Category Archives: Finding my purpose in life

The Natural Flow Of Life Restored

I love the water. Always have. As a child, I loved to swim in, guddle in, and play in water.

My holidays tended to be near the sea in Scotland – good for swimming, but better for jumping around the rocks and guddling in rock pools to find out what was under every stone.

And there was plenty. Life everywhere. The rocks were covered in limpets, whelks and barnacles; the rock pools with fry, shrimps, crabs, hermit crabs and anemones.

It was amazing to just watch as they scooted around eating and trying to protect the food they’d found. I’d go fishing and actually catch fish.

Fast forward 30 years and the kind of wonder that I used to find in things like this seems to have gone out of my life. Office jobs may pay decently, but they tend to be dull.

The buzz that I used to get from working in pressure situations globally has gone, to be replaced with tedious work that allows me to be with my wife and kids.

The home office with the view of the sea (admittedly, over a few roofs), goes to keep my wife happy; we move to the country.

And I discover I’d forgotten just how important the sea is to me until I am isolated, surrounded by hills, but with a wife who seems happy with sheep, goats, chickens, and home educated kids.

But I’m not happy. I was an only child, and got a flat when I was on my own. I didn’t live with anyone until just before getting married at 35.

This idea that someone else should be involved in every decision is just messed up for me. Our kids are great, but like any father, having 2 boys under 7 is a bit full-on, and can be the cause of great frustration at times.

My own time just goes, and there’s little chance of getting time alone by the sea. The forest beside us just doesn’t cut it for me. So I end up feeling lost, confused, isolated and frustrated, yet without really having a single sound good reason why.

I don’t want to live feeling like this, but I also don’t want to pay the cost of taking my wife away from where she is happy to somewhere that I might be. It’s expensive for a start, and not worth taking the risk with the hope that this will improve things.

Then I hear about this group called The ManKind Project, who just might be able to help with this.

So, I go for a weekend with these guys. The weekend is certainly unique in my life so far, but I just can’t shake the feeling off that I can’t immerse myself enough to fully give in to all the things that I should be doing and feeling here, or that I’m just thinking too much about stuff, but can’t stop doing it.

Yet I end up after the weekend notably calmer and a little happier, but still feeling that the whole experience was just a bit weird.

I’ll take some strategies from it that might help me day to day, and I honestly think it has, but I don’t really consider that this “entry into manhood” thing was really necessary.

Two months later, I’m off for an interview. The usual nerves are already kicking in at 6am that morning as I get my shirt, suit and tie gathered up.

And there, beside the tie, is a little reminder of my Adventure weekend – a necklace, of sorts! I stare at it for a few seconds and then pick it up. It goes around my neck, and a couple of days later I have a job offer.

What exactly was the connection of my reminder is thing though? Why was I so drawn to it, and what did I draw from it? A few months later I think I can answer that question. To me, it links me back to the place where I felt the strength of other men behind me and where there were times when I felt strong within myself.

So now, when I start to feel angry or frustrated, both of which still happen, I have somewhere else to go for strength. I don’t wear it all the time – it’s upstairs in a drawer – but it’s there when I need to turn anger into strength, and I thank the group of men who helped me to do that.

Mission & Purpose

But with all that said, I’d like to go back to the start of this piece. Yep, that’s my purpose: As a man among men, I create a healthier world by evangelising the need for clean seas.

And even though I no longer live by the sea, I’d ask you to consider a few things.

The sea is the source of life on this planet. Whatever happens with all the human threats of global warming, financial meltdown, peak oil, epidemic disease, terrorism, chemical or nuclear destruction, the sea will remain unmoved, and will be there to bring forth life again.

It’s still the bottom of our food chain and the main source of all unfiltered fresh water to give us life on land, yet while the oceans are immense enough to take a lot of abuse, they’re not immune to the damage we’re causing.

There are currently 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean. The amount of plastic being washed up on UK beaches has doubled in the past 15 years.

