8.25.2010

Ascending

"Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no ascends alone."

Lance Armstrong from his book Every Second Counts



I have just been through open-heart bypass surgery at 47 years-old.

Afterward, I read Lance's book and was really moved by his view of teamwork. Here's a man who has won an individual title (the Tour de France) seven straight times and yet he is very clear that without the rest of his team, he would have been nowhere.

I feel the same way about my surgery. There were so many people that have helped me; my wife, family, friends close and not so close, my warrior brother Graydon, the surgery team, the ICU and recovery team, the list goes on and on.These are the people who have helped me ascend.

I could not have survived without them. I cannot imagine how to thank them all.

Being a man in the ManKind Project has helped me see what is in front of me; the joys, pains, struggles, all of it.

I hope you have something in your life that helps you see all that is around you and all that helps you ascend.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

8.24.2010

What a Men’s Group Is For

What is Men’s Work?

Reprinted with permission; By Boysen Hodgson

I have had several men ask me - what this is all about … what do you do?

We sit in a circle on chairs. We talk to each other about ourselves. We listen intently. We do not shame or criticize. We do not spend time giving advice. We use processes to ‘dig in’ to those parts of ourselves that we find confusing, upsetting and STUCK. We resolve conflicts, both internal and external, by taking responsibility for ourselves.

A men’s group is a place to figure out what you want in your life, take steps to making it happen and continually look at what is getting in the way of you being fully alive and empowered.

Do you want better relationships?
Do you want to learn how to better handle situations that stump you over and over?
Do you want to break out of a rut that you have been living in for years?
Do you want to sit with men actively working to make the world a better place?

Here’s an even harder question … do you instinctively NOT trust men (or women or yourself)? You learned this somewhere. Not only is it bad for your physical health, but it is probably preventing you from living fully.

WE ALL HAVE FEELINGS. As men, we all share a lot of common understandings, feelings and experiences that we rarely share.

About 90% of what is happening in our daily interactions is UNCONSCIOUS. Our bodies are constantly feeding us a stream of information that we may or may not have thoughts about. Many of the reactions we experience with people on a day to day basis have little or nothing to do with the present, and everything to do with the psychological patterns that started being created in our brains from the earliest days of our lives.

As Men, it is culturally acceptable to deny, repress and shut down the emotions. But the interesting thing is - those emotions that we shut down tend to pop up in other ways and other places, many of them counter-productive to what we actually want in our lives. Addiction, violence, depression, lack of close relationships, anger, uncontrollable sadness, apathy, lack of motivation, chronic fear, chronic shame, anxiety, feelings of powerlessness. These are all related to repressed emotional states. Learning to connect to these emotions opens a huge array of new possibilities - for your family, your work and the world.

What choices do you need to make? What skills do you need to build? What boundaries do you need to set? And WHO is going to be there to support you and offer you an honest look at who you are?

Many of us rely heavily on the women and intimate partners in our lives to meet our emotional needs. And that is great, but it is not their job - and they have probably let you know that. Many of the blocks you experience in your relationship are probably related to over-dependence. You can learn new ways of relating.

It is up to us to deal with our own internal landscape, to clean up our messes and to create the world that we want to leave behind for the next seven generations.

THAT is what a Men’s Group is for.

In order to show up, you will have to take a risk. You will have to show up at a place you’ve never been. This may feel scary. That’s good. It means you are open to learning.

8.14.2010

Personal Account

This man's journey into and out of the ManKind Project NWTA speaks for itself. I honor a man that shares his experiences, his story, with the world. I believe it enriches the world.

Read on.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

ManKind Project New Warrior Training
By Mickey Elias
The Mankind Project - changing the world one man at a time

Three years ago, at the tender age of 38, it hit me that it was time for me to grow into a man. I'd outgrown who I used to be and I was not willing to continue with the blag.

With no real role models, my childhood wounds (un)comfortably tucked up in my shadow, coming from a nice Catholic family ruled by secrets, lies and what people will think, there was only one box left for me. Yup, it had brass handles on it. The only option was to play dead, as all good men ‘should'. But compromising my own integrity, beliefs, values and potential was simply not an option. So I did my ironing.

With my hot sole calmly smoothing out all life's creases I blissfully, obsessively, compulsively got my outer world in order, leaving the inner secretly in tatters. But then, there's ironing - and there's ironing with a Dictaphone, allowing for other men and even for women to eavesdrop on conversations between two men as they purge their dark sides, eventually allowing the light to shine through. "MEN Speak the Unspeakable" was the result. Transcription of fourteen months of talking and taping between Edward Seeker and myself as we slowly, painfully, hilariously and embarrassingly transformed from helpless boys in pain, to healthily men living in our power, with passion.

