So last week, I began to share my naked truth…prompted by a trip to the hot springs out here in San Francisco….and today I reveal all (pun intended) about my experience…
When I first arrived at the hot springs I was very aware of how naked everyone was. Walking into a co-ed dressing room with numerous other people…both some that I knew and some that I didn’t, I realised how conscious I was of it.
…and how much I didn’t want to acknowledge or look at anyone’s bodies…including my own.
For the first hour or so at the springs I felt like a floating head. I was totally avoiding acknowledging anything that existed from the neck down. It wasn’t that I had any particular issue with it…it was just such an unusual experience that it took a bit of adjusting.
Then one of the friends that I was with suggested that we do ‘the hot and cold pools’.
Now, the hot and cold pools at Harbin are VERY VERY hot and VERY VERY cold. The idea is for you to first submerge yourself in the very very hot pool…then when you feel it’s time to get out submerge yourself in the very very cold pool…to stimulate the blood flow to the whole body….and repeat this process 7 times.
It sounded good to me, so I thought let’s give it a go.
Now, I’ve always struggled a bit with extremes of temperature…so it would have been reasonable to believe that this could have presented a challenge for me. …and it did.
I was advised before we entered the pools that the trick with the hot pool is to move very, very slowly…and with the cold pool to get your shoulders under the water as quickly as possible.
Or so I thought.
When I started descending the steps to the hot pool, at first it seemed fine. Step one was OK…step 2 was quite warm…and step 3 felt like my feet were on fire.
Just walk slowly I kept reminding myself.
It was quite an unusual experience and by the time I got fully into the pool I could feel my skin prickling.
I’ve no idea how long I stayed in that first time, but I doubt it was longer than a minute.
So with the time in the hot pool done, it was time for the cold plunge pool.
…and it was COLD.
If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m normally on the chilly side (to put it mildly!) so the idea of submerging myself in extremely cold water didn’t exactly appeal…but I knew it was all part of the process so I gave it a go.
I don’t think I’ve ever known what cold was before!
After the hot pool the cold pool felt like it was only a few degrees above freezing (I believe it’s actually in the low 60s)…and it was a real shock to the body.
But sure enough, once shoulders were in and I began to relax into it…it began to feel very refreshing. My skin was tingling and I felt incredibly alive.
…and then very cold again…so it was time to revisit the hot.
I’m not sure exactly where in the 7 cycles through the hot and cold pools the change happened…but it was sudden, and it was powerful.
I went through a period of time where it no longer felt like my body and mind were connected. My body was going through the process in the water but my mind felt like it was floating somewhere else….and then it happened.
I was in the hot pool when I suddenly felt the culmination of all of the hot and cold plunges together and my skin felt like it was buzzing. As I came out of the water I felt like some sort of mythical goddess emerging from the heat…(I think that the heat might have gone to my head!)
As much as this might sound a little ‘la la’ or ‘hippy happy clappy’ to coin a term that I affectionately use for experiences that are a little outside of the norm, one thing was very clear.
I felt very empowered and totally connected to my body.
Not only that but I felt very comfortable with my body…and appreciative of it. I felt proud of it.
Every hint of resistance regarding being naked in public had gone, and I allowed myself to just enjoy the experience.
Shortly after completing our hot and cold experience we decided to indulge in the steam room with a sugar scrub…and got chatting to a couple of the other people in there.
At that point I saw just how natural it was for everyone else at the springs. I realised that since I’d arrived, not once had I felt leered at or uncomfortable with anyone there.
We all chatted in the same way we would if we’d all been in there fully clothed (although we’d have all been significantly warmer!)
The rest of the day was a real eye-opening experience….literally.
I started looking at the bodies around me…including my own. It was plain to see that every single body in there had something about it that was beautiful….and every single body had something that could be seen as a flaw, or an area that could be improved in some small way.
It was also clear to me in that moment how what those areas of beauty or improvement are is completely subjective. What I might think of as an area that could be changed or improved, could be the very area that someone else might see as beautiful and perfect….and vice versa.
One of the friends I was at the hot springs with described them as walking talking works of art…which I think summed it up beautifully.
I got to experience the elements…sun, water, wind and earth first hand…without any compromise or restriction…and it was great.
Some time to just be.
No masks, no costumes, nothing to hide behind.
All of me.
Complete. Whole. Perfectly Imperfect.
My naked truth was that I realise now that I was quite disassociated from my body, and I wasn’t really comfortable owning it in public.
My experience at the hot springs really provided the perfect opportunity to embrace every single part of it. Allowing me to love and appreciate every single curve, just the way that it is.
So this week I invite you to explore your own naked truth. See where it is now, and where you might like it to be.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to whip your kit off at the nearest public venue (depending on your location the authorities may have something to say about that!)…but I do invite you to see what experiences might help you to connect deeper with your own body…and to accept it more completely, just the way that it is.
Because as with everyone at the hot springs…all bodies are beautiful, all bodies are flawed, and that’s what makes them perfectly imperfect.
Stay Fabulous (whether you’re naked or fully clothed!),