Many types of these plastics can absorb further toxic chemicals before being ingested by marine creatures, and these enter the human food chain.

Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds each year die due to ingestion of, or entanglement in, this waste.

Unprocessed sewage is regularly dumped into the sea through combined sewage outflows designed solely to discharge untreated human sewage directly into the sea when the sewage system is overloaded.

In cold seawater, the human-derived bacteria it contains can survive for 20 years or more, and come back into the food chain either through seafood or affect swimmers, surfers, divers or other water users who ingest it from the seawater.

As our species grows, we’re seeing the effect of the massive impact we’re having on the planet.

The state of the sea is not the only problem that we’ve got on this planet, but it’s one that’s in dire need of more attention than it currently gets.

Because when I look in a rock pool now, there’s a whole lot less life there than there was 30 years ago.

I work with Surfers Against Sewage, not just for me, not just for the water users, and not just for the human species, but for the future of life on this planet. See www.sas.org.uk for more details on the problems I’ve touched on here.

Stuart W

FYI – To Guddle: (verb) to catch (fish) by groping with the hands under the banks or stones of a stream.

My Adventure – One Of Many

About four days prior to my Adventure Weekend, I’d split up with my long-term partner of seven years, who I loved with all the love I had to give. I’d left my two children and, with a heavy heart, left my home. A deep burning anger consumed me to the point of rage.

I travelled up to Applecross, which is on the mainland of North West Scotland, East of Skye, with two of the staff men, Hugh and Marcus. They suggested I walk in alone. Hugh bought a map for me and I chose a route which took in the tallest mountain in the area (900 meters) and covered a distance of 17 kilometres.

Hugh and Marcus dropped me off at Drochaid Mhor; at this point I was thinking that 17 km over 30 hours would be pretty easy to do. I said “Goodbye, see you on the other side!” and then set off uphill.

And in that first half an hour the slow realisation of my predicament began to dawn on me. I was well and truly on my ass; my children, my family were lost to me; my love was lost. I was homeless and had no money. All I had at that moment was my cloak, my staff, the clothes I stood up in and a rucksack full of stuff – it couldn’t get any worse.

I had to walk the full 900 meters from sea level over 4.5 km. The slope got gradually steeper, and rockier, and rougher. Soon the sweat was pouring off me like a small stream and I was panting like I’d just run a marathon….. and the top was not getting any closer. I started to think this was way too hard; I didn’t want to be there.

 

The top was not getting any closer and the weight of the world was on my shoulders, stopping me from getting up this hill. Turning around and going back sounded like a good option, but there was nothing to go back to, there was nothing for me there.

I had nothing to lose because I had already lost it all, the only option was to walk on, carry on up this f*cking hill. And then the thought came to me, why don’t I just end my life, commit suicide?

It seemed like a completely rational thing to do. I stopped and said to myself, “If you want to be a complete lunatic then you must, above all else, be completely honest with yourself.”

Carrying on with that thought I had a full-blown argument with myself, calling myself all the names under the sun. And then I arrived at the ridge line, roaring out loud at the mountains opposite with all the anger I had inside of me.

I contemplated the idea of jumping off the edge. However, knowing my luck, I thought I would just break something on the way down, arriving at the bottom still alive to spend the next 3 days dragging my ass out – I wrote it off as a stupid idea!

At that point I made the decision that I had come this far and there was no way I was not getting to the top. With my anger and my stupidity, I marched on with sheer determination to reach the summit.

Through that determination, I saw my children, my love, my family, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and my mum. I reached the top knowing that I had come to the edge of existence and had a lot more to live for than die for. That left only one option, to walk on; walk on into the future.

Even so it took me a long time to move on.

