I Will Never Be the Same

In this post, a ManKind Project man from the Pacific Northwest center shares his first time staffing experience at a New Warrior Training Adventure. He tells his story of serving the men who come to complete the New Warrior Training Adventure.

Is this what you want for you?

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf

I Will Never Be the Same
By Bobby Bakshi

I believe that we are all one with our creator. I believe that life is a playground for us to live out the lessons we are to learn from and evolve. It is a chapter in our soul’s journey. The ManKind Project represents the closest I have felt to heaven on earth. For me, a community thrives thanks to the founders’ deliberate design of embracing our light and our shadow. That was the belief I stepped in with when I arrived on Thursday September 4, 2008 to begin the journey of my rookie staffing experience. This is an account of what I gave and took away during this magical NWTA weekend.

The theme of the weekend was impermanence, change and forgiveness. I believe it was thanks to this intention and a strong container built over two months that this NWTA was deemed to be among the most successful and flawless, according to Les Sinclair our leader. Let me begin to describe my experience with a few words about Les, from my perspective. Yes, the man is a legend. He is the embodiment of “servant leader” – part of his mission statement. He models the sovereign’s humility, the lover’s joy, the warrior’s strength and the magician’s intuition for me. He witnessed and blessed my dream and I am so grateful for the universe aligning for him to lead my rookie experience. There are many men I desire to mention by name but I will speak to my experience of those men without naming them for the rest of this sharing.

My personal theme for the weekend emerged in the form of one of my favorite songs/prayers: “I’ll never be the same.” Here’s a quote from Ester Nicholson’s song (click on the link if you choose):

“Been through the fire
been through the flood
Wouldn’t change a single thing
Not even if I could.
I’m so grateful
For all the changes I’ve been through
Made me reach a little higher
Draws me nearer to you
I’ll never be the same.”

This song fit well in my holding space with the weekend’s theme. The impermanence of my life – while I am blessed with a healthy body, I was full of the emotional scars I dragged around before. I believe my initiation a year ago was my final cleansing into my wholeness, into my truth, after years of living a lie. Four years ago, I started the journey of speaking my truth and recognizing that I cannot make the changes in my life I needed on my own. I stepped into Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous recovery that I give full credit for saving my marriage. Impermanence shows up in many forms for me and “I’ll never be the same” is such a blessing as I know I can change my reality for better or worse. I am at choice. Thanks to my doing my work and having a wide circle of men to support me, today I can face the fears of change with open eyes. I believe I do not deny myself those paralyzing feelings when change is difficult and uncomfortable. I also move forward much faster, recognizing that I know longer strive for perfection – instead I embrace the lessons every step I take has to offer. As an aside, I highly recommend taking LT-1 with Jim Mitchell where I learnt this concept that we all have four quadrants we constantly live from: brilliance, average, developmental and “oh boy, did I f— it up!” Thanks to this concept, I am able to live the “courage” in my mission more fully. I do not shy from taking chances. This rookie experience was exactly about that. When I saw an opportunity to serve, I dove in. When I saw an opportunity to be served, I asked for what I wanted.

The theme of forgiveness for this NWTA was also constantly present for me. Up until my initiation a year ago, I lived in fear of my shadow and only knew to ask for forgiveness of those I had harmed. I was at the ninth step in recovery and made amends to my wife. I am so blessed to have a powerful woman by my side for the past eighteen years. She has witnessed and been the victim of my shadow. My work at my initiation was about forgiving myself, the doorway to my feeling whole and alive. I am not fully there yet but thanks to my brothers in MKP and my continuously doing my work – I am dancing with my shadow with joy and strength that I did not have before. Thanks to being given an opportunity to bless during my initiation I am living a continuous blessing for myself and those I touch.

For those who have not heard, Les stated that this was the most flawless NWTA he has experienced in his 150+ trainings around the world. As a rookie, this sets a high bar for my future staffing experiences but more importantly it affirms what amazing things are possible when the container is strong and also nimble. Who would have thought that success possible in the midst of a potential crisis (all the toilets flooded in the both the staff and initiates dorms – no indoor showers and very few toilets all weekend)? I believe the toilet flooding was a big contributor to strengthening our container. Now do not get me wrong. It was not as if every moment was a song of harmony and oneness. There were certainly moments when men were angry and sad at how things were transpiring. What made the difference, in my opinion, was the real-time clearing and forgiveness work that I witnessed men doing. By the way, another first according to many senior brothers – no clearings at the opening circle for the staff.

