When you read the title what did you think? I mean what came to your mind when you read those words, get naked? Did your mind immediately go to that state of being where you have no clothes on or by some chance did your mind go to that place where you are completely bare meaning open, vulnerable, transparent, and 100% authentic?
Getting naked from a spiritual standpoint can actually mean both of these.
Often times those of us in the spiritual circles deny our bodies; I mean after all a lot of our religious foundation is based upon the outdated puritanical beliefs that the body is evil. Despite these beliefs being outdated, there are many that I meet on any given day from a variety of spiritual and religious backgrounds who still believe that the body is meant to be hidden, denied, and vilified in some way shape or form. These beliefs can also be found within the New Thought Ancient Wisdom churches and centers.
Let me clarify. Whereas this concept of the body was and in many cases still is taught and believed to be inherently bad; for the most part it is not taught and believed in the same way for some new thought practitioners; for us these concepts and beliefs come to us by way of mass consciousness, the media, baggage that we were given as children by our parents, teachers, and religious leaders, and baggage that we continue to carry. So while these beliefs are not necessarily inherent within the new thought ancient wisdom belief system, many of us struggle with these often times conflicting paradigms.
Why is the naked body or the body in general seen to be wrong and or bad? Now I’m not even talking about the philosophical, emotional, or spiritual point of view referencing nakedness, I’m simply addressing for right now the actual physical body and the state of being naked.
What do you think or feel about the human body; about your own body? Do you hold shame or guilt of some kind that is associated with being naked? Do men view their own naked bodies differently than women view theirs; and if so why? Does our culture or society place certain standards upon each of us that we feel our naked bodies do not measure up to? Are you able to stand in front of a full-length mirror looking at your naked body with appreciation and awe or is it with judgment self-incrimination of some kind, and once again shame? What would happen to our Body Temple if our minds and emotions were that of gratitude, love, beauty, and total acceptance in spite of weight or height or color, stretch marks or scars or any other so-called flaws?
Okay so it’s confession time. Looking at my own life and how as a teenager in middle school and then high school how uncomfortable I was to undress in the locker room for gym or swimming, I find it very funny or ironic even that only a few short years after graduating high school I modeled nude for the first time. After graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and old teacher of mine Henry Koerner asked me if I would model on a few separate occasions. The first few times that I modeled I modeled wearing a Superman costume; however, the subsequent times that I modeled I traded in those iconic red and blue tights for an oak leaf as Henry painted me as Adam in the garden of Eden. Talk about a shift in paradigms! How did I go from being this timid shy shame filled young man to this guy who was willing to bear it all for painting? Especially since that was merely the beginning of my modeling career for art classes. And interestingly enough, the more I was willing to become comfortable in my own skin I began to develop the same ability of becoming comfortable both mentally and emotionally which took my spiritual development to an entirely different level than I even thought possible at that time of my life.
Over the years I also realized that this concept of being naked is rooted in fear. Rooted not only the fear of vulnerability, as real as that fear is, but rooted also in the fear of judgment which is equally constricting. I mean if you turn on the television and look it any number of television commercials or look at any number of magazines you will see that we are a culture obsessed with appearance. And because of this obsession with appearances, we have also made, as a culture, nakedness synonymous with sex.
So this is the challenge of the day; dare to bear it all! And what I mean is find a mirror, get naked and simply observe. Look at your body Temple and merely observe. Every time you catch yourself saying, thinking, or feeling some negative judgment or ego-based commentary, simply say stop and return to observing. Once you get to the point where you can observe without judgment, stand in front of the mirror again and this time allow yourself to admire and then to be grateful for your body Temple. Eventually, with practice this state of being in appreciation, of honoring your body Temple will become your normal and natural state of being; so much in fact that you will stand in a place of power whether clothed or unclothed whether alone or in a group. You’ll know that your body Temple is holy and divine and perfect exactly as it is and that if you decide to change something about your body Temple as I did when I decided to go from 280 pounds to my current weight of 165, it is still perfect and divine. It was perfect and divine at 280 and it is perfect and divine at 165! Maybe in a subsequent article if you’re interested in going more into depth about how I went from being 165 in high school to 170 in the Art Institute to 180 before I moved to Richmond Virginia and then up to 200 while in Richmond and then a steady climb all the way up until 2011 when I resigned from being a public school teacher for the second time but that’s for different time.
My point in saying all of this is there is great freedom in learning to be naked; physically naked, emotionally naked, intellectually naked, and spiritually naked. It is in this nakedness, this transparent state of being, that we are truly authentic and empowered to live the lives that we desire. So I ask you to make a vow to yourself today that you will begin the process of shedding; not merely the shedding of one’s clothes, but the shedding of old beliefs and paradigms of lack and limitation, of shame and guilt, of judgment and victimization so that you are able to stand “naked” and powerful and free!
Nude beach anyone? LOL…
Additional Resources for more insight: