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My Naked Photo Shoot

This is the end and the beginning of a story.

My story is no different than any other story. What I have to share is part of the human story that is being written on the planet at this time. There is pain, suffering, healing, hope and victory. Like every story, there is drama and true love. As you read along with me, join in hearing your own story and prepare yourself to heal.

I don’t know about you, but when I get to the end of a story with a happy ending, I want it to last forever. To savor everything that has led up to this moment. All the obstacles that were overcome and the battles won. The end is fleeting and precious - it is the time to be complete with the past.

The end of my identification with physical suffering and pain was a naked photo shoot.

Spirit told me in meditation,


The first time I heard it I balked. “Really. Spirit? Why didn’t you ask me to do that when I was a size 3 and working out 2-3 hours a day?” At the moment Spirit made this request, I weighed the most I have ever weighed, 208 pounds. My body was soft, lumpy and bumpy, inflamed with swelling and pain. It had been wrecked and ravaged by two difficult pregnancies and an emergency c-section. I had postpartum depression, Chronic Epstein Barr Virus, adrenal fatigue and a barely functioning immune system. I was sick all the time. I wanted to heal. I wanted to live a happy, healthy life. I felt like I had tried everything. My suffering had gone on long enough and I had hit a rock bottom. I was willing to do whatever it took and follow the guidance.

Well, sort of willing.

Let’s just say that I was willing to be willing.

In meditation I questioned Spirit further. “So, why exactly do I need to get naked and vulnerable in front of a camera? Are these photos going to be just for me, or shared with others?” Spirit answered, “You must share the experience and the photos with others. As an act of bravery and commitment to your healing path. But this is not about the photos. You will do a healing ceremony for yourself using the Elemental forces and Mother Earth’s powerful love. This healing ritual will be witnessed by the camera. You must see yourself exactly as you are in this moment and totally accept and love your body. In that instant, the suffering and pain in your body will leave you and you will have stepped into the next phase of your journey as a healer and teacher.”

That was enough for me to get started. I didn’t fully understand how it would all unfold and I felt incredibly nervous about exposing myself. It was frightening to think that I would see something about my body that would make me feel judged, depressed or hopeless. I called my friend and spiritual sister Hillary Baack @hillarybaack and we began planning the photo shoot. She was incredibly supportive every step of the way. She honored the fear that was coming up and held space for my process. I felt her love and compassion through every conversation. We talked about different locations and scenarios but nothing was quite jelling. Finally we agreed on a date and time frame and that we would leave the details up to the Universe.

The day before the shoot we were guided to go up to Sunset Ridge and Millard Canyon in the mountains above Altadena, CA. Spirit told me, “Tomorrow bring all of your healing tools, crystals, sage and prepare yourself for anything. It’s time to put all of your faith in the process...the healing ceremony has begun.” I was feeling very nervous. Not sure if I could go through it. My mind was playing embarrassing scenarios over and over on torturous repeat. I felt incredibly judgemental and hateful toward my body. All I could think of was how my body had failed me and caused me such excruciating pain and suffering. There was no way that I could imagine that this naked photo shoot would make any difference. It seemed absolutely ridiculous and pointless. A big part of me wanted to just call Hillary and cancel. However, there was a small spark of my consciousness that still had hope. I stayed with the feelings and the bad dreams through the night and remained committed to our plan.

Birdsong woke me in the morning. The wind was blowing wildly through the trees outside our window. The sky was clear and bright after the rain and it felt cool and crisp. My perfect kind of day. I started preparing myself for the ritual with my cold shower, yoga, meditation and a healthy breakfast. I felt incredibly nervous but also excited about what was about to happen. The anticipation throbbed in my heart and chest. All preparations were going fine but my negative mind and Ego was having a cruel judgment-fest and saying all sorts of horrible things, trying to stop me.

Negative mind, “You’re so fat. How dare you try to do this? You think you can actually heal? You need to lose weight first. You’re crazy!” I kept breathing and using my Kundalini Yoga mantras to steady myself. Then my physical body started protesting too. “Pain, pain, pain. Excruciating pain in every muscle and every fiber of my body. I ache with pain and fatigue.” I was having a hard time just climbing up the stairs in our home, let alone hiking in the mountains naked! Then my emotions joined in the chorus and I was feeling sad, angry, fearful, wounded, victimized, hopeless, scared. Everything within me was trying to get me to give up and not even try. The chorus of negativity got louder and louder and louder...

Until finally my Soul said, “Stop! Everyone be quiet. We are doing this. All you have to do is get yourself there.”

We were guided to a magical spot by a stream, surrounded by alder trees. Dappled light was dancing on the water and the creek sang to us as we set up the ritual space. I tuned in with the Adi Mantra and called in my guides, angels, Animal Spirit Medicine, plant medicine and all beings who would journey with us through the healing process. The wind in the trees started to blow harder and the energy around us was electric. It was as if we had entered into an alternate reality. My body started dancing and moving organically and tears were pouring from my eyes, blessing the Earth Mother. I raged and yelled and screamed to the earth, my feet were squelching in the mud and leaves and my mind had shifted into a trance. Instantly I was able to see the true reality.

I knew in that moment that I was loved and accepted exactly as I am.

