Undressing the Soul: A Schmatte Journey. ~ Uma Simon

Via on Apr 25, 2012
Michel van de Weil

Growing up as a Jew we referred to some “rag” or well-worn item we donned for comfort and lazing around the house as “schmattes.”

Varieties of schmattes can now be found at Wal-mart or K-mart and are made with large pockets which, when I was growing up, were quintessential of what my mother thought was a “good deal.” You could put hardware, stoneware or even live chickens into those pockets if needed. Because of the “square” appearance, you might be mistaken for a Sponge Bob devotee, meaning schmattes never reveal any bodily curve, thus allowing you to gain and lose weight easily without anybody really noticing—including yourself. Their prints are unique, horizontal and vertical lines leading like the Winchester House, to nowhere. You know you will never find them in an expensive department store.

Schmatte life is an evolutionary life. First it starts out with how you dress and then dangerously progresses in an exponential way. For me it initially meant I didn’t have to dress in something fancy or conventional so that people who met me might think I was “normal.” There is the belief that because your clothes are color coordinated and you are wearing matching purse and shoes, you are a “together” person. This brings to mind the 40′s and 50′s when women also had to complete their outfit with a hat, the hat acting as a kind of ballast for wearing those tottering four-inch heels. My investigations have found that there are really very few “together” people, no matter how coordinated they appear.

I decided years ago in my late 20′s to lead a schmatte life. It meant that I no longer dressed for occasions, any occasion. Weary of attempting to conform (since it didn’t work anyway) I decided to just be “myself” however it manifested. In the late 60′s, as the hippie movement progressed, my schmatte wearing somehow evolved into fashionista, the ultimate in “relaxation” fashion.

Suddenly I found myself the maven of fashion heaven. Torn shirts, stained pants, no underwear, and no socks. Fitting in during the 60′s as part of the counter-culture movement, I had, as the parlance goes, found myself.

Pursuing a schmatte journey, however, can be as dangerous as smoking marijuana to some people. It has been known to lead to other things such as, in my case, finally surrendering to never wearing underwear or a bra and letting my hair go gray. I suddenly realized that this might have been the keystone for my moving to California. I was free of all trappings, including underwear.

John Phillips

Expanding on this movement of so-called freedom led to what I call viral behavior. In an effort to become “nekked,” I became a masseuse and then everybody around me was taking his or her clothes off. Like a virus my behavior mutated and I moved to Esalen, a famed human potential growth center in California.

I was surrounded by large groups of people taking their clothes off in an effort to feel naked and free in their lives. The absence of clothes and wearing of schmattes to cover this new found nakedness was a metaphor for freeing ourselves of any conditioning or relapses into conventionality.

We then, as members of this new culture, flung ourselves into encounter and touchy-feely groups to reveal not only our bodily nakedness but also psychological nakedness. Free at last to tell all, we were unwrapping ourselves at such a steady rate we were sure that we were bound for some kind of enlightenment. Anxious to get down to our skinnies, we believed that at the bottom of all this unraveling would be this happy, carefree, unconditioned person.

After all this revelatory behavior, what I discovered was that my old self still remained no matter the undergarments I had foresworn. So I left Esalen. But the question remained, what would I wear in my new incarnation?

Moving to an ashram, it became apparent to me that I wore a transparent schmatte and everybody could see through me, such is the nature of ashrams where personalities uncloak at a rapid rate. Embarrassed at this involuntary exposure, I retreated for a while until I also saw what they saw, the hopeful as well as the despairing aspects. It became apparent the schmatte life no longer worked; it was just another veneer. I then proceeded to dye my hair, put on underwear and a bra and got a job. Clothes no longer made the person for me.

Getting naked to others and ourselves is not an easy job; it requires great courage to undress in the presence of others and ourselves. Revelations can be devastating, but for those of us on a spiritual path, very liberating and ultimately necessary.

What am I wearing now? I am color coordinated with a touch of difference.

editor: Greg Eckard

 

 

About Uma Simon

Uma Simon. My guru Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati left her body on April 13 of this year. I have been Ma’s devotee since 1978 and it was an extraordinary gift to have known and studied with her. As well as being the Resident Intuitive at Kashi Ashram, I am also the Spiritual Explorer for Ma’s India, a spiritual gift store in Sebastian, Florida where I answer questions such as “What is the best kind of incense?” and “How do I know when I have found my guru?” You can write me at umasimon@comcast.net

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7 Responses to “Undressing the Soul: A Schmatte Journey. ~ Uma Simon”

  1. mark says:

    Stellar, Uma! Stellar! I have had a similar sartorial affair. Bravo for living in this world. It is great to see someone over 40 writing on EJ, please keep it up! Perspective is everything.

  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

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