Tuesday, May 15, 2007


"I have learned that when that place is reached, ever so remotely, healing is possible and the freedom changes lives."

SWIMMING LESSONS: Fear and Freedom
By Daniel D. Ziegler

In the summer of 1954, a ten year old farm boy, who loved the water, desperately wanted to learn how to swim. Too many summers had gone by as the older boys swam in Squaconning Creek and the Saginaw River, while all he could do was splash around in the shallow water. He wanted to swim and dive off the bridge like the big kids. Attempts made by his father to teach him how to swim a couple years earlier failed as his impatient father deliberately dunked him several times. Crying and screaming but still wanting to learn, the young boy resolved never to ask his father again. Somehow he would learn on his own if he had to.

Through school, this fourth grader found out that the Red Cross was offering free swimming lessons at the big high school in town. However, because his mother didn’t drive and his father was too busy from sunup to sundown with farming chores, transportation would be a problem. That problem actually had been solved a year earlier, however, when his older brother by three years, took the same swimming lessons and got there by riding his bike 3 miles into town, catching a city bus part way and walking the remaining seven blocks to the high school. A scary odyssey for very shy 10 year old, but one he was willing to face knowing that by the time he started in 5th grade next fall, he would be good swimmer.

1954 4th grade
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But there was one more catch—the biggest obstacle of all. He had learned from his older brother that the boys were required to shower together before the class—totally naked. That was scary!

Resolved to learn how to swim that summer, however, the scared yet brave boy filled out the registration card and mailed it in.

During the next couple weeks it was hard for the young boy to keep from thinking of the first time he would have to be in the shower naked with all those other boys. The fear was enough to keep him awake some nights but he kept thinking of how he would be the youngest kid to dive off the Church Bridge by the end of summer.

Accompanying him to the first lesson to show him how to ride the bus, where to get off and to show him how to get to the high school gym and pool was his older brother. That made the traveling part easier to learn. But standing in line in the gym waiting to get into the locker room and shower was a different story. What was probably only a few minutes, seemed like hours. Finally the moment came when a young man opened the door and led the boys into the locker area. Apparently sensing not only the nervousness of the shy farm boy but that of the other kids too, he calmly explained the showering procedure and reassured them it wouldn’t be bad…and actually, it wasn’t. It was the anticipation of it that was by far the worst part. After that, it was no problem.

The young farm boy successfully completed the swimming lessons and, indeed, by the end of the summer had become a competent enough swimmer to be the youngest kid to be diving off the Church Bridge over Squaconning Creek on Ziegler Road.

…But the memory of those anxious moments preceding the shower room would live on with the child many for years.


I grew up, married and raised a family.

Throughout the years, I had many of the typical encounters with nudity where it couldn’t be avoided, such as high school swimming class, college dorm life and Army life. Though none of these were particularly difficult for me, it often seemed easier for others, and there was a part of me that didn’t want it that way. I wanted it to be easy. And as I thought about it over the years, I came to the conclusion that it SHOULD be easy, after all, it was natural that we all have bodies and it should feel natural for us to be nude in the presence of others. Why it didn’t for me or for many others, I would come to realize, is based on a long history religious and societal negative conditioning.

Around the house as my family was growing up, I frequently wore nothing when the weather or situation permitted. It was my intention that my actions conveyed the message that the body is natural and therefore nothing to be ashamed of. Though I realized that my children would be influenced not only by me but also by the society within which they were going up, I at least wanted them to have experience the naturalness of nudity and that was something I could present. But I also was aware that out in the world they would be up against a different message, the message that the human body is shameful and needs to be covered. That they were receiving mixed messages was something I was aware of but regretfully could do nothing about, and although I talked to them about these things, I knew that they too might grow up with a certain amount of anxiety over nudity as I had, or even worse, a message that their father was weird. What’s a parent to do?

Although much within me had healed since those early childhood days of anxiety over the locker room shower, there was still much that needed to heal and I set about the healing process. I have written extensively about this in my book NAKED BEFORE GOD: A Look at Healing, Self-discovery and Spiritual Growth Through Social Nudism. The word that best describes the results of the healing is “freedom.”

What I would like to add here is that I have learned that there are many people who, like myself, have had these negative childhood experiences with nudity but, unlike myself, as yet have not done anything about it—they have not healed. In fact, many times these memories have been stuffed way down, supposedly out of the way and forgotten, yet they can still be influencing their lives in many ways. The good news is they too can be easily healed. That my experience as a shy eleven year old is still so vivid in my mind enables me to know that somewhere inside them, however deep it may be, there is a part of them that could be healed, that wants to be healed, that wants to be free. To be able reach out to these people and know how to initiate the healing process is the gift I have received from this childhood experience. I have learned that when that place is reached, ever so remotely, healing is possible and the freedom definitely changes lives for the better. I have seen it time after time.