I sat for over an hour on the top of Beinn Bbhan taking in the view. Looking to the north along the ridge line I saw the stunning Scottish highlands in the distance. To the west I could see what I call the Giant’s Causeway (Bealach Nan Arr) and in the background the great mountains of Skye and the Culin ridge. To the south was the road that leads through the mountain pass to Applecross and Loch Kiston below. To the east stood mountains as far as the eye could see, and to the south east was the point that I started from.

Eventually I packed my bag, saying to myself “I will not look back, I will not look back”. Walking on I was struck by the sheer beauty of the place; looking to the north and the east, there was nothing but mountains as far as the eye could see: the glorious Scottish highlands in full splendour with the sun shining on the snow-capped mountains.

I was again struck by the predicament I was in. Every decision that I’d made in my life had bought me to this point, right now. Every choice that I’d made had bought me to this point, right here. I could not go back, there was nothing left for me, I made the choice to walk on in to the future – and with that in mind, I did just that!

Soon I’d had enough; my legs were aching – the next job was to find a spot to set my basher up. I settled for a spot next to a river (Allt Coire Altadale) by three small waterfalls. And as I walked towards my chosen spot, my leg fell down a hole; luckily I had my staff for support. I knew it could have been painful; I may have even broken my leg, 8 km from any civilisation, nobody knowing where I was.

That filled me with a new respect for where I was, which helped me to move on from my earlier stupidities…. I stripped off and jumped into the freezing water, yelling at the top of my voice as the cold water shrivelled my balls to the size of peanuts! I decided to sit in the sun, stark bollock naked, to dry off.

Later I put my basher up, using my staff as a centre pole and cooked dinner, if you could call it dinner – the boil-in-a-bag army rations tasted like shit, and filled a hole, but were not enough.

As I sat and watched the sun go down it started to get cold, so I got into my sleeping bag. The mountain side was in darkness, though the sky was light. And suddenly 400 metres away, a stag met my eyes with an intensity that I took to mean he was there for me, standing in his strength and dignity; bringing with him grace, pride and integrity.

He stood watch over me while I was alone and vulnerable, he stood there for a long time, until I fell asleep; I felt that I’d been blessed.

In the morning all I could bring myself to eat was biscuits. I packed up and carried on with my journey. Knowing that I could make the MKP weekend in plenty of time, I took it easy – playing in the heather, strolling, meditating, and eventually arriving at my destination over three hours too early.

So I ran 10 kilometres to the next village and back – for tobacco! Then, sweating, I jumped in to the river to wash, yelling at the freezing water, laughing at myself for the irony of running to the shop for tobacco…. undoing my running by smoking.  I dried in the sun, dozed, and eventually, with staff in hand, I walked into my Adventure.

 

Friday night was not a very happy feeling for me, like being a prisoner in a cell, unable to speak. Even when I was asked why I was there. I didn’t know. However, I did know I could walk out at any time.

And when we were asked whether any man would like to say anything, I saw my opportunity. Anger. Rage. “I am f*cking hungry, I’ve got a cold sore ass, I’ve got cramp in my toes, you *****!” A voice inside me told me to say what I thought… and I did, leaving the men in no doubt what I thought of them…. and it felt great. However, the looks on the faces of the staff suggested they weren’t too chuffed!

Later on I found each man and apologised to him because that’s what I felt needed to happen. I knew I wasn’t speaking to them – not really. I was speaking to all the f*ckers who’d put me where I was. And that included me. I realised all the decisions I’d made in my life had brought me to that point, right there.

And yet on the Saturday I felt like all the men were there for me and I was there for them. What I heard when the other men spoke of their lives was truly wonderful; the way they opened their souls stunned me. I felt privileged to hear them, blessed to behold what I was hearing.

I cried for them, words can’t really describe how I felt for those men, I was proud to be there.

But me: I did not know what to say or do, feeling fear in my belly and thinking “I can’t do this.” Inside I was shaking with fear. Finally, my time came. I held my fear and stood in the centre.

