The winter solstice has passed here in the North, and a tough year is over. The holiday season is finishing up when many faith traditions reflect on matters of the spirit. Given our belief that Ethical Naturism helps to promote a bright spirit together with a healthy mind in a healthy body, we would like to devote a few remarks to the ways in which Naturism can feed us spiritually. By spirit we are not simply referring to one’s mood or sense of happiness but to the enigmatic, animating spark within that moves us and makes us feel alive.
An abundance of testimony has been published over the years by people sharing experiences of Naturism that stirred their souls. The authors have reported many things including: an awakening of their senses, an honest self-awareness and comfort from self-acceptance, a sense of belonging to a community, and a deep connection and harmony with Nature. We have submitted a few of these testimonies in earlier posts: Initiation https://ethicalnaturist.com/?p=190 , Like One Reborn https://ethicalnaturist.com/?p=270 and Halcyon Memories https://ethicalnaturist.com/?p=282. When you hear Naturists use words like joy, peace, and freedom to describe their experience, they are giving voice to spiritual aspects of Naturism.
We believe these moments of animated Naturist experience are effectively what the late mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to as The Rapture of Being Alive. He articulates this idea in the following (non-nudist) video:
Campbell’s comments focus on the power of myth, as symbolic narrative, to evoke the spirit. There are other tools in addition to narrative that accomplish this, and we believe symbolic ritual also has this power. Religious rituals such as prayer, communion, various ceremonies and even non-religious but spiritual practices such as meditation are ways in which people reach beyond their everyday life to try and tap into the transcendent. Ethical Naturism is not a religion, of course, but the act of removing one’s clothing can serve as a ritualistic practice that has evocative symbolic power.
Clothing is vested with various potent symbolic meanings (authority, social class, wealth, tribal affiliation, conformity, rebellion, masquerade and so on). Uncloaking one’s physical self, particularly in a communal Naturist setting, is therefore a revelation. It sheds socially constructed identity to the bare essence. The authenticity and truth of this is deeply personal and yet liberating. It brings forth a core of one’s humanity and by doing so opens a window for spiritual discovery.
Additionally, the practice of going naked in Nature can be experienced as symbolically purifying. Modern life in today’s urban and technological settings is to an extant an un-natural construct and artifice. Stripping it all away, if only for a while, to exist in a wholly natural state amongst the living, natural earth can be spiritually restorative. It stirs a deeply primordial sense of one’s participation in and relationship to the web of life and puts one in tune with it.
It is also appropriate here to mention the Ethical Naturist Triad (See image below and https://ethicalnaturist.com/?p=288 ). Respect for self, respect for others and respect for Nature are all components of the Golden Rule to treat others as you would treat yourself. The Golden Rule is a principal that is doctrinal and embraced across religious faith traditions and is also embodied in the values of secular humanism. While Ethical Naturism is not a religion, its appropriate practice and lived experience can, perhaps surprisingly, resonate with and complement the teachings of many faiths and life philosophies.
Image by Stéphane Deschênes
The bottom line is that Ethical Naturism has power as a spiritual tool. The ritual uncloaking of the self in community with others or in Nature sheds the raiment, artifices, and social constructs of modern life and, like Campbell’s myths, can provide clues to the spiritual potentialities of one’s life. Integrating positive, empathetic, and harmonious attitudes to oneself, to others and to Nature is not only healthy for the body and the mind but also the spirit. This is, however, not simply a matter of taking off one’s clothes. It is in doing so with a mindfulness that awakens one to the bigger and more profound meanings of the practice that is a source of positive change.
P.S. For purely recreational nudists, this post may come across as passionate and preachy. To be fair, nude time is often simply mundane or just plain fun with no spiritual component whatsoever. We do not take ourselves too seriously here. However, we have experienced the spiritual richness of Naturism and do feel moved to share its bigger possibilities.