Category Archives: What is the ManKind Project?

My MKP Journey

For me, The Adventure weekend (NWTA) was the start of my journey towards becoming a man, and becoming conscious of my behaviour and my impact on others.

conscious man
Strong, mature, loving men are conscious of the impact they have on others.

I was born into a family where sarcasm, rudeness, criticism, shame and blame were commonplace. Vulnerability, sadness and fear were not. Yet these feelings were normal for me.

Because of this, I learned from a young age that crying was not acceptable. As a man, any show of sadness (unless attending a funeral) was squashed. And showing fear or vulnerability was mocked.

If someone gave me a compliment, then they wanted something from me. Nothing was freely given in my house; there was always an unspoken price tag.

I learned to shut off my feelings. If I started to feel sadness or fear or the need to be vulnerable, I would shut off that feeling and become distant, disassociated.

When I was growing up I thought that my father was perfect. He was my god – I strove to be like him. He had the belief that his behaviour was right and everyone else’s was wrong, if it were different from his own.

This was so powerful and undeniable to me. I had no one in my life to make me think that maybe there was another way.

In our eyes, our family were the normal ones. Everyone who didn’t behave like us were the odd ones!

But my father didn’t know the truth. His father didn’t and his father before him didn’t.

They were simply passing on what they had learned in the best way they knew how.

They were doing their best as parents, yet unaware they were passing on the same beliefs and behaviours that had led them to feelings of anger, resentment, inadequacy and insecurity in their lives.

When I met my wife, she helped me to see, that “I” was not my behaviour!

mature man and woman
Taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions is the mark of a mature man.

I could choose how to behave. I could alter my behaviour to be different man and that maybe I would enjoy life more, if I changed.

This was a foreign concept to me and at first I was resistant to the idea.

My father had instilled in me that my behaviour and I were the same entwined, unchangeable thing.

Five years ago, I watched some videos on the internet from men who had completed the Adventure. I knew that I wanted some of what they’d gained from their weekend.

I knew I wanted to change – and even though I had no idea how to do so, The Adventure seemed like a great place to start.

On my weekend, I found the strong man within me, which I hadn’t really appreciated before.

I had my first insight into how I could feel safe to express my emotions again.

The weekend started a journey of self-discovery. Learning to trust people again. To trust men. To feel emotionally safe enough to be able to express my sadness.

Learning how my behaviour was impacting others around me.

The more I became conscious of my emotions and my impact on others, the more I realised how much there was to learn.

I also made some great friends within MKP. I met, for the first time, men who could express their emotions in a healthy way.

Five years on, a few more MKP trainings and much more personal development work, and I’m still learning about myself.  I have had a major insight recently into how my passivity and shame have been shaping my life.

Shame has been a standard method of parenting for many decades and I certainly had my fair share of it. I learned how to use it from my parents, my teachers and I was now using it to parent my own children.

I listened to an audio by Brene Brown, who is a shame researcher. It gave me the understanding of when I was going into shame, when I was trying to shame others and when people I was communicating with were experiencing shame.

By becoming conscious of shame, I was able to do things differently. I was suddenly in control of conversations that previously would lead to an argument.

I also listened to a talk by John Lee on passivity. I realised that I was very passive man. Quote: “Passivity is the psychological, spiritual and emotional condition which compels us to pursue that which we say we do not want.”

At first I didn’t see how that fitted into my life, but then I realised that it was sabotaging my choices to do things I really love. 

Being fit and healthy, seeking amazing experiences and being open and daring, living life to the fullest, feeling energetic and full of life; things that I was once passionate about as a boy, but which had ebbed away due to being so passive.

As in, “Oh, yes, I would love to exercise regularly, but I just don’t have the time to do it.” And, “I would love to go canoeing down the Thames, but I am always busy on the weekends.” And also, “I would love to play the guitar – I bought one 10 years ago and I’ve barely picked it up.”

My passivity was leading me to feeling resentful and sad. I was not doing the things in my life that would make me really feel happy and free. I began to get an awareness of when passivity was showing up in my life and started to change it.

And my life has transformed once more!

