I’m writing this post on a Monday morning, following an intense men’s weekend training I completed last night sponsored by The ManKind Project. It is called the New Warrior’s Training Adventure (NWTA) and it definitely was an “adventure” that pushed my physical, emotional and spiritual limits.
The purpose of this post is as much for me to integrate the weekend experience as it is to share what might be a beneficial experience for other men. This is actually “Part 2”. You can read “Part 1” here, which began by setting the context of my previous experience of “men’s work.”
The New Warrior Training Adventure is a journey that begins on a Friday evening and ends about forty-eight hours later on a Sunday evening. Time becomes frozen in this intense experience which felt to me more like a week or even longer. The thirty men who participated with me as well as the staff for the weekend transformed from strangers to brothers as we bonded during a common experience.
I won’t describe the specifics of the weekend, as I want to respect the privacy of my fellows, but I shall certainly share my experience and growth. The NWTA draws on a myriad of male traditions, from the militaristic to the mythopoetic to the Native American to the psychological and archetypal. It challenged me in ALL aspects of my manhood. The challenge was to grow, to release what was holding me back from stepping into MY manhood and MY power.
In the early 1980s, I was a workshop junkie and did every seminar and weekend workshop that I could find in that period of self-actualization. I only say this to let you know that I don’t want to sound like a groupie and I don’t want to sound like I’m proselytizing. Been there, done that, BOUGHT the Tee-Shirt Factory! This isn’t a paid endorsement and I don’t get a kickback from The ManKind Project.
It actually took me four years from the time I first heard about them to doing the training. The timing was right. My life was/is in an existential transition as my daughter recently graduated from high school, my business is in a lull and I’m ready to recreate myself and my life’s work.
As a man who was raised without a father, I have lived and worked on my father wound for a long time. The NWTA was another huge part of healing that wound. It truly is in the company of men that men can help to contextualize that loss and find greater peace, comfort and wholeness. Historically men come together in war and conflict. This weekend experience was antithetical to this as we came together on a mission of peace, truth, connection, respect, love and healing.
Psychotherapy, though started by men, has become in my opinion very feminized. I bring a strong masculine aspect into my work as a psychotherapist and also bring the masculine into the training I do with psychology interns. Most of my interns are women, yet they welcome the permission and direction to actually challenge their clients and be more than a “how does that make you feel” therapist.
Yes, we need the feminine aspect in our lives, there is no question about that. However, we also need the masculine aspect. We ALL, men and women, need to create a balance between our internal masculine and feminine. The NWTA helps to realign the masculine and strengthen what has been weakened or never developed.
Through a series of carefully sequenced processes, our group walked through our wounds and our shadows. I became more aware of those hidden, buried parts of myself as they surfaced.
For those who are afraid that those shadow parts are only our negative aspects, let me say that isn’t the truth. I have done a lot of work over the years to understand the negative, repressed parts of my psyche. A big part of this weekend was to identify and begin to liberate the hidden HEALTHY parts!
I connected to that deep, primordial core of my manhood. Being raised by mainly by women, I didn’t have access to large parts of my masculine energies and honestly, a lot of them were discouraged. I can still remember my mother saying “modulate your voice!” And so we bury parts of ourselves or they come out in a rebellious form with a vengeance.
So I connected experientially with my core, with my power, with my vitality, with my guts! In some ways, I “remembered” who I am and where I came from as a man. I also reconnected to the “mission” in my life.
As I’ve written before, as a “man after fifty” I have been on the existential fence with life life. My daughter is almost eighteen, has graduated from high school and will be entering the Air Force soon. My daughter will be launched and my responsibilities as a “single parent” will substantially change.
The truth is that I have a great deal of freedom and incredible options for how I can lead my life. And so I have been seeking to redefine my purpose, to recreate my life for this next period. In short, I have been seeking my “mission”.
A major part of the NWTA is focused on helping men connect to their “mission” and so I was delighted that the processes helped me to reveal mine:
“I create a world of playful connection by sharing who I am.”
A mission is short and sweet and when you uncover it, it just “clicks” and perhaps brings an “aha” and a smile to your lips. It’s not about a “business plan” or the like. My mission is definitely in alignment with my work as a psychologist.
My work IS to help people connect and I believe that the healing component of psychotherapy IS in that sharing of who we are. I am direct, confrontational AND kind in my work with couples, individuals and groups. AND, because the work is so “serious” I have always done my best to make it playful and laugh about it to create balance in the energies.
So discovering my mission was/is an affirmation of my career path. The part that I need to personally work on is creating more of that playful connection in my personal life. And even more, learning to be KIND to myself. That is my “assignment” for the week, to discover ways to be kind to myself. And part of being kind right now is to wrap up this post and spend some time outside!
To summarize then, the two big takeaways for me from the NWTA weekend were reconnecting to my inner core and power and gaining clarity into my mission. There was much more, yet those are the big two for me as of today. The weekend was so intense and time-compacted that I have no doubt that more epiphanies and insights will be coming down the road.
To be clear, it isn’t psychotherapy, it’s not conducted by licensed therapists. And yet there is a freedom in not being licensed that allows the NWTA to push the envelope and create a deep, healing experience that isn’t possible in psychotherapy. One doesn’t preclude the other and both are important ways to create healing and freedom to connect to and express who you truly are and have a greater quality of life for yourself and your community.
It’s an intense training that will push you to your limit. It’s not for the faint of heart. If you are under any kind of psychological treatment, ABSOLUTELY clear it with your therapist first.
That’s about all that I have to say right now, I’m OUT THE DOOR! If you want to find out more, you may click The ManKind Project link at the beginning of this post. And of course, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about it or my work if you just Click Here.
Thank you so much,