Before I began, I looked each person in eyes and held their gaze for a moment to help calm me down a little. I spoke of my anger, my rage. My shame. I felt shame about not being able to be the dad I wanted to be, shame about letting my children down, shame about letting my partner down and screwing another relationship up. I felt shame for all the relationships that had ended badly and for my parents who showed me how to be in relationships badly – shame for their mistakes.

The men worked their magic. The processes held me. My anger was discharged. My shame was extracted. To my surprise I found Marcus working with me, and, giving him a hug I cried till I was empty.

And as I fell into that emptiness, I found support. As I fell, men held me, picked me up, filling me with love for myself and for my fellow men. For the first time in my entire life I felt TRUE LOVE.

Something that I had never, ever felt before in my whole life. Feeling free in that moment I saw the face of God in all his beauty. I felt alive and awake for the first time in 30 years. In that moment I realised why was there: To Wake Up!

I am now a man with a mission to create a world of peace and love by taking care of all people, by teaching, leading and showing the way.

I am a man amongst men who is honest and stands in integrity.

My shadow mission is to create a world of chaos and hatred by doing f**k all for me or anybody else. This is the mission that I had been living and I now choose not to follow because it no longer serves me.

I now carry my shame on my staff.  There is a reminder tied to the top of it. In doing that my shame has not gone because I realise that to get rid of my shame would be to not live how I am fully. If I only lived the good bits I would only live as half of how I am. I am how I am. I am also how I am not.

Leaving Applecross, we stopped at the top of the pass to take in the view. I ran down the other side of the pass shouting at the mountains from a place of joy. On the way back, seeing the beauty in the world and feeling everything, I cried for the enormity of my circumstances.
Carl T.

Putting the Heart Back Into Business

Just under two years ago, I had a life transforming moment.

I was sitting in the South Bank in London, with friend and fellow warrior Nicolas when he asked me whether I was ready to write a book about the alternative approaches I had developed to running my business, Thornton’s Budgens, a supermarket in North London.

And indeed, I was – the title rolled off my tongue: “How To Put The Heart Back Into Business”.

As it happened I was just heading off to India on a sabbatical. I spent the first week in Goa, in the monsoon, the only guest in my hotel, with chronic diarrhea – the universe was telling me I needed to be alone and reflect. And in that alone time, I became clear that this was my life purpose.

From that emerged my mission – “I create a heartful world by encouraging people to open their hearts, starting with my own.”

Over the eight years of Thornton’s Budgens, we have created what we call “The Community Supermarket That Really Cares”. Which means we put people and our planet first, trusting profit will follow – with people being anyone who works in our company and those in our community.

In that role we have done seemingly crazy things, like setting up a farm on the roof of one of our stores, as well as more sensible things like reducing our energy consumption by more than 50% and showing the global supermarket industry that putting doors on their chiller cabinets does not in fact cost you sales while substantially reducing your carbon footprint.

With our people, I realised that what we needed to do was to create a “safe container” at work. So that, just like in an iGroup, everyone would feel safe to share, without fear of judgment or rebuke. What I also saw was that the key to a thriving company is truth; and that to speak your truth, you need to feel safe.

A recent Radio 4 programme on Secrets, looked at the opposite of truth, offering evidence that holding secrets is psychologically damaging and can impact on your ability to work. Conversely, sharing something with someone creates a shared bond.

This is of course not surprising news to you Warriors, but it is to the business world. Can you imagine if you were as free to be you at work as you are at your iGroup?

To help create this safe environment we developed the Heart Programme that encourages team members to open their hearts, by creating a safe environment for them to fully show up.

It is based on the work of environmental activist Joanna Macy and involves four steps – gratitude, feeling the pain, seeing with new eyes and action. We start with a meditation and sharing that would not look out of place in an MKP Circle.

Through the heart programme’s sharing circles and the use of a talking stick, which ensures everyone gets to speak without interruption, people feel valued, get to contribute their ideas and have an input into the direction of the company.

