When was the last time you allowed your body to luxuriate in being naked? Close your eyes and revisit that moment… feel the warmth of the sun on your thighs, cool air playing across your bottom, or maybe the sensation of water flowing across your back….
Don’t confuse nakedness with sex
For some this memory may be as far back as childhood. Unfortunately we live in a culture which has sexualised nakedness. Our culture also creates huge levels of shame around sex. So when the two get conflated it’s hardly a surprise that so few of us feel completely comfortable shedding our second skin of clothing.
But yet most of us can remember – however long ago – just how good it felt…the freedom, the pure joy of being naked simply for the sake of it.
And – once we get beyond those inhibitors of shame and body image – there are good reasons why spending time to allow our bodies to be naked actually makes us feel better.
How your skin helps you feel safe
The physiology of touch is well-recognised as playing a crucial part in helping our brains to feel safe, both physically and emotionally (read more about that here).
Our skin contains literally millions of nerve endings – touch receptors, linked directly to our brains. These nerve endings respond to sensation (anything from touch, to temperature). However, nerve endings also respond best to a variety of sensations: stroke the same patch of skin repeatedly for long enough and you’ll notice that the sensation will begin to diminish – our brains get bored easily!
Similarly notice how when you put on a piece of clothing, after a brief period you no longer feel it. So encasing the majority of our skin in clothing has the eventual effect of deadening all the sensory receptors our clothes come into contact with. The more we cover up the less connected we’re going to be with sensation.
And if sensation is so intimately connected with our sense of wellbeing, is it any wonder so many of us struggle with this when so much of our time (and so much of our body) is spent under wraps?
Of course there are also many other elements which contribute to how good we feel. But next time you feel disconnected or in need of a boost, instead of adding more armour, try being a bit counter-intuitive: stripping off that ‘protective layer’ and allowing your skin to breathe! Then take some time to notice the subtle shifts of temperatures, textures, movement flow and pressure against your naked body… and you’ll be letting in some lightness where the sun don’t shine!
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