My own present experience finds me getting naked in Hawaii.
I know there are more popular topics in the world right now, like, say, President Trump’s agenda, planetary war and strife, world hunger concerns, and so forth. These topics are important, to be sure. But right now, my focus lies elsewhere. In this particular moment, my focus is on my own present experience.
I live in the Puna region of the Big Island of Hawaii. Puna is probably the most bohemian region of the island state. Many Punatics (as we are charmingly called) are living off-grid, meaning that we use alternative forms of power, usually solar, and we are very conservative with what power and water we use.
It’s quite normal for folks to rise and set with the sun, to use composting toilets (or the land, itself), to eliminate personal waste, and to be barefoot and naked as much and as often as possible. Suffice it to say, this is a spectacular place to shed one’s unnecessary layers.
I am living on a raw, vegan, fruit farm that practices compassionate communication and the pursuit of healthy living. And let me be the first to share with you—if you don’t already know—that eating raw foods leads to feeling raw emotions. When we eat such a simple, biologically appropriate diet of foods in their natural state, we begin to come face-to-face with our own emotions in their natural state.
There is no dulling uncomfortable or challenging feelings with a fifth of tequila. There is no stuffing of difficult emotions back down into ourselves with a tub of ice cream. Instead we must just *gasp!* feel our feelings, and do our best to navigate them as gracefully and authentically as possible. It can get pretty intense sometimes.
Still, facing these uncomfortable emotions allows us to find resolution, growth, and freedom from limiting patterns. No more covering up these expressions and feelings. It’s time to strip them naked and let them run around flying their freak flags until they have been so fully expressed that they dissolve into absolute bliss.
Here at the farm I am learning about and practicing compassionate communication. I am learning how to act from love and connection rather than reacting from a place of defensiveness and fear. Living in community gives ample opportunity to practice these techniques when conflicts arise. (And conflicts inevitably arise.)
Some of them have been mildly challenging, but overall pleasant discussions, while others have been deeply emotional, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, exhausting, heart-breaking clashes. And I am grateful for each and every one. I am learning so much about my self, my needs, my feelings, and how to better communicate with every instance of discord.
With each exchange I am given the opportunity to remove yet another layer of my defense mechanisms. I am getting more and more naked with each opportunity to practice this new language, and it is wonderfully liberating.
With all of this emotional and mental unveiling happening, my body has expressed an interest in getting in on that action, too. And my prayers have been answered in the form of one of Hawaii’s greatest treasures: the clothing optional beach.
There is a black sand beach not too far from where I live, where we can simultaneously shimmy out of our inhibitions—and our swimsuits. Because people have been getting naked here for time immemorial, there’s no stigma to it, no spectacle. It’s totally natural, and no one really turns an eye to the extra few inches of flesh being exposed.
Sure, it can make navigating the rocky entrance to and exit from the oft-turbulent sea a bit trickier, but the freedom of feeling the sun, salt, and surf against my naked skin is worth it. Every time I shed my clothes, I feel my connection with nature deepening. Every naked romp gets me closer to my most authentic self—free from the flotsam of old stories and glamours used to create an image of whatever I thought I was supposed to be.
It is the most beautiful relief to release the weight of all that unnecessary baggage. For the first time since childhood I feel totally, wildly, and outrageously free.
And so it goes. My defenses begin to fall away, slowly and steadily, and I begin to get to know my self even better than I ever dreamed I could. I see the divine light inside of me growing more brilliant with each breath. I see that divine light mirrored back to me in the faces of the friends and strangers I meet in this magical land. I bow to that divine light in humility and gratitude.
And I feel beautiful in all this nakedness.
Author: Melanie Hayes
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Taia Butler