And it works – since we implemented this we have got straight 100% scores in our “mystery shopper” scores (we used to get very inconsistent scores) and our sales have increased by 6%.

We are in the process of setting up a Council that will become the policy making body for the company, which will see 5 or 6 team members sit along side the three existing board members.

Inspired by Darshita Gillies, we intend to have at least one Millennial on it. These are people born between 1990 and 2000, who have a very different outlook on work and what they want from it – a “civic-minded generation with a strong sense of community both local and global”.

We are even considering having representatives from other stakeholder groups – customers, the community and someone representing the environment.

And we are in the process of redefining roles so that everyone does only what they love to do.

I am so excited by the prospect that soon I will only be responsible for our vision and purpose, innovation and the conscience of the company! It is what I love to do and it gives me space for another chapter: the development of Heart in Business Limited.

I formed this with 6 others all from MKP, Celebration Of Being, Nobleman, or Embercombe connections – including Nicolas of course! We started last year with a mission: “Heart in Business Limited will enable companies to put people and our planet first, trusting that profit will follow.”

In this way, I can get closer to my life purpose by sharing my experiences with others.

So why, I hear some of you ask, does this matter? Well, if you look at the latest Gallup Poll on workplace satisfaction, it shows that globally 87% of people are emotionally disconnected from their work.

And since we spend half of our non-sleeping time at work, this may explain the amount of turmoil there is in the world right now.

As businesses employ such a large percentage of the workforce globally, we can do something about this. In fact, I would argue that it is our duty to do something about it.

The good news is that most studies examining the profitability of companies who look beyond maximising shareholder value and consider their wider stakeholder base, have shown that doing this delivers better financial results.

So what is the dream of Heart in Business Limited?

“The dream of Heart in Business Limited is that companies put people and our planet first, trusting profit will follow. The dream is of companies where we have a purpose, companies where we make a broader contribution to society and see the world beyond the next set of quarterly profits. Companies where we consider all our stakeholders – our employees, our community, our planet and of course, our shareholders.

Companies where we care about the impact on people, whether those people work in our company, are customers, or live in the community in which we operate.

Companies where everyone is doing the job they want to do rather the one they are good at, where there is passion, authenticity and love; where we are all making a difference, where we are all heard and understood, where we all hear and understand our colleagues.

Companies where there is heartfelt leadership, where we co-create plans and where wealth flows. Companies where people can be themselves, without fear of judgement or punishment.

Companies that care about our planet, who consider future generations; companies that take into account what we are leaving behind for our children and grandchildren.

This is our dream of how companies will thrive in the future, indeed some companies already are.

In fact at Heart in Business Limited, we believe it is the only way forward.”

I am encouraged not to be alone on this journey, sharing the vision with other great movements such as Conscious Capitalism, the Blueprint for Better Business, B.Corporations and The B-Team.

I believe that now is the time for change – and that more and more businesses are ready for that change.

So I end with a request, knowing of course that the answer might not be yes! I need to get this message to business leaders – so if you are involved in organising business speaking events, or know contacts who are, or if you lead a business which you would like to be more heartful, then please get in touch!

To find out more, look up heartinbusiness.org or contact andrew3@heartinbusiness.org.

Andrew Thornton

The ManKind Project and Me!

What does it mean to be a part of the ManKind Project’s community of men?

At the time of writing, I am 7 days away from travelling to South America for 6 months. At 25 years old, this feels like a profound journey towards mature manhood and stepping into my power; lovingly separating from my soul mate, quitting a secure, meaningful and fulfilling job, and leaving my comfortable life in Bristol behind (that’s where I’ve spent my entire life) – to discover what the big wide world has to teach me.

Before my weekend Adventure, I’d hoped that taking part in it would prepare me for this journey.

So, some weeks on from my initiation into this world of men, what has changed? Here are the things that made my ManKind Project Adventure weekend so profound. Of course, each man’s experience is completely unique. (The Adventure is also known as the NWTA – New Warrior Training Adventure.)

During my teenage years, I smoked a lot of cannabis and became very self-conscious, which developed into a paralysing paranoia. For years I felt nervous in social situations and had little experience with women, not losing my virginity until I was 19. This was a big contrast to my young teenage self, who was fun, confident, outgoing (and a hit with the ladies).

Largely because of the effect marijuana had on me, I lost touch with my emotions and became consumed by my whirlwinding, self-conscious mind. I wanted to change how I interacted with the world. After a few lonely years, I spent 6 months in India and South East Asia, where I found a Buddhist path. This gave me a sense of how to find peace of mind and regain some of that lost self-belief.

Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on various kinds of personal development and careers aspirations, searching for a sense of wholeness in life that I felt I’d lost.

During the ManKind Project ( MKP ) Adventure Weekend

I was reminded me how important a balanced life is: a life that includes a light hearted, child-like view of life to balance out the drive towards success. Since then I’ve valued and developed my relationships with my friends and family more highly, with a greater sense of fulfilment as a result.

Another life-changing experience on the ManKind Project Adventure was to be given the freedom and direction to get in touch with our wild energies, our free spirit of potential. This is something I’ve locked away so deep, so long, that no amount of meditation would ever tap into it. I had an opportunity to release this suppressed anger, and I felt overwhelmingly primal and instinctive.

This gut-level anger is something I’m exploring further, to accept it as a part of myself, embrace it and live through it – not to be an angry person, but to live a life without suppressing my emotions….. which until recently have been pushed down so far as to resurface in unhealthy disfigurations of what the original energy was intended for.

The ManKind Project also encourages men to explore our life’s mission.

For men, this is not so much the things we want to do or achieve in our lives, but the men that we want to be. This was a fresh perspective on a question I’d repeatedly asked myself: and, for the men who are considering doing the New Warrior Training Adventure, I hope you find your own.

So these were the main elements that I went through on my personal journey, but what of the group dynamic, the effect it had on the men present, and my opinions of the ManKind Project itself?

On the Friday night we were all strangers to each other, each with our own complex and unique issues, history and methods of coping with them in our lives. At first, there was a sense of wariness amongst the group around sharing our own experiences; however, over the next 2 days, I felt able to share even my most personal shame with what had been, such a short time before, a group of unknown men.

I can’t begin to say how empowering this was for me, and from what I sensed, the others around me. I have fond memories of the final celebration and farewell with the staff and other New Warrior Brothers. I felt a unique, life-changing event had occurred, that we would do anything for each other, that we could trust each other entirely.

As a result of the weekend and the continued support from the ManKind Project community, I feel I have someone I can turn to, almost anywhere in the world. I can share myself wholly and completely without fear of being judged or exposed.

This community is something so strong I have never felt anywhere else, with such easy and non-judgemental support from unique, amazing men.

I think that one of the greatest successes of MKP is that every facilitator works in his own way. They give up their time to support the growth of other men, despite some of the successful careers with large responsibilities they already inhabit. There is no sense of a pyramid structure, simply men each on their individual journey to make the world a better, more loving place for themselves and the people around them, by selflessly sharing their wisdom.

Joss 

What The ManKind Project Did For Me After The NWTA

Among Such Honourable Men

It is 12 months since I first heard of the ManKind Project, and just over 10 months since I did the Adventure Weekend in England. I did the follow up Primary Integration Training (PIT) in Edinburgh in March 2012 and have participated in the Edinburgh MKP men’s Group every fortnight during 2012 except a couple of occasions when I was overseas. I’ll be returning to live in Melbourne this November with my wife.

