A Weekend Under The Spell: Musings on Nudity & Sensuality

After spending a delightful weekend at one of my favorite hot springs resorts, I wanted to share a few initial thoughts about my experience, because it so perfectly illustrates a particular attitude that I wish to portray regarding nudism and sexuality. Like many such resorts, this location offers a clothing-optional policy and, indeed, 99% of all guests opt for total nudity most of the time. It is a wonderful facility, in a beautiful setting, with an amazing diversity of visitors. Including, I will particularly point-out, a demographic skewed toward an atypically younger, energetic, and healthy & fitness-oriented crowd. It is a very nearly idyllic place; of all the circumstances under which I’ve enjoyed being naked with larger groups of people, I can’t think of any that match the sheer bliss and pure, positive energy of this particular location. (And—sorry—I am not even going to name the place, for fear that—as usual—some people will take what I have to say about it in the “wrong” way and it will be branded in a negative light by the closed-minds out there that can only see black and white.)

For as long as I’ve been enjoying social nudity (almost 20 years), I’ve always felt a slight “disturbance in the force,” so to speak, when I encounter the very often-repeated refrain that “nudism has nothing to do with sex.” It’s not that I feel the statement is “wrong,” per se. I am, in fact, in lock-step agreement with the traditional nudist objective of doing whatever it takes to keep overt sexualization completely out of the picture. I absolutely don’t want nudism to become or to be perceived as nothing more than an avenue for obsessive sex-seeking, or an open door for invasive and grotesquely lewd behavior. That sort of inflated emphasis on sexual activity is not natural and does not serve the broader purpose of enjoying nudity as a means to promote freedom, acceptance, confidence, and liberation.

At the same time, however, my instinct tells me it is just as unnatural to make people feel as if they are doing something wrong if and when they encounter any connection at all to their own, personal sexuality as a result of the inevitable sensuality of nakedness. Our bodies are attenuated precisely to revel in the delights of warmth, sunshine, and open air on our bare skin. Those sensations are all very understandably heightened when we are completely naked, and as any nudist knows quite well, there is also a sort of mysteriously infectious synergy when we experience those sensations with other people. It feels wonderful, in other words, to be with other people that are simultaneously experiencing the same feelings—to know that they are feeling fantastic and have them know, too, that you are as well. It isn’t, in and of itself, a “sexual” experience in the sense that there is a direct line drawn between the experience I am describing and inviting sex. But most people do not have a simple “off” switch for their sexuality, and thus they are going to feel that personal connection, quite naturally, in an environment that is so beautifully open to sensual experience.

And—YES!—at least some small part of that experience includes the visual sensation. Anyone that claims to me that they don’t appreciate the opportunity to see people, and to be seen, without their clothes on is either lying or has had their humanity removed. It is encoded by our evolutionary history: we are strongly oriented by our visual sense, and seeing one-another naked is a perfectly harmless pleasure that need not be denied or downplayed, on the one hand, or specifically highlighted and fixated-upon, on the other. It is possible, in other words, to naturally enjoy the subtle pleasures of mutually-invited exhibitionism & voyeurism, while still maintaining complete respect for one-another’s boundaries.

My experiences this past weekend almost perfectly exemplify the attitude and fun-oriented approach to nudism that I am attempting to convey, here. This past Summer, as a whole, has been quite memorable in terms of incredibly fun, wonderful times spent being naked in the sun, with good friends. On a last-minute lark, as one of perhaps the last truly nice weekends of the Fall, I decided to book a couple nights and go to the resort by myself. And, as most of you probably know, single and unaccompanied females are very distinctly not the norm at most nudist venues—in fact it’s a rather outlying rarity. I don’t mind being one of those females on occasion, but I am also not stupid, and know that I need to be ready to raise my “guard” when needed.

At this resort, I have never had the slightest degree of trepidation or anxiety about removing my clothing when I’m there alone. In fact I rather like the experience of being on my own, and on this occasion—as per usual—I could hardly wait to be nude. I checked into my campsite, disrobed, wrapped a light towel, made my way immediately to the bathing/sunning area, and took off the towel the instant I was in the clothing-optional zone. Within seconds my mind was in a completely different space, transported to that now-familiar (but never mundane) zone where the movement of time is replaced by a feeling of total body-mind energy and overflowing sensual delight. It is as if suddenly all the positive energy of my inner emotions correlate with one-another and I have an awareness that says `yes, this is what it means to be human and to accept oneself as such.’

