September sees one of my favourite days of the year. It’s the day when my dear friend Vicky and I head up to Druridge Bay in Northumberland for our annual pilgrimage to the ‘North East Skinny Dip’ – a magical event where we strip naked and run into the North Sea with about 700 other gorgeous people at sunrise on the autumn equinox!
The first year we did this, we arrived with huge fear and trepidation. What kind of people do this? Why would we even consider being naked on the beach with strangers? Interestingly, the last thing on my mind was how cold would the water be, or even how cold the sandy beach would be to run across. My insecure mind was focused on every single ‘imperfection’ in my body, what others would think about the size of my body – and a whole host of comparisons around age, weight, and shape. What about Cellulite? what about scars? what about imperfections? What about wobbly bits? The insecure thoughts were running amok.
The amazing thing was, though, that despite all my insecure thoughts, I knew I would be up for the challenge. I think we both did. There was something working beyond my thinking to drive me forwards, beyond my fears.
We arrived at the beach, our minds buzzing with anxious thoughts, and found our place by the sand dunes. We watched in awe as everyone arrived, smiling, excited and filled with joy. At 7am, the gong sounded, and we all stripped off and ran across the sand to the sea. Vicky and I ran like Usain Bolt, hand in hand, to reach the comfort of the sea where our bodies would no longer be exposed.
When we reached the sea, we didn’t dip our toes and run back to get dressed as we had imagined. We waded into the cold water and leapt as the waves rolled in alongside the hundreds of others sharing this incredible moment. We experienced the absolute joy of life pulsing through us. And then, when we had had our fill of playing, we wandered back up to the dunes, slowly soaking up the love and acceptance on the beach that morning. No running, no anxiety. We simply strolled back, taking in the beauty of the moment
I experienced the deepest connection with my fellow ‘dippers’ that day. I had not met any of them before, and yet I felt a deep love for each one of them. This was not a human-to-human experience. This was a oneness, a deep knowing that we are all nature, we are all created of the same magic. There was every size, shape, age, and gender on the beach, and yet, what I experienced was far beyond the limitations of human form. All those anxious thoughts about imperfections melted into a formless experiencing of spirits on the beach that day. I can truly say that the connection I experienced with others was the deepest, most beautiful connection I have ever known.
I learnt that humanity is just like the beach. We are all unique, beautifully formed grains of sand, AND we are the beach. We are individuals AND we are part of something so much bigger and more magnificent.
I learnt that deep love and acceptance sits in our spirits, in our souls. It is who we are. We do not have to work hard to achieve it. It is within us always, waiting for us to rediscover it just beyond our thinking, beyond the limitations of the human form. We connect deeply from that place, with love and with unity.
I learnt that as humans we can create beautiful spaces when we connect soul to soul. If we can open our souls, nourish our souls, and see that, despite physical differences, we are all one, perhaps we can be at peace with each other, and with nature.
Fast forward to our 2021 Skinny Dip and we are planning our trip on Sunday 19th September with excitement, not fear: with joy, not trepidation. Having experienced the wonder of this event once, we knew we would be back each year. This year is no different.
With deep love