"Keeping ourselves covered... reduces our involvement with the world and others and erodes the often already tenuous experience of connection which can be so easily shattered through misunderstanding."
"A definite step towards showing and gaining trust is to go naked into the world -- to reveal the true self unadorned and unfettered."
"If we can be naked in body and spirit with others, we signal to them a deeper trust which is the foundation of a broader and more encompassing love."
Who would argue that there isn't any feeling more vital and central to the human experience than love? It could be thought of as the essence of life itself -- the very substance which sustains us, impels us, and binds us to each other and the world. The experience of love varies from person to person and relationship to relationship, but the degree to which it dwell in our hearts is the degree to which we can be open and share our inner riches. And certainly the reverse is true. Openness and trust are the preconditions of love in our lives -- the very essential ingredients.
It is between lovers that nakedness has been traditionally vouchsafed -- at least in cultures where nudity is otherwise restricted. While there are even those who proclaim and express -- and no doubt feel -- love yet continue to conceal their bodies with cloth or darkness, the free and unhindered enjoyment of each other's nudity has been the prerogative of those joined in conjugal union or at the very least swept up in romantic passion. This special privilege of the beloved probably contributes to the sense that one's naked body is a private preserve of the self and one's lover and that exposing it to anyone else -- particularly someone of the opposite sex -- is a betrayal or an unintended signal of a invitation to greater intimacy.
While this attitude may impart a certain special quality to the relationship between two lovers, it can at the same time estrange those who do not participate in this exclusive bond. The building of walls between each other through this sense that our nakedness is only to be shared with those with whom we are most intimately conjoined widens the gulf between us as individuals and drains away some of the trust and compassion which we might otherwise feel. Keeping ourselves covered in this manner reduces our involvement with the world and others and erodes the often already tenuous experience of connection which can be so easily shattered through misunderstanding. We demarcate a definite territory with impassable borders and deny ourselves the opportunity to mingle with the rest of humanity, sealing ourselves within a tomb of fear and mistrust.
Though it may be impossible for people to experience the same degree of intimacy with everyone they encounter, the potential for friendship and interaction can be enhanced by a more open attitude. A kind of broad, sweeping love of life and humanity is attainable when we learn to lower our guard a little and stop shielding ourselves with anxiety-induced attitudes. A definite step towards showing and gaining trust is to go naked into the world -- to reveal the true self unadorned and unfettered. By removing the symbolic armor which conceals our humanity we teach ourselves and others that the fears that separate us are arbitrary and exaggerated. A simple gesture is capable of setting a far-ranging and vast change into motion once we allow ourselves to take this first step.
The experience of love is only possible when we do take this risk -- and make no mistake, it is risky. Revealing the self and the essence makes us very vulnerable, particularly if we've spent a lifetime sheltering ourselves. It is as a result of our lack of experience in the area of self-revelation that we are weaker and less sure-footed -- and less able to interact with others in a healthy and stable way. The risk we take, in fact, is in losing our balance and stumbling, which in turn may cause us to withdraw deeper into our cocoon of self-preservation. If we become embarrassed or flustered we will be less likely to fully emerge from our personal exile and blossom into the flower of our full potential. Yet without taking this chance we guarantee that we will remain prisoners of our own fear.
Going forth with open hearts and fully revealed selves we set the stage for new and deeper levels of intimacy and trust. For it is possible to enjoy a greater intimacy with those around us without that relationship taking on erotic overtones. Surely the bonds between parents and children, siblings and even close friends are bonds of deep affection which can be every bit as precious and strong as those between sexual partners. The possibility of non-sexual intimacy often eludes most people. They cannot see how people can be so close without the relationship progressing to sexual involvement. And yet it has been a part of our world for as long as humanity has walked the earth. Allowing for this type of closeness and recognizing that it is a very important part of our development and sustenance deepens our experience of life and enhance our appreciation of who and what we are.
But we must drop certain barriers before we can take this step. We must let go of certain fears before it becomes possible. If we can be naked in body and spirit with others, we signal to them a deeper trust which is the foundation of a broader and more encompassing love. The nakedness of lovers is a clear indicator to each other that they are safe and secure in the presence of each other even without the protection of concealment. We must learn to release ourselves from the inhibitions which make such trust difficult and faltering. We can do this without slipping into some kind of blind, instinctive compulsion to satisfy carnal urges once we attune ourselves to the true nature of love -- the kind of love which nourishes families and friendships based on emotional versus physical satisfaction. There will always be a place in the world for the erotic, but we must not be deceived into thinking that such feelings automatically spring from intimacy and revelation. Once we can correct this misapprehension we will be opening ourselves to a more satisfying experience of love and making the world a more loving place altogether.