Healthy Minds = Healthy Bodies = Healthy Environments

Nature 1a: the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing 2a: a creative and controlling force in the universe b: an inner force or the sum of such forces in an individual…6: the external world in its entirety 7a: man’s original or natural condition b: a simplified mode of life resembling this condition.

                        -Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary

I. What is Naturism?

Simply put , Naturism is a lifestyle and philosophy based on harmony with nature. As further expressed by Kiril Vasiliev and others founders of The Free Body Cultural Society here in Petersburg, Naturism implies a holistic ethical system that borrows deliberately from the Christian “holy trinity.”  Rather than the Father, the Spirit and the Holy Ghost, we propose Physical Health, Mental Health and Environmental Health.  The goal of The Free Body Cultural Society is to harmonize all three as an ethical, moral guide to life: to build a harmony of self among healthy minds, healthy bodies, and an unpolluted, beautiful world in which to enjoy life.

Obviously, our embrace of Naturism is a much more ambitious and farther-reaching concept than most people have of its counterpart, nudism.  Nudism is included in Naturism, certainly, but it does so as merely another element of personal freedom, of the personal decision –making that Naturism promotes.  Freedom, for us, means responsibility: responsibility for our personal mental and physical health, for the health of our families, friends and social institutions, and ultimately for the environment as well.

As one St. Petersburg journalist noted:

The special charm you mention is the idea of freedom-Free people on Free earth.  Of course, this means a clean environment.  How can anyone lie back, relax, and get a good sunburn in the midst of a rubbish heap?  The dame goes for the social aspect of freedom-the pleasure of honest and unfettered communication with others.

We believe these freedoms- the freedom to enjoy nature uncompromised as well as the freedom to enjoy uncensored communication with one’s companions-are ancient ones and true.  The ancient Rus peoples, from whom the term Russian is derived, lived in such a harmony with their world and themselves long before the advent of repressive rulers and censoring ideologies.  The Rus lived their lives in pleasurable and spontaneous bond with the environment.  In short, they lived “naturally.”  These pre-Christian peoples had no problem with social nudity; it was another part of accepted everyday life, natural and god-willed.  Ironically, the term “primitive naturism.”  Naturism in today’s social and ecological reality, however, strongly differs from its ancient analogue.  Even though much of the root motive of our ancestors remains as the foundation of modern naturism, to speak of it simplistically as a reversion to “the good old days” denies its true power.  For Naturism in our modern world, whether here in Russia or anywhere else on earth, demands that we address ethical and spiritual issues of the highest order.

The American writer Theodore Roszak most succinctly expressed this need to reunite ourselves spiritually and ethically with natural principles when he writes:

The task before [us] is to remind us of the joy and nobility that come from honoring our bond with the earth.

Such is the goal and purpose of The Free Body Cultural Society and such is the goal and purpose of Holy Nature, the Green Party representative in St. Petersburg.  In truth, we inhabit a very small island.  The earth is our nurturing mother, a mother who is presently in need of some nurturing and protection herself.

This implied or “virtual” responsibility points to the main concept of Naturism, one that invites all of mankind’s most vital concerns (Good and Evil, Justice and Injustice, Moral Responsibility and Ethical Choices) into a single world view.  If ethical laws exist in the universe, then they live in the concept of Naturism.  But it is not our intention to impose ideological or moral values on others.  We believe in freedom.  We have had enough of its opposite.  Our favorite idiom states it best: “My freedom ends at the place where it prevents yours.”

As the same journalist quoted earlier noted:

I hope that the Naturist movement clears itself form any ideological constructions, since all such precepts will always seem very borrowed. 

Naked people on clean sand: this is the solution.  This is where we, as humans, absorb the forces of the Earth, when we swim in the clear water and give ourselves up to our immersion in it.  Such contact with the water can never be achieved wearing a swimsuit, or even a wristwatch, since all our material possessions encumber us and restrict our ability to absorb Nature.

Therefore, it is important to relax our concerns about ethics and social responsibility, even as we embrace them.  The same with our environment concerns.

Naturism, to prevail, must above all be flexible.  Nature does not reward rigidity, as the fossil record of the dinosaurs so clearly informs us.

The subculture of Naturism instinctively generates a moral code of behavior, but it in no way constitutes an ideology in the pedagogical sense of a structure imposed from without.  On the contrary, it is a code that evolves naturally from within as one experiences the therapeutic nature of achieving the valance among the “holy trinity” of mental, physical and ecological health .  This is a natural code, one we like to their of as part of our basic humanity, and without which Naturism would devolve into legalized shamelessness.

We in Russia are especially aware of the oppressive nature of iron-fisted ideologies!  For over seventy years it was drummed into us that life was a struggle against nature and against our fellow man.  Certain attitudes were deemed compulsory, no matter how false and unreasonable they were.  How many intelligent people, unwilling to agree with forcible communist morality, have ended their days in lunatic asylums?

