What Costume Are You Wearing? Naked and Vulnerable
October 26, 2014
I went to a yoga retreat this weekend. I didn’t realize until I was in the thick of it, that the retreat was in a clothing optional facility. Ever since I was a tiny tot, I have not liked being naked in front of people. Group showers make me feel vulnerable and simply uncomfortable. I certainly don’t feel like the high school kids who go down to South Beach with their cameras to see the European women going topless. If anyone spoke to me, I kept my chin up and dared not look down.
As I started the first class, I wore about 16 layers of clothes, convinced that I would take off as much as I felt comfortable with. After all, this was an opportunity to stretch past my own b0undaries. What came up as the room began to get hotter and hotter was that I felt as if I would suffocate, if I didn’t take off more and more layers of clothes. Twenty minutes into the class, it was just Bo, my yoga matt, and a bunch of naked yogis practicing a difficult Vinyasa program in the candlelight.
Fortunately, it was dim, so I didn’t feel as if I was completely vulnerable. I hid in a corner and honestly cried for most of the practice. Being naked was this painful to my heart. I knew two people in the entire room, neither of whom was beside me. I truly had nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet, the tears flowed in spurts like a toddler who got yelled at and then simply couldn’t get over the tears.
I went inside and asked myself three inquiry questions: 1. “What wants to happen here? 2. What do I need to do to let this happen? 3. What is the gift that I bring to this moment?”
The answer to the first question was that a pain or a fear in my heart wanted to come up to be healed.
Number two was that I needed to own the feeling and keep breathing into it to understand the problem.
Three was that the gift would be liberation from shame, perhaps, if I could let out my grief.
I road the tide in until the very last Namaste, then I immediately donned my clothes, before the lights came up. Everyone else was as cavalier as they could be, including my two friends, walking around chatting with the participant. I kept telling myself that I was just shy. But, I couldn’t be dishonest in a room full of people who were naked, heart and soul. I apologized to the French Canadian next to me for disrupting his practice. He told me that there was no need to apologize for being authentic. Yes, that is what I preach, yet why was I so afraid to naked?
We don’t have to dig too deeply to realize that American society is very clothes conscious. We are the only culture in the world whose mothers have to hide breastfeeding in public, when this is the most natural process. We begin to hide ourselves from the moment we clothe our infants. Is it any wonder my soul screamed out in pain the entire time I tried this process? I ended up wearing shorts or underwear the rest of the time. I was the only person in the class to do so, and I simply didn’t care. When I became more preoccupied with my body than my practiced, I realized I could deal with my shame in the silence in meditation, which is exactly where I took it.
I soon discovered that dealing with my feelings about my own body was personal to me. I didn’t need to rush into the next nudist colony to get rid of my pain. I simply forgave myself for my judgment and went on. For me, authentic is wanting to be naked around people I trust. I’m certain this is not a terrible choice for me or for anyone else.
Coming Up: More Halloween subjects!
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Chosen to show his new hypnotherapeutic techniques on The Learning Channel (TLC) and also given the opportunity to teach at the world conference for Learning, and received the award of excellence for Helping Overcome Obesity in Nashville, Bo Sebastian is the writer and director of Finding Authentic You and Uncommon Gay Spiritual Warrior. Go directly to Amazon/Amazon Kindle to buy any of his wonderfully inspired books: ]