Monthly Archives: March 2013

Naturist Bits and Pieces for Easter in Mexico

SONY DSCIt is hot today with sun shining and temperatures hovering around 28 C. As usual we went for a long morning walk, somewhere between 9 and 10 kilometres in distance, came back to the villa for a lunch with me then heading back out for some  naturist or skyclad time. This time spent alone is treasured, not so much for the fact that I am alone, as for the opportunity to carve a space in the dunes, behind shrubs, where it is just nature and I – a spiritual and soulful time of communion with my body, mother earth and sea, and father sky. And, as usual, I didn’t take a camera with me as I didn’t want to lose focus on my purpose.

It is enough, for now, that I take a few moments here to share these precious moments. The photo above was take a few days ago, in the late afternoon when my sun meditation time was done. For now, that is all I have to offer you. There will be time for more, later.

Being Fearful of Our Nude Self

The process of rebuilding this blog site has me doing a lot of thinking in terms of what I actually want to accomplish for this particular portal into my inner and outer worlds. Like any man, I am a complex and complexed being. I am more than what can be seen on the surface, more than the costumes, uniforms, a clothing that I use to present certain ideas of who I am to others. I do know that the clothing one puts on, or takes off, makes a difference.The expression, “clothing makes the man” is well known. But, what the expression fails to also explain, that one can easily get lost in that clothing. What I mean is that one can easily “forget” the rest of who one is if one begins to believe that one is the sum total of what one wears, one denies the “self” that lays beneath the clothing chosen.

Somehow, along the way to becoming civilized beings, we learned to deny some basic truths about who we are, a truth we are unconsciously aware of, but consciously deny. Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” depicting the nude male body is one of the most recognised symbols in the modern western world, and has been used on the Euro coin. What is surprising is that in our modern western world, that the image finds so much attention. Most of that attention is positive acceptance; however, there is a small sector of society that has decided that the Vitruvian man needs to have his pants on. That there are representations that show leaves , guitars, guns, pants, and even with genitals removed, highlights a real “gymnophobia” (see this article on gymnophobia for a good perspective on the irrational fear of nudity).

“Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (the Da Vinci Man with four arms and four legs in a square and circle) is the most popular secular symbol in the world. My ten years of research suggests that the Vitruvian Man is a universal symbol for greater love, relationships, success, health and the new age 21st century paradigm of indivisible wholeness, the paradigm for world peace. A New Renaissance! . . .

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is his real secret code. It is a map to show each person how to live a balanced life in all dimensions. The two cojoined Da Vinci forms bring a sense of harmony and balance, the key to great health.” [Ruben, The Real Davinci Code]

Ruben makes a very valid point about the value of the image of the Vitruvian Man. There is a need for balance and harmony. That balance and harmony cannot truly be found if we maintain a fear of nudity, a fear of our natural state of being naked beneath our clothing.

Why Tell All The World?

The authentic self with nowhere to hide.

The authentic self with nowhere to hide.

As promised to a good friend of mine, I am hoping to approach writing here at a more personal level and less of a professorial level. I will still have my serious writing appear with focus on Jungian themes such as alchemy, archetypes and so on. But, I will also find time (and courage) to bare it all on an interpersonal level here. More often than not, when I begin to reflect on something I have read from my Buddhist studies, I do so from a deeply personal point of view. Yet, to be truly transparent and authentic, I must allow my self to be exposed here rather than remain hidden behind the words I write here.

So why is this important? My wife is always asking me why I find it necessary to tell the world rather than keep it private. I guess the best answer that I can give, is the answer I give her, that in keeping it all private, there is an oppressive sense that I am hiding in a closet in order to stay safe, something that I physically had to do as a young child. I hid in boxes, closets and elsewhere hoping to be safe. And as I got older, as a youth, I learned to hide within myself, build barriers so that would not be seen and thus not hurt, as much. As an adult, the barriers were thick, so thick that I lost track of that hidden and protected self along with all the garbage, the history and the shame. I was a successful, very successful teacher, coach and therapist. Even though I am an introvert, I was able to be active enough in the community to be respected in spite of being a French-Canadian in a basically francophobe society. It all worked until the barriers began crumbling.

