Recharging Body, Mind and Soul

Today is not such a good day in the grand scheme of things for me. Every once in a while I crash and find myself having to pick up the pieces and put them back together again like some senior citizen Humpty Dumpty. After two weeks of putting myself out there in a fairly active manner, I simply had run out of energy. That is one of the problems of being an introvert.

An introvert? I can almost hear the disbelief. What is with someone who claims to be a naturist, takes nude photos of himself, and at times shares them, has to do with being an introvert? Well, introversion is not about being a reclusive person. Introversion is about where energy is gained and where it is lost. Being socially active takes a lot of my energy as it does for any introvert. To recharge my batteries, so to speak, I need to find a quiet place. For an extrovert, being in a quiet place is hard work, work that takes a lot of energy. However, being in a social setting and active serves to recharge the batteries of the extrovert. Enough said about introversion and extroversion – this isn’t supposed to be a teaching session about these terms. That said, I hope that the basic idea is explained enough for the purposes of this post.

Being away from home where life is quiet, I engaged with a host of family relations on both my wife’s side of the family and my own side of the family. We even threw family friends into the mix. Whenever we did get a bit of a break from visiting and socializing, we were more often than not out for a long hike. It was an enjoyable time though it did wear down my energy reserves. Of course I am familiar with my needs for quiet time-outs, but when in these situations, I begin to feel guilty about taking these time-outs. I persuade myself to dig deep and keep going hoping that a good night’s sleep will be enough.

Now that I am at home, I don’t have to try so hard and time-out is just a few steps away. But, I somehow got caught in my own delusion that I could just keep going without the time outs.

Thankfully, my wife saw what was happening to me, saw me coasting towards a crash of spirit and energy. Seeing what was going on with me, the expectations disappeared and a sense of it’s okay to stop and rest began to be heard by me. A cup of tea together on the patio in the sunshine and now some naked time to think, read and write, finds me finally beginning the work of recharging my body, mind and soul.


Naked Cherubs, Babies and Wholesomeness

Statues at the south entrance to Asagaya Station in Tokyo, Japan

Statues at the south entrance to Asagaya Station in Tokyo, Japan

I want to begin today’s post with a quotation:

“The human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendour and its beauty… Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness… Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person…The human body is not in itself shameful… Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person.” by: Karol Cardinal Woytyla (John Paul II), Love and Responsibility, translation by H. T. Willetts, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 1981

Yes, I seem to be using images again for my posts. When it comes to any discussion about nudity, especially in terms of human response to nakedness, it often needs illustrations to prove a point. I have used Pope John Paul II’s quotation before, but I felt I needed to return to his words as I sense the world becoming more and more phobic about human nudity, especially in North America (Canada and the U.S.A.). Living in this area of the world where gymnophobia is as close to institutionalised as it is possible to be, makes it difficult to enjoy the freedom of nature in one’s natural state, even more difficult to share this with the world at large. So, like most North Americans, I live most of my naked hours indoors paying careful attention to draperies so that I don’t offend the sensibilities of those who hide from their own bodies.

Why do they hide from their bodies and want the rest of the world to stay covered up? There is no easy answer. One could say it is about religion and that would be partially true for a good portion of the population – but there is more to it than that. We don’t like our bodies for the most part. It is no wonder that the biggest selling books are diet books and those that promise fit and toned bodies. And for some reason, envy and jealousy feed the prohibition against nakedness.

And then we have the culture of youth which makes it harder for older people. It isn’t unusual to have statements such as “who wants to see saggy boobs and wrinkly skin;” when it comes to older women, or “he must be a pervert,” when older men bare it all at a beach, even a naturist beach. Nudity is tolerated as long as the bodies are  beautiful and preferably women’s bodies.

But the biggest reason, is a fear of one’s sexuality. Sex equates with sin, with being dirty and lewd. If you see a naked body, there is an illogical assumption that the person has sexual intentions, intentions that are linked to rape, prostitution and pornography. The mind doesn’t seem to process that the naked human body can be simply a naked human body. A grandmother at a nude beach enjoying the sunshine while reading a book or watching the water or simply just getting some needed sunshine is not understood in these simple terms. There has to be a catch – perhaps a dirty-minded husband who has commanded her to pose for naked photos. Or perhaps, she is a pedophile waiting to snatch some passing child. An older man (or even a younger one) can be on the same beach with the same intentions but the general consensus would peg that man as a pervert, a danger and menace to others, a pedophile, a voyeur, a flasher, or sick. Likely, all of these labels would be assumed prompting a quick call to police to come and arrest this sick and disgusting man.

As a result, most naturists and nudists are rather secretive, disrobing only within their homes, secluded beaches, at naturist resorts, or deep within a forest where people are scarce. There are exceptions of course.

It is okay to be naked if one is being filmed in a porno film. It is also okay to be nude posing for a skin magazine such as Playboy or Playgirl. Strip clubs are legalised and hedonistic hotels are given operating licenses. – Where there is money to be made, society has a different opinion of nudity. But of course, this is very understandable. Where nudity is repressed in one sphere, it pops up in a different sphere – a Jungian psychology truism that says what we repress consciously has a way of being brought out as shadow behaviour and content. There is no room for common sense in any of the response to nudity. Almost all response to nudity is unconscious, a knee-jerk type of response that defies rational thought.

We find room for nude art, nudity in film and advertising, nudity in protest activities and love our nude babies. Yet at the same time, we become increasingly repressive about our own nakedness and that of others. It is the way it is.

Back Home and Out of My Clothes

Moments before arriving at our home in Elrose, SK

Moments before arriving at our home in Elrose, SK

Well, it took an extra day to get home as we decided to stop in at one of our daughter’s home where I then got in a game of golf with one of my grandsons. As we drove the last few kilometres, I decided I just had to have this photo of our Canadian prairie sunset. There is a reason that Saskatchewan is called the land of the living sky. The day was coming to an end just as our two-week journey was coming to an end. As soon as the car was unpacked, the clothing came off and some of wine was enjoyed before bedtime.

This morning we woke up to a crisp 10 Celsius and sunshine. With the lawn mowed and veggies picked from the garden, it is time for me to get some clothing-free time and catch up on reading blog posts by my cyber-friends, as well as to add my own two cents here at Naturist’s Lens. I hope to write something with more content tomorrow when I have had time to settle back into daily home routines. Until then, you, my readers are left with just this light chatter as I take some time to re-connect. Between now and my next post I will be sitting back and enjoying some R&R, most of it au naturel of course.

Naturism and Nature

Mount Fernie and the Elk River as seen from the TransCanada Hiking Trail.

Mount Fernie and the Elk River as seen from the TransCanada Hiking Trail.

A nature scene that I took yesterday afternoon while hiking along another section of the TransCanada Trail just outside of Fernie, B.C. – after all, naturism and nature do make a perfect fit. However, since it is a public trail that is relatively busy, the possibility of hiking naked is non-existent if one wants to stay out of legal trouble. Hiking in nature is very popular throughout most of Canada resulting in most hiking trails being well used. One has to leave the trail system if one wants to free-hike with at least a slim chance of avoiding running into other people and risking confrontations. Regardless, hiking with a minimum of clothing is worth wearing those clothes when one gets to enjoy both the hiking and the scenery along the way.

The photo above also serves as a reminder to me of the ancient alchemical expression: “As above, so below.” The expression  ”As above,” can loosely be considered as persona, lives lived in the outer world.  ”As below,” can be then understood as the realm of both personal and collective unconsciousness. Enough of this psychology stuff for now. It’s time to go out hiking again.

Being In The Moment – Unconditionally

Late morning hike on the Trans-Canada Trail between Kimberley and Cranbrook - 2013

Late morning hike on the Trans-Canada Trail between Kimberley and Cranbrook – 2013

The image was taken yesterday while we were doing one of our daily hikes during our British Columbia travels. Being out of one’s normal “home” world creates different expectations and accommodations as one tries to get the most out of the daily experiences that are available. I have been wanting to walk a part of the Trans-Canada Trail for a long time and was rewarded with a good opportunity while staying with a friend in Cranbrook, British Columbia. We only walked about 12 kilometres as the temperatures soon passed the 30 Celsius mark. We shared the path with others who walked, cycled and roller-bladed on the dedicated pathways, a fact that meant clothing was de rigueur. I have to admit that the experience was exceptional and well worth the effort regardless. As you can see, I finally broke down and provided an image to go with the post. This doesn’t signal a return to the use of images, it just seemed to be very appropriate for the moment. Images will be used on rare occasions when they seem to be appropriate or even necessary for the topic.

The recent series on alchemy is on hold while I do some more work on the nigredo stage and prepare a summary wrap-up. I don’t know when that will happen, So, please be patient if the series interests you. It will be finished. At the moment I am not sure where The Naturist’s Lens will head to next. I will let the next few days provide me with direction as it always does.For now, it is all about simply being in the moment, being present.

