When naked, I spark my own joy.
The other day it was 42 degrees. It was, to state the obvious bloody hot outside.
It was a day when normally I would be relieved to be going to work, because, at work, there was always reliable air-conditioning, in which you never really needed to know the temperature outside, because once I entered, I was unlikely to leave and therefore I was protected having to experience anything other than a tempered environment.
I was speaking with my sister a couple of days later, she is in NYC where it was about 0 at the time, and I was telling her about the hot day. She asked me, “What did you do?”
I laughed, cause I hadn’t told anyone what I had done that day.
So I told her, that I had been sleeping naked for a couple of nights because it was more comfortable. When I woke that morning it was already 30 and I had no desire to put clothes on – so I decided not to. I challenge myself to see how long I could go, without feeling the need, the pressure or the urge to get dressed. I gave myself, a stay naked challenge!
I wanted to see, just how long I could deal with my own nakedness and still get things done.
Because the day was so hot, I had the curtains down; so the train passengers that go past my apartment where not going to get any surprises on their journey into the city; but even so the mindset to not “cover up” and get dressed just out of habit, created pressure in my brain.
To state the obvious (once more), when you are naked – you see things. Things that normally you would not. Things that you may have pushed down, looked away from or just figured you can’t see so why deal with it. The transparency to self, when naked becomes an egoic mind check.
I made breakfast, had tea, edited photos, did social media posts, meditated, wrote a piece, I even did an online yoga class. Now let’s face it, it is not often that you get to see your full self-upside down and twisted. And despite the newness of the sensation of being exposed, it was a contest of my own mind to just let myself be with myself, and be ok with it. Fully naked.
During my time with School of Womanly Arts, one of the most powerful ways that I learnt to embrace my physical body was through a weekly activity which I called “An ode to..”(I can’t actually remember if it had a name!) … each week we were invited to write an ode to a part of our body. We were invited to look at each part and write it a poem or a letter directly to that body part.
It was a powerful process to get up close and personal with each body part – recognising its shape, its function, its individuality, its history, the influence of lineage and my relationship to the experiences that that part of my naked body offers me everyday.
Every day every body part offers itself to us, to do as we will with it. No real obligations, just an open offering of what it can be, at that moment. Whether healthy or injured or overused – each day that part turns up for us, so that we can experience the day ahead.
The more comfortable and grateful I became for each part of my body, the more specific I was able to be, and the more reverent I was able to become. As I scanned each part of me, I began to recognise the judgements that I had placed on my parts and the impact of what NOT loving my body does.
To be hiding behind the judgement and belief of what I “thought” my body should or should not be – was just another way to numb myself from much deeper underlying beliefs.
And whilst I have never experienced deep body image issues, in our culture, you really can’t avoid the influences – images, advertising, media etc. that do make you question yourself. Even if I do love running my hands over the curves of my thighs – should I? Or should I think, well they could be more toned? Or even if I do love the shape of my calves, should I? Then maybe I will just pretend I don’t care much at all and focus more negative attention to my toes.
It can become a constant stream of doubt and self-judgment and a level of numbness which develops when are not conscious of the true gifts that are literally in front of your face.
Through the process of writing to each body part, I was able to share the stories of my life experiences and cognitively recognise and be grateful for the role they have played in my every day. And through each Ode I wrote, the negative perceptions began to be overridden by a more meaningful connection.
This creative mind and body exercise of appreciating each part, piece by piece, part by part – developed my true and holistic body story. My unique life journey with this vessel, not a story projected on to me. My body that had given me the experiences of the joy of dance, the juiciness of a mango, the intimacy of touch, the pleasure-pain of massage, the comfort of a deep breath and tenderness of kisses and every other experience from the day my body came into this world. Through this new story, my relationship to my physical vessel deepened in ways I could not have imagined.
As I hung naked upside down in downward dog, feeling my shoulders ache and my achilles pull, it was the thought that “It is this naked body that gives me life’, that made me stay there for another minute or so. For this naked body, is my spirits vessel, and it’s the only thing that will connect me to the sacredness that exists within us and around us every day.
So as the layers of clothes were off, so to were my thoughts of hiding behind them or anything else.
On that 42 degree day, I made it to about 4pm before I thought – geez, I best at least put some underwear on. So I put underwear on and thought I would go on the balcony to see how hot it really was.
I pulled the blinds up, and bright sunshine came glaring through – I dragged open the balcony door, expecting to be hit by a wall of heat – but to my surprise, my body was met with a cool and refreshing breeze. It was like a cleansing gift to my skin as it whirled around me, and into my apartment.
Getting naked (physically or metaphorically) with life is not an easy task. The layers and layers of unlearning, does at times feel arduous. Each layer exposes new and sensitive skin, levels of vulnerability we weren’t even conscious of. Having to unpack and clear away, helps us to face what is, and let go of the influences impacting our view of who we are or who we think we should be.
But for me, it has been worth the effort. And as Marie Condo has so gorgeously presented to us – what we find underneath the layers of things we have collected is what ‘Sparks Joy”.
Getting naked physically and metaphorically has given me gifts I didn’t know that I needed. When I look at my body and my life through the lens of what it is offering me, and not just what it looks like; I feel grounded, I feel an inner strength that wasn’t there before, I have a knowing for what I desire, a stronger sense of my own boundaries and a deeper seeded sense of love and compassion for myself.
So maybe just give it a go. Take off a layer, even if it is just one, it is a lighter way to travel.
- What layers are you holding on to that no longer spark joy for you?
- What judgements can you smash with a little gratitude
- for what is truly being offered to you?
- Can you take off the influencer lense, and find the naked gifts beneath the surface?
I hope so.
With the vulnerability, and maybe to spark a little inspiration in you, here is the little ode I wrote to my ankles, thank you for witnessing.
Ode to my ankles
You are my heritage
The nimble edges that keep me moving
You are the evidence of twists and turns
The weakness on a branch
But the strength of a dance
The lines and the spots create a landscape
That is mine
A texture created from beaches, and bushlands, rivers and city streets
As your bones and flesh curve up, you support my journey
As the tendons hold firm, you plant my roots
I am grateful for your stability
The love of the circle
The gift of movement
And your connection to the earth and my growth
For the Grandmother who you resemble
For that which she beared
I give thanks you are mine
Let us continue
With love, N
P.s I am yet to watch Marie Condo on Netflix, but it is on my To Be list!