I am somewhat of a slow learner when it comes to dealing with change. I spent years trying to patch up the cracks with no success. When it finally became evident that I couldn’t stop the collapse of the dam holding back all that I had denied about myself, denied to myself, to my wife, to my family and to the world, I ran – literally. And when running everyday through blizzards and all failed to give me the release, failed to slow down the flood of contents spilling out into my life, I began to run in a different way. I found myself becoming a principal in a new school every year until the last school where it seemed there was no where else left to run, a school I was principal for three years before retiring. Still, the running continued as I hurried from country to country with camera in hand, hoping that the distraction would be enough.

In spite of the running, in spite of a return to meditation and becoming a Buddhist, in spite of a return to naturalism and of taking the opportunity to relax in retirement, I found that I continued to deny myself. I continue to look to others for permission – no permission, then bury the need and desire and hope it stays buried so that I can be accepted as a somewhat normal person. Of course, there is no such thing as a normal person, but there is a range of normality within which I still don’t feel I fit in and belong.

That leaves me with one final option – to hell with it all and just be, warts and all. Good answer? Who knows, it is my answer.

 

Update: As the day goes on

Now, on a personal, and perhaps trivial level, this is my day. Yesterday I returned to my practice, almost habit, of meditation in the morning, something I have not done well with for the last week for a host of reasons most of which boil down to feeling depressed with a lack of giving myself permission to meditate au naturel. I found a tiny corner where no one could see me thus embarrassing me by getting caught with my pants down. After a relatively quick breakfast and time for writing the main entry above, M. and I went snorkelling off the beach here in Puerto Morelos.

The afternoon is now too hot for snorkelling, and often too windy as well. After lunch I am off on my own to find a quiet and secluded place near the beach where brushes hide little open spaces with beds of beach sand. Once settled in, I will do some reading and listening to music. Today’s reading material is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. On my Sony Walkman is music by Ravi Shankar, Loreena McKennett, and Yanni – music that makes sunbathing time pass in peace.

This evening I will be listening to the Ottawa Senators NHL hockey game with hopes that the team can continue its remarkable success so far this season. And, if time, energy and the will is found, I will do some more writing.

Who Do You Trust?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

As I walked the beach yesterday, I found myself lost in thought rather than stay present with the sun, the sand and the surf. So much for attending to the Buddhist principle of being present. My mind had somehow led me to consider the word trust and how that trust would look like in a post here in terms of naturism. Last day I talked about fear. Fear is primal and can’t be denied as it operates not only on a conscious level, but also a collective level. Trust also operates at a conscious as well as unconscious level.

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust is something that is both uni-directional as well as bi-directional. As a naturist, I can trust without being trusted in return. I can distrust without being distrusted in return. O course, this is easily understood and is what one could best describe as normal reality.  But just how much trust is actually given to those who doff their clothing? I would unhesitating state that when it comes down to it, anyone without clothing on will be trusted less than a person wearing clothing when everything else appears to be equal.

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust me?

Let’s approach this topic of trust from the level of you as a parent of a child that is, for the purposes of this scenario, under the age of ten years. You are in a public location such as at a mall enjoying a cold drink between rounds of shopping. There are others seated at other tables that are near you and your child. An older woman smiles at your child – my guess is that there is trust rather than a fear response. A young man with a child and wife sharing a table smiles at your child – again, this calls for a normal trust response. An older man sitting alone at a different table smiles at your child – the almost automatic response is distrust – “Why is he smiling at my child? Is he a paedophile?” Why the fear, distrust response? Is this response based on experience? If not, then it is a cultural stereotype that ignores the fact that most older men are fathers and grandfathers who love children as much as mothers and grandmothers. Our society tells us to trust the mothers and the grandmothers, but distrust older men, especially if they are strangers.

Trust me?

Trust me?

Trust us?

Trust us?

Now, another scenario where one must assign trust to an older man – who will you allow to give you assistance when needed to help you and your child at the edge of the sea? Three men are the choices. The first man is dressed in a suit, an obvious professional who is well groomed, and obviously successful. The second man is dressed in work clothes, perhaps a carpenter’s assistant or a labourer in a different field. The third man is nude. Since we fear nudity, and we fear men, the likelihood of trusting a nude man as compared to trusting any other man is almost non-existent.

