6.30.2005

A GREAT Article from The Healers

From: The Healers - Lansing's Monthly Mindy, Body & Spirit Newsletter

"The Mankind Project: Reclaiming the ‘sacred masculine’

By BARBARA LOYER and SAM CRAWFORD

“We are an order of men called to reclaim the sacred masculine for our time through initiation, training, and action in the world.”

ManKind Project Creed

The year is 1984. Fate brings together three men with very distinct personalities: Ron Herring, Bill Kouth and Richard Tosi. The first, a psychotherapist and social activist for peaceful change, the second a teacher working with intensive retreat-style accelerated learning events, the third an executive and former Marine — a “man’s man.”

Their discussions focused on what they perceived as the crisis of male identity —contemporary men were losing a sense of personal mission, responsibility to community and their connection to the inner world of healthy emotion. Initially, the result of their discussions was a weekend retreat called “Wildman Weekend,” which later became known as “The New Warriors Training Adventure.” Men who experienced the retreats were reported to be so profoundly changed that follow-up seminars began to be scheduled and soon “The ManKind Project” (MKP) was born. MKP now has certified centers at 27 communities in the United States, Canada, England, and most recently, Germany. MKP participation is inclusive, non-political, and non-sectarian, and programs are designed to capture the essence of what it means to be male through discussion, bonding and mutual experience.

Today there are more than 100,000 people who have been directly involved with this group. There are several offshoots of MKP, including a women’s version, “Women Within,” which was founded by wives of MKP participants. Bosses have endorsed and even required the weekend for their employees. In at least one known case, a judge refers repeat offenders to the Mankind Project. Perhaps the most dramatic and ground-breaking spin-off is the “Inside Circle,” where correspondence between a Folsom Prison inmate and a friend on the outside who became involved with MKP, led to a Weekend Warrior- influenced program being conducted in the prison. The program reported a great deal of success and a similar program is now being used in prisons in Massachusetts and Kentucky.

The “New Warrior Training Adventure” (NWTA) is an initiation process that includes three parts: “The Descent,” “The Ordeal” and “The Homecoming.” Confidentiality is highly stressed in all MKP events. “The Descent” incorporates a radical departure from the man’s normal life into a completely different realm. “The MKP Web site states, “Men are asked to ‘pull the plug’ on their mainframe computers (heads) when they reach the training. Everything that occurs takes place in a totally different realm. The man is challenged by a staff of 25 to35 men to unshackle his belief system and step into something new.”

For “The Ordeal” aspect of the training, the man must look closely at where he is in his life — whether he’s holding his own or having a hard time — and look at what’s working and what isn’t. The “Wildman” metaphor of the original name for the training speaks to the major shift that participants are called upon to make. The “Wildman” aspect is loosely based on the “Iron John” story in Robert Bly’s classic book of the same name.

Claude Winton, local Mankind Project veteran and director of Serendipity Group, a local counseling center, said, “In the ‘Iron John’ story a little boy cuts his finger on the lock that jails the Wildman. This is the wound that we use as a metaphor . . . the MKP Warrior’s Weekend is about finding parts of ourselves that get in the way of being who we really are. These issues come up as wounds. To be true to myself, I need to look at where I received those wounds and learn from them.”

For “The Homecoming” a man is called upon to find and articulate a personal mission for his life. “The best analogy is in nature, where every plant that grows comes from a seed. In order for the seed to manifest a plant, whether that plant be for our consumption and nurturing, industry, or simply something beautiful to look at – that seed has to ‘burst’ open,” according to the MKP Web site. The weekend retreat takes an inside-out approach to fostering positive social change. Optimally, each man will come back and positively affect the lives of each person with whom he comes in contact.

For Winton, MKP became an integral part of his personal mission. Winton believes his experience with the project has allowed him to affect others in a more positive manner on all levels of his life. What he has gained in his experiences with MKP, he is able to pass on to people in his support groups, clients, friends and family.

At the heart of The New Warrior Training Adventure is the “sacred masculine” model. Along with the “Iron John” story, other allegorical stories are used in the teachings, such as the mythic Green Man and Oak King. The “Sacred Masculine” model calls for men to create a vision of a world in which they would like to live. In “Integration Groups” conducted after the initial weekend training, men’s progress toward their vision is considered. “We are held accountable for our actions through the integration groups,” Winton said. “There are other empowering seminars and weekend retreats that do the same kinds of things. It is the eight-week integration group, led by a trained facilitator, that sets MKP apart.”

Both Winton and Ross Lucas of “Shepard Staff Counseling Services” in East Lansing are graduates of NWTA and active participants of MKP. Their varied backgrounds highlight the diversity of backgrounds of the average MKP participant. Part of the MKP training is to accept individuals for who they are rather than considering their racial/ethnic/cultural background or sexual orientation. One of the main points of the weekend is that individuals can completely disagree on major issues and still respect and support each other.

