Tippy tappying, thermals on, it’s mid September in the UK after one of the dreariest “Summers” we’ve had since records began.
About a month ago, during a rare glimpse of Summer I was at my second home, Diogenes Sun Club, playing boules in the buff with my dear friends and fellow members when, between bouts, my ever-present phone went.
I answered it. It’s my choice whether or not I answer my phone and at weekends, I tend to let it default to answerphone if it’s not a number I recognise.
“Hello, sorry to disturb you on a Sunday,” a male voice announced.
“That’s ok” I answered.
“I was just wondering, whether you had any appointments today?”
“No, I don’t work at weekends. It’s family time and when I train, unless one of my client’s have an emergency or they’ve taken part in an endurance event.” I answered, qualifying it; “Like a grading, ultra marathon, that sort of thing.”
“So, do you do Naturist Massage?”
I embraced public naturism in the Summer of 2011 although I’ve always held naturist principles.
The home page to a naturist club I run on a social/business networking site, ecademy.com; http://www.ecademy.com/, explains more about my interest and commitment to both naturism and my business in complementary health/massage; http://www.ecademy.com/module.php?mod=club&c=9846&p=1.
After fifteen months of learning more about naturism through public naturism, working with British Naturism/Young British Naturism and helping to moderate Naturist Freedom UK and Naturist England, for whom I run their Twitter account @NatFreeUk; https://twitter.com/NatFreeUK, I discover there’s typical confusion about what exactly constitutes a Naturist Massage.
My perception of a Naturist Massage is that the client has the option of receiving a treatment naked, which is the way I was trained originally through the College of Holistic Medicine. Quite a rare approach for the UK with most courses placing a higher emphasis on “draping” and “towel technique,” whereby the client almost becomes lost in the process and the practitioner’s attention becomes more about the lay of the towels, not the comfort of the client.
Indeed, take away the some of the visuals and you lose even more sense of your client and increase the possibility that you may miss a reaction in your client, i.e., flinching/reflexing in response to pressure/pain etc.
From a psychological point of view, receiving a massage naked also facilitates greater relaxation since it enables us to go deeper into our subconscious, whereas with a clothed massage, i.e., retaining underwear, when the practitioner starts to work towards the underwear, a client will hop into their conscious mind. Take away clothes and towels and you remove any barriers to the mind’s ability to free flow and it becomes much more of a natural, fluid process. A dance in a sense for the mind and the treatment.
However, some naturists and expectant non naturists, seem to believe in order to be a Naturist Massage, the practitioner must also be naked. Right from the outset in my profile on British Naturism, I’ve made it clear that I will never bring my naturism into my work as a professional practitioner. That’s akin to putting a noose around my neck. Imagine if pictures of me working and naked ended up on the web. My business reputation would be toast! Besides which, given the fact I do Sports and Remedial massage and Thai Yoga Massage (for which I’m about to sit exams on 6 October), I get in such an array of weird and wonderful positions, it wouldn’t be seemly darlings!
Back to my Sunday afternoon enquiry. “Do you mean am I naked too?” No point beating around the bush is there?
“No, I don’t, sorry.”
“Ah ok, sorry to trouble you.” That floored me. The enquirer wasn’t really interested in a treatment, he just wanted to get his kit off with me also naked. In a professional capacity, as far as I’m concerned, that’s where the boundaries can get crossed because it sends mixed messages to those who might profess to be naturist but are not necessarily naturist in thought, word or deed – the voyeurs out there and those with sexual/ill intent.
At least he levelled with me. He wanted his version of a Naturist Massage which I don’t and never will do. That’s partner only territory in my books.
I’ll happily wander around as a naturist at naturist events and environments but if I’m working, it’s Whites On, the moment I arrive at my treatment table. Infact I’ve been working with Young British Naturism this Summer, giving them treatments and teaching them basic massage which I’ve enjoyed enormously and they’ve appreciated; http://naturistfreedomuk.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/ybn-at-spielplatz-during-the-great-british-skinny-dip-gbsd/.
So what of the purists? The die hard naturists who believe we should fly our naturist flag and show solidarity at all times.
Everything in life is a matter of choice. How we conduct ourselves, how we react to different situations, to stressors, to joyous occasions and we’re a product of our environment, culture and socialisation.
Because naturists have been lampooned traditionally in popular culture and the media, the community have a tendency to be quite defensive and for that reason, long term public naturists and committed naturists generally have very definitive ideas about how we should practice our naturism, within and without the community. I’d argue that’s as restrictive as the textile community trying to impose their will on us, with recent government rumblings about internet sanctions and nudity/naturism, based on the culture of fear the British are so good at perpetuating when they chose to leverage that particular weapon.
Recently Home Clothes Free an American naturist (https://twitter.com/homeclothesfree) issued an article in which he unveiled his experiences of naturism and how more established public naturists had sought to pigeonhole him; Naturist/Nudist Purists Discourage newbie nudists; http://homeclothesfree.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/naurtistnudist-purists-discourage-newbie-nudists/ which is equally applicable to naturism in the UK.
There’s a real danger as we move forward, if we seek to control our community overtly, we too become as definitive and restrictive as the wider communities within which we all operate. It doesn’t have to be complex. We just need to operate from a place of love not rancour and suspicion, elements which the online world in particular is good at fostering with the plethora of false accounts, otherwise known as Sock Puppets or Trolls.
As stated in the About section on Naturist England, a Facebook group founded by Simon P Wood in the Summer of 2011, “We encourage debate but will not tolerate flaming, trolls, sock puppets, cyber bullying, disinhibition or anything which is likely to offend or contravene Facebook’s variable Censorship rules.”
Our reaction to situations, on and offline, determine how it’s likely to evolve, for every action has a consequent reaction and outcome.
On waking every day, I read a meditation from a book called the Promise of a New Day by the Hazelden Meditation Series;
Appropriately, the entry for today, 12 September encompasses this theme;
“The change of one simple behaviour can affect other behaviours and thus change many things” Jean Baer
“The effects on every action are far-reaching. Our response to a particular set of circumstances will influence its outcome and the lives of all persons concerned. Harsh words one time, a smile and praise another will make their mark in the system that includes us all. Our actions and interactions are interdependent, each one having been affected by the preceding actions and in turn affecting those that follow.
A single action has impact on our subsequent actions. An angry retort is likely to influence our behaviour towards the next unsuspecting person who gains our attention.
A grateful attitude expressed will soften the harsh realties of life for the giver as well as the receiver. The principle underlying all behaviour is that it breeds itself repeatedly. Positive, respectful action can become habitual.
Let me remember that I’m creating habits by my every action today. I can make them good ones as easily as bad ones.”
Whether we like it or not, we’re all interconnected, so facing life with respect and love for our fellow (wo)man will have a profound impact on how we chart our course through life.
Naturists unofficially follow a code of conduct which embraces acceptance and a lack of judgement so we’re getting there but our own personal angst and prejudices creep in from time-to-time. Certainly as a community, the body acceptance we embody and respect for our fellow naturists creates a much more harmonious environment. One which isn’t distorted by air brushing, or a quest to carry the latest designer handbag/watch, display the perfect 10 or the latest vogue, an 8 pack but we’re not above reproach. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to each other and its how we choose to interact which marks us out in the eyes of humanity, on and offline.