there is money to be made and taxes to be collected.
Casual nudity on the other hand is at risk. Laying nude on a beach or on the grass in a park or in your own back yard doesn’t enjoy the same protection. The truth is, if one is caught nude and not engaged in an advertising, filming or porn production, that person is liable for criminal conviction. In Canada, nudity is considered illegal under sections 174 and 173 of the Canadian Criminal Code. It is a criminal offence and one is liable for jail time – even if one is nude in one’s own back yard. The assumption is that somehow being nude is about violating public decency, a concept that assumes a sexual purpose for that nudity. It is enough to prove nudity, one doesn’t have to prove sexual purpose.
The public decency holds that seeing nudity is harmful and disruptive to individuals and to the common good. Yet this same public has few issues with nudity in the news, in Gay Pride parades, in porn, in advertisements, and on their TV sets. Yet, try enjoying some good natural, non-sexualised nudity at a public swimming hole – somehow there is a lack of logic and common sense when it comes to nudity in North America.
Thank goodness there are places like Bare Oaks Park in Ontario, Canada where one can escape the “public eye” and stay out of jail.
As the title of this post suggests, this is going to be the first of a series of posts looking at the idea of Nude Psychology as a valid and perhaps healing psychology. As a part-time prof and psychotherapist, I want to approach this series of posts with more structure as if I was teaching a course called Nude Psych 101 at some college or university in the modern western world. If the idea of ever having nudity included in the world of psychotherapeutic work is to be realised, there needs to be a serious study of the nature of psychology in relationship to nudism and naturism. That there will be attempts to blend the two together without knowing what is happening to the human psyche of both the therapist and the client, and in the process there is likely to be harm done, unconscious harm. There have been brief attempts with the practice of Nude Psychology and there are a few current attempts at using nudity in therapy practices.
At the right you will see an image of Psyche, Psyche is not a goddess. Rather, she is human, a woman so beautiful that she invokes both the love and wrath of the gods. The word psyche is Psyche has been a fascination for poets and artists for centuries. In almost all cases, she is depicted nude so that her full beauty in presented. Her beauty is magnified by her body, a beauty that brings about the union of mortal and gods and the birth of a child born of love between deity and human. Psyche is also the root of psychology.
Depth psychology in particular, honours the roots of its beginnings in mythology and other human stories. The human psyche is not so easily defined as it contains all that is conscious and unconscious, both personal unconsciousness and the collective unconscious. The human psyche is beneath the surface, beneath any coverings we may devise be those coverings be clothing or plastic surgery.
Psychology attempts to both define and understand the human psyche as well as find ways to assist in reducing the suffering of humans who have lost the thread of their life journeys, those who somehow have lost their sense of purpose and meaning.
Psychology today often forgets its purpose as it focuses on making psychology more about making a living, an economic enterprise. Often the world of psychology finds itself battling its own shadow as competing schools of psychology vie for coveted endorsements of legitimacy. And in many cases, it devolves into nothing more than power and politics.
For my purposes here, I want to turn back the clock and the mindsets to the roots of our attempts to understand ourselves and others, roots which begin with a healthy appreciation of the body, the naked body, which houses our psyche.
Sunday on the public beach in Puerto Morelos presents an interesting study of humanity. As I walked along the beach I saw evidence of too much partying the night before by some of the local middle-aged males as they continued to drink as the hugged the shoreline and what is left of the alcohol.
Strolling along the beach I saw most of the young women wearing skimpy bathing suits while their young men wore the uniform of board shorts and tee-shirt or even more concealing, cargo pants. A few of the hardier males wore only trunks. The older folk were a curious mixture of styles with the odd male wearing board shorts or speedos. The rest seemed content with their swimming trunks which were worn low below their paunches. The women were dressed in full swimsuits for the most part with a surprise now and then of some dressed in bikinis. None of the choices had anything to do with the fact of body type or size.
I could tell I was approaching Desires because of the small crowds stopped on either side of the resort’s beach front. No one stopped on the sand in front of the resort as it would be too obvious that they were interested in looking at the naked bodies on display, almost up close and personal.. No, they stopped once they crossed the imaginary line that separated the resort from non-resort. Curious.
Further down the beach in a quiet, almost deserted space, a single couple lay unashamed of their bodies, near the shoreline wearing only the sky. And yet further from the crowd was another naturist couple worshipping the sun. Such is a Sunday on the Mayan Riviera.
Today’s topic comes from seeing this image that was sent to me by one of my faithful readers, Dr. Urspo. He remarked that the cartoon depicted pretty much what he experiences in his gym: “The older men walk around not giving a damn about covering up. The younger men either don’t change or literally change under towels.”
Now as I am sure many have already found out, there is a definite world view out there as to who should and who should not be naked in public. Well, it seems that at a “certain age” one cares less. The young and fit who are adamant that certain bodies should never be seen are the one’s who are least likely to be exposed. All one has to do is to check out the locker rooms at gyms and pools to verify this strange reality.
There is little doubt that youth (a relative term) and discomfort with one’s body seems to go together. Well, that is the case for youth in North America as far as I have been able to ascertain. Strange indeed as almost all start out exhilarated at the opportunity to be clothes free.
In my retirement I wonder what it is that I could do that would be of service to others in a way that would ease suffering and enhance consciousness. It is the Buddhist in me as well as the therapist and educator that calls for me to do what I can to somehow make a positive difference. Since I have paid off my mortgage, as well as other debts and have a modest pension to take care of my needs, I began to wonder if I could make a critical difference in reshaping psychotherapy, by pushing the boundaries in order to perhaps arrive at an increased level of both self and collective consciousness.
I began to plan for my renewal with a plan. My focus was a re-designed approach to providing psychotherapy services, at least re-designed from how I practiced in the past. First off, calling myself a psychotherapist would have to go. I would call myself a life coach. I have to admit, that last idea came from a friend who is a Jungian analyst. I had the skills and more than enough training to re-approach people’s needs as a life coach. Perfect, the box of therapist, a self and collective set of practice boundaries had been dismantled. So what would I put into practice?
Obviously, I still needed to include depth psychology approaches if my work was to be truly about coaching someone about being fully in life. I knew that I had to include body work (Gestalt influences showing through here) as a means of dealing with a client’s stress levels and overall health. That put meditation and exercise as part of the approach to life coaching. I knew it was also important to bring active imagination into the process as a means of finding ways around a client’s defensive barriers so that he or she could finally learn what was making them be unhappy in their life and in their relationships. I needed to use every tool that I could find to break through the masks and disguises that hid the true self.
I wanted my work to be about transparency. I wanted truth and honesty to emerge and be the vital centre of our work together with the goal of a transparent self waiting for my clients. How can one reach self awareness if one doesn’t cultivate transparency? I wanted my work to be freeing, liberating for both myself and for those with whom I would work. It was this realisation that led me to consider Nude Psychology. I was quite familiar with the work of Paul Bindrim and a few others who pioneered nude psychology and was fascinated with the possibilities. That I was, myself, a naturist, added perhaps a deeper level of awareness to the potential for practice. There is no question, when it comes to honesty and transparency, nudity doesn’t allow for cover-ups.
So the pieces are all there. It was now a simple matter of arranging the pieces to create a model that would work for both myself and my clients. The time is ripe if there is ever going to be a time. Nude yoga, nude meditation, nude beaches, nude cruises, nude flights to nude resorts, nude bike rides through major cities, nude protests, and the massive photographic work of Spencer Tunic who shows us a collective nudist world. It’s time for nude life coaching. With that decision made,
I found that I wasn’t going to be the first kid on the block to structure psychotherapy with nude psychology. Here is what I found along the way. Nadine Sabulsky – The Naked Life Coach, and Sarah White – The Naked Therapist. Neither of these use a model which I have in mind. Perhaps it would even be safe and honest to say that there is some validity to their practices, but I doubt that it has depth. If anything, perhaps nudity on the part of the therapist is more of a distraction than it is about having a client face his or her own issues that are getting in the way of living the life they envision for themselves.