Our Naked Truths is a safe space to all those who identify as women, created by Jocelyn Yeboah-Newton. It's a space to connect, network, discuss and celebrate the universal feminine beauty through art and powerful conversation.
Every session features a female volunteer to model and pose naked, exhibiting their own unique expression of beauty, via 2, 3, 10 and 30 minute poses.
We were both asked by Joss, if we would be up for modelling and immediately jumped up at the chance. The thought of doing something new and out of our comfort zone intrigued us, as well as being able to express beauty differently.
We were next asked to choose a topic/ theme that will be discussed as a group, and decided the to Topic of Forgiveness would be very fitting.
We chose forgiveness because it's an integral part of growth. Many people talk about forgiveness in relation to others but it's also applicable to yourself. Forgiving allows us to be accountable, move on from the past and allow the scars we give ourselves, and receive from others, to heal.
Forgiveness is the ticket to Personal Freedom
On Sunday, 9th July we arrived at the Collective Temperance Hospital. I must start by saying it was an absolutely beautiful and welcoming space. The large windows, high ceilings covered with leaves and the beautiful chandelier really created a calming atmosphere.
Before we began we wanted to set the tone, and therefore placed down a quote from our empowerment book KINK onto everyone's seat, just to get the women thinking, before putting pen, or in this case chalk, to paper, and to set the tone.
I felt amazing posing nude for Our Naked Truths and was surprised that actually, being naked in front of a group of strangers really is not that deep. Of course this thought was aided by the safe environment I was in and being in a room full of like minded women who know what they had signed up for, added to the confidence. I'm sure I wouldn't say the same if I had to pose naked in a shop window.
At no point did I feel nervous or unsettled, and it was great to have a little pep talk by Joss who gave great words of encouragement. I'd like to think of myself as being quite confident and comfortable with my body, but that's just it, it's just a thought. Having no nerves really did reaffirm this thought of mine, that I truly am comfortable in my skin. I can't really pin point when, where or how I became this confident, especially when society says that big isn't beautiful, but what I can say is that It didn't happen over night, and it's a process.
Whilst modelling, I completely shut off from the world and the focused women in front of me who were sketching away. Not only did I shut off from the world, but in that moment it was as though my thoughts were also switched to mute. In all my experiences of meditation (which aren't many) never have I truly felt present like in that moment. I've heard speeches and teachings about the art of being present but could never say that i've truly experienced it, until now.
I felt at ease, at peace and at one with myself. What a great opportunity to just be authentically you and pay attention to every aspect of your body and the sensations which arrive. I even found myself grinning for no damn reason.
The flood of praise and admiration were so heart-warming tears came to my eyes as I was genuinely touched by peoples words. The experience was so much more than just being naked. In fact it had nothing to do with being naked at all. I realised just how much power I hold in authentically being myself, and the confidence it gives others in turn.
I really loved the space that hosts Our Naked Truths, plants clinging to the glass roof and fill the upper room which gave the room a clean and clear vibe of energy. Joss makes sure soulful, easy music is playing so as to relax everyone. We were well prepped before by Joss so we felt comfortable however as Tri said, to me sitting naked in front a room full of women wasn't that deep.
There was no fear, no nerves, it was just relaxing. During the various poses you realise that the women who are drawing stop looking at you as a person and focus on you as a model, a subject, a body they've been unfamiliar with and so want to replicate the lines of my shape onto their paper in their own ways. When you look at it that way, it's so easy - no one critiquing you, in fact their trying to imprint all you are on their canvas.
I've never really had an issue being exposed to people, having been bullied for my ezcema and other features throughout my younger years, being subject to people's critique has become the least of my worries. It provided me with the confidence to accept who I am as best as I can, though society tries to undo that everyday.
After the life drawing session we delved into a thought-provoking and emotional conversation surrounding Forgiveness. We each shared why we chose the theme and how it effected our personal journeys, in addition to sharing what we've learnt/ are learning about ourselves.
Understanding forgiveness was a key aspect to the discussion. Not only understanding it, but understanding the power it has over you.
One prominent thing I found interesting was that forgiveness is a new concept to a lot of us. Forgiving yourself is something many of us have not been taught. What we have been taught, however, from a young age is to say sorry and forgive others, that's something that is commonly ingrained in us since childhood, but never how to forgive ourselves and eliminate the mental and emotional weight we carry that leave us in repetitive situations.
For me forgiveness of others is easier than forgiveness of myself - mainly because I have good intuition and when something does wrong, I critique myself endlessly for having not listened to my inner guidance. But as I mentioned in the session, forgiveness requires an utmost amount of strength to relinquish the power mistakes or regretted moments have on you. It allows us to stop living around mental obstacles and deal with them on a granular level.
The session brought out some really hard truths from some of the attendees, pent up emotion was given a much needed release and though some of the women were fully clothed, they revealed things that definitely made me feel as though they were naked too. It was at that point the penny dropped and I understood the name of the event.
I took more away from the discussion than the need to be comfortable in my own skin; I realised how little support women - especially victims of abuse - have from family and society at large. Though I have not gone through this per se, I saw the divine value in Joss for creating such a space for women to just be emotionally naked with no apology.
Forgiveness is all about addressing how we think and feel about ourselves and others, and how those thoughts manifest in our lives. Unresolved childhood experiences is the root to a lot of challenges people face in their adult lives, usually caused by their carer, or someone close to them. This became very apparent in the room as many women began to share their stories, choking on their pain.
Through sharing, it was evident that many people needed to forgive themselves for the pain which they still carry, and an important question then arose. How do you really practice forgiveness??
There's no right or wrong answer to this questions as everyone processes their emotions differently. However as a starting point our suggestions are:
Get to the root of your emotions-
Acknowledge the thought that you have, then address the feeling attached to it and allow that to bubble to the surface. Often we have a thought and let it bypass us because we don't want to deal with the feeling or the pain. Come face to face with your pain, and sit in it for a while (but not to long), don't automatically suppress it. The thoughts and feelings you are experiencing are valid and don't need validating.
It's very likely that you need to retrain your mind as you were never taught how to process your emotions correctly, via communication. Forgive yourself for not knowing how, and give yourself permission to change and love again.
Thoughts become things. Prayer, Affirmations and Self talk are all things you can do as part of your daily practice. Why a daily practice? It supports you developing and strengthening your own inner essence, power and authentic identity. You can build a new perspective of life as it will interrupt the habitual flow of thoughts and emotions that often lead to unproductive reactions in your day to day experiences as well as increase your awareness of your addictive and judgmental nature and, support you in discovering the roots of pain and suffering in your life.
What's the role you play and how have you treated yourself in the process? So many of us self destruct without even realising it. Remember that a life well-lived is your best revenge, take charge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have. Whatever it is that you love do that more.
For us to journey through self acceptance, forgiveness is crucial
Want to learn more? Forgiveness by Iyanla Vanzant is our recommended book, which includes a journalling section inside to ensure you do the necessary work and a free CD, Not to mention supporting another black author.