I think Naked Warrior is the peak yoga pose. Now, before you potentially flip out or ignore me, I’m NOT talking about physical nudity, but vulnerability. I’m getting at the wholehearted life that comes with taking our relational and emotional armor off to reveal our total and true selves. For instance, one way I know I’m happily married is I can admit I’m attracted to other women. As a yoga teacher I frequently meet good-looking ladies who make me go hmm, BUT I always choose Lisa.
You see, what we bring into the Light heals, grows, and flourishes (and us along with them!), while things we keep in the dark will warp us, twist our insides, and bring suffering. Sharing our “stuff” unites us, while silencing it isolates. I was married twice before meeting my soul mate, Lisa. For all eight years of my first marriage I was addicted to porn. While it would be wrong to attribute this enslavement entirely to not being a Naked Warrior, in retrospect I think there was a relationship.
In my mind, once I got married I wasn’t supposed to be attracted to other women, but whenI was, I was supposed to shove it way down. What is more, in the Christian communities my ex-wife and I belonged to and loved, looking at porn was considered an unspeakably bad sin no good man would succumb to. Add in that like most everyone we had sexual ups and downs and you had a recipe for disaster. Attraction to people who weren’t my spouse, sex, and porn were all forbidden and forsaken feelings, actions, and topics, so they stayed locked away in the dark where the fertilizer of fear grew them into an epic inner shame storm.
The opposite of the Naked Warrior is the Armored Warrior. As Brené Brown writes about in her groundbreaking books, being vulnerable is hard and takes great courage, so instead of revealing our weaknesses, insecurities, hurts, and so on, we armor up. And that’s exactly what I did. The Armored Warrior is detached, unfeeling, doesn’t speak about or listen to what’s really going on inside us, withdraws, and is ruled by fear. Wow, it wasn’t until I typed and reread the last sentence I realized how much ALL that list characterized me during my years of addiction.
Like most people I quite enjoy feeling glad. It’s a pretty grand emotion, don’t ya think? 🙂 I remember a moment over twenty years ago during my long season of being armored up and detached. I was the best man in a wedding, and as the groom and I waited alone in a side room to go into the sanctuary for the ceremony, he was overwhelmed with tears of happiness. As my friend felt deep emotions and vibrant life, I was completely confused and disoriented by his tears, due to being cutoff from my emotions.
When it comes to emotions there is one volume knob for ALL the feelings, which means when we turn down sadness we equally mute gladness. Life isn’t meant to be muted, though, we’re made to dance wildly, sing loudly, feel deeply, cry abundantly, care richly, and celebrate often. To do this we have to feel ALL the feels. A blissful, wholehearted life is one that’s whole, which includes fears, sorrows, joys, hopes, frustrations, and so on.
When I was addicted to porn and emotionally disconnected, not only wasn’t I vulnerable with others, I wasn’t transparent to myself either. I have a hunch these are all connected. I like and find metaphors helpful, so at the risk of mixing metaphors … Life is like a masterpiece painting meant to be lush with colors. When we live as the Naked Warrior we paint our existence vibrantly with zillions of hues, but when we’re Armored Warriors, who merely get by, we live in a land of gray.
You know how little kiddos will streak around without clothes or worries? Or how older kids will just speak their minds without filters? I think it’s because in many ways we’re created to be naked on all levels, emotionally, relationally, physically, and spiritually. Now, this should for sure be done in safe spaces, at appropriate times, and with kindness, but as a general rule the more we share, the more we care and are cared for.
When we hide our fears and such, pretend or strive to be someone we’re not, shove our feelings down, put on fake “smiles”, and so on, we’re living as Armored Warriors, which means we don’t know if we’re loved, valued, and accepted for who we truly are. Conversely,when we share our anxieties and hurts, show others are real selves (warts and all), safely and appropriately share our feelings, reflect outwardly what’s inside, and such, we’re living as Naked Warriors, beautiful beings who know we’re loved, valued, and accepted just as we are!
Grace and peace,