Am I thus insinuating that the modern rites of passage for a man involve doing the ironing and talking a book? Maybe the way forward for some men is the Mankind Project's ‘New Warrior Training Adventure'. An incredibly well designed weekend set up to provide the experiences that will allow a man to get clear about who he is inside, who he shows on the outside and who is ready to emerge into the world.

I would love to spill the beans on the whole thing and gush about the set-up, the exercises, the processes the whole caboodle... but that would be theft! If you are a man, or want to be your own man, for your own good as well as the good of everyone in your life, do the training. You know what it's like when you witness something hilarious and try to share it with someone - and it doesn't quite come over? One of those ‘you really had to be there' situations? Man... you really had to be there!

From beginning to end, the programme was slick, safe, professional, personal and an absolutely amazing place to transform as a man, amongst men. There's a different energy when men are amongst men; and having taken part in, marketed and reported on personal development programmes since the 1980's, all over the world, I can't say that MKP is ‘better' than any of the others - I can actually, but that's another story! - but I can say that it's up there with the best of them and a ‘must do' to claim the part of a man's self that simply can't be claimed in a mixed group. And that part doesn't have to be missing; but which man in his right mind would say ‘no' to more?

On the whole, the men who attended were your typically middle class, middle aged, white Anglo-Saxon ‘nice' guys - at least on the surface. A group that I don't fit in to, but it really wasn't a problem for me. There were gay men, straight men, stray men, great men. The rough, the smooth and even the soppy. The different parts of myself were adequately represented and all that was left for me to do was step aside, take part and trust.

Modern day madness can make trust a real and justifiable issue, there's no doubt about that. MKP grabbed the bull of mistrust by the horn(s) from the outset with in-depth questionnaires on everything from health to hopes, attitudes to aspirations, past, present and future. These were supported by volunteers - of which there were many. The number of volunteer staff actually outnumbered participants. An excellent guy telephoned me to support me in every way, before the training even started. (Poor guy, I really bit his ear off! Slowly chewed it off, actually...) It would be rare to find such a high quality of ‘staff' in the commercial workplace, but then to find out that the staff actually paid to support us on our journeys brought yet another lump to my throat! Hats off to them all for their focus, selflessness and depth of heart. Hats off to them for achieving the ability to operate from such a high level in their lives.

Talking about money, MKP is a non-profit making organisation with accounts open for inspection. Integrity, purely for the good of mankind. The weekend costs £500 inclusive. For some, that's a lot of money. For others, it's a splash in the pan. For all, it comes with a money back guarantee, for those who have not gained anything from the weekend, if they stay until the end. If it's your time to do it, work something out, whether it's a payment plan, a discount, putting ten pounds aside a week, whatever. Don't hide behind money, or anything else as an excuse. Step aside from comfortable control of an outgrown life and step into the passionate, powerful man that you truly are.

My experience was, at times, intense, joyous, painful, peaceful, enlightening, fearful, fulfilling, loving, humbling; a gift that I deserved to make me a better man in my life, in my relationships, in the world and for the future of mankind. Sure it reminded me of ‘Lord Of The Flies' at times; 1980's Californian hippie-stuff, ‘It's A Knockout', Druids & Indians, Iron John and the rest. But then I also had an Adam Ant medley running through my head for the first couple of days, so you've got to remember that every man's experience - and tunes - will be different!

The good news is, unlike a lot of these transformational workshoppie things, there is what seems to be a magnificent, grounded follow up programme and community of which all graduates are welcome to take part. Brotherhood. For me, more important than that, good guys, honest blokes, men that I can look up to and want to be like. My book is priceless (£12.99 actually!) and made a man out of me. The Mankind Project has given me company. Mutual support and inspiration on our individual pathways, towards a better future for us all.

How strange, to write about something without actually letting on what that ‘something' actually is. But then I wouldn't want to steal the fire from your belly, or take the beat from your drum.

Thirty six thousand men around the world can't be wrong. So my advice to you, or the man in your life, is don't think - just do it...

The Mankind Project runs New Warrior Training Adventures four times a year, with introductory evenings on a regular basis. Contact MKP at http://www.mkp.org.uk/ or call 0870 787 9784.

Michael Elias, co-author of "MEN Speak the Unspeakable" http://www.menspeak.co.uk/

8.05.2010

Open the Gate

"We dance in the heat of our heart’s desire.
Open the gate.
The key is within to our heart’s desire."

From Circle Round and Sing by Anne Hill

What is it that your heart desires? What is that you are aching to do or be? What is it that you shut up behind the gate when you were little because someone said you couldn't or shouldn't?

In the ManKind Project, we encourage ourselves and support other men in finding what is behind the "gate." We allow a space for men to look for the key and find out why they are keeping the gate closed; what stands between the gate opening and staying shut; is it fear or anger or shame or...?

Are you ready to open the gate?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf