I have this reoccurring dream – no, a nightmare – where I’m naked in public. I writhe around trying to cover my privates but there I am, exposed for all to see. Sometimes I am spontaneously naked and other times I’m removing my clothes. It’s terrifying and haunts me in my sleep when I’m least expecting it.
This time I pulled off my pants… or, wait, was it my shirt? I can’t remember which item was last to go. I had just hiked two miles over uneven terrain to a hot spring in the middle of the Mojave desert. I folded my items and stuffed them into my backpack sitting on a rock and lifted my head to meet my friend’s eyes.
Only this time it wasn’t a nightmare, it was reality.
I splashed through the creek to the other side of the clothing-optional spring and immediately came face to… um, er… groin with a stranger who helped point my friend and me in the right direction. When we found our group of fellow retreaters I noticed most were naked and enjoying the sun, some sack lunches, and the spring.
I have never felt so free.
No one cared to look at my body and I didn’t care to look at anyone else’s body. For the first time in my life I came to the staunch realization that no one cares about me as much as ME, and the sentiment of being insecure is just plain selfish.
I didn’t think about the last time I’d shaved or even looked in a mirror (I’d spent the last three nights camping in a tent under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park) and my body was indented with marks from my hiking boots and backpack.
The warm and then the cool water were a welcome treat after a challenging hike; being naked allowed me to feel incredibly connected to nature in a way I’ve never experienced. My words can’t convey the depth of my gratitude for the wonder of nature and my personal connection to it.
I haven’t written a blog in over a year. In this time I’ve done an immense amount of self-exploration culminating in my naked dip in the hot springs. This experience was a private ceremony symbolizing all of my anxiety, tears, steps back… all of my hard work.
It wasn’t sexy and it wasn’t done for attention, it was done for me.
The yoga retreat I was on during this field trip pushed me outside my comfort zone: 4 nights and 5 days in the desert without running water (my first time camping!), yoga twice a day, hikes, meditation, and people coming together from all walks of life. It was on this trip I decided I was finished with drinking alcohol, a spiritual decision I’ve been toying with for over a year.
God has lead me to a place of calm serenity, a welcome gift after the heartache I’ve endured. We are born into this world from water just as we baptize ourselves in water to symbolize the warm, personal nature of the womb: rebirth.
Y’all, I’ve been reborn. Let life begin.