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Body Embarrassment, part 4

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Reflections on Nudity


In keeping with our theme on Body Embarrassment, let's consider how we might use nudity as a "work around" to bodily embarrassment.

Most people have a negative feeling around being nude. For most this starts just ahead of puberty, when virtually all of us go through a period of body modesty. At the same time, we are awakening as sexual beings, so nude / covered is often connected to sexuality. This makes sense, as, prior to becoming sexually active, sexual "play" for kids and teens involves a "game" about removing clothing.

For most of us, the way we think about sex has changed and matured. On the other hand, for many people, their view of nudity hasn't changed since they were 12. And that's because of the embarrassment they feel around their bodies, coupled with their fear of intimacy.

My friend / client, about whom I've been writing in this section, mentioned to me that she'd had an epiphany in the locker room of the swimming pool she trains at. For the first time in her adult life, she looked around the locker room, instead of down at her feet. She noticed that most of the women had their eyes down, and were seemingly in their own little worlds. She thought about other times in the locker room, and how she too had kept her eyes averted. She realized she was doing this in the hopes that by not looking, no one would look at her.

Her fear was that someone would look at her and judge her harshly. That someone would find her unappealing, different, ugly. As we worked together and talked together, she slowly let go of her dislike of her body, and has also let go of her need for approval (or permission) from others.

Nevertheless, she was surprised by her reaction to looking at the nude bodies of other women. She saw legs, and arms and breasts and butts and crotches and tummies, all different, all the same. She realized that she was thinking, "Oh, that's what she looks like nude. Hmm." She realized that she was not judging - she was simply curious. The experience was a bit "chargy," and definitely freeing.

Finding a Witness for Body, Mind and Soul

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Open Palm Solutions is a way to choose to have a life-long relationship with someone who will, over time, get to know you very, very well. This takes time, commitment and the willingness to be both open and "surrendered." The surrender is into a place of admitting that you need guidance to continue your walk.

There must be rapport, trust and a similar world view.

Why? Because you live in there!

First of all, you choose to feel free enough with yourself to work past anything that remains of your parentally-injected body embarrassment.

All of us, to some degree, have been introduced to body shame - a sense that being nude is "wrong." We turn this into modesty, but its core is shame, nonetheless. Moving past this old programming leads to a feeling of being alive and comfortable in your own skin.

I amused myself last week. A teenage friend of mine e-mailed me about a physical she'd had, and was grousing about how gross it was to produce a urine sample. I secretly thought, "I'll bet she hasn't had a pelvic exam yet." Her embarrassment is natural. She's a teen, and is reluctant to deal directly with her body. Nudity is "gross." Fluids are "really gross." She may become comfortable with nudity during sex, but for most people, that's it. The disquiet is there, under the surface—and yet, if we are honest, what that surface craves the most is touch.

Becoming comfortable with our bodies involves being able to separate various feelings. First of all, nudity is not directly connected to sexuality. We may be nude and also feel sexual, or not. For example, for most of us, hanging out on a nude beach is not a sexual experience. It's sunbathing without clothes. Even being nude with someone we love is not always a sexual experience. We need to get our priorities and feelings about our bodies sorted out, allowing ourselves to open to the possibility of a wide range of feelings. Bodywork is one way to accomplish this.

Some of the Bodywork I do is through clothes. Other times, I choose to work directly on the skin of the back, upper chest and legs, with oil. The oil allows me to push harder and dig deeper, thus releasing more of the blocked material. As the tension releases, the chi flows, and the feeling shifts from pain to pleasure.

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Skin-to-skin contact magnifies the felling, and this, in turn, helps the chi to flow. Secondarily, skin-to-skin contact helps the client to feel more comfortable in his or her body.

It's a way past bodily embarrassment.

This leads us back to where this began. Nudity, as you dance around your house, or as you work with a massage therapist, or as you set up a reciprocal arrangement with friends for massage, is a great way to begin to move past body embarrassment. Such work can be done with a lover, but if so, should involve a 'deal' that the massage will not be seen as foreplay. The massage is to be an experience of being in the body and feeling touch, and having your own, internal reactions. If you become aroused, be aroused. Do, for yourself, what you need to do. The person giving the massage needs to stay focused on the task and should not get drawn in to the drama the recipient is feeling.

Massage, being nude on nude beaches, and finding other ways and places to be nude, is an exercise in seeing yourself and others and not judging. It is an exercise in landing firmly in your own body and feeling not only your feelings, but the flow of chi. It's about becoming comfortable with your body, and allowing others to see, and with massage, to make contact with you.

As a way to begin, follow my friend's lead. Keep it simple. Just go into the locker room and look around!

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