As I said, the anticipation over being seen nude in the shower room before the swimming lessons was by far the worst part of the experience for me. Once I realized I was alright and that nothing bad had or was going to happened to me, nudity became much easier, as I also mentioned. The healing had begun.

During the summer of 1954, in addition to learning how to swim and dive off the bridge, I also added a bonus feat which may even have been more significant than the swimming itself. I went skinny-dipping for the first time--under the bridge, of course, and out of view of the church. Anyone who skinny-dipped as a child certainly remembers it, and while my memory of the shower room anxiety has slightly faded over the years, the feeling of freedom skinny-dipping hasn’t.

Copyright 2005 Daniel D. Ziegler

To receive a free e-copy (PDF file) of my book NAKED BEFORE GOD: A Look At Healing, Self-discovery and Spiritual Growth Through Social Nudism, go to http://less-onsfortruth.com/ or email me ddziegler44@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


By Swami Beyondananda

Swami Offers Some Advice on “Safe Sects”

Are enlightened beings meant to have sects? Or can sects actually stunt our spiritual growth, not to mention endanger our health? With the recent concern about Oughtism - a highly contagious disease known to be trans­mitted through sects - many meta­physicians wonder whether the safest sects would be no sects at all. Swami doesn't agree. "Sects between consent­ing adults is just fine," he says, "as long as you're not obsessed. You see these people who go door-to-door proselytiz­ing or sell flowers on the street or throw waste products on those whose sects preference is different from theirs - one look in their eyes will tell you they'll do anything for sects. And let's face it, unbridled sects can lead to unwanted misconceptions, and goodness knows we already have enough of these in the world. So if you're going to engage in sects, I suggest you wear a protective sheath of white light. And no matter how ecstatic you get, keep your eyes open, okay?"

And now, Swami answers your questions on how to have great sects:

Dear Swami,

I live down south, and as someone who believes in reincarnation, I find it difficult to find like-minded folks. Any suggestions?

Ronnie Noes Moultrie, Georgia

Dear Ronnie,

You're in luck! There's a group I've heard of down in Georgia called the Dixie Reincarnationist Church. Now these folks are some real "Born Again" types, but they're also pretty down home. For their last rites, they say, "Y'all come back real soon now, y'heah?"

Dear Swami,

I'm overweight, and that's how I like it. Except in this society where every­one's so hung up on being thin, fat people are shunned as if gaining weight is contagious or something. Do you know of any group that appreci­ates overweight folks?

Ellie Funt Fondue Lake, Wisconsin

Dear Ellie,

Yes. You'll be happy to know that there is now an organization which actually looks upon overweight people as an elite. The group is called "Immense," and only those weighing over 300 pounds are allowed to join.

Called a "true mass movement" by its founders. Immense exhorts members to "Be all that you can be - and more." Says the Immense brochure: "We are put on this planet to grow, yet so few of us reach our fullest potential. Sure, spiritual growth is great but any true gains on the spiritual planes must be reflected on the physical as well. Granted, Gandhi may have been a spir­itual heavyweight, but physically? If only he'd gained 20 pounds, he could have been a 97-pound weakling. Such a huge aura, and only a small fraction of it occupied by form. What a pity! At Immense, we believe in manifest destiny, that a person isn't fully actual­ized until his/her entire auric field is filled with physical form." But I should warn you, there is a bit of a dark side to this organization as well. Monthly weigh-ins are held, and those unfortu­nates who have lost weight must go to "Confection," where they are stuffed with sweets and are told to "Go, and thin no more."

Dear Swami,

Call me old-fashioned, but I just hate to wear clothes. The way I figure it, if God had meant for us to wear clothes, then He would have made Christian Dior or Lev! Strauss the first man instead of Adam. Needless to say, I've had a hard time finding a reli­gious group that would accept me as the Creator made me. Any ideas?

Abba Riginal Malibu, California

Dear Abba,

It's certainly astounding how clothes-minded religions can be, isn't it? Well, I've got some good news for you.

There's an obscure yet ancient sect which shares your belief, followers of the prophet Nuddha who traveled widely through the East - mostly in the summertime - teaching the principles of Nuddhism. In the beginning, he says, was the "Naked Truth." All was peace­ful until people began decorating their bodies with various forms of clothing, armor, ceremonial garb - and the more people had on, the better they felt about themselves. In fact, many anthropologists believe this was the origin of the word "moron." Nuddhists who traveled from village to village had less on than just about anyone else, so their teachings were called "less-ons." And in a world where the "More-ons" have greatly outnumbered the "less-­ons," maybe this is a religion whose time has come. •&

Copyright, 1989 by Steve Bhaerman. All rights reserved.

To receive a free e-copy (PDF file) of my book NAKED BEFORE GOD: A Look At Healing, Self-discovery and Spiritual Growth Through Social Nudism, go to http://less-onsfortruth.com/ or email me ddziegler44@yahoo.com