- Emma Louise Alvarez
Cynical but Nudist: My Journey into Naked Meditation
© Illustration by INJECTION - Matthew Rawlinson
Mindfulness & nudity - here’s what I learnt about myself.
Submitted by Emma Louise Alvarez (21), Belgium-Mexico
When I first heard people talking about the benefits of meditation and I would catch snippets like ”eternal truth” or “finding solace” and “a spiritual connection,” I could not help but internally cringe a little.
I would much rather believe that meditation can improve your patience and tolerance, or that it helps with learning how to manage stress and be more self-aware (these are some other listed benefits). But at first I was too cynical to even properly try it. I did not “embrace the process:” I sighed my way through it.
To me, naked meditation was a different journey altogether. I found that nudity made it easier for me to practice self-awareness in meditation. To focus on external stimuli and internal sensation, to be grounded and focused on the present. It was also a vital part of my journey towards self-acceptance and embracing my nude, natural body.
My mom is an avid yoga-enthusiast. This means that I have been dragged to my fair share of yoga sessions where they always tell you to “empty your mind.” I find this to be impossible. There is always something to do, somewhere to be, something to think about or even someone to think about - so how can you just turn all your thoughts off?
“Be present. Embrace this moment. Empty your mind.” I furiously whisper to myself as I feel my butt going numb and an itch developing on my right shoulder blade. I cannot sit still. My mom eyes me semi-curiously and semi-agitatedly from two yoga mats down. I grumble and huff under my breath. This isn’t working.
However, I am determined not to give up. Later that week, I want to prove that I am capable of mindfully sitting still for longer than five minutes and try meditation. After reading an article about how-to-meditate, and putting on some candles, I sit cross-legged on the floor and try really hard not to think about anything. I notice that it only takes minutes for boredom to settle in, that around the ten minute mark I start aimlessly daydreaming, and while I briefly regain concentration after, I realise I have been staring at the clock absent-mindedly, silently debating how much longer I would do this to myself. I give up and get up to have a shower. Undressing myself, I begin stretching my aching limbs. I glance in the mirror and appreciate the way the taut muscles look, or how my skin rumples and dimples when I bend. I think the naked body is beautiful.
I find nudity beautiful, not because it is sexual, but because of how intimately important it is. My journey into accepting my body more started when I re-examined my relationship with clothes. I critically considered what was comfortable, what was flattering, the ratio between the two, and how I chose my clothes. Another important acknowledgement I made / realisation I had was that every body will be different. You really cannot compare yourself. And you can work out loads, and take great photos from great angles, but people will inherently have different bone structures and densities, different body shapes, different metabolisms and there are simply too many variables to determine a specific kind of ‘beautiful.’
The bottom part of your stomach that sticks out? That’s your GUT - it is very important. No amount of working out will make that disappear because it is supposed to be there. Bloating throughout the day? Welcome to your body’s natural processes. And - my personal favorite - the rolls and dimples your body has? PERFECTLY NORMAL.
I used to be so upset whenever I was sitting, and I would be slightly slouched forwards, and my stomach rolls in on itself, I would count them and prod at them and sigh in discontent. Now I think they’re cute. Look at my body doing its thing. Naked meditation helped me understand all of this better.
I was incredibly hesitant to try any form of meditation after my “empty your mind” debacle, but as someone who loves spending their time being naked, I had to give this a go. My first advice is to create a safe and comfortable space. Lock the doors if you are worried about someone coming in. Turn off your phone, and close your curtains if you have nosy neighbours. In terms of comfort - go all out! Meditation is a form of self care so make sure your body is well taken care of. Have a nice meal, drink a healthy smoothie, wear your favorite robe, moisturize, grab your favorite rug or blanket and create a space in which you can feel comfortable and comforted. Then, if you’re not comfortable being fully nude all the way, try just wearing pants, or just an oversized t-shirt and see what you prefer best. Meditation is a process, and, as I’ve learnt, it’s not a read-an-article-light-some-candles-and-go kind of situation. “Embrace the process” means that it’s just going to take some time for you to find out what your preferences are and what works best for your mind and body.
To me, meditation is about centering yourself: feeling connected to the chaotic world around us but also taking time for ourselves. I see it as temporarily saying ‘no thank you’ to everything around you - especially your intrusive thoughts. But it is also about breathing, and for this I do recommend some online reading to better understand why breathing is so important in grounding yourself. You can even opt for a guided meditation if you need gentle reminders about how to guide yourself through this process. Especially naked meditation can be intimidating, but take some time to explore different external and internal sensations.
Is there a breeze in your room? How cold is it? Can you embrace being cold or is it an uncomfortable sensation? Why is it an uncomfortable sensation? What if you rub your arms and hold yourself in a hug for five minutes? Does it stir up a specific emotion? How difficult is it to quiet your thoughts?
These are some questions you can consider before you settle into a meditative session. It is important to take time to consider your setting, or the context of your meditation, before you begin. It is why I love playing with different textures before you start: a silk robe, a fluffy blanket, a fresh cotton or linen sheet. Examine how your skin and body feels when it’s wrapped up and then when you undress yourself.
Naked meditation does not have to be intimidating! Meditation is a process and therefore takes time: take it at your own pace and discover what works for you and what doesn’t.
Nudity does not have to be scary! We were born naked, and there is nothing inherently sexual about nudity. Strip off your clothes and inhibitions. Embrace the freeing sensation of your bare skin. No one is looking at you, no one is judging you - this is truly for you. And in case you haven’t heard it yet today: you are beautiful.