It’s a sensation so wonderful and moving that one would think that it could hardly get better. But it does. The soaking pools at this resort are spectacular, with varying temperatures and conditions for silence and stillness. Slipping quietly and slowly into those pools is to experience a sort of translucent cross-over into a wholly separate dimension of sensual immersion. There is no way to describe in words just how totally relaxing the experience is. And I mean “relaxing” in the complete sense, as in: a perfect invitation to let go of meaningless inhibitions and joyfully experience all the pleasures of being alive. It’s simply fantastic, and I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the idea that anyone could possibly wish to be anything other than totally nude. To my way of thinking it would be an absolute travesty to enter those sacred waters clad in some idiotic “bathing attire.” It just couldn’t possibly be the same. Nudity is an absolute must if one wishes to embrace the experience.

And the experience is even better, still, with the added ingredient of sharing it with others. It would be one thing to enter the waters, as I’ve just described, by oneself. The feelings of heavenly delight would still be present, obviously, but add the ingredient of being in those waters with others, and the experience that emerges is one of beautiful, totally accepting intimacy. I would describe it almost as a sort of magic spell that relies on a sort of mutually-respectful acknowledgement of one-another’s innermost personal experiences and vulnerability. It is a very delicately-balanced phenomena—the spell is delicate and can easily be broken by the errant or standoffish behavior of any one person. Everyone must cooperate in filling themselves with a desire to both respect and participate in the process of making one-another feel welcome and wonderful.

I’ll attempt to describe that experience: as I arrive at and stand ready to descend into the waters of the hot soaking pool, I can somehow immediately apprehend the presence of “the spell.” I feel a very sudden and extremely profound awareness of being totally naked. There is a mild rush of nervous energy associated with it, which I take as the final blush of inhibition leaving the mind and body at once. And once that final blush is gone, it is replaced by a notion of complete satisfaction in enjoying the attention of those in my presence that wish to notice and mark their appreciation of the visual appearance of my naked body. The brief gazes, and pleasantly-exchanged, calm, smiling looks of knowingly-intermingled sensuality, add something intensely and immaculately intimate to the experience. Let one of those appreciative gazes wander into the territory of a fixated stare or convey the intent of wanton lust, and—again—the beautiful spell will fall flat.

The sensuality of the experience, and the deeply satisfying inner connection to one’s personal sexuality, is tied to the warm, inviting, shared intimacy of the moment, not in the hurried anticipation of a culminating sexual encounter. It is an alluring sense of underlying sexual arousal that is so incredibly subtle as to be “fuzzy” and absolutely unfocused on the goal of “getting off” as soon as possible, with any one particular partner. It represents an entire shift in the experience of one’s sexuality—one of total surrender to intimacy and openness, in which nudity becomes a form of total honesty. It begins to represent the mutual desire that we all, as humans, have deeply inside of ourselves to be seen and accepted as the person we truly are. In that context, the nature of sensual attraction is truly revealed, and I (for one) begin to recognize the spectacular, mind-blowing, radiant beauty of all who accept themselves fully. This, again, at least to me, is what nudism is all about, and why I do think that it goes beyond the level of silliness to try to extract from it the naturally joyful connection to sexuality that seems quite inherently a part of it.

The question begged at this point, I think, becomes simply this: can, or should, an experience such as the one I’ve just described provide an atmosphere in which people, if they so choose, open themselves to opportunities for expanding their sense of shared intimacy to the realm of sharing sexual energy by direct engagement with stronger feelings of arousal and a desire to experience erotic touch? My own answer—guardedly so, and with many caveats—is that there is indeed a time and place for almost anything. But it is a line that is even finer and more subtle to maintain than is that which maintains “the spell” that I described earlier. The level of care, decorum, and discretion required to experience eroticism alongside nudism, and maintain complete respect, is so incredibly high as to make it something that should be an extreme rarity, at least in my opinion. But I do think that the doorway leading to that type of enjoyment should NOT be totally closed. I think that people should have the right to feel as if they can explore boundaries and comfortably engage with one-another in ways that may indeed lead to sexual attraction, arousal, and culminating erotic interaction.

PLEASE understand that I am in NO way whatsoever trying to imply here that I think there is EVER a time or place in which nudism should be open to blatantly public displays of sexual activity. At MOST, I am suggesting a simple tolerance toward prudently discrete interactions of affectionate intimacy, and increasing the comfort level of those that may find themselves potentially open to the notion of finding someplace PRIVATE to act on mutual sexual attraction that has its origin, perhaps, in the waters of a communal soaking pool.

Those are some of my initial thoughts on the matter, and probably enough for now… I will write down more, and expand my ideas as more comes to mind! Thanks for reading. Please re-blog and comment, and message me privately if you’d like to engage in dialog. Particularly if you DISAGREE with me, I’d love to hear what you have to say!