What have I got from this process with MKP Scotland:

  • Deep peace inside myself, knowing every day that I am a good man.
  • Lasting freedom from the weight I used to feel regarding my father’s absence in my life, since his separation from my mother and his relocation to Asia in my teens.
  • Unburdened myself from my futile struggle to fix other men including my father. Before, I blamed my father for not completing me and I felt it was my responsibility to fix the pain and problems he caused. Now, I have a feeling of completeness and wholeness, and I am released from blaming another man. My anger was given a sacred space during my Adventure weekend, now I feel peaceful towards my father.
  • Experiencing the bliss of being surrounded by honourable, kind, courageous strong men, regularly.
  • Being seen and honoured by men who celebrate me.
  • Being able to drink deep from this spring of acceptance of me as a man, knowing that it is an infinite source which I can rely on.
  • Ability to stop hiding behind modesty and fear and accept my greatness with lightness and enjoyment. I greatly enjoy leading igroups when my turn comes around.
  • Experiencing my desire to lead as a gift not a burden.
  • Given a series of public talks on a subject I am passionate about and on a mission about, after bursting through my fear at my PIT.
  • Crystallising my mission in life. My mission is to create a world of energy and harmony by listening, learning, teaching and enlivening.
  • Finding out what my shadow mission is – the part of me which denies, hides and suppresses, and seeks to do the same to others. Realising my shadow actually wants to make the world manifest its dark ways. Being able to name my shadow and to hold it where it is not in control of me.
  • Absolute certainty that my new growth into healthy manhood will last the rest of my life, and that with the door open to iGroups for the rest of my life, this gold is mine to keep and enjoy and grow for the rest of my life.
  • Before, I used to go to counselling occasionally when things got tough. Since I started participating regularly in an MKP iGroup, I have not felt any need to see a counsellor.
  • In my life before my Adventure weekend, I could trust women but men were responsible for the worst things in the world and in my life. I could not trust men as a community, only individual men who were my close friends. Now, I have a whole community of men in my life who I deeply trust and I see men as inherently trustworthy and good.
  • I have the opportunity to hold space for men to find their greatest gold, and I am held to find mine. I see that I can make a difference to men’s lives and in the way they live their lives as men.

I depart the UK in November 2012 with great gratitude to all men I have met in MKP in this country. I AM GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF YOU. I go to Australia with an open heart. I am ready to get to meet the Melbourne iGroup and to rock and roll in the Australian MKP community. With the backing of the awesome community of UK men I go to the next stage of my life, proud and happy to be a man amongst men. I WILL MISS YOU. I look forward to visiting the UK community next year and in future years.

D N

Male Rites Of Passage

How did I ever decide to do the Weekend? Two close friends of mine whose opinion I value advised me that this would be a great experience and that I was exactly the right profile to fit the Adventure (New Warrior Training Adventure). Valuing both of their advice, I signed up, not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Fortunately I decided to join three others going up North by car, as it allowed us to connect during the trip, to talk and to bring out our rich experiences of life and why we wanted to do the Adventure. That sharing established a good, friendly  connection, which  was very helpful during the entire weekend, as it felt like we were already closer brothers before getting there and that made in easier during difficult moments in the Comb – to stay there, anyway!

Arriving there late in the afternoon, it felt quite spooky, as we suddenly got to a place where we didn’t know what was going to happen…. kind of anticipating what was going to happen without knowing, felt weird. I felt very angry at myself for having signed up and just decided to keep a low profile – “survival mode”. I felt disempowered…

The tension eased off when we got started. The rest of the evening was spent with meeting other brothers, learning what the Adventure means and going into some exercises that changed our minds by creating trust and connection. The more the weekend unfolded, the more new connections were created through the exercises and events we experienced. 

Finding My Mission In Life

What a great way to give yourself sense and meaning in your life by formulating a mission statement that helps you actually start walking into that direction in your daily life. TheMissionstatement I found for myself was: “To dance enthusiastically every day through my life and to encourage others to come and dance with me!” 

Being where so many other hundreds of men had been before me, working on their issues of rejection, denial, abandonment, loss – you name it, it was there —  felt frightening at first, but seeing the happy faces after the experiences made it encouraging.

I would never have thought I’d find the courage to work on my issue of abandonment in such a deep way. Very skilled and emotionally intelligent people were leading the work that was going to liberate me into a new, encouraged and happy being, “free to pick up my bed and walk” as a free man. I had connected before with the leader of the weekend Ed,  and was so happy when he  came up to guide me through the process with kindness and care. Nobody else could have done it any better for me because of the trusting relationship we’d established before. Ed carefully lead me through a process of regaining my trust in men and people in general, made me do things I never would have imagined I would dare to do – and that sure felt like a new birth for me.

Going to the MKP Adventure Weekend was linked to my desire to get a real male initiation, something that never happened in my life, yet needed to happen for me to step into manhood in a conscious and responsible way.

I now find myself taking my promises and commitments to myself and others much more seriously, and that feels very manlike.

I’ve taken home:

1 A feeling of deep connectedness with like-minded men who want to change the world for the better, as well as a feeling that I am not alone with my issues: now I know there are men, who have their own issues, but who are willing to look at mine and to help me deal with them.

2 A feeling that the follow-up to this weekend was going to be great, as it turned out to be: continuing the training in other workshops offered regularly aroundLondonas soon as I feel ready to tackle the next step.

3 The possibility of joining an iGroup for a weekly meeting, where I can stand among men, share ritual, cleansing, share how I feel, deal with issues that are on-going or have come up in the week and need to be transformed as they block me from living freely and happily (I have done this in Putney and am quite happy about it).

4 Connecting with my brothers from the weekend as a reminder of what we have been experiencing together and also as a commitment to living a life where I trust myself and trust others to keep my/their word and live up to my/their commitments.

5 A new network of likeminded people that is enriching my life and that stretches far beyond the 80 brothers I met during the Adventure weekend, as the network stretches around the world into many countries.

I have come to heal myself and to find new warriors that would accompany me in this healing process. It only works when you get up and do it – and I know this and yet have to relearn this over and over again. Knowing that there are so many more opportunities to take that as far as I possibly can and am willing to, is a great feeling – like an open plain in front of me, ready to be walked into.  

Johannes G

On The Men Who Staffed My Adventure Weekend

What I want to say here is essentially a blessing. I bless the men who staff these trainings. I watched their faces, looking at their essence in action. I noticed consistency. I saw the integrity of compassion, appreciation, understanding, humility and valour with unending focussed energy. I looked for any sign of falseness and could not find it.

At the final circle where the staff face the initiates I could not help be touched by each man that came by. I have never, ever felt that much love. I found myself smiling, even grinning, when certain men came by and I noticed that the connection was deeper with those I had personally made emotional contact with. That was an amazing sequence of seconds, perhaps a minute or two. Really, time flexed then.

I bless the men who staff these trainings. It moves me so much to now imagine your faces again. I feel the strength of the container and the power of individuals. I see the outpouring of love energy toward us, the trainees. And I see us turn into initiates. And the experience of the staff to understand what seem like mysterious processes to the unpractised. To be able to locate blocks and dislodge them. To be offered the chance you’ve been waiting for but were never ready to accept the challenge until now. And somehow many pieces of the puzzle suddenly come together and much of the dross leaves. And the path seems now confirmed when before the question was still being asked “what is my purpose?”

And for me the path is made up of strands. One strand has to do with teaching/mentoring. Another has to do with making. Another is a photographer. Suddenly I understand many things anew. Life seems more airy, lighter. The dark cloud is gone. There is a young energy inhabiting my body. I feel a huge responsibility to be, well, a necessity really. There isn’t much to the idea of Being.

It simply means showing up and knowing you’re showing up, and then allowing the heart to lead the body and the head. There is an intelligence in the heart. In one past paradigm it was called the “king of hearts”. It is the potential of noble emotional intelligence. It is the wild man.

I bless the staff.

James K