The food was another “best ever” according to many senior brothers and leaders. I am so blessed to have enjoyed the amazing grub offered by the Men of Service. Let me add that if asked “something I don’t want you to know about me” is that I have great fear about doing MOS someday AND I know that I will step into it. I believe it is the foundation of support for the weekend and enables staff men to offer the initiates the best.

The initiates: where do I begin to relate the magic right from the start? These 40 men showed up ready to work. Yes, I am speaking in general about them as a group, as that was my experience. They opened up to sharing their truth. The did the exercises being present and open to the experiences offered. I witnessed no severe battles with how the initial processes are done which can cause many to crack. As a rookie, it was such an honor to do many things that one only gets to do as a rookie. Again, for confidentiality I will not name the processes but suffice it to say – my rookie experience Rocked!

Let me “call out” one set of new brothers – my brothers from my recovery program. Not only was this my rookie experience but I believe it was the first NWTA in our region with a large representation from my recovery community. We had 6 men initiate plus I had a dear friend who is in another recovery program go through as well (also an elder). Watching these men do their work, from a distance was magical. Not interacting with them till the very end was very important and I am glad that they recognized that as well. We had moments of exchanging eye contact but that was the extent to which I crossed paths with them – being very aware that this was their weekend, for them to create and own.

I am so blessed to have all these recovery brothers confirm what a gift their experience was to them. I now look forward to how they will live their mission and to supporting them as best I can in achieving their dreams.

Finally, but probably most important – I want to send a cosmic POW blast of love to my rookie brothers. We rocked 100%! We got to know each other quickly. We supported each other all the way. It felt like this constant dance of infinity between serving and receiving among us, with our senior brothers/leaders and with the initiates. We laughed a lot together and we shared deep truths that I will hold as sacred. I know that I will stay connected with them, even though we are physically apart. I am so blessed and honored to have served along-side my rookie brothers, and elders. I now go deeper in creating the life I want and it starts at home with my lovely wife and three children. Blessings and I’m out, for now!


So You Have a Vision

So you have a vision or some great idea. Maybe it's an invention, a way to make better swiss cheese, or write the novel that changes the world.

What is at risk for you to take the idea by the b*lls and do it? What is at risk for you to to nothing about it? What's at risk for you to take one step toward that direction? What if you have to do it all by yourself and no one gives you any encouraging words? What if you have to give up something to make it happen; like say watching TV, sleeping in, working overtime at work, spending time thinking about how you can't do it.

Stepping into the fear is the issue. What do you fear? What is in the fear that keeps you where you are?

For me, fear keeps me from risking failure and ridicule. That's my world. There's a fear in there for you, too. Any idea what it is?

What keeps you from attending a New Warrior Training Adventure? You think it's a cult? Too new-age? Too old-school? You'll do it someday but maybe not? That's your fear talking.

I and other good men are waiting to see what you have to offer. Bring it.

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf


Making a Better Man

Today, I am posting an article regarding the ManKind Project and the New Warrior Training Adventure in Quebec, Canada.


I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf

Making a Better Man

By Anthony Bonaparte, The Suburban, June 2006

The small group is barely five minutes into a three-hour meeting when in walks Jean-Louis. The middle-aged man smiles and casually sits in one of the chairs that form the circle. John, one of the group’s leaders, leans forward and asks, “So what did you do to prevent you from getting here on time?”

Jean-Louis faces a barrage of pointed questions until he finally admits he was delayed watching 20 extra minutes of a Seinfeld re-run. Those minutes of stolen time make him feel like he was doing something illicit and somehow, it gives him a feeling of control.

“Do you do this when you're meeting with your son?” asks John.

There are upwards of 30,000 men worldwide who are members of the Mankind Project (MKP), a progressive educational and training organization for men, with 38 interdependent centres located around the world. The aim of the organization is to help men release their emotions by learning how to better identify and communicate their feelings. The group also strives to turn men into good role models, so they can become better fathers. By examining their restrained relationships with their own dads, group members work on not repeating the patterns with their sons.

