Who doesn’t like to go au naturel every now and then? The freedom we find in the absence of clothes is unparalleled, and yet, we only get to experience it in a select few circumstances. But, there are people out there, naturalists, who do not conform to societal norms of covering themselves with different pieces of clothing. It started as a ‘going back to nature’ movement where nudists would break the shackles of the society in the least harmful manner possible, ie, stripping naked; and has grown into a full-fledged culture in some parts of the world today.
Now, understandably, it is not for everyone – not all of us can just discard our clothes and face society in our most vulnerable state. But those who do practice it, love every minute of it. For them, it’s the best way to experience nature, in its truest and rawest form. Today, there are organizations all over the world that have developed private resorts and campgrounds to promote naturism.
What is naturism or nudism ?
Naturism is just a simple practice of going nude in designated areas, it is a form of devotion to nature and its various gifts. For a long time, many cultures have been practising nudity in social contexts. It was in 1778 when Jean Baptiste Luc Planchon (1734–1781), a French-speaking Belgian used the term Naturisme to advocate nudism as a tool to improve the hygiène de vie or healthy living.
And it was in 1891 that the earliest known naturist club, the ‘Fellowship of the Naked Trust,’ was established in British India by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford in Matheran, Maharashtra.
Dr Heinrich Pudor, under a pseudonym, published a series of philosophical papers in Germany in which he discussed the benefits of nudity in co-education. He also promoted the idea of participation in sports without the cumbersome clothing. Richard Ungewitter advocated that combining physical fitness with sunlight, fresh air bathing, and nudism had a positive impact on mental as well as psychological fitness and contributed to an improved moral-life view.
Nudism or Naturism is not a new concept that people have taken just to rebel against society or to prove a point, it is an age-old philosophy that has held its ground and merit across centuries.
Clothing-optional tourism aka ‘nacation’ is on the rise and a fast-growing segment of the travel industry. The scientists of London’s Goldsmith University prove, through their Journal of Happiness that being nude makes you happy. And a lot of resorts, cruises and vacation spots are trying to provide that experience for their guests.
Florida itself has over 30 nudist resorts for nudist- enthusiasts, like the Lake Como Family Nudist Resort in Pasco county. Pasco County is now considered the nudist capital of the world with 13 nudists resorts and neighbourhood spread over a 41 mile stretch across the county. There is a resort or neighbourhood for everyone from couples, singles to LGBTQ people, retirees, and families, these include permeant residents and over a million annual visitors.
Mary Jane Kolassa, a media relations representative for the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), says the majority of nacationers are of the age of 45 and above. But, recently, there has been a shift in the demographic with more millennials, African Americans, GenXers, and Hispanics adopting this lifestyle.
Croatia and Spain have a well-developed naturist culture where people can roam the public places naked as there are no laws and fines against public nudity. In France, on the other hand, such public nudity is punishable, but there are still select places and towns like Cap D’Agde, where it is naturism is celebrated. There are certain places in the Netherlands, beaches in the UK, and Germany, that too, allow nudism. Europeans for one love nudism, more than 50 million Europeans spend their vacations at a nudist beach at least once per year.
Nudism and spirituality
Naturism is more than just shedding clothes and roaming around naked. It is a spiritual experience where a person develops overcomes hesitation and shame and builds the self-confidence to bare themselves in front of so many people. Naturism encourages people to submit themselves to nature, feel alive and awakened with joy.
Many people claim that a long naked walk in nature their body and mind start to feel exhilarated with an overwhelming sense of freedom. This state, in terms of spirituality, is known as a state of ‘high-possibility’ when the mind is open to new thoughts and ideas and the heart is full of warmth and bliss.
This can also be known as meditation walk, and it can be experienced best when alone away from distractions of any kind. It opens you to the beauty of nature and your own body, frees you of all the complexes, gives boundless strength to your willpower, it connects you to your natural state of being.
Spiritual growth, in itself, is about abandoning old perceptions of ourselves and opening our eyes, mind, heart to the truth of who we are and what is our purpose. When we surrender our garbs, we let go of these perceptions and completely accept our true selves and its reality; we experience freedom in its truest form.
Tips for beginners
With so many people now turning towards naturism there are a few unwritten etiquettes and mannerisms that one must follow to fully embrace this lifestyle.
First and foremost, you need to understand that naturists are not some unique breed of humans, they are just ordinary people like you and me. So, if you wish to follow that path, you absolutely can, without any hesitation, all you need is an open mind.
You can start at home, spend a day, preferably a weekend, at your home, naked, doing regular chores and activities, get comfortable in your skin in familiar surroundings.
Search for locations in your area or an area close by, which support naturist and visit them. You may be hesitant at first and that is perfectly natural, just chuck your clothes and lose yourself in the crowd, oh, and do not forget to carry a towel and always apply sunscreen. In a matter of minutes, you will feel yourself surrendering and gaining more and more confidence simultaneously.
Nudists come in all shapes, sizes, and colours, so you do not have to be conscious of your body, it is truly empowering experience once you free yourself from self-criticism and self-judgment.
Challenges and misconceptions
The biggest misconception about nudism is that it is all about sex. And, it is not, not even close, naturists follow daily routines, just simple living without clothes.
Having said that, it does not mean that they do not enjoy sex, they do, but in public, they behave respectfully towards each other.
But, there are people out there whose intentions are corrupt and non-honourable behind visiting these places, so you need to be aware of that. Naturists do not stare at each other’s body parts, of course, they look, you can’t help but look, but staring is a big no-no. In fact, if you are at a naturist camp or beach to be one with nature and experience Zen, you will not be interested in those around you for too long anyway. So, if you come across someone who you find breaking these codes of ethics in any way, be alert and inform those around you to be vigilant of that person.
Smartphones have also proven to be a bit of a nuisance at these places. Although most places have no strict rules against photography, people with malicious intent capture pictures without consent, which is not okay under any circumstances, nude or otherwise.
A lot of naturist resorts are family-oriented which ensures your and your children’s safety, so if you want to enjoy a family nacation, go ahead.
If you wish to experience naturism, then there’s nothing to be shy or embarrassed about. It is your choice, respect it and follow the path that you feel is right for you. The rewards that await you once you uncloak your soul are limitless, all you need to do, is just take one brave step.