On being naked: how vulnerability can lead to deep connection

How taking risks and allowing yourself to be naked can lead to connection

Some of us have a recurring dream where we show up naked in public places. People point and stare. They whisper and jeer. We feel ashamed, exposed and completely unprotected. Most of us consider this to be a nightmare.

But why are we scared to be seen in our most natural and beautiful state? To literally be witnessed in the bag of skin filled with flesh and meat that every other human on the planet also possesses? It’s this notion that being seen for the very beings that we are — without the shields, carefully crafted stories, and masks we work so hard to create and fool the world into believing is our identity — is taboo or just too frightening to venture.

We program ourselves through our progression from childhood into adulthood that we need to act within a certain accepted rules and norms. To fit in. To be part of a collective. To be validated. Society has expectations and if we want to be a part of the community, we need to behave accordingly. This serves us well when it comes to rules of law and moral decency that keep us healthy, protected and safe from harm. But what about the subtleties like speaking our truth or showing up as our authentic selves? 

A few years ago, I was invited to a private dinner party where ultimate vulnerability was at the core. We would share our fears with complete strangers and move through exercises to embody intentions to be more in alignment with our truths. The whole evening was to be conducted without clothes: naked. For everyone to see.

The concept was instantly thrilling and completely frightening to me. The thought of being seen without ANY protective layers and speaking deep, dark, intimate secrets was not something that I’d done before. And yet, it was for this reason (and for having absolute trust and respect in the gifted facilitator who was hosting the evening) that I dove into this discomfort. I knew that if I always operated inside my comfort zone, I may feel safe but growth and expansion would be hard to come by. I would stay stagnant.

So I went. I was terrified when it came time for me to disrobe in front of this group of very nice strangers (and yes, we did it one by one to feel the full magnitude of being witnessed in total vulnerability). I did it anyway. It was uncomfortable and beautiful, so so so scary and also exhilarating, unknown and safe….. All at once. As the evening wore on and we got acquainted with each other through shared stories and active listening, the fact that we were all naked became irrelevant. We were all shapes, sizes, genders and ages. In this stripped down, safe container, it became clear that we were more alike than different.

This present situation we’re living through is a time of great opportunity for us to get naked and speak truths that we may have kept hidden. It represents the genesis of shifts in consciousness and awareness, by people and communities. We are yearning for understanding and to be seen as the messy, imperfect, struggling yet hopeful humans we are. We do not have the answers. And that is ok.

I was on a hike with a friend a few days ago, and she asked me how I had been the last few months. I thought about lying: saying, “Oh, ok. Great. How about you?” But I paused and took a deep breath. I told her that the past four months have been among the most challenging yet transformational for me and my family. I shared some dark and tumultuous moments, the light that we inevitably reached for and grasped, and the ways that I have owned my own part of the messiness and failure. I explained that approaching my mistakes with ownership and compassion allowed me to evolve and expand into a new reality that I am creating by deliberate intentionality and conscious design. At the end of our hike, she thanked me for being willing to share the vulnerable underbelly of my experience. We both agreed that being brave and real instead of hiding behind fake façade was what we yearned for and wanted to lean into. “More of this,” we both agreed. And instead of feeling ashamed or scared of being seen as less than perfect/worthy/deserving….. I felt the complete opposite. Validated. Supported. Proud. And seen.

We feel this deep desire to be seen, to be naked, to have others accept our truths and our voices without judgement. It’s not as if these transformations come without nervousness or apprehension. History and innovation do not occur in a bubble of safety, and without inherent risk. Thresholds are made to be crossed in order for us to step into light. It’s in those moments of taking risks in safe environments and trusting in our own inner guidance that we allow evolution to take flight and for us to uplevel to the next beautiful expression of our own being. So next time you shut down and shrink away from your inspiration, your truth and your clarity, take a few breaths, pause and ask yourself, “what have I got to lose?”

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