Nudity and Alchemy – Part 10

I want to begin by bringing a sort of synthesis of the process as spoken by Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis:

“Grey and black [nigredocorrespond to Saturn and the evil world; they symbolize the beginning in darkness, in the melancholy, fear, wickedness, and wretchedness of ordinary human life. . . . The darkness and blackness can be interpreted psychologically as man’s confusion and lostness . . . The situation is now gradually illuminated as is a dark night by the rising moon. The illumination comes to a certain extent from the unconscious, since it is mainly dreams that put us on the track of enlightenment  This dawning light corresponds to the albedo, the moonlight which in the opinion of some alchemists heralds the rising sun. The growing redness (rubedo) which now follows denotes an increase in warmth and light coming from the sun, consciousness.” (Jung, CW vol. 14, para. 306-307)

The alchemical journey is one of moving from the depths of darkness where one is indeed lost, back into the full light of day where we are aware of our own presence in relation to the world which is illuminated by the day. Aware, conscious, alive. There is a vitality that is felt as one is able to breathe freely and deeply and participate in life rather than stand on the sidelines guarding our breath while trying to fade into the shadows so that no one sees us or hears us.

With consciousness, we become aware of our presence in relationships, we become aware of our body and its sensations, we become aware of the dance of contradictions that often find their expression in good versus evil.

This consciousness is not all encompassing, can never be all encompassing. If all the darkness (unconscious) was exposed and brought to consciousness, there would be no awareness. Awareness can only exist in contrast. Day only exists because there is night. Black only exists because there is white.

Now, to finish this first part of exploring the rubedo with a return to Jung’s words:

“This corresponds to the increasing participation of consciousness, which now begins to react emotionally to the contents produced by the unconscious. At first the process of integration is a “fiery” conflict, but gradually  it leads over to the “melting” or synthesis of the opposites. The alchemists termed this the rubedo, in which the marriage of the red man and the white woman, Sol and Luna, is consummated. Although the opposites flee from one another they nevertheless strive for balance, since a state of conflict is too inimical to life to be endured indefinitely.” (Jung, CW vol. 14, para. 307)

Nudity and Alchemy – Part 9

This third stage, citrinitas, is particularly difficult to grasp. More often that not, attempts to use an alchemical model for psychotherapy limit themselves to just three stages. Jung and his student, Marie-Louise von Franz do include citrinitas in their discussions of alchemy, but noted that it was a fourth and final stage, that of becoming gold. With that said, Jung’s and Jungian focus still limited . I will stick with the idea that citrinitas is the third stage in the process as that is what makes sense to me.

The idea of turning base material into gold is an idea that seems more magical than real. And, it is the magical that emerges during this stage. One is led to think of a magician such as Merlin, or even Christ. Both somehow defied all logic and nature to accomplish magical deeds. But where does this fit in with psychological process in therapy?

I want to step back just a little to place this stage in context using symbolism. In the first stage, nigredo,, light was lost as the psyche descended into the inner world of the unconscious where all the negative and fearful aspects of self have been contained as if in some personal hell. In the second stage, albedo, a light appears in the darkness, the light of an awakened soul which is symbolised as a moon (the feminine) shining in the darkness. The third stage, citrinitas, brings forth the light of the sun (the masculine), a light which magically transforms the shadowy and fearful into valuable consciousness. It is as though one has achieved the treasure grace à Dieu, through the Grace of God.

In this stage, awareness deepens. The problem yet remains how to assimilate this in order to return to the balance of being an ordinary human living an ordinary life? The objective of any therapy is to allow each of us to become at one with ourselves so that we can be fully present in our outer world as well as in our inner world. The objective of therapy is not to turn us into mystical and magical beings that don’t belong to the world. Assimilating bits of the unconscious aspects of ourselves is a huge task that sometimes falls off the rails, especially when we meet with the awe that comes with discovering the gold within ourselves.

“One is inclined to think that ego-consciousness is capable of assimilating the unconscious, at least one hopes that such a solution is possible. But unfortunately the unconscious really is unconscious; in other words, it is unknown. And how can you assimilate something unknown?” (Jung, CW 9i, para. 520)

The bits of gold we discover are just that bits. The depths of our psyche reach deeper beyond the boundaries of our personal self. Yet the discovery of these bits does lead to wonder and joy, even ecstasy. There is danger here for us, a danger that we will become so entranced of this ecstasy that we refuse to leave this it feels like perfection, we feel like perfect beings in a perfect bubble.

“One hopes to control the unconscious, but the past masters in the art of self-control, the yogis, attain perfection in samādhi, a state of ecstasy, which so far as we know is equivalent to a state of unconsciousness. It makes no difference whether they call our unconscious a “universal consciousness”; the fact remains that in their case the unconscious has swallowed up ego-consciousness.” (Jung, CW 9i, para. 520)

There is work yet to be done, to bring this gold back to the world, back in the form of a more mature and aware self.