62 thoughts on “A Weekend Under The Spell: Musings on Nudity & Sensuality”

  1. Excellent article – I think I can see why both sex and nudity are taboo in our societies. Sex implies nudity (well, mostly) and many people think nudity is an invitation to sex and has nothing else to it. Part of it is true, too. We all see how people flaunt their bodies to entice others. This enticement is perhaps the reason for the taboo. Sensual attraction is a matter of physical desire and nudity enhances it, whether we have a partner and go for the act or not. I am glad she found this sensual nature of herself through nudity, the nervous gazes, an anticipation of something not going to happen, etc.

    One place where I disagree with her is drawing this line of time and space for nudity and/or sexual activity. Both are natural, and personally, I think there should be nothing wrong with a public display of affection, sex or any other form of loving or nurturing, as long as there is no ulterior motive. We just need to teach ourselves what makes us feel fulfilled and mutually supportive in a natural way is a part of our natural being and cannot be bad. People who wish to be overt about it, let them be!

    Instead of her own answer of "guardedly so", I'd say "openly and respectfully so". There should not be anything wrong with telling someone "I like the way you look, and I feel a strong physical attraction". The response should also be acceptable, whatever it is. Perhaps we will evolve there some day.

  2. That's a very well-written and well-argued case, Joanne, and I find it refreshing to find such an open-minded approach to sexuality in a naturist. Most naturists seem to be totally repressed, almost Victorian, in their approach to sexuality. I can understand, in the current climate of opinion, that naturists don't want their behaviour to be equated with sexual excesses when they are trying to make simple nudity acceptable, but I think principles are important, too. To me, the most important principle in our dealings with one another as people is the J.S. Mill appraoch, that people should be free to do whatever they like provided it does not significantly and adversely affect some one else. On that basis I not only think people should, in general, be free to wear or not wear what ever they like wherever they like, but also they shoul dbe free to do anything legal anywhere. If it's legal to do something at all, it should be legal and permissible to do it in public, including full consensual adult sexual activity. That's the way all other animals behave, because it's perfectly natural, and if people became used to it they would cease taking any notice.

  3. Thank you, Joanne.
    I think as humans we either want to bring another into our sphere or we put up boundaries, all subtle signs evolved over millions of years. I think that you, in feeling the way you do, are expanding that sphere. Your sphere is composed of very strong personal feelings, sensations and experiences and I think it is very difficult for others not to notice : )
    For me being nude is definitely a personal journey that is open, accepting, and spiritual. I took off my clothes and in so doing, said this is who I am. This is as honest as I can be.
    I think whether we are clothed or naked, it is easy lose sight of our sensuality, our relationship with the earth and each other.

  4. Joanne, this is an amazing and beautifully written essay on the finest point of nudism. I am absolutely a newbie (in practice, not attraction) to nudism. The "spell" you so beautifully describe is exactly what my first truly wonderful social nude experience was like. There was an energy and sense of community and well being that I could never describe but your words capture exactly. And yes, for me the energy seemed to connect to my sensuality but not once did I ever feel "aroused" in the traditional sense and was very pleased that sexual activity and nudist social activity were so easily kept separate yet somehow related.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us.


  5. There are a lot of immature attitudes towards sexuality, even in the naturist community. We need to teach and foster a wholistic understanding and attitude of sexuality, rather than "genital-centered" sexuality. What we do with our genitals is only one of the many manifestations of our sexuality.

    As I commented somewhere else, all a person would have to do is hear my voice to know that I am a man, because of the pitch and timbre of my voice. They would not need to see my bearded masculine face, my stocky masculine body, or what is between my legs. Seeing me would only confirm what my voice had already revealed, that I am a man. Having sex doesn't make me any more of a "man" than I am sitting here at my keyboard. Yes, my avatar is me, before the beard.

  6. Joanne – skin is the largest sexual organ and we humans are programmed, biologically and psychologically, to respond to the human body in its totality. Psychological maturity admits the truth of being sexual beings, and the responsibility to limit responses to what is appropriate for the situation and the relationship. Thanks for your daring to share these thoughts.

  7. A couple of points in your blog that I haven't seen responded to so far in the way I first reacted are "It feels wonderful, in other words, to be with other people that are simultaneously experiencing the same feelings—to know that they are feeling fantastic and have them know, too," and the visual aspect.

    There is a 'vibe' that I often pick up on when with others who really appreciate the liberation of social nudity. Time spent relaxed and comfortable in the shared experience of nakedness has an added dimension, a buzz, so often lacking in clothed situations. Something that is highlighted even more when with really good nudist friends. Being very used to each others openness physically seems to encourage far more openness mentally. I feel that I know nudist friends better, we may not share our PIN numbers etc, but its hard to think of other things we're not mutually naked mentally on.

