Yesterday gifted me a surprise revelation:
I had stopped being naked.
It’s not that I stopped spending time being clothes free in the physical sense: I still walk around home naked, although the address is soon to change. I still shut the door from time to time at the office to focus and work clothes free. And, of course, there is still my naked yoga practice.
But as the weather turns cold, so do I and I shiver as things in my life that feel cold beat up against my spirit like an icy wind. I stopped being honest and open with people, putting guards up when asked how I’m doing or what I’m up to on a given day. I stopped telling people the truth and started 1) keeping my mouth shut and 2) lying…a lot. And I didn’t even realize it until yesterday (Friday) in the midst of a project that demanded my openness. (No, I’m not going to talk about that here, either. I know, I know. Still guarding.)
Last Wednesday, for instance, a lady I know from a yoga studio caught me at the bus stop outside of my office with my yoga mat and asked me if I was on my way to yoga class. Without a second thought, I said, “No, I’m just going to go meet people.” I didn’t want to tell her that I was going to a different studio than the one we both usually frequent. I didn’t want to chance more gossip about me getting out, as it had already come to my attention that something I had shared in confidence with someone else was spread around quite recently. The last thing I wanted was for even more things to go swirling about, as I’ve heard much information about others being spread as well. But why should I care what other people think, honestly? Why did I feel the need to hide that? Don’t I want to just weed out the folks who aren’t OK with the real me and spend time being around people who are OK with the real me? And why was it so easy for me to just blurt that out without a second thought? These are the questions I asked myself as I watched her disappear down the road under the street lights.
The other thing that came to light yesterday is that I don’t really say what I feel anymore. A few months ago, I was on this huge kick of just getting right to the core of things, having these deep conversations with people, moving things around in my life, cleaning up baggage that I had let fester for years and years. …And then I just… stopped…. telling people things. I have a lot of thoughts that roll around in my head, but I was not aware how much I was keeping to myself, how silent and locked up I had become until yesterday. I remember telling this to the lady with whom I’ll be living last night, and she was like, “Dude, you gotta get outta that.” She shared with me the recent work she had been doing in being naked in heart through speaking her true and honest feelings with others. I just sat in sheer wonder as I listened to her. Why had I stopped doing that?
For all the walking around naked I’m doing, I certainly threw the long underwear on my heart like that (cue —snap–). Somehow I thought that putting on those layers would protect me from judgement and help me contain my energy to fuel myself when I felt ignored or pushed away. But no. What happened is that my ceasing to open up and be honest created this distance between me and the world, and I started to feel quite alone even in the midst of many warm hearts. I felt a lot of anger, sadness and distance, all due to my own choice to withhold. And that practice of clothing my soul also took away my access to my own heart. That inner compass that had begun to align north began to spin out of control again. What is it that I want? How do I want to be in this world?
So, it is with some sadness that I sit with this revelation today. Yet, isn’t it wonderful to now recognize those patterns of behavior? Instead of being blind to them, I now see them. What’s more, I don’t want to choose long underwear for my heart anymore. I want to return to being open, even if the results of my honesty aren’t rainbows and sunshine everyday. So what if people think I am terrible for the choices I make? So what if the confession of my deepest and most vulnerable feelings doesn’t land? I want to give myself space to be honest and free for my health AND, because truly that is my wish for every human being on the planet: permission to be themselves. But how can I hold space for others to do that if I’m not willing to practice it myself?
I am back at the drawing board with my box of colorful chalk, ready to sketch a new way of breathing and living my naked heart in alignment with my clothes free life.