Winton, a Detroit native, had been in and out of trouble for years. He found MKP through a member of a 12-step program he attended. Lucas holds several degrees, including a doctorate in philosophy, a master’s in divinity, a doctorate in psychology and accreditation as a pastoral counselor. He found out about MKP through his position as a counselor.

Despite feeling well-adjusted and in a good position in his life, Lucas said he joined MKP because he wanted closer and more meaningful relationships with other men. While attending the first “Warrior Weekend” ever given in Germany, he found himself in a profoundly meaningful experience with another man. He had gone to Germany with a team of MKP veterans and during a discussion with one German man, discovered that each of them had family members two generations before in opposing prisoner of war camps. Even today, the experience of being in that mutually supportive relationship with someone whom had once been considered an enemy gives him strength.

“The thing I value most . . . is being with men and being able to completely be myself and not be judged,” Lucas says. “The people sitting next to me may completely disagree with what I’m saying but they do not judge.”

Both Winton and Lucas are convinced that the Mankind Project is a successful vehicle for change and personal growth. In their experience with the project, they testify to seeing men who had been near suicide back away from that decision, men near divorce rescue their marriages, and men come to terms with their sexual orientation. Although they describe the weekend as emotionally strenuous, Lucas reports that only one in 1,000 or so men does not finish the training. There are only two types of people who aren’t good candidates for this program, Lucas said, “those who have not had enough life experience and those who do not yet have the emotional stability to take an honest look at themselves.”

Lucas also said that through MKP a man can become aware of his emotions and how the emotions manifest in the physical body as posture or as symptoms of illness. He warned, however, that despite the great benefits and dramatic changes MKP can make in a man’s life, it should not be a replacement for therapy with a trained counselor.

“At its core, this is about celebrating individuality,” Winton said. “It’s about sharing and growing together.”

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Whew-weeee-ye-haaaaa! Good stuff. I about know about the 100,000 people statement, but the rest is pretty good.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

6.29.2005

Initiation, defined

Initiation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

"Coming from the Latin, initiation implies a beginning. The related term, initiate, means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance, or happening. But it is also an ending as existence on one level drops away in an ascension to the next.

An initiation is also a ceremony by which a person is introduced into a society, or other organized body, especially the rite of admission into a secret society or order.

Normally an initiation rite would imply a shepherding process where those who are at a higher level guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge. This may include the revelation of secrets, usually reserved for those at the higher level of understanding."

I think that last paragraph speaks to the New Warrior Training Adventure most directly. When I look at my exprience in MKP, I see where my life has stepped up to another level. The secrets have been my own. They have been tough to place into the light; to see them for the damage I have done with them.

I think all men are ready for this process. It was a normal part of boy/men life up until just a very few decades ago. Why should we turn our backs on a process that has worked in our genetics for several thousand years?

Walk with me and the 30,000 other men in MKP. Walk with me and all the initiates through time.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

6.28.2005

Men say training has made them better men

Here's a good article called Men say training has made them better men from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Photo caption: After sharing his feelings about the recent death of his mother, Bill Fleischman of St. Louis County is comforted by the touch of other members of his New Warriors group. (Anthony Souffle/P-D)

I find it very surprising that a group would allow a woman to sit in the circle. I appreciate the coverage, but it is very unusual and I actually have never heard it being done before. These are men's circles. We keep them that way for many reasons.

All in all, a fair assessment of the iGroup experience.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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Shedding the legacy of patriarchy

Here's an informative article called from the Mountain Xpress in Asheville, NC.

I like it's take and it is fairly accurate.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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Shedding the legacy of patriarchy
The ManKind Project opens its doors

by Steve Shanafelt

Richard Tomaskovic doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd bother with a support group. At 71, the former technical writer and engineer is a witty and engaging talker who seems more active than a lot of people half his age. The man positively radiates a sense of purpose and competence.

Yet every week for the past year-and-a-half, Tomaskovic and a dozen or so other area residents have gotten together to dig deeper into themselves and the challenges they face.

"We talk about our issues and feelings," he explains. "We support each other in looking into those areas of our lives where we want to change."

These men are members of The ManKind Project, a Malone, N.Y.-based nonprofit dedicated to helping every man become a better person. And if the mission sounds somewhat vague, participants swear by the group's methods (though the specifics are kept under wraps).

"What The ManKind Project does is provide a structure," says Tomaskovic, a kind of unofficial spokesman for the local group. "It is a forum to just hang out and talk about our real feelings, without being afraid of the pressure that we find in the rest of the world."

They aren't failures. They aren't crybabies. Many are highly successful in their professional lives, say group members. And for all the talking, there's a lot of listening, too.

