This post, from the New York Post, talks about a man's experience in an Intergration Group.
Intergration groups, or igroups for short, are men's circles comprised of men who have completed the NWTA, or have commited to doing so. You can usaully visit one to get a feel for the group. Contact an MKP center near you for igroups in your area that you could attend.
GUY TALK GETS DEEP
By TOM SYKES
April 04, 2004
Traditionally, men aren't much good at talking. If they've got something on their minds, the usual forum for discussion is the bar. Their telephone conversations tend to go like this: "Hello. See ya."
Now one organization is attempting to change all that. The ManKind Project (MKP) is trying to get men in touch with their "inner warrior" and encouraging them to bring their deepest fears, hopes and dreams out into the open.
The MKP was set up in 1984 in Milwaulkee, and, according to its organizers, nearly 25,000 have enrolled. Programs involve spending a weekend at a retreat (at a cost of $650) and taking part in discussion groups.
To see what all the fuss was about, I attended one of the MKP's regular meetings in New York.
Seated in a circle, we began by "checking in" AA-style - saying who we were, then concluding with the phrase, "I'm in." There were 10 of us, ranging in age from 30 to 70.
Things started getting interesting when the group leader asked, "Does any man here need to 'clear' with any other man?" One guy - let's call him Dave - said he wanted to "clear" with another guy, who we'll call John.
The group leader asked for "the clearing stick," a 5-foot-long staff which Dave and John held onto while they faced each other. John began by reading an e-mail in which Dave had insulted him.
Then things got kind of scary. Holding the stick, John's voice got louder and louder, until he was bellowing, "I WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY YOU!"
The "clearing" session culminated with the leader asking John a series of questions aimed at getting John to acknowledge that his anger was not really at Dave, but rather an internal problem with himself.
Various other guys "cleared" with each other. Then we sat back in our circle, and each man in turn said, "If I was going to work on something today, it would be . . ."
The comments were intensely personal - about as far from the average "guy chat" as it is possible to imagine.
People spoke about their divorces, their relationships with their parents, their womanizing, and, in my case, drinking habits. Having been extremely nervous earlier, I now felt comfortable talking to a group of complete strangers about my life. I guess it was because I knew they would take me seriously.
It was time for the last ritual of the evening. We stood in a circle and drummed on our legs. The group leader said he wanted one person to step into the circle and do some "work." I had to do it. I stepped into the circle. The drumming stopped. I was asked to name the things that I felt were holding me back in my life.
I went for alcohol, laziness, self-doubt and fear. I chose four guys to represent these elements, who locked arms around me and each chanted, "Alcohol!" "Laziness!" "Fear!" "Doubt!" Another guy represented what I wanted in my life, which I named as self-belief.
Then I had to try and break free from the repressive elements to reach self-belief. Naturally, given that there were four of them, I couldn't do it. I was told that I needed to go on the weekend retreat to learn the tools to overcome these things in my life, which felt a bit like a sales pitch.
Still, getting men to talk is a tough task. For all its mumbo-jumbo and psychodrama, the MKP at least does that.
© copyright 2003 The New York Post