Thoughts on Naturism

by Pat

Naturism and You: You don’t need to label yourself as a naturist or a nudist or any other term. You don’t need to be defined by what you like doing. Some people only like to be naked in specific contexts or for specific reasons. For others, nudity is always the preferred option. You need to experience it yourself to understand how you feel about it. The experience will probably surprise you in ways that can’t be imagined or guessed or presumed. Why not? Not why. But if not, that’s fair enough. Not now doesn’t mean never ever. You change, circumstances change.

The Naturist Community: We all have a common interest and support each other. It’s a diverse community but everyone seems to have a common spirit of freedom. There is an unspoken understanding that your gender identity and sexual preference are your own business. Everyone is accepted unconditionally in a spirit of mutual respect. After all we’re all naked, all vulnerable; all of us are sharing and giving of ourselves. (The caveat being we’re only human but we try).

Naturism Out In The World: Nudity hasn’t found its niche in the codification of what type of clothing is appropriate or acceptable in specific social contexts. We live in a time when we are on an adventure to establish this niche. Clothes are a uniform and a suit of armour, show yourself! Naturists see nudity as normal and not particularly remarkable. This is a different mind-set to skinny dippers or people who do it for their bucket list who see social nudity as outside of their normal experience and a bit bold.

Confident naturists just do it in a suitable situation even if they’re in the minority or on their own. They have an attitude that they are appropriately dressed for the context they’re in and that they are not seeking nor should receive any particular attention because they are undressed. You’re more vulnerable in some ways but stronger in others because you choose to own this. You’re not asking for anything, you’re just not wearing clothes. It is not a signal and shouldn’t be interpreted as one. Your relationship with your body will change. Your relationship to other people’s bodies will change.

Neither is any longer out of sight, out of mind. The changes are usually for the better and be beneficial to your perceptions of yourself and others. You will get used to seeing bodies. You will appreciate them for their functionality not just how they look. You will realise how you’re lucky. You will realise how common the aspects you’re unhappy with actually are. What you thought of as your personal weird things will lose their power to undermine your confidence as they don’t seem to be noticed particularly by other people. You will walk prouder, feeling freer you will relax into a naturally good posture. You carry less baggage; literally and metaphorically.

Tattoos can be seen fully, if you like tattoos. Even if you don’t, you will accept tattoos, piercings and other body modifications on other people as their means of self expression. You will change your mind; you will gain new perspectives from new experiences. You will learn a new etiquette; it is a whole new social context. Naturism might be seen as a counterpoint to the nude in art in that it views nudity pragmatically as a person not wearing clothes whereas art presents the body as an object or a symbol.

John Berger has interesting views on this in his book “Ways Of Seeing”. There is a companion TV show with the same name from 1972 presented by John Berger available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4VX_9Kk It’s not weird, ridiculous, perverted, exhibitionist or voyeuristic. These are other people’s projections and filters onto naturists. If you’re Irish, you’re kind of a unicorn in the naturist world.

Naturism and Mental Health: The mental health benefits are different for everybody but in general Naturism can help people relax and find enjoyment in a safe, positive space with beneficial associations. There is a community and events to look forward to. Naturism is a change of scene. In the same way it’s good to get out of your house, it’s good to get out of your clothes. It can be good to have an interest where you are not seen as one of your many roles in life. You’re just you! It can help people learn to assert themselves, to become comfortable establishing boundaries, to develop self esteem and self acceptance. It can help to develop confidence interacting with people and improve relationships with others. It can be empowering to realise that some people will judge you and maybe even dislike you because you’re a naturist and to be comfortable with that. You will probably get involved in deep, interesting conversations and find yourself more emotionally available in your responses. Physical nakedness enables emotional openness. You will communicate on a deeper level. For men, it can provide the same function as the men’s sheds movement. A ‘men’s shed’ is a community based project where men can come together to learn, share skills, make friends and engage in a range of activities.

Naturist Activities : There is a surprising variety of activities to try:

  • Naturist parties – the INA has had a Happy Nude Year party
  • Dining in a restaurant.
  • Life drawing where the artists are also nude.
  • Ballet dancing
  • Meditation
  • Laughter yoga
  • Aerobics
  • Fitness classes.
  • Naked bike rides – Cork hosts the only one in Ireland each summer
  • Garden visits
  • Boat cruises.
  • Nude festivals – see British Naturism. Irish Naturist Association and British Naturism have a large variety of events online and a presence on all popular social media apps.

Some people might be more comfortable engaging online as a first step. There are opportunities for unplanned swims. You won’t need togs or even a towel; you can dry in the sun and air. Swimming feels better and makes more sense unclothed.

You should be nude in a sauna. You need to sweat freely and wash off completely. Clothes harbour bacteria. It is healthier to be nude. Rituals such as the “Aufguss” are fun. Variations on the sauna experience include using salt to exfoliate, baking bread while you’re in the sauna and beer saunas to name a few.

Yoga is unconstricted and your teacher can see your poses more clearly and advise better

Mindfulness in Nature is a fuller deeper experience. Naturism is the holistic version of walking barefoot on grass or sand, or in water or mud. Breezes and wind will be a new experience.

Shinrin-yoku – translated from Japanese means forest (Shinrin) and bath (yoku). The aromatic compounds from trees and plants called phytoncides are the airborne chemicals which plants emit as protection from decay and from insects. Phytoncides also seem to benefit humans. Being among plants can lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure. Walking through tall dense grass and vegetation is similar to walking into water.

You can properly try body painting and body taping. You’re a blank canvas. You will begin to see possibilities everywhere. You will probably find a specific thing which you love doing nude and can’t imagine any other way.

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