"The male norm is macho," says Tomaskovic. "It's about presenting yourself as tough and unemotional. Everyone has to be competitive and in a pecking order." The problem with that view, he says, is that it's not realistic: Men aren't always tough. Men have emotions; men sometimes need help. But there aren't many places where they can learn how to recognize and process those emotions in a safe, supportive environment.

One key theme in their ongoing discussions is the need for personal responsibility. Other frequent topics include personal integrity and trust.
A rite of passage

There's more to joining The ManKind Project than simply showing up, however. Prospective members must first attend The New Warrior Training Adventure, a kind of emotional boot camp that the group says was inspired by a fusion of Jungian psychology and the initiation rites of many primitive cultures.

"It is challenging on many levels," says Tomaskovic. "But it's not an abusive situation, and there's no physical danger."

It also isn't cheap, costing anywhere from $600 to $800 for a three-day retreat, depending on the region and the number of participants. (Scholarships and payment plans are available through the local groups.)

Launched in Milwaukee in 1985, The ManKind Project now has 38 regional training centers and claims more than 30,000 members worldwide. The local groups are more or less independent and self-sustaining, though they make voluntary payments to help support the national organization, says Tomaskovic. His group, one of four in the Asheville area, has been meeting for at least seven years.

Seeking to boost enrollment, however, the national organization has been encouraging local groups to try something new: letting men who might be curious attend part of one of the weekly meetings. If they like what they see, the thinking goes, they might be more willing to shell out the money to take the New Warrior training.

"These men make commitments to change their lives," Tomaskovic explains. "They want to be better partners, more responsible, and to break old habits. We can't make people change their lives, but what we can do is point out to them when they aren't keeping their commitments."

Take Tomaskovic himself, for example. Before joining The ManKind Project, he says, he had trouble being assertive and always felt ill at ease with his own "peculiarities."

Today, however, Tomaskovic says he feels like a new man.

"People tell me that I'm different, even in ways that I don't see," he reports. "I've started to make changes in the relationships in my life. I'm more able to identify what I really want, and I'm more able to present myself as a complete person."

What kind of man does Tomaskovic think would be most helped by The ManKind Project? What kinds of problems does the training help to solve?

"It's not about having problems," he says. "It's just about men expressing who they really are. These men are no different than any other man. The only difference is that they are choosing to take a look at themselves and [try] to change their lives."
Testing the waters

In recent weeks, The ManKind Project has begun holding free, open meetings locally. Two more such gatherings are planned before the group's next initiation rite, The New Warrior Training Adventure (scheduled for Friday, May 20). The informal, men-only sessions will be held at the Unity Church of Asheville (130 Shelburne Road in West Asheville) April 27 and May 1. For more information, contact Richard Tomaskovic at 299-3924, or visit The ManKind Project's Web site (www.mkp.org).

6.23.2005

Daddy, what did you do in the men's movement?

My take on an article by Paul Zakrzewski as it appeared in the Boston Globe online on 6.19.2005 entitled "Daddy, what did you do in the men's movement?"

I have snipped out parts that I will comment on, but I suggest you read the entire article.

SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Today, however, the drums have largely fallen silent. While there are still weekend retreats - for example, the ManKind Project, which boasts more than two-dozen centers worldwide, conducts ''New Warrior Training Adventures" for some 3,000 men every year - these are mostly affairs for the already initiated.
SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

There are 38 centers. As far as the statement about "these are mostly affairs for the already initiated," well this mistates what the NWTA is about. The NWTA is an initiatory weekend. You can only do it once. So, to say it is mostly for the already initiated is not correct.


SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Unlike the Promise Keepers, which held weekly check-in sessions, there was no follow-up work done once participants left their weekend retreats. ''It was an event, a spectacle," says Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at SUNY Stony Brook and the author of ''Manhood in America," a 1997 cultural history of masculinity. ''You were supposed to be changed by it and then go home."
SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This is not true in regards to the ManKind Project. I judge you will be changed, and when you go home, in the very next next week you can start attending a follow-up, weekly, integraton group. Not just for a while, either. As long as you need or want to. I am in my 3rd year in the second of two iGroups (the first, I spent 1 year in).


SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
What's more, the movement itself could never get beyond the fact that unlike the feminist movement - which itself had lost steam by the 1990s, as women achieved more economic and financial power - Bly and his followers never had any clear political agenda to drive them forward.
SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I have heard this before. It is true for me; the men's movement isn't about politics or an agenda. It's about being the man you were intended to be. Of course, the media had a field day with this, but it was no surprise.


SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Even if we're not likely to see maverick poets and Jungian therapists on television specials and magazine covers again any time soon, one thing is clear. The Bly-style men's movement highlighted a powerful urge for men to commune with each other that persists today, even among those who wouldn't be caught dead within miles of a drumming circle.
SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yep, men need to be around other men. You got that right. I need to be around men who are honest with me and the other men around them. I need men to stand in their integrity and responsibilty. The men I find in MKP are working that model.

Are you ready to work that model?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf