Acknowledge the Darkness, Then Let It Go.

Again, I am writing after meditation, again writing about what comes up during this sacred time. Meditation has become a significant part of my work, my journey of healing my soul and heart. Before I go further into what came up during this morning’s meditation, I want Pema Chodron’s words to set the tone:

“The safest and most nurturing place to begin working this way is during formal meditation. On the cushion, we begin to get the hang of not indulging or repressing and what it feels like to let the energy just be there. That is why it’s so good to meditate every single day and continue to make friends with our hopes and fears again and again. This sows the seeds that enable us to be more awake in the midst of everyday chaos. It’s a gradual awakening, and it’s cumulative, but that’s what actually happens. We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll be more awake in our lives.”

Everyday chaos – when chaos entered in the past, especially anything that had anything to do with re-emerging memories of my past involving physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse which was part of my being a child and youth; I typically responded with a sharp descent into darkness, depression and irrational behaviours. Meditation has allowed me to find some balance allowing me to become more and more present in everyday life. It doesn’t get rid of the past. But, it has allowed me to co-exist better with the facts of that past.

Yesterday evening, I received a message that gave me more information, more mental images of my own life in childhood chaos. I found out more about my mother and her father and how all of that would in turn swirl around me as first grandchild and first child. I was initially shocked, shaken and tears again fell – tears of relief actually as finally there was another voice confirming what I had remembered, confirming that they were not false memories. And, it gave me some needed understanding, especially with regard to my mother.

This morning in meditation, without intention on my conscious part, new images of mother and child began to emerge. Rather than flee in disgust and crumble into a depression of self-hate, I continued to look at the images as I have been learning through meditation. I was learning how to stay safely in my boat as I rode through the hell that sought to pull me into its embrace like the image above taken from the movie, “What Dreams May Come.”

“How we stay in the middle between indulging and repressing is by acknowledging whatever arises without judgment, letting the thoughts simply dissolve, and then going back to the openness of this very moment. That’s what we are actually doing in meditation. Up come these thoughts, but rather than squelch them or obsess with them, we acknowledge them and let them go.”

As I got up from the cushion this morning, I returned to a real morning, in a real house, in a real relationship. The images and thoughts were let go and I am again at peace and breathing with ease.

Acknowledge the Darkness, Then Let It Go.

In the depths of darkness, in black holes of inner and outer space there are black holes and tiny threads and points of light.

In the depths of darkness, in black holes of inner and outer space there are black holes and tiny threads and points of light.

Again, I am writing after meditation, again writing about what comes up during this sacred time. Meditation has become a significant part of my work, my journey of healing my soul and heart. Before I go further into what came up during this morning’s meditation, I want Pema Chodron’s words to set the tone:

“The safest and most nurturing place to begin working this way is during formal meditation. On the cushion, we begin to get the hang of not indulging or repressing and what it feels like to let the energy just be there. That is why it’s so good to meditate every single day and continue to make friends with our hopes and fears again and again. This sows the seeds that enable us to be more awake in the midst of everyday chaos. It’s a gradual awakening, and it’s cumulative, but that’s what actually happens. We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll be more awake in our lives.”

Trying to stay afloat amid the hell of chaos with the fingers of the dark past trying to drag one's soul into dark chaos.

Trying to stay afloat amid the hell of chaos with the fingers of the dark past trying to drag one’s soul into dark chaos.

Everyday chaos – when chaos entered in the past, especially anything that had anything to do with re-emerging memories of my past involving physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse which was part of my being a child and youth; I typically responded with a sharp descent into darkness, depression and irrational behaviours. Meditation has allowed me to find some balance allowing me to become more and more present in everyday life. It doesn’t get rid of the past. But, it has allowed me to co-exist better with the facts of that past.

Inside our heads we tread on so many memories, thoughts that pull us to indulge or to escape - and we risk being right here, right now in the real world.

Inside our heads we tread on so many memories, thoughts that pull us to indulge or to escape – and we risk being right here, right now in the real world.

Yesterday evening, I received a message that gave me more information, more mental images of my own life in childhood chaos. I found out more about my mother and her father and how all of that would in turn swirl around me as first grandchild and first child. I was initially shocked, shaken and tears again fell – tears of relief actually as finally there was another voice confirming what I had remembered, confirming that they were not false memories. And, it gave me some needed understanding, especially with regard to my mother.

This morning in meditation, without intention on my conscious part, new images of mother and child began to emerge. Rather than flee in disgust and crumble into a depression of self-hate, I continued to look at the images as I have been learning through meditation. I was learning how to stay safely in my boat as I rode through the hell that sought to pull me into its embrace like the image above taken from the movie, “What Dreams May Come.”

“How we stay in the middle between indulging and repressing is by acknowledging whatever arises without judgment, letting the thoughts simply dissolve, and then going back to the openness of this very moment. That’s what we are actually doing in meditation. Up come these thoughts, but rather than squelch them or obsess with them, we acknowledge them and let them go.”

As I got up from the cushion this morning, I returned to a real morning, in a real house, in a real relationship. The images and thoughts were let go and I am again at peace and breathing with ease.

Baring the Natural Human Body

As a naturist, I get to meet others who are comfortable in their own skin. The people I meet are real. They have families, they have jobs, they have friends, and they do their best like everyone else to have meaningful lives. No matter how you look at them, they simply come out looking like normal people, because that is exactly what they are – normal. For those who are not naturists or nudists, this is hard to understand, how I can say they are normal when they are so obviously naked in a world that is obsessed with covering up their bodies which are natural. We’re all born naked. We aren’t our clothing and shouldn’t be defined by what we wear or don’t wear.

“I live my life free from the restraints of clothing and bare the human natural body for all to see the real me, what they do not see is the bondage of emotions and feelings. They all get conveniently covered and hidden by the very nature of my own skin. Who needs clothes when the body can cover the biggest part of who we truly are. Our minds and souls.”

These words belong to the woman in the photo above, a Canadian who has awakened to her own presence and psyche in the world. She serves as a good example of being at one with the world. She has much to teach us by simply being authentically herself; almost as much as we would learn from being authentic with ourselves.

Clothing is a cover-up – a hiding when conditions in our environment don’t demand clothing. Clothing is supposed to be functional. However, we use clothing to strut our stuff, or to give ourselves authority, or simply to hide in anonymity. Yet, as soon as one removes the clothing, the situation changes immediately – authority is gone with the exception of any real authority that comes simply from being older and perhaps wiser; lust is diminished as nude human bodies become the norm – we are all familiar with the use of provocative clothing, the skimpier the better, to entice and exploit.

Clothing is essentially a poor means of hiding from ourselves. Removing our clothing forces us to finally deal with the truth of who we are. Everyone has baggage, has skeletons in their closets. Everyone has been wounded in life and has scars – some visible but most invisible because they are scars to the heart and soul – the psyche. The challenge with being without clothing is to take the next step and expose the scars and do the work that would heal those scars.

How does one recognize these scars after so many years of cover-up  and denial? Look for heat. Track your emotions to find what was present or happening when fear made an appearance. What was happening or present in the environment when anger or joy entered? What sounds? What smells? – All of these are triggers that date back to the woundings of the psyche. Track these over time and patterns will emerge that paint a fairly clear picture.

So then what? Well, one begins by realising that the wounds are old, that they are not the present circumstances. Then, one has to accept that the wounding did happen and that it can’t be undone by drugs, exercise, therapy or salvation in some church. The wounding happened – end of story. Now, one has to begin the process of lessening the unconscious power of the wounding over our present life. This is where therapy of some sort comes in. We gave to take ownership of ourselves rather than leave ownership in the hands of someone who has wounded us, someone who may even be presently deceased. If the soul is to be truly healed, we can’t give our power away to someone else – a spouse, a therapist, a guru, or some authority out there – somewhere – who will save us from ourselves and take away our sins and pain.

No, the buck stops with us. We can’t hide from ourselves and our own authority and responsibility over ourselves. Strip off the clothes and expose the scars – be vulnerable. And then, risk it all to change, to heal.

Baring the Natural Human Body

The feminine, Mother and Caretaker of the Earth - Gaia.

The feminine, Mother and Caretaker of the Earth – Gaia.

As a naturist, I get to meet others who are comfortable in their own skin. The people I meet are real. They have families, they have jobs, they have friends, and they do their best like everyone else to have meaningful lives. No matter how you look at them, they simply come out looking like normal people, because that is exactly what they are – normal. For those who are not naturists or nudists, this is hard to understand, how I can say they are normal when they are so obviously naked in a world that is obsessed with covering up their bodies which are natural. We’re all born naked. We aren’t our clothing and shouldn’t be defined by what we wear or don’t wear.

“I live my life free from the restraints of clothing and bare the human natural body for all to see the real me, what they do not see is the bondage of emotions and feelings. They all get conveniently covered and hidden by the very nature of my own skin. Who needs clothes when the body can cover the biggest part of who we truly are. Our minds and souls.”

These words belong to the woman in the photo above, a Canadian who has awakened to her own presence and psyche in the world. She serves as a good example of being at one with the world. She has much to teach us by simply being authentically herself; almost as much as we would learn from being authentic with ourselves.

