Category Archives: Men and sex / men and women

A Nobleman And A Warrior

I was in two minds about whether to do Nobleman or the MKP Warrior  Weekend first – and after a conversation with Julie of Celebration Of Being,   it seemed as though the universe would decide for me, because the next Nobleman weekend was full, but if a place came up I could have it.

I couldn’t argue with that…. And as it happens I did the warrior weekend first. I’ve written about that, and the PIT, already, but to summarise briefly, I never had any sort of male initiation into manhood from my father or elsewhere so my own attempts were through motorbikes, the heavy rock scene of the time, and drugs.

I was never entirely comfortable in just the company of men – I was yearning for a woman to make it better for me, to return to the womb perhaps… So in many ways the warrior weekend was my male initiation. It gave me so much to be thankful for.

And it was absolutely essential I did this integration first and learned more about my own King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.

So arrived on the Isle of Wight ferry and took the very cute olde-world train to Shanklin to be welcomed at 5 pm at the centre. I was ready but very unwilling and by the morning I’d created a suitable drama which might make a hasty retreat possible! I gave both barrels of my drama to two male support staff who were innocently watching the sunrise over the sea from the balcony….. then made my way into the first process of the day.

One hour later I returned feeling slightly foolish at how I’d let such a drama take hold of me: I wasn’t leaving, I was staying.

I’m writing this three weeks later and the tears are still flowing as I recall what happened that weekend. We were introduced into sacred feminine space where all these amazing women showed us men whatever we had brought was OK, that it was safe for us to remove our armour.

I had waited my entire life for this. To be held by all these women and to be told that I was lovable and that it wasn’t my fault was exactly what I needed to hear to let all my grief out.

And out it came, in great wracking waves of grief and inarticulate sounds that had until then been strangled in my throat. As these came up, the relief was beyond words – and we were barely halfway through the weekend.

I want to digress here to explain that my story was being played out during the weekend.

My story had come to me as a series of intensely charged emotional images some 18 months back. I was tied to a chair in an attic. Everything was black and white and there was a dim light shining on me from skylight. Suddenly the image changed into colour as I made my way to the door and opened it – the chair was visible with broken rope scattered around it. Looking down a narrow flight of stairs, I saw a hideous hag wearing a patterned summery dress, who raised her arms and threw some ropes over me.

I raised my hand to touch her – and she turned to ash.

I carried on down the stairs and through a door into a beautiful summer’s day. To my left was a line of poplar trees which I followed down to a river where I swam and drank my fill – until suddenly I was watching myself pull an iron bound chest from the river.

I watched myself open it, and out came a beautiful woman who held hands with me, looked over at me and said “It’s been a long time, Nige.”

This was my story, and the day it came up I went for a walk, feeling connected to the land, the trees, and everything on the land – it was truly amazing.

Back to Nobleman….. I took with me an outfit, a symbol of my nobility: my bandanna from the warrior weekend, and a sparkly, feminine scarf that I’d found in the woods near the entrance to our iGroup meeting place.

As soon as I’d seen that scarf, I’d thought “I want some of that femininity in my life.”

So it came to me that I’d ask the women at Nobleman to make me a crown composed of my warrior bandanna and this sparkly scarf – a noble marriage of masculine and feminine. But it’s great to see the universe has a sense of humour, because things didn’t turn out quite as I expected.

I left it late to make my crown request so I only ended up trying it on minutes before I wanted to wear it. My heart went out to the Artisan who crafted this crown – it was amazing! Not only had she waved my scarf and bandanna into a crown, but she’d also interweaved it with Ivy and Briony.

It looked beyond anything I’d imagined….. But unfortunately the universe had other ideas, for I had an allergic reaction to the briony and my crown – the marriage of masculine and feminine – started burning me!

I was last to work that day and it was a long and agonising wait as I watched all the other men go through their amazing processes. They called me “the patient one”, but in reality I was anything but patient.

And of course what was going on for me is now very clear: most of the time I was cringing or thinking about crying, occasionally thinking about my sovereign crown – minus the Ivy and Briony – but I felt distant from what it represented, and it ended up behind my seat.

All my life I wanted to lose myself in a woman, fall into her eyes, and melt into her to take away the pain.

This was my little boy desperately seeking out some dark devouring mother energy that could never be satiated. Boundaryless, I was helpless in the face of this energy – so here I was, going from my little boy desperately wanting to be devoured by this dark mother energy to the man I wanted to be, seeking out my feminine, but afraid it was going to take my newly found masculine away.

And then, finally, I stepped into my King and it was my time. I picked up my crown and announced myself as Nige the man, not the little boy, and did my best to describe my story.