In that moment, I was in ecstasy.

Then the trees started sharing their secrets with me of a blood that runs deep in their veins. A stream of life that was older than time. Their blood was my blood and I became the trees, blowing in the wind. The stream laughed at me and invited me to join in, I started laughing with ecstatic joy. Stream showed me that I have always been part of the flow of life and I always will be. That my essence is eternal and comes from the sacred source of all water. I waded into the icy water and felt a rush of pleasure and pain. I became the water and knew her wisdom as my own. The cleansing wind blew through my body and rearranged my atoms until I became light and totally free of pain. Joy and bliss rushed through every part of me and I became the wind, flying and soaring above the earth.

I knew without a doubt that I was being healed by the earth and all her elements. The trance state grew deeper and deeper until it felt like a vortex of light, earth, sound, pleasure, movement, freedom and transcendence. Time passed in its own way and the light shifted. We could tell that the sun would be setting soon. We paused for a moment and looked around the ceremony site. There was clothing, scarves, malas, feathers, drums, singing bowls, rattles and medicine cards strewn all over the forest clearing. I looked at Hillary and said, “What just happened?!” It was as if a wild, bacchanalian festival had just taken place. We both started laughing hysterically and the wind joined us in our happiness, whipping through our hair and the leaves.

We drove up to Sunset Ridge and I was guided to drum to the setting sun as it slowly lowered on the horizon. I experienced a peace and awareness unlike anything I had ever known. I was in complete acceptance of everything within and around me. It was the perfect completion to the ceremony. As the sun faded into a soft rosy-yellow glow the trance state ended and I was suddenly aware of my physical body. I said to Hillary, “I’m freezing and I need my bra!” We walked back to the car smiling and I said, “Well, that just happened.” Again we laughed like children, filled with awe and delight.

From that moment, my body was healed.

I no longer related to my old symptoms. I wasn’t triggered into long periods of inflammation and muscle weakness. I simply didn’t relate to pain in the same way anymore. I could walk and hike with more ease. It was as if Spirit had helped me draw a boundary and the photo shoot was what marked the line in the sand. This suffering has gone on long enough. I had learned what I needed from the pain and I could let it go. I also got a clear plan of what I needed to do to stay healthy and to grow stronger and more flexible in my body. It was a very specific plan and I was happily surprised that I didn’t have any resistance to doing it.

One interesting realization that I had was that secretly I had hoped that after the photo shoot I would just lose all the excess weight magically. That didn’t happen for me. What did happen however was something far more incredible and long lasting.

For the first time in my life I loved my body. Unconditionally.

It’s been almost 3 years now since the miraculous healing ritual. I fall deeper in love with my body as the days pass. It has been wonderful to re-establish communication with my body and hear what it needs before I get to the point of pain and fatigue. I have learned so much about what my body needs to stay balanced. How much rest, what kind of food and drink, what kind and how much exercise it needs. I find that it’s always shifting and changing depending on the season, my work, my family life. I am able to intuitively know what is needed and make choices to stay centered. There is also a nice humorous dialogue now between my soul and my body. I no longer say mean things or threaten it to behave. I no longer deprive it or punish it if I haven’t lived up to the plan. The plan hasn’t been easy to follow and it takes discipline and energy. So of course I have fallen off of it and made unhealthy choices many many times. And my body lets me know that I am off balance and gently encourages me to choose again. I have lost and gained weight over the past year and a half. I have felt energized and tired. The revelation is that when I feel energized, I get things done and take action. When I feel tired, I rest and sleep. Sometimes I need a couple of days of sleeping to recuperate after a spell of hard work. Before my healing, I never would have allowed myself to stop and rest. I would have pushed on through the pain until it stopped me. This has truly been a miraculous healing for me.

When I was enduring some of the worst pain, fatigue and depression over the previous 6 years I would pray to God/Great Spirit,

“Please dear God, at some point in the future, please let my journey of suffering and healing be of use to others.”

I would fantasize about teaching and healing others with the information I had gathered. I imagined my students and clients telling me of their relief from emotional, physical and mental pain. When it was the darkest, this gave me hope and a purpose. It motivated me to do the challenging work of transforming some deeply wired programming of failure and self-loathing.

I am here in my body now. Naked, transparent and free of the past.

My story is complete. It is a happy ending.

My story is also just beginning. I am alive, aware, peaceful, happy and ready to serve the mission that Spirit has given me. I am here to heal. Heal myself. Heal others. To be a part of healing the world. Once the healing of the pain body is finished, a new journey of healing into the ecstacy of life begins. Now it is all about bringing my creative dreams and visions to fruition. Now it is about doing everything that I never thought I could. Now is about living life fully with great reverence and appreciation. Now is about loving my family and community with unconditional acceptance and open-heartedness.

I am here for you.

Take my hand and walk this path with me. You don’t have to know how it’s possible to heal. You could have already tried everything and given up. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what your story is or where you have been. All you need is an ounce of willingness, to show up for yourself and draw the line in the sand once and for all. Allow me to guide you through the realms of ecstasy, until the time when you can easily travel there yourself.

Let us begin together.

Wahe Guru/Gisela Birnschein

Text 626-274-4953




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