By Todd Pequeen
The world we live in bombards us with stress. Social, economic, political, and religious pressures (to name a few) are in constant rotation in our minds. Because of this, many of us ex-pats find comfort living abroad. I have more choice over certain matters, or I simply eliminate issues that bother me. Some people take their philosophies a step further – I am referring to a group known as Naturalists or Nudists. An assembly of people who prefer little or no clothing as a statement, to be free from certain rules and regulations. It is a lifestyle melding nature and freedom that is also highly respectful of others opinions. Naturalism is not my topic this month, but rather the ability to experience new situations free from social conditioning. To personally have the command over oneself enough to be asexual in an environment despite male or female presence. I have always been fascinated by the hundreds and hundreds of times I have been told, “I could NEVER get a massage from a (your choice) man/woman.” This is almost always followed up by some untested and sexually orientated excuse. To me, similar to Naturalism, the inability to not be objectively free is the root of the problem. These roots were planted from society instilling itself into the psyche. Our very own souls have been tattooed, shall we say, to control our modesty, effect decision making, and mostly to get our money.
It seems my entire career has been ruled by the male/female choice in this “modern day” in which we live. I have no problem with choice, however a choice made without any experience is ignorance. Many massage clients simply stick to the gender they have always used out of habit. I suggest an attempt or two, to “test the waters” on which massage therapists hands are “best” for each individual, would be helpful. Freedom from any constraints, including societal, should be a top priority when receiving a massage. Blockages are why our bodies feel tight. Why would anyone knowingly bring these burdens to the massage table? Most other professionals are seen as genderless in modern times, yet so many people still can’t overcome this when receiving a massage. Why?
Last summer my work led me to the gates of a nudist colony…literally. As you can deduce, this is when I first started thinking about Naturalism. I was allowed into the commune of sorts by my client (who was wearing a simple sweater as it was a cool day). The ninety minutes went very well, just as it would have anywhere else. I did look out through the window at one point and saw a couple walking their dog with nothing other than shoes on. The massage session was audibly disturbed for fifteen minutes, as another neighbor decided to mow his lawn (t-shirt and sneakers) but it was business as usual. To be tolerant of others, as well as ourselves, is an important lesson to keep in mind. There is an incredible amount of vanity, body shame, and focus on clothing in modern living which these folks seemed to have discarded. I never realized how profound some of these currents ran within me until it was in my face. Now I was wondering why I had clothes on! Since I had arrived at Bare Oaks everyone from the receptionists, to arriving guests, to my client and all of her neighbors were in their birthday suits. How fascinating! We use clothing not only to shield our bodies when we are ashamed but also to elevate ourselves socially. With their removal we are showing respect for others through true modesty.
My foray into the nudist camp was extremely eye opening. I discovered philosophies that I largely agree with yet have never seen expressed in this manner. Equality is gained from the removal of social barriers. A nude person can be an antagonist mirroring all the wrongs in society. Social nudity forces one to accept wholeheartedly differences in age, shape, and fitness level. Our spirits can soar as man is truly no more than just an animal. Simply laying in the sun can be medicine. Fresh air and natural water give greater dividends than shopping at the mall. A good hard look at ourselves and the way we dress and behave can help our tolerance with others. Societal changes start with our own actions and fear shouldn’t be in the equation if we would like to continue growing. Look bravely within and stop being so clothes-minded!
(Todd Pequeen is a graduate of the NY Institute of Massage and a pioneer of the spa industry here in Manuel Antonio since 2000. He works independently at his home studio or at your location and can be reached at 8830-7727.)