    I enjoy seeing the huge variety in body forms of naked people, both in real life and in photos shared. Social nudity is a celebration of the human body to me, its not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. We're all different, appreciating each others nudity at mutually acceptable levels is a part of social nudism to me. I have no problem with being looked at when publicly nude, upfront and openly, or discretely, but furtively from behind a bush using binoculars isn't high on the levels of enjoyment. However its all part of being nude in public, I enjoy nudism too much to worry about it. I'm naked because I want to be.

  8. Joanne,

    I think you hit the nail on the head so to speak. Sexuality is as much part of human existence as it is for other animals, no matter what the circumstances may be. We cannot deny that we see each other as sexual creatures, even when we do not really want to, when it could be embarrassing while being naked. Nothing wrong with that, because as thinking "animals", we are able to chose a time and place for our desires and indeed, get even more pleasure from the suspended gratification. So yes, I agree, people should be allowed to express their physical attraction (within reason) without being cast out for being lewd.

  9. Joanne, Thank you for what you wrote and Thurston & Kim for also expressing my feelings. I could never have written them as well as you did.
    I feel that a major error people make is in denying their sexuality accept during sex. When a woman is pregnant the first question is as at birth, "boy or girl?". We are sexual animals and most of our actions derive from that sexuality.

    You touched on an experience I had at the CFNM party standing naked in a room full of women and naked men and being completely comfortable and happy. I put it away and have trying to "work it out". You helped me.

  10. This conversation is long-overdue, but yes, there will be some nudists/naturists who will take offense. Those who believe that we can put-on and take-off our sexuality are badly mistaken, because our sexuality is at the core of who and what we are. I can't EVER not be a man, because I was born male and will die male. I am not a man because I think like a man, talk like a man, act like and man, and have male genitals, rather I think like a man, talk like a man, act like a man and have male genitals BECAUSE I AM a man. Every one of my umpteen-billion cells in my body, if it contains genetic material, is MALE. Yes folks, even our blood contains DNA, so every time I donate blood, I am donating blood with my genetic imprint on it, even though anyone of my blood-type may use it. For those who might be tempted to flame me, do your homework first.

    Why are so many nudists/naturists scared of theirs and other's sexuality? Do they think that they are going to go into some kind of "warp-mode" if they acknowledge the truth? I really enjoy women being women, and no, it isn't about sex. I can enjoy without being tempted to possess and I can admire without ogling. I appreciate the feminine form, and BTW, I also can appreciate the masculine form. I have a healthy hetero libido, but every woman is NOT a potential target of "conquest".

    Thank you Joanne for getting this ball rolling!

    • Good points and thank you for the viewpoint. I don't think there is really any mystery as to the origins of the fear of sexuality in traditional nudism. It's about the perceptions of the "outside" world and not wanting to portray ourselves as deviant and lewd. We want our lifestyles to be more or less acceptable to the mainstream. So in that respect I actually sympathize and am careful to never do anything to promote nudism as an outlet for overt sexualization. That said, though, I think that the whole "problem" would be defused if we all just acknowledged what we all know to be true, and simply left it at that. It doesn't have to be specifically highlighted or detracted from–just acknowledged like mature adults capable of behaving respectfully toward one-another.

  11. This was a pleasure and delight to read because the sensuality it expresses reflects the sensual connection I experience communing within nature. This in turn expands my spirituality as I fully immerse myself in all that it is to be human.

    I don't feel a great affinity or connection with many in the nude community because nakedness is the outer extent of anything that we might have in common.

    It seems rare and unusual to encounter others for whom nudity is a conduit to a far deeper meaningful realm.

    To some extent where sexuality is concerned I see the same barriers to it as nudity itself. That is to say, so long as you objectify anything and apply your values and judgements to it, whatever pure essence it has is distorted.

    It is in my view that we as a society don't have the "right mind" that so much is so wrong for us.
    We are born naked and yet it is abnormal to be naked most of the time. This reversal from normal disconnects us from all that is natural and good.

    I understand how difficult and delicate the theme you're trying to explore here is. If we accept our humanity and acknowledge that we feel desire, experience arousal and that its a normal and healthy thing, there would be far more balance in the world.
    Instead we are taught to suppress this from a very early age which leads to guilt, shame and self loathing.