Meetings like the one described above take place every second Tuesday evening at the Westmount YMCA where as many as 30 men gather regularly to challenge themselves and each other to take personal responsibility for their actions and their relationships.

“We're really about creating a safe place for men to dump some stuff — here — so he doesn't bring it back home,” says David Cordes, a 43-year-old father of three, and member of MKP.

Cordes, who has been married for 15 years, said before he joined MKP several years ago, he was always good at “being the party guy,” but when alone, felt sad and isolated. He learned about the group from a brochure. Eventually, he went on the training adventure weekend, an intense experience designed to help each man get in touch with his inner truth. Cordes says he came back in an altered state. The experience was like blowing the lid off a volcano.

“My wife said [when I got back] I was just thinking and taking deep breaths,” he says.

Cordes says he grew up with a lot of pent-up anger and hated his father for nearly 20 years. He credits the MKP for giving him the tools to reconcile with his father, and for him to become a better father.

The meetings, or circles, in Westmount are either open, or closed. The open circles are free of charge and welcomes newcomers who may eventually go on to enroll in MKP’s New Warrior Training Adventure. Men become full members of the MKP only after they have attended a New Warrior Training Adventure weekend.

“Usually, men who do the warrior weekend are part of these closed circles, in which they do work that sometimes can get quite intense,” says Jean-Louis. “This is an open circle in which people are invited just to come and see.”

But John Closs says, “I'm here because I really believe men need a circle.” In other cultures, men have been sitting in circles for ages and Closs believes it’s for good reasons — talking, sharing and communicating.

Closs is a 55-year-old computer technician with the LBPSB and has been attending regular meetings since 1997 when a business acquaintance introduced him to the MKP. That year, he attended Montreal's first Warrior Weekend, held at the Old Brewery Mission's Camp Chapleau in the Laurentians.

Before going on the trip, Closs spoke to his wife and she was very supportive. He shares with her what he has gained from the circles, but never reveals what he may have seen or heard from others. “My wife knows what I do,” says the father of two adult children.

Confidentiality plays a big part in circles. “What I see here and hear here stays here,” says Cordes. “It's about creating a safe container for men to share and take a look at things that they may not be comfortable to do outside of this place, or here, without that commitment from the group.

“There's a belief that every decision and choice I make is not isolated to one situation, that patterns exist inside of me that show up in a whole bunch of different areas. So the accountability piece is one way for a man to peel back a layer of the onion and take a bigger look at his life,” says Cordes.


Taking the Hard Stand

Following up on the last post...Are you willing to take that hard look at how you show up in the world, where you shine, where you fall short, where you are stalled out, where you choose to hide?

What will it take for you to take a stand for who you are and what is righteous to you?

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf


One and Many

"Many faces, one heartbeat
They come together and join their hands
One voice, many nations
At the gathering they understand
You make a difference
With everything you do
Everything is sacred
Your faith will guide you through"

From Many Faces, Thayne Hake, 2000

Thayne is a wonderful musical artist from the Northern California coastal area. He sings of his native culture and how it is for him in this time and space.

I think what Thayne speaks of here is the connection we all have to each other. If I have faith that we are all sacred and related, then I will remember my place and my responsibility in it; my integrity in it.

In the ManKind Project, I see men working to find there connection to this time and space. For whatever reason, they and I, have need to reconnect with what is and isn't in the world.

It is often said in the ManKind Project that we look at what does and doesn't work in our lives. That, for me, is another way of saying, look at what your connection is to the world around you; how are you living in it; how are you hurting or healing it?

I want more men to look at this connection. The world would be a better place for it. Come to the New Warrior Training Adventure and see what it looks like to take a hard look at your life.

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf


For the Women

For my wife and all the females I know and do not know....

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf


MKP Men are Everywhere

My loving wife reminded me today that I need to reduce my stress. Lately, I have been listening to TED videos (I listen, because I need to focus on my work) and I found the Raspyni Brothers from the 2002 TED conference.

What does this have to do with MKP and the NWTA? Well, Barry Friedman, one of the Raspyni Brothers, is a great friend and MKP man.

I get a big laugh from these guys and Barry is such a great man.

Have fun and enjoy...oh, and look around, you may be standing next to an MKP man.

I'm out.
Bravehearted Old-faithful Wolf