In real life, the clothed hockey or football coach (or any other sport coach), the clothed clergy (no religion excluded), the clothed government official, the clothed policeman and fireman are trusted until there is a reason to have that trust removed. We trust our male and female family relations until there is a reason to have that trust removed. Yet these are the very people who most abuse our children. Naturists and nudists have yet to be held up in public for actual crimes against our children. In spite of that, society tells us that simply being nude where a child can see that nudity is child abuse. Keeping one’s clothes on keeps children from being traumatized by seeing a naked human body. Is there any validity to holding such beliefs? There doesn’t need to be validity for holding illogical beliefs.

In a society that demands that we keep our clothing on, there will be a fear and distrust of those who don’t follow the rules. Nude people are different people – not us in the collective’s unconscious belief systems – and different people are not to be trusted.

I get to see this play out in my home community when one must choose someone to fill a position for pay in the community. Three apply with one being from the home community. Though the candidate from the home community has proven him or herself repeatedly to be untrustworthy, more often than not, this candidate is given the job as the others applying are strangers and may be worse, even less trustworthy.

Our collective wisdom tells us “better the devil you know.

Nudity and the Personal and Collective Shadow

Fear of nudity - Phobia

Fear of nudity – Phobia

Naturism and Nudism are faces of the collective shadow. In depth psychology, shadow is partially defined as those things that we repress, that we deny about ourselves. Individually we react, unconsciously, with heat and perhaps anger when we are confronted with that which we deny in the actions and behaviours of others. Nudity provokes all kinds of heated response. When one reacts with heat to something or someone or some behaviour, one reacts to one’s own repressed shadow.

One of the big problems is that of defining shadow in strictly negative terms. Through awareness and learning, one comes to understand the ideas of personal and collective shadow. However, that awareness is typically skewed and filtered. Yes, the shadow exists; however, we often cling to the belief that humans need to repress these things for some rationally unexplainable reason. If it is in the shadow, it must belong there. Those that refuse to accept and abide by the collective decrees become bad, untrustworthy, immoral, perverts, evil. This is the collective message daily sent out by the modern western world collective unconscious with regards to those who refuse to hide their naked and natural body.

For the most part, we all buy into this collective unconscious pressure. Naturists and nudists included. Within one’s home, a decision to remove clothing to enjoy moments of clothes-free freedom is matched with closing the draperies, locking the doors, having a housecoat or some other article handy in order to quickly hide the body should someone come to the door. The message to self is that of confirming the belief of the collective. The faces of fear of exposure, of being caught, as well as guilt are part of the baggage, part of the practice.

We do the same things should we decide to dare being skyclad, being closes-free outside of the confines of the walls, locked doors and covered windows of our homes. Should we so dare, we need to prepare our yards or gardens so that we avoid being caught as much as possible. High privacy fences and/or thick high hedges are put into place. One needs to pay attention to nearby buildings that may overlook the yard so as to keep our intended nudity out of view even of these places. We have learned that our right to practice naturism or nudism in our own yards and gardens are non-existent. The rights of our neighbours supersede our own rights. The collective demands the right to avoid seeing the naked human body in normal, everyday life. Any breeches of that right often results in legal and/or social sanctions. There is no wonder that naturists and nudists have a fear of getting caught with their pants down.

Fear of nudity carried to extremes - or not?

Fear of nudity carried to extremes – or not?

Fear and guilt are real yet, the need for being naked is as real as the fear and guilt. For many, that need, mostly an unconscious need, results in repeated risks of being caught and exposed. And, it is that need which soon begins to worry – “is there something wrong with me?” – a fear that perhaps one is mentally disturbed needing psychopharmicalogical help in order to be cured of such abnormal behaviour. Sadly, most members of the collective would agree with that assessment, that people who need to be nude are sick puppies.

Within the world of social nudism, the same fear exists, the same need for secure privacy to ensure that the nudity of the members does not offend the surrounding general public and thus put the very existence of the resort at risk. There is also a fear of being exploited by voyeurs with cameras, fear of finding that voyeurs have taken their photos and placed them on the web thus exposing their nudity to the world including the families, colleagues and neighbours. The fear is real. With the collective associating nudity with perverse sex, there is a parallel agreement by social nudist who generally forbid single males, especially older males, from becoming guests or members of the resorts based on the irrational fear that all single males, especially the older ones, are perverts at best and paedophiles at worst. Being a nudist doesn’t exempt one from participating in the collective shadow.