The women devised the most incredible ritual for me – I danced with my inner Queen, and she wore the crown. And as we danced I announced to everyone that she was my inner Queen – and it dawned on me that she really was.

As we danced I looked upon with awe. She was the most exquisite creature I had ever set eyes on – and she was part of me – my inner feminine. It finished with me holding her as she gave me my crown. My crown. Our crown. I was complete, I felt complete.

Where am I with all this now? A good question! I feel this will integrate for quite a time to come, however I will try and describe what’s going on for me right now.

I don’t know if anyone else finds that the universe seems to send me just the right book to read at the right time. I’d started reading From The Hearts Of Men by Yevrah Ornstein – a fascinating compilation of thoughts and stories by men.  And it’s a book which is facilitating the assimilation of thoughts and insights from the amazing Nobleman weekend.

Firstly, the importance of just being. Allowing myself to put aside the “musts” and “shoulds” to just be. To just write this article….

To just sit and watch the river gently meander – this mirrors a gentleness and stillness within me. I had come to believe that this place of gentleness and stillness had no place in the world – that it was too fragile for this brutal world…. And seeing the quiet country lanes of my boyhood smashed to bits to build a motorway was something this fragility could not comprehend – so I had to protect my vulnerability.

However, now in that stillness I find a great compassion for that suffering side of me. In that stillness I have a great sense that I’m OK.

The second thing I would like to mention is to do with sex.

I’d always thought that any sort of touch, hug, etc., from a woman I even vaguely fancied was a prelude to sex.

It was like there was nothing in between. Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t become a saint where I’m beyond sex! Far from it.

But in Ornstein’s book there is a mention of how important it is to receive comfort and love through touch, hugs, and so on when you are young – and how this can be absent, or even stop at a certain age, because it’s socially unacceptable.

And men don’t stop wanting that affection – they are instead forced to get it in a more dysfunctional manner, such as “contact sports” where it’s OK to be touched in a macho way. Even expressions of affection amongst men can be shrouded in profanities.

This creates a dichotomy of extreme feelings with brutal acceptability at one end and sex at the other. The myriad shades of open-hearted affection in between are lost.

And this, says Ornstein, is what conscious women want from men – to be able to respond to that tear rolling down her cheek, to be open and vulnerable, to be with her and her feelings. To be present.

I will finish by saying that if any man has issues with women he’d like resolved, I can’t recommend Nobleman more highly.

In fact, I recommend it to any man who wishes to become more openhearted. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. This and the Warrior weekend are the two most life-changing things I have done. Ever.

I would like to thank again all the women on that weekend from the very bottom of my open heart. What you did for all of us men was beyond words. And I would like to thank all my brothers on that weekend and the men who supported us for the acceptance I felt from you all.

May you magnificent Noblemen shine and shine.

Nige Williams

 If you’re interested in Nobleman see www.celebrationofbeing.co.uk  

Power Without Vulnerability

Power Without Vulnerability

Take a ferry from Portsmouth across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and make your way to an old-fashioned seaside hotel on the cliff top. Painted white with balconies looking out to sea, this is the venue for a workshop called Nobleman.

It’s a beautiful location that requires you to make a journey over land and water to get there. I made that crossing in October 2013 after signing up to take part in the workshop and although my physical journey was complete when I found that place, my emotional and spiritual journey had only just begun.

Before I arrived at the four-day event, I had built up powerfully antagonistic feelings against it. My anger, ferocious and quick to rise, formed a wall in front of a terrified and grief stricken internal little boy. Whenever I met with ManKind Project men, it seemed that one or other would bring up the subject of Nobleman and I was beginning to get mightily fed up with it.

noblemanThey told me this was a workshop for men to explore the wounds imparted by the feminine. They told me that the Nobleman staff team was made up of women and that the women would run the processes. I inwardly resolved never to do it.

Fear was holding me back. Deep down I knew that but refused to admit it. One man in my iGroup, who recognised my internal battle, gently but insistently helped me to overcome the obstacles until one day, in October, I found myself on the ferry, heading to Nobleman. The experience would change my life in a powerful way that I had only experienced once before and that was on my Adventure (New Warrior Training Adventure) in September 2011.

I walked into the hotel with rage in my body. I was angry with these women I had never met. I didn’t trust them. I feared them. I felt I had to protect myself from them. I was determined that I would prove them to be a manifestation of all my darkest projections and judgements of women.

During the first process my anger muscled through and swept into the room, menacing and breathless, I told them what I felt, steeling myself as I spoke to deal with what I thought would come as a result of my speech, disapproval, rejection and abandonment.

