A Message for Men
You may have noticed that we suddenly have events listed “just for men”. Of course, our intention is not to exclude anyone- surely not our wonderful women students! But it is time to start offering some special things especially designed to help men in their process of accessing Spirit and making the most of their life.
The basic belief that underlies everything that I do in this work is that we are great. I believe that we human beings are tremendously powerful and basically good- but that we are rarely raised or educated in a way that brings out that deep goodness. This is uniquely so for men.
What Does it Mean to Be a Man?
We are raised with all kinds of limited ideas of what it means to be a man. We are raised to be tough, to be non-emotional, to be bread-winners, sacrificers. As young men we are programmed to compete with each other. Young heterosexual men are taught to chase attention from women. Popular media depictions of masculinity and male psychology portray us as doofus dads, or action-hero studs, or young clueless woosies. Just look at the Superbowl commercials or network television to see what I’m talking about. According to popular media, we would basically do nothing but eat bad food, watch sports, and ogle women if not for the intervention of the smarter, better women in our lives. Some uber-macho media men can take care of business, kick ass and take names, but they are tortured, unable to have human relations, trapped in their world of macho fabulousness. Where are whole men? Where are the wise men?
If you are reading this blog post, you have likely already rejected the dumb jock archetype. You have little or no interest in being a “stud”. Chances are, you listen to NPR and have learned to listen in conversations. You probably rarely raise your voice and when you do, you apologize afterward. Chances are, you’ve learned how to be nice, and put the lid down after you piss, and behave yourself. But, chances are, there is probably something missing in you too -something deep, something ancient and mighty and big. You may get hints of this in dreams. You may feel a restlessness or a quiet desperation. Or you could just be numb, frozen, checked out. You may get a thrill when you watch the action stud in a movie- something in your resonates with the fearless warrior who is less about talk and more about action. You may have your head in porn all the time- watching other men have sex and enjoy their fit bodies with abandon. You may feel a longing for something strong and masculine. You may feel a profound ache to be in the wilderness, or to engage in big action. You may feel alone- like it’s you against your life – like it’s up to you to bring home the bacon in your life and that bacon is never quite enough. Chances are, it’s not easy for you to give and receive love from other men. This list of symptoms for the modern man could go on and on. Whatever the case for you as a man, I want you to know you’re definitely not alone.
I believe that everyone deserves to live a life that reflects their greatness. As men we have tremendous potential for deep wisdom and wise action. We have a unique way of connecting to the sacred, we have a unique way of connecting to nature. We have a unique way of connecting to and processing our emotions, and we have a unique capacity to understand and support and heal other men, but all of these ways must be cultivated. For the vast majority of us, it takes some training to learn how to be fully alive and deeply connected. It takes some special attention to learn to be deeply masculine without being macho, to be forceful and direct and mighty without being brutal. It takes some practice and honing to learn to be connected to emotion and have an open heart without being a “soft male”.
Our Men’s Programs
The various programs and learning methods that I produce are all aimed at helping people know and live from their greatness and live a beautiful, inspiring, passionate, heart-centered, soulful life. In our Men’s groups, private training sessions, workshops and retreats, we provide a space for men to gather among themselves to do this work in a fashion that uniquely suited to men. There is something deeply powerful about this that must be experienced. To be in a group of men without competition or a sense of needing to prove oneself, to spend time in a group of men away from women, to be in a group of men especially for sake of learning to be more fully men is a deeply enriching and a tremendous source of support.
Most of didn’t learn to live in our fullness from our dads or uncles or grandfathers. Nor did we learn from community elders the way we may have in original times. We have just happened our way into being whatever we are. Many of us are man-aged boys. Many of us are “guys”, or “snags” – sensitive, new-age guys. Some of us are traditional “hard guys”, like Don Draper or the men of my father’s generation. Wherever we’re starting from, we now need to be here for each other to learn to be men together. Modern society has way too many “guys” and an urgent shortage of men.
Part of this observation comes from my own experience and my own ongoing process of standing up, growing up, and discovering my own deep masculine. Part of it comes from working with many men and seeing their process evolve. Part of it comes from wise teachings from Robert Bly, Sam Keen, Micheal Meade, Robert Moore and others who pioneered this work back in the 80’s and 90’s. And part of it comes from the hoards of women I have worked with over the course of my career. They have some really clear needs when it comes to the males in their life.
Husbands, boyfriends, significant others:
Your wives and partners want you to be men. Your wives and partners want you to stand up and have backbone and take care of business and be able to take them and ravish them and help them to feel feminine. This isn’t all on you. They are also in a process of owning their deep feminine. They need to learn to do that part and learn to be receptive. But none the less, this is what they want. They want you to take care of yourself and flush the toilet and stop acting like little boys that they have to look after. There was a time when they wanted you to get in touch with your feelings and learn to cry and be soft and yielding and share your emotions. Now they are wanting you to shut up and stop whining and take care of business. They want you to have men in your life that you can share your feelings and frailties with. When you come home, they want a man to come through the door and bring that man-love into the house.
By now I have worked with thousands of people who have had their hearts broken and minds twisted by absent fathers. Our kids need to see us and feel us living in our Truth. They need to feel safe with us and protected by us. They need to feel our presence in the house as a force of light, of strength. They need to feel our masculine touch. They need to feel our limits and boundaries and experience our firmness. They need to know that we are not Homer Simpson or Phil Dunphy or some other clueless silly halfwit. They need us to stop smoking pot and checking out and leaving all of their loving up to their mothers. They need to feel our masculine, present, awakened love. We will teach them what a man is. They will grow up with a high standard and a high regard for men and demand this standard from the men they partner with, our boys will grow up knowing what it means to be a man and know how to rise to that standard in their own expression of masculinity.
It’s time. I believe that the time has come for this work. I know there are lots of groups out there and organizations who have been doing great work with men for decades. This is not a new thing. None the less, I as a teacher along with the men in my life, am now moving in this direction. We have a regular men’s group that meets every fortnight in NYC. We have two upcoming learning events – a workshop and a weekend retreat, and I am available for one-on-one training sessions. But I want this to be something with reach. Wherever you are I will do whatever it takes to get support to you. I will come to your town and do a workshop. I will train you to run your own regular men’s group. I will put you in touch with whatever resources I can to help this process move forward for any men that want to move. I will also, of course, continue to offer training programs to women as well, but this new work deserves a new light shone on it.
It’s time. If you are a man- any man- you are welcome into this exploration. If you are a woman, please pass this along to the men that you love. We are beginning. Here we go.