Clothing is a cover-up – a hiding when conditions in our environment don’t demand clothing. Clothing is supposed to be functional. However, we use clothing to strut our stuff, or to give ourselves authority, or simply to hide in anonymity. Yet, as soon as one removes the clothing, the situation changes immediately – authority is gone with the exception of any real authority that comes simply from being older and perhaps wiser; lust is diminished as nude human bodies become the norm – we are all familiar with the use of provocative clothing, the skimpier the better, to entice and exploit.

Clothing is essentially a poor means of hiding from ourselves. Removing our clothing forces us to finally deal with the truth of who we are. Everyone has baggage, has skeletons in their closets. Everyone has been wounded in life and has scars – some visible but most invisible because they are scars to the heart and soul – the psyche. The challenge with being without clothing is to take the next step and expose the scars and do the work that would heal those scars.

How does one recognize these scars after so many years of cover-up  and denial? Look for heat. Track your emotions to find what was present or happening when fear made an appearance. What was happening or present in the environment when anger or joy entered? What sounds? What smells? – All of these are triggers that date back to the woundings of the psyche. Track these over time and patterns will emerge that paint a fairly clear picture.

So then what? Well, one begins by realising that the wounds are old, that they are not the present circumstances. Then, one has to accept that the wounding did happen and that it can’t be undone by drugs, exercise, therapy or salvation in some church. The wounding happened – end of story. Now, one has to begin the process of lessening the unconscious power of the wounding over our present life. This is where therapy of some sort comes in. We gave to take ownership of ourselves rather than leave ownership in the hands of someone who has wounded us, someone who may even be presently deceased. If the soul is to be truly healed, we can’t give our power away to someone else – a spouse, a therapist, a guru, or some authority out there – somewhere – who will save us from ourselves and take away our sins and pain.

No, the buck stops with us. We can’t hide from ourselves and our own authority and responsibility over ourselves. Strip off the clothes and expose the scars – be vulnerable. And then, risk it all to change, to heal.

The Paths Are The Same, The Hike Is Different

I have asked for and received permission to use this photo of a man, a married man with three children like me. Like me, he is on a spiritual journey and has embraced meditation, nudity and naturism as part of that spiritual journey. He is ten years younger than I am and lives in South America. I would like him to speak for himself:

“My nudity was an inward and spiritual necessity, it joined the naturism. My process was initially meditation techniques in nature. From then on, the search was and is continuous. [And] since I left my clothes [to] live nude [it] is not [to] live without clothes, but [to] live with different eyes, with [a] different mind, with continuous healing spirit, with the soul in continuous search – the paths are the same, the hike is different.”

The discovery that there are more and more people such as myself who are looking beyond, beneath and within for meaning as humans has given me greater courage to be myself, to dare being fully myself. A long time ago I wrote about how Sydney Jourard’s book, The Transparent Self, had been a part of the influence that helped explain my personal shift to consciously becoming vulnerable in the external world. I have also frequently referred to Jungian psychology as “peeling away layers” to reveal an authentic self. And, I have frequently spoken about how meditation au naturel has served to connect me with a larger sense of the universe, a spiritual dimension that cannot tolerate disguises, masks or false images.

In our religions we are taught that humans were made in the image of their Creator, perfect creations, created naked and vulnerable and beautiful. Somewhere along the way we have lost that innocence and learned to believe that the Creator made a mistake in creating us naked. We have learned to that to be naked is to be sinful, even evil. Our holiest garb has us so covered in cloth that our bodies have disappeared within the coverings so that we become sexless beings.

Learning that I am constantly changing with each breath, each moment and interaction with the world, teaches me to be more gentle with myself and the world, as well as it teaches me to cling less to old habits, beliefs and false security. I was surprised earlier today to find these words that led me just a bit further along my journey to being an authentic and transparent being.

“We are given changes all the time. We can either cling to security, or we can let ourselves feel exposed, as if we had just been born, as if we had just popped out into the brightness of life and were completely naked.

Maybe that sounds too uncomfortable or frightening, but on the other hand, it’s our chance to realize that this mundane world is all there is, and we could see it with new eyes and at long last wake up from our ancient sleep of preconceptions.”

Waking up. Stripping off the clothes and facing the world totally vulnerable and with honesty is frightening in many ways, particularly in this modern world which is hell-bent on punishing those who dare to be authentic. But as Pema Chodron points out, it’s our chance. I grew tired of darkness, of fear and of hiding. Now, like my friend from South America, I dare say, This is who I am!

The Paths Are The Same, The Hike Is Different

Man was made in the image of God - nude.

Man was made in the image of God – nude.

I have asked for and received permission to use this photo of a man, a married man with three children like me. Like me, he is on a spiritual journey and has embraced meditation, nudity and naturism as part of that spiritual journey. He is ten years younger than I am and lives in South America. I would like him to speak for himself:

“My nudity was an inward and spiritual necessity, it joined the naturism. My process was initially meditation techniques in nature. From then on, the search was and is continuous. [And] since I left my clothes [to] live nude [it] is not [to] live without clothes, but [to] live with different eyes, with [a] different mind, with continuous healing spirit, with the soul in continuous search – the paths are the same, the hike is different.”

The discovery that there are more and more people such as myself who are looking beyond, beneath and within for meaning as humans has given me greater courage to be myself, to dare being fully myself. A long time ago I wrote about how Sydney Jourard’s book, The Transparent Self, had been a part of the influence that helped explain my personal shift to consciously becoming vulnerable in the external world. I have also frequently referred to Jungian psychology as “peeling away layers” to reveal an authentic self. And, I have frequently spoken about how meditation au naturel has served to connect me with a larger sense of the universe, a spiritual dimension that cannot tolerate disguises, masks or false images.

In our religions we are taught that humans were made in the image of their Creator, perfect creations, created naked and vulnerable and beautiful. Somewhere along the way we have lost that innocence and learned to believe that the Creator made a mistake in creating us naked. We have learned to that to be naked is to be sinful, even evil. Our holiest garb has us so covered in cloth that our bodies have disappeared within the coverings so that we become sexless beings.

Learning that I am constantly changing with each breath, each moment and interaction with the world, teaches me to be more gentle with myself and the world, as well as it teaches me to cling less to old habits, beliefs and false security. I was surprised earlier today to find these words that led me just a bit further along my journey to being an authentic and transparent being.

“We are given changes all the time. We can either cling to security, or we can let ourselves feel exposed, as if we had just been born, as if we had just popped out into the brightness of life and were completely naked.

Maybe that sounds too uncomfortable or frightening, but on the other hand, it’s our chance to realize that this mundane world is all there is, and we could see it with new eyes and at long last wake up from our ancient sleep of preconceptions.”

Waking up. Stripping off the clothes and facing the world totally vulnerable and with honesty is frightening in many ways, particularly in this modern world which is hell-bent on punishing those who dare to be authentic. But as Pema Chodron points out, it’s our chance. I grew tired of darkness, of fear and of hiding. Now, like my friend from South America, I dare say, This is who I am!

Opening Up More and More

SONY DSC

Sunny day in winter.

Some days are better than others, days when there is sunshine and warmth. Of course it really isn’t just the outer world conditions that make for a good day or not. What goes on within one’s head and heart can bring a sense of warmth and sunshine even on a stormy, cold, and very gray day.

Today is a stormy day in comparison with yesterday’s weather which can be imagined seeing this photo taken mid-morning. I was up early to shovel snow that was doing its best to block the doorway. Very strong winds and plummeting temperatures have decided that I needed to be made aware that it is winter time on the prairies. As a result, I find myself encouraged to stay indoors and to look within myself for sunshine and warmth – first on my meditation cushion, and then with some reading from Pema Chodron’s book.

“We might think, as we become more open, that it’s going to take bigger catastrophes for us to reach our limit. The interesting thing is that, as we open more and more, it’s the big one that immediately wake us up and the little things that catch us off guard. However, no matter what the size, color, or shape it is, the point is still to lean toward the discomfort of life and see it clearly rather than protect ourselves from it.”

Becoming more open – this is something I have been risking a lot more lately. I have given all of my family and friends the link to my Naked Poetry book which included nude photography which opens up the can of worms that father/brother/grandfather/neighbour/friend is periodically to be found without his clothing on. So far, no negative responses. I have to admit that I never expected negative responses from my children as this is not news for them. However, I imagine that it will stir up some discomfort in the lives of others which in turn will stir up some discomfort in me.

I am changing as I open up more and more, as I tell the story of who I am through poetry and prose. I am changing as I open up in my relationship with others. I think I am becoming more authentic in the process. Becoming more authentic doesn’t mean that I become more handsome or more likable to others. What it does mean is that I can live easier with myself, more gently with myself. And this is new territory for me. And, I think it is unfamiliar territory for almost all of us.

Opening up for me includes naturism and Buddhism as well as Jungian psychology as helpful strategies. I don’t pretend for a moment that these are THE strategies for everyone. Each person will need to risk their own journey of opening up based on how they have disguised and hidden themselves. We all hide – hide from others and ourselves – from the uncomfortable and messy reality of who we are beneath our roles, masks, and actions. Sometimes we hide in places of relative isolation or in organisations or in the guise of victims. When we discover how we have hidden ourselves, we discover a pathway out of hiding and must risk following that path. Only then can we truly heal and learn the hardest of all tasks – learning to like and even love the truth of who we are.