It’s been one of the themes of this summer. There has been a bountiful ease of clotheslessness!
Perhaps because this was one of Europe’s finest summers in a long time…sunshine certainly helps! And perhaps also because of spending much time in Europe, and especially Sweden where nudity is everyone’s birthright.
Which is an interesting phrase because of course nudity is everyone’s birthright…we are all born naked. But somewhere along the way we learn shame. We learn that something us wrong with our body the way it is, and it is best covered up.
In England we seem one of the best at teaching our youth this message. In swimming pool changing rooms I see women doing Houdini style tricks to get swim suits on and off under towels and clothing on without an inch of forbidden flesh getting revealed! Masterful!
Go to a pool in Germany or Sweden and you see actual bodies…simply taking one item off and putting another on. No fuss, no bother, no Houdini tricks!
Why did we adopt such prudish ways in the UK? Are we still in a hang over from Victorian days?
And does it really matter? Most of the time English weather is such that you’re best off in clothing…several layers. But under those layers lies a log of suffering, especially for women. In tantra it is said that the body is feminine and the consciousness that inhabits it is masculine; so as women we often identify with the body. If there is a sense of shame around it then that can be very painful.
And then there is the matter of lovemaking. It is generally a requirement, though not a necessity, to be naked. Of course one could engage in Houdini tricks and find ways to keep ones clothes on…then there’s always the lights out option. But so much intimacy is prevented if we can’t be content in our own nudity. How can we leg go and enjoy the energy is we are preoccupied with how our cellulite might look?
I wonder how many women even avoid intimacy purely because they have shame around their naked body.
What is the remedy? Obviously spending time in German swimming pools and Swedish saunas is a good start! But the issue runs deeper than just a surface adjustment.
I’ve been listening all summer to Marianne Williamson and reading A Course in Miracles. I have been very touched by the principle of “original innocence”. To forgive someone is to see their original innocence. To forgive oneself is to see one’s own original innocence. So many layers of judgement lie on top of that original innocence, like clothing layered over our naked body. Some have been there so long that we think that’s who we are. We have become identified with the layers and forgotten our true nature, our original innocence.
Early in the summer I went to a monastery in the alps in Switzerland. A monastery dedicated to the Divine Mother in the form of a Black Madonna. I knelt with the nuns as the monks chanted…it was magical!
After the chants I sat in the middle of this glorious cathedralesque church watching people enter and sit down for the service. As I watched them I saw the innocence of each body with all of the personality projected onto it, like a movie projected onto a blank wall. As I looked I felt such a sense of peace and love….just seeing the innocence of people. Truly we are a blank wall…pure and innocent. The judgements, hang ups and stories are not even real.
The truth is, underneath all of our clothes, we are all just naked!
So it is a terrible shame that we carry such taboos around our innocent bodies. That we suffer for nothing!!
I’m not one of those people who thinks we should shove our nudity in the faces of those who aren’t yet choosing to be happily naked. That won’t solve anything and they will be unable to do anything else but project their own self-judgements and rejections onto you.
But certainly there is space for choosing amongst consenting people to have spaces to be free in our natural condition.
So it was refreshing this summer to go to a healing festival in Devon and find actual English people walking around topless or naked in the sunshine. A peak moment this summer was a live concert of middle eastern music, everyone naked outside the sauna, and as the sunset fell, a hundred of us were all dancing to the setting sun!
I’ve also been seeing how “Dance your naked Truth”, a dance session in which everyone gets naked (without any sleaziness whatsoever) is taking off all around the country. Well done, Cloe Jackson! People are ready to drop the layers of protection and dance free!!!
Perhaps it’s time we moved beyond the Victorian era, and celebrated ourselves as we are! Who would we be if we dropped the judgements? You were born into your body…just how innocent can you get? Having tasted the peace found within groups of people without those layers of shame…I hope that we can all come to peace with our innocent nature!