Low angle view of happy men and women standing together in a circleInstead, I was met with tenderness, empathy and love. I was heard and acknowledged. My anger was welcomed by a group of divine feminine women who respected it, held it and saw past it, to something more gentle and vulnerable behind. (Photo copyright Deposit Photos)

This was my first surprise, as my brow frowned in puzzlement. These women were unrecognisable to me. They didn’t fit the model I had seen in my mother (and projected onto all other women in my life). This was something new. Perplexed and curious, I sat back and waited for the weekend to unfold.

Over four days my heart was skillfully and compassionately carved open. I was led into the deepest grief I had ever felt and, blinded by tears, guided out again by loving hands. A little boy inside me who had been hiding from women for 30 years was encouraged to put down his sword, take off his armour and show himself. It was a testament to the grace and skill of each of the women that my little boy felt safe enough to not only come out, but also dance and play, cartwheeling with pure joy. It was profound.

Many gifts were bestowed benevolently upon me during that experience. Perhaps the most valuable was that I realised that my power, so strong and glorious and fearsome, could easily become brutality when not aligned to my vulnerability, tenderness and love. The women of Nobleman reconnected me to these softer aspects of my character and taught me how to welcome and accept them. I realised that these attributes were not making me weaker, but stronger, and were enhancing and broadening the range and reach of my power.

The other powerful realization for me was around my female partner “T”. I realised, with a rush of joy that the tenderness, support, compassion and love that shone out of the staff women, was also present in her and that I could connect to it by being authentic and vulnerable and showing my true emotions. Then I saw the whole picture. A lightning flash of awareness lit up my world. Suddenly I understood that this divine feminine love was possibly present in all women. It was me who had strangled the flow of love.

And then feminine love began to flow into my life and show up all around me. I started to look at women, all women, with profound respect and gratitude. I was able to show my own vulnerability. What is true for me now is that I am a powerful and a strong man. I now understand the meaning of compassion and open-hearted love, perhaps, for the first time in my life. It is thanks to each of the staff women and the three staff men that I was able to move forward and reclaim the fullness of my heart. I am profoundly grateful for what they gave me.

Ben 

Nobleman is staged in the UK and the USA by the organisation “Celebration of Being” – you can learn more about them in the video below.

A Video from You Tube which might test your boundaries and compassion.

Are you addicted to sex?

The popular idea of the ever-ready penis, always searching for relief, driven by testosterone, only takes us so far in explaining the relationship between men and sex. Of course, we are horny because we are made that way by nature, but underneath our biological urges to mate, to reproduce, how much of our male nature is driven by other pressures? How much of the way we behave comes from having a penis or not? How much behaviour is innate and how much is socialized?

In the book Male Lust, Steve Bearman has something to say about this. He emphasizes how boys and girls are treated differently from birth onwards. Boys, he says, are given the message that it is not manly to be close, to reach out and touch, to express their need for intimate cuddles and hugs. They are encouraged to develop relationships with other boys that are primarily competitive: sports, teams, clubs, and fraternities all demand that a boy or a man knows his place in the hierarchy. (Even penis size can become the subject of competition in the locker rooms at schools!) 

Even though boys – like all humans – will search out support and help from others when they are scared, hurt or in pain, often they are given a message such as “Be strong” or “Big boys don’t cry” or “Be a man”: none of which helps them to heal, but simply makes them repress their wounded feelings and suffer internally.

The reaction of adults or peers when they express fear or scare is another thing that teaches boys that the honest expression of their feelings threatens their perceived maleness. Yet how many adolescents are given adequate support in the challenges they face, the immeasurably difficult tasks of growing up? From masturbation, through sexual issues to health issues, from changes in their bodies to learning about girls, boys have to face many challenges without much support other than that of their peers, who of course are just as ignorant as they are. 

Over time, Bearman says, boys learn to numb their emotions, to dull their awareness of their own emotions, and in the course of doing so, they decrease their ability to feel any feelings, joyful, painful or otherwise. And in doing so, boys – and men – lose touch with their bodies, they harden themselves (literally or metaphorically) not to feel anything, thereby losing their sensuality, their sense of aliveness, their tenderness and gentleness. This is seen at its most extreme in the process whereby recruits are hardened so they can abuse others in the name of military service, but there is only a difference of degree between this and the abuse of one man towards another in the workplace, say. 

Adolescent boys, says Bearman, are exposed to a social imperative to get laid in order to prove their maleness, long before they have grown up enough emotionally to know what “getting laid” means in terms of human relationships.