Naked Psychology 101 – Pt 6

It has been a while since I last wrote on this theme, but that doesn’t mean it has been abandoned. Rather, other things came to the fore with the inner feeling of being “not so settled” in place. I had begun to look at the human psyche in developmental psychology terms, in particular how that developmental psychology fits with naturism and depth psychology.

When one becomes a parent, the camera is soon out capturing as much as possible of this little human who is seen by the parents as perfection. I don’t think there exists very many parents who don’t take nude photos of their new born children. The purity of the infants is equated with angels, with cherubim.

It doesn’t take long for an infant to begin exploring his or her body. And that, to the consternation of many western world parents, brings all kinds of angst and concern for the infant explores his penis or her vulva as much as fingers, toes, nose and so on. It is almost sad that parents in this modern world would pose a question such as, “Is it normal for my baby to tug on his penis?” Of course, as any parent has learned over the course of raising children, it is normal. The question says more of the parents’ phobias about sexuality and nudity, than it does about the normalcy of infants. That said, many doctors and psychologists will suggest putting a diaper and clothing on the infant and giving them some object to distract them from experiencing their naked body.

And of course, many parents will use terms such as “don’t touch yourself,” or “that’s bad!” or “touching yourself is wrong,” sowing the seeds of future body issues and “moral” dilemmas for the child. Thankfully, there are a few voices in the professional world offering wise advice to “concerned” parents. Yet, it is hard for parents to heed this good advice when they continue to hear the inner parental voice telling them that touching one’s genitals is bad, wrong and dirty.

The fear of genital nudity is not a rational fear. Rather, such fear is an unconscious expression of complexes. No matter how hard one tries to stretch one’s mind, there is nothing to grasp as wrong, bad, dirty or immoral about a baby touching her or his genitals. When there is no parental proscription against self-touching, babies, toddlers and young children discover a world of wonder about themselves, a healthy discovery both physically and psychologically.

Naked Psychology 101 – Pt 7

It has been a while since I last wrote on this theme, but that doesn’t mean it has been abandoned. Rather, other things came to the fore with the inner feeling of being “not so settled” in place. I had begun to look at the human psyche in developmental psychology terms, in particular how that developmental psychology fits with naturism and depth psychology.

The perfection of a human infant

The perfection of a human infant

When one becomes a parent, the camera is soon out capturing as much as possible of this little human who is seen by the parents as perfection. I don’t think there exists very many parents who don’t take nude photos of their new born children. The purity of the infants is equated with angels, with cherubim.

It doesn’t take long for an infant to begin exploring his or her body. And that, to the consternation of many western world parents, brings all kinds of angst and concern for the infant explores his penis or her vulva as much as fingers, toes, nose and so on. It is almost sad that parents in this modern world would pose a question such as, “Is it normal for my baby to tug on his penis?” Of course, as any parent has learned over the course of raising children, it is normal. The question says more of the parents’ phobias about sexuality and nudity, than it does about the normalcy of infants. That said, many doctors and psychologists will suggest putting a diaper and clothing on the infant and giving them some object to distract them from experiencing their naked body.

Covered up and protected from self discovery

Covered up and protected from self discovery

And of course, many parents will use terms such as “don’t touch yourself,” or “that’s bad!” or “touching yourself is wrong,” sowing the seeds of future body issues and “moral” dilemmas for the child. Thankfully, there are a few voices in the professional world offering wise advice to “concerned” parents. Yet, it is hard for parents to heed this good advice when they continue to hear the inner parental voice telling them that touching one’s genitals is bad, wrong and dirty.

The fear of genital nudity is not a rational fear. Rather, such fear is an unconscious expression of complexes. No matter how hard one tries to stretch one’s mind, there is nothing to grasp as wrong, bad, dirty or immoral about a baby touching her or his genitals. When there is no parental proscription against self-touching, babies, toddlers and young children discover a world of wonder about themselves, a healthy discovery both physically and psychologically.