The great struggle to “conquer” Mother Nature and to “conquer” Human Nature that was the Communist goal is over.  It failed.  In its place, more and more people understand that the struggle for social and economic survival cannot form the sole purpose of existence.  It is time to begin to live!

“When I visit the clothes-optional beach, I feel in myself the power to crush the mountains by my hands.  I feel wings begin to grow upon my back.”

Such is how one Naturist lady described the feelings of spiritual power she received from participating at a clothes-optional beach.  Such feelings are hard to achieve at a traditional beach where swimsuits and clothing are required. On the clothes-optional beach there is a constant exchange of thoughts and feelings of general well being and joy.  This “good feeling” generates a kind of “infection” among its members;  the more one participates, the more the good mood spreads.

Another young woman offers a more down-to-earth view on the growing popularity of clothes-optional beaches:

The males, as it seems to me, visit the clothes-optional beach to show themselves off and to look at the young and pretty women.  The females, it seems for me too, go there for the same reason.  But the Sapiens-male is not able to express slogans, theories or anything of this sort that gives Naturism the features of a philosophy or movement or something like that.  I would bet my head that if there were no pretty women on the beach the number of men on the beach would be considerably reduced!

Naturism gives men a chance to show their power, charm and their other characteristics-like a peacock does!- and I think this behavior has a root in ancient primordial human marriage rituals.

It could easily be said that Naturism is simply a role-playing game, created by adults, to occasionally return to childhood?

In fact, “adult games” are an important element of Naturism.  Role playing and game playing are key to psychological development and to healthy social interactions.  Many adult Naturists do not consider their many activities as games at all, but as part of their rest and relaxation.  Children, however, play “real” games, and they work hard at them.  Thus, the best teachers for adult games are the children!  A good role-play game usually represents a version of virtual (imagined) reality in which fantasy behavior is supported by the other participants in accordance with the “rules” they have all agreed upon.  It is possible to change the social role of the player during the game along with the passions and emotions connected with this character making them no different from those that occur in real life!  Such an experience, undertaken among friends and in a supportive environment such as we offer, can be psychologically very rewarding and refreshing.  Our view is that people who experience a larger number of social roles tend to understand the real world in greater detail and have a true understanding of the real picture of the environmental world than so people with limited or undeveloped social roles.  Role-playing and games are one of many paths leading a sense of balance and harmony with oneself and with nature.

At the beaches, at the baths and in our private meetings we teach meditation, sensory awareness and relaxation techniques to improve self awareness and to increase our empathy for the feelings of others.  To become a gourmet it is necessary to open oneself to the world of food.  The dame applies to Naturism; it is necessary to open oneself to all the ideas, sensations and emotions that one can experience of Naturism.  Our goal is to achieve and to enjoy the deeply satisfying pleasures of self-awareness, empathy with others and sensitivity to the world around us.

We trust that the day has come when people, desirous of becoming more conscious of themselves and of the world, will begin to rebuild their lives.  Naturism is the perfect path to begin that journey.

The methods learned above will intensify your experience of life and of being alive.  They constitute the pathway toward the “holy trinity” of The Free Body Cultural Society (Mental Health, Physical Health, and Emotional Health) which form an ideal state of psychological balance toward which we all strive.  Practicing these techniques and participating in the Naturist lifestyle/philosophy appreciably helps to achieve deep feelings of soul/mind comfort.  They intensify the process of realization of what’s going on around you and they build self reliance, enhance creativity, amplify your moral values and intensify dramatically the sense of beauty that everywhere surrounds you.  These methods are tools, jot philosophical vases, and can be used by anyone to improve the quality of their lives.

Most people who experience Naturism as we have described it here usually say “this is something real!”  And it is.  We have to note that much is everyday life conspires against our sense of well being, our sense of self and self reliance and our desire to aid the environment.  Daily affairs seem constantly to be running away from the sense of balance we wish always to have, the comfort point we call happiness.  Nevertheless, Naturism is a friendly path that leads you away from daily cares.  It can lead you to a wonderful beach with beautiful people, seeking harmony with themselves and nature, just like you!  And even if some would consider our cause a fata morgana, it remains a fairy tale for adults and a beautiful reality for all those who embrace it.

Foreward   Holy Nature Manifesto    Introduction
A Day in the Russian Countryside   A Naturist Wedding and Feast    Children's Day Celebration
The Eve of Ivana Kupala   Interview: M. Rusinov    Interview: Alla
Suggested Reading    Purchase the Book  e-mail

Copyright© 1998 by Body & Mind Publications
Design: George Mattingly Design
Printing: Penn&Ink

ISBN 0-9664609-0-1

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