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November 8, 2022

The Time I Stood Naked In Front Of A Room Full Of Women And What Came Out

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It was an evening workshop on retreat during my Yoni Massage Practitioner Training with Temple of She. It was a cold night, so when we entered the Temple and saw a stage-like set up with two heaters as spotlights, I had an inkling there would be a nude demonstration. What came next was more challenging than I imagined.

We were guided to sit in a half moon curve facing the spotlights. I was seated on the far end, which turned out to mean I would stand under the spotlights last, so I had the opportunity to witness all of my Sisters face this challenge before me. Our teacher, our mentor, stepped onto the stage first, leading us by example. As she stood under the heated lights, she started to undress, piece by piece came off until she was completely naked, then she began to share the story of her body.

One by one, my Sisters stood in front of me, undressed to completely naked and shared the stories of their bodies, allowing whatever arose to come out for witnessing. I was completely enrapt with every share. The authentic, heartfelt, vulnerability was raw and humbling, it was like nothing could be hidden whilst naked under the spotlights. All the shame, dark thoughts and events that had gone into shaping our connections with our bodies came up for acknowledgment and witnessing.

Being last in line to face the stage, I had a little time to contemplate what I would share. My recent history with my body was complex, dramatic and painful. Only a year earlier I’d been severely injured when receiving work mandated flu vaccines, which resulted in severe chemical burns across my scalp, face, ears and neck, shaving my hair off with scissors in desperation to relieve the pain, lack of medical care due to the pandemic, anaphylaxis from wrongly prescribed medication, skin over my entire body, especially my face, cracking bleeding peeling shedding and eventually re-growing over several months, plus the long lasting and scary effects of a sudden heart condition with activated Hashimoto’s disease. All of this whilst studying yoga teacher training, building my body and mindset, being shunned by friends, society and losing my job for choosing not to submit my body to potentially further harm from the new mandated shots. My body had a big story to tell.

Then it came my turn to step up in front of everyone, under the heated lights. Slowly, piece by piece, I undressed. With each layer released, the story I had thought to share fell away. Before I knew what was happening, I began to share a different story. What came out, naked under the lights, was the story of my birth to giving birth. The first seventeen-ish years of my life, or as I sometimes think about it, the first of my lives in this lifetime.

This story is rife with abuse on several levels, emotional/physical/sexual, mostly by family members and ‘friends’. It is littered with manipulative, controlling and devastating family dynamics, eating disorders, harmful coping behaviours and substance abuse. Its most common themes are abandonment and betrayal, from others and self. It is a tale of survival, culminating with the traumatic arrival of my little love, my greatest love of this lifetime.

I have shared this story before and I’ve done a lot of different therapy work on it over the years and continue to do so when needed. I’ve worked really hard to face my demons, let it go and move on with my life in the best ways for me. But standing there, naked, vulnerable, stripped bare, that is the story that arose to be given voice to, to be witnessed.

Standing naked under the lights, I wasn’t entirely conscious as I shared this story with my Sisters witnessing me. Alternatively, perhaps I was the most conscious I’d ever been. All of my insecurities, hesitations and second guesses fell away. The story flowed out of me like it had a life of its own and I almost forgot that my body was naked, my entire soul was breathing naked. I completely lost track of time and probably could’ve talked all night if I wasn’t gently guided to stop, as it had gotten quite late in the night and I’d gone well over the time allotted to my share. Knowing how I felt listening to my Sisters share themselves with me, I knew they too were pouring open hearted acceptance, encouragement and love into me as I stood in front of them. This potent shared energy was the driving power to shift that shame and darkness into an open state of acknowledgment and loving vulnerability. It was empowering.

The most powerful part of the evening, for me, came after my clothes were back on. Several of my Sisters shared with me how my story impacted them, how they had needed to hear it and how they wished I could’ve continued sharing. My story has always felt like a burden, too much, far too heavy for most people to hear about, even those closest to me. For me to share my story, soberly, and have people hold me in unconditional love without a trace of discomfort or pity, and ask for more…… This was an entirely new experience, level of sensation and emotion for me. This has me asking the question, what else is possible?

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