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Mens Groups: How a Small Group of Men Will Save the World

By | Men's Groups | One Comment

Men have been gathering in small mens groups for support and wisdom since the dawn of civilization. From the seasoned elders to the fired up young warriors, circles of men have convened for millennia to express and explore concerns and ideas which rejuvenate and replenish wholeness to themselves and the world.

I have been honored and privileged to be a part of a men’s group for the last two decades. The idea is to meet on a regular basis to tap into the collective gifts of the group–usually eight men at most.

Individuals’ issues come and go as regularly and predictably as the relationship between the Moon, the Earth and her sacred tides. When the room is attuned, when all are present, the singular clarity that any one man’s issue–is the issue of every man, becomes crystal clear. Marriage, family, career, health, creativity, loss, success, wonderings, longings, it’s all there waiting for the wake up call. As the issues are triaged by the elders and the bantering quells, the listening begins, the judging stops and men are heard and seen and held in the highest regard.

The container for what goes on in the group grows and becomes increasingly larger as trust is assured in this place where the agreement is to practice presence, compassion and empathy for one another. The agreement is to foster the observer in each of us, to become better men.

In my tenure as a mens group member, I have watched, participated and learned about life’s issues from the frank fear of living, to the shadow of prejudice whether it be racial, sexual or spiritual–to the underlying truth that we all care deeply about our lives, each other and the world. We all come with a coat of armor and a story with a central grievance that is gently prodded, taken off and put aside ever-so-slowly as safety and respect are established.

The presumed secrets of each man come tumbling out as the collective nod of, “Oh, we already knew that about you” never ceases to surprise and delight us all.

When men meet and sit in a group together on a regular basis, the truth emerges. Men will not, cannot lie to each other for long–we won’t stand for it. When men can stay for this awful, ecstatic truth about their lives to become finally and unavoidably explicit to themselves and the world, something fantastic happens. What happens is that living in a contracted and compromised way is no longer an option. What happens is when a man gets his life and transcends–let’s go of a story that may no longer be working or healthy, he goes out and gets his life with dignity, authenticity, passion and support.

Since the Industrial Revolution and more recently the Technological Revolution, men have had scarce little of this kind of training or support. Many of our fathers and father’s fathers were physically and/or emotionally absent as a result. Men have been asked to go out into a world that is antithetical to a deep, intimate understanding of what it’s like to live in another man’s mind, body and spirit.

Is it any wonder we can continue waging the atrocity of war with rational lies while conducting business like Wall Street’s infamous Gordon Gekko? Is it any wonder why we have become a country of consumer addicts and substance–from food to pharmaceuticals–abusers? Is it any wonder we can continue to poison the Earth and environment and abuse our companion species and forms (like water and minerals) as if we had another planet to live on when we’ve destroyed our home? Good planets are hard to find.

Without a small group of men meeting in every neighborhood with the intention of diving deep down into the biology of beliefs of the individual and collective, with willingness and openness to evolve and grow, men become isolated and laminated with facade and lifelessness. Without committing to a regular discipline of dropping the pretense of unhealthy competitiveness and greed and exploring our one short life together with other men, we cannot possibly tap into, and deconstruct the unconscious, implicit memory and patterns that haunt our families and drive so much of what has gone dysfunctional in the world. Without a passionate desire to lose the act of supposing to know what to do in a world of bad actors and outcomes, men cannot possibly become the best fathers, sons, husbands, partners, brothers, providers, protectors, leaders and citizens they were born to be.

When men awaken to the responsibility of consistent participation in a masculine community, isolation fades and the benefits of gathering are progressively revealed as deep wounds and truths are made consciously available for practical application.

Men adore, respect and seek to be in the company of women. But men are empowered, genuinely empowered by other men.

When men can stay and share their lives, hopes, aspirations and dreams with other men, something fantastic happens and something fantastic needs to happen to save the world.

popeye-the-sailor-man

Exercise the New Miracle Drug?: It’s All I Can Stands!

By | Diet and Exercise | No Comments

I get regular emails from Kaiser Permanente as my family has used the crisis medical care company, when in crisis, for many years happily and with good results. The headline of today’s email read, Is Exercise the New Miracle Drug?

Okay, gag me with a tongue depressor, will ya?

For 30 + years I have watched Kaiser and conventional sick care institutions follow the age old practice of first, denying and attacking holistic health care common sense, then begrudgingly acquiescing as patients begin to ask for it, and finally, behaving as if it were always self-evident and part of the program.

End of rant…well I’m almost finished.

I always considered the designation of HMO, Health Maintenance Organization, a misnomer. It has been my experience through the years that these organizations–and to their, better-late-than-never credit–have up until very recently, been more like Death Prevention Organizations. Thrive, indeed.

Now I’m done.

Here’s what we know: The innate, genetic intelligence of each of our mind-body-spirits as it interfaces with the environment, needs three things to maintain what the bodymind is always moving toward: Homeostasis or stable equilibrium. For this innate intelligence to thrive, it needs for us to, as James Chestnut, D.C. says eloquently, “Eat well, move well and think well all of the time and for some time.”

Each of these pillars or nutrients of true health requires diligence and practice, as stated. 75% of chronic illnesses in the U.S. are due to lifestyle choices and toxic environmental considerations. In other words, these illnesses are preventable.

Dr. Chestnut goes on to say, “We don’t get sick because of bad luck, bad germs or bad genes, we get sick because of bad choices.”

While standing in line to pick up end-of-life meds for my mother’s end-of-life crisis care a few years ago, I would marvel in watching deconditioned, grossly overweight, sickly looking individuals of all ages carrying away shopping bags full of pharmaceuticals from Kaiser’s drug store. It saddens me to think how we’ve been duped by a sick care super system that is driven by profit before principle.

No, and as Popeye says, “It’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”, exercise is not the “new miracle drug.” It is a nutrient our species has required from the dawn of our hunting and gathering, remarkably successful history.

A miracle can be defined as, “A new perception.” Thanks, Kaiser, for coming up to speed albeit in that deeply disturbing, calculated, mechanical way.

Everyone needs to exercise, every day–it’s common sense. But then, common sense is not so common.

Now gittyup.