They are bombarded with sexual images on TV, in advertising, and in pornography: and these are compelling images which emphasize the domination of the penis, and which convey the idea that life can be experienced through sex, through penetration and through domination.

Directly or indirectly, boys and young men are handed sex as the one permissible vehicle through which it is still possible to express aspects of their manliness, masculinity and humanness which have been conditioned out of them in other ways. Sex, in short, is the one place where sensuality is permissible, where we can feel passion, desire, vitality and excitement; and of course it is the one area where true intimacy can still find its expression in an acceptable way.

It’s certainly been my experience that sex – and in particular ejaculation – is sometimes almost like an emotional catharsis, particularly when I cry out at the moment of orgasm. From time to time, especially when my life has been stressful, it has felt as if my emotional life is pouring up out of my penis and into the world through my ejaculation: not an especially pleasant thought, for this is like a catharsis which deposits my unresolved emotions into the partner with whom I happen to be in bed.

Sex, then, may be the “answer” to many men’s feeling of being dead inside. But the problem with this is that no matter how much sex one encounters (or its substitutes of masturbation, pornography addiction or lustful thoughts) it will never be enough to make a man feel whole; it will never be enough to express his enormous need to be close; and it will not truly allow him to feel his delight and vitality in being alive.

In short, if sex makes you feel more alive or less alone than anything else, it is an indication that vitality and closeness are missing from every other part of your life. 

So sex can become addictive to a man who has a great emotional deficit. Even if he is not engaging in casual anonymous sex, looking at pornography every evening on the PC, masturbating or trying ever more extreme fetishes or forms of group sex, he may still be showing his addiction to sex (or, rather, the impulse to feel which lies behind it) when he senses an urgent need to have intercourse, or experiences a desire to get off at all costs, or fantasizes sexually about the people around him.

And note that repression of these impulses is not the answer – for it suppresses the one outlet still available to him which tells him he is alive, which lets him feel his life energy! It is passion, not repression, that is the best ally we have in our attempts to be liberated from the bondage of emotional blankness. 

Healing these hurts and learning to be passionate and vital again requires that we get in close and stay close with every man and woman who we choose as our allies in the process of healing; it requires that we look after our bodies and we find our way back to every feeling that we somehow lost; and it requires that we reclaim our connection with other people, our feelings, our bodies and our masculinity.

Here are some extracts from the instruction manual for this process! I’ve taken all of these suggestions from Steve Bearman’s work.

Reclaim intimacy

Bearman begins by suggesting that we can choose to redirect some or all the loving attention we give to people we’re attracted to sexually towards all the other people in our lives, even those who we never imagined might be close to us. He urges us to communicate more, to share our fears and emotions, and to trust that others can be close to us: and indeed, to accept that being close to others is a natural state for the human species. No single partner can fulfil all our needs – we need human connection.

Reclaim feelings

The next step is to find our feelings and to experience them fully! In effect, he’s suggesting that we live with passionate intensity and feel everything that goes on in our emotional lives. Cry wet tears, he says, and laugh with your whole voice! Tremble with fear and giggle with embarrassment! Let your commitment burn brightly in daily life as you live with the excitement and passion that you currently reserve for sex! And ask for help in this – it’s not natural to do it alone.

Reclaim your body

There are many forms of sensual pleasure -which, by the way, is something due to you as your birthright. I remember walking out of my house onto my land one day, naked, in the early morning, feeling the damp earth under my skin, the rain on my body, and simply relishing my connection to nature as I pissed freely onto the earth.

I’ve had similar experiences – not the pissing, but the connection – in deserts and on mountains, in forests and underwater. Obviously, sensuous pleasure comes in many forms: walking in the rain barefoot, dancing freely, breathing deeply, feeling the silken sheets on your body at night, the caress of another person, the splash of water on your face, the delicious feel of cool fresh water gliding down your throat on a hot day – indeed, sensuousness is about experiencing your senses wherever and whenever you want. But to fully appreciate this experience, you have to slow down and appreciate what your body and the Earth have to offer you.

Become sensual

If sex is our main connection with the experience of life’s excitement and passion, its emotion and feeling, then of course we will become obsessed with sex and seek it out in any form available to us. But our innate desire to be close to others can motivate us to seek closeness – and get it. And when we fill our lives with those things that sex has substituted for, we are richer – and so is our experience of sex.

And Bearman makes the final point that sex transforms as our senses open up, because the desperation, the rush to get it, the urgency, and the fear and loneliness which corrupt our sexual experience are replaced with joy, passion, relaxation and vigour. In this case, sex becomes a celebration of love and intimacy, a place for healing, and a reconnection with our childhood intimacy and ability to express love. 

Reproduced with permission.