    I believe that the key to any experience is an innate ability to manage our fear and put aside our judgements and assumptions.
    I do know of a location where certain things do go on. I found it interesting that initially I was somewhat outraged. I didn't actually know how to take it or indeed whether to react at all.
    A realisation came to me that what others were doing had nothing to do with me. I didn't need to participate nor did I even need to observe. It is only ever your own fear and misunderstanding that leads you to react negatively to things. If you observe the world with a clear open mind it becomes a less threatening place.

    I could probably speak at very great length on the concepts you have explored. For now I'll leave at that and let others have their say.

    • Wow. I LOVE this response! Thank you! You make some excellent observations and allusions the the exact topic I want to address next. As someone with an educational background in anthropology, I have some perspectives on why we where clothes at all and how that interacts with our sexuality and attitudes toward sex. You have very well outlined some of what I want to talk about. Like you, I have always felt like something of an outsider and have never really considered myself, specifically, to be a nudist per se. I'm just someone that thinks it's fun to be naked. How much simpler could it get? The deeper connection to self and spirituality that I've gained over the years is, I feel, a natural part of simply accepting that part of me–without any further explanation. I.e., acceptance of that part of me that just likes to be naked for whatever reasons.

      • Thanks for your compliment:) You've certainly struck a positive chord with a fair few and that's what community is really about. People don't so much need to agree as understand, acknowledge and accept others perspectives.

        I look forward to your next instalment. Certainly its a topic I have also given much thought to. I think a great deal about customs boils down to conformity in relation to reliance. IE: The more you rely on others for personal validation and self worth, the more likely you are to conform to what the majority deem acceptable. Fear is a mighty ruler of human souls.

        I have a volume at home I enjoy browsing occasionally. The History of Costume. It covers a broad spectrum of time and indigenous cultures. What this helped me understand is this;

        It's interesting that when you don't fully appreciate your own customs and culture, you're likely to readily adopt what you perceive to be superior. This is evident when you observe the spread of different cultures throughout the world. Throughout the east and Asia it has been Muslim culture. Throughout the west and commonwealth, Christian culture.

        Now as people awake to their spiritual emptiness, the merit and wisdom of far more ancient traditions, thousands of years old reveal their true value. Perhaps this is the means that balance can restore itself.

        • You make a very important point Shane. I have found that the more comfortable with WHO I am, independent of what others think about me, the more comfortable I am with being myself. I was not a "WHO" for the first 57 years of my life, because I was merely "WHAT" everyone else wanted or needed for me to be. Becoming a WHO was a long, difficult process, but well-worth the journey. Part of becoming ME was becoming a full-time naturist, and some people didn't like it. I had Facebook "friends" un-friend me after I started posting nudism-related content on my page, but it was their loss, not mine.

          Becoming a naturist has certainly liberated and revolutionized my health-care, even though some doctors are a bit taken-back by my lack of "modesty". If what I have isn't "shameful", why should I be concerned with "modesty"? Since I have neither a "shameful" part of my body nor a "modest" bone in my body, their attitudes are their problem, not mine. Yes, I know I am crazy, and I LOVE IT! Welcome to my world and the NEW ME!

          • In honesty I have tred a fine line between who and what. I think many people do this out of pure necessity and it’s probably the ratio that varies.
            At the best of times I never completely sell myself out to fit into a crowd. Where it suits my own ends however, I’ll play along where and when I need to. As soon as I tire of the monotony however, I revert back to being that kind of eccentric person that doesn’t quite fit in.

            I’m not sure that being a who at the expense of all else is any better than being a what at your own great expense. To this end, I immerse myself in the Tao. This is a surefire way not to be too carried away with your own evaluation of your personal merit or accomplishment.
            If nothing else, I feel that it gives you something to aspire to, and rather than taking away from who and what you might be, provides a means to which you truly can be all that you should or would be.

        • Just very briefly, I would say that as social creatures we all must rely upon one-another for at least some of our validation. We rely upon one-another, as you point-out, and thus that outside validation is important in maintaining cohesive relationships. The trick comes in having the courage to depart from norms and challenge authority when conformity no longer makes sense or begins to damage the individual's innate sense of self. Because that sense of self is every bit as important as a cohesive society and functional culture. That's part of the reason why I think it is so healthy for people to be openly and casually nude with one another.

  12. Joanne, we feel and think your words here are probably reflective of many of the members here on this site. As you eluded to, most would feel wrongly judged if they expressed their opinion as a consensus to your thoughts. Thanks for coming forward and artistically and eloquently expressing what we and we're sure many others feel and believe.

  13. A beautiful account of the reality of human naked interaction as it should be. The same rules that apply, or should apply, in any clothed environment are beautifully described.

    A well said and timely statement against hypocracy.

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