This journey has been so rewarding for me. I can now feel my feelings. I don’t block them when they come up. Sarcasm, criticising, blaming and shaming are no longer there. I am no longer resentful. This has given way to finding my gentle, caring and loving side. I am now able to show my vulnerabilities.

My wife and children love the changes that they have seen in me  – I am closer to all of them as a result.

It’s up to me to take responsibility for providing the best quality parenting, being the best husband that I can be, and most importantly doing things to nurture myself.

I feel happier, more relaxed and freer than I have ever done. And it all started with that first MKP weekend.

Ashley 

Photos courtesy www.dreamstime.com

Betrayal and Redemption

One thing I’ve always known is that there is joy always, in everything, if only I can find it.

Mind you, it was hard to find joy in my life for a very long time. I know my story is only a variation on every other man’s story, and only a question of degree, but I did not have a great start in life.

Unplanned, unwanted, rejected at birth, and then subjected to everything that follows from that – humiliated, shamed for my very existence, oppressed physically, emotionally, spiritually…. A perfect recipe for the squashing of human potential. Of my potential.

Broken heart image
Broken hearts can be healed!

I guess each man reading this has his own variation on the same story of oppression and limitation, his own knowledge of the things that limited his potential and growth, his ability to become who he truly was designed to be.

I believe that each one of us who gets to a point of recovery – whatever that means for the person concerned  – has survived because of a unique survival mechanism.

For me, survival came in the shape of my rage, for it fuelled my energy to live, and it overcame the inhibiting effect of my fiercely repressed shadows of fear, shame, guilt, sadness, over responsibility and…. well, many more.

My rage allowed me to build a life. But, as you may imagine, at a cost.

Was it an accident that I found MKP when I was at my lowest point? No, I guess not, for the universe does indeed move in mysterious ways.

And what did MKP provide for me? A counterpoint to everything I’d experienced before, for sure. Support, from men – imagine that!

An accepting, non-judgemental environment. The opportunity to explore my shadows safely.

The opportunity to heal my emotional wounds, step-by-step, always supported, and more than anything else, always loved by the fine men in this organisation.

Learning that I was lovable, that I was good enough, that I had a right to exist; I would never have imagined it possible.

But more than anything else MKP provided me with a family – my iGroup.

This group of men, who I have come to know more intimately than I would ever have dreamed possible, has been by my side for years now, meeting every two weeks, or as often as each of us can, establishing bonds of brotherhood and friendship which have really enabled me to experience the meaning of connection and love.

To say that MKP has been a major influence in my life doesn’t even begin to cover what it has done for me.

It’s been the forum that has allowed me to express myself as I truly am, with kind but firm challenge, unwavering support, and the opportunity to grow in ways I would never have expected.

And of course along the way there have been difficult times, in exploring the shit that was given to me by others, stuff that was never mine, and which needed extracting for me to be who I was always going to be.

Healing - triumphant man
Healing is possible – you can become the man you were always destined to be!

My brothers in MKP and the organisation itself have been the means of my redemption from the betrayal of my own birth family.

And from this place of personal fulfilment and continuing development, I now know the meaning of joy, which suffuses my life in every way.

At the times when I didn’t know how I would survive, I could never have imagined the benefits, the support, the wholesome brotherhood, of an organisation like MKP.

With thanks, Bob

MKP & Mission – Finding My Purpose

A Day on Mission

Sometime in autumn 2013 I was round a fire at our iGroup and a man checked in with grief; grief at not having found this work earlier and of all the time that he’d wasted.

I’ve heard this before from other men and can definitely relate to it myself. At the time I already had a growing anxiety to get my life on track and live with purpose. There’s an impatience in my potent warrior…. and he can so easily slip into the shadow of destructive self-criticism.

So I know there’s a burning drive for clear visioning which is strong in me. And it seemed men in my iGroup resonated with this, for they called for a day on mission. And so Hugh, Rod  and I put one together.

There are various ways in the past which I have come to mission: doing what my mother wanted of me (!); choosing a vocation that looked like it would be fun; taking stock of my skills and seeing how they might be applied to help the world; and doing something so f**king spectacular that others would see that I am enough!

I even thought about how things would look from the perspective of my envisioned deathbed!

The Adventure weekend mission was different for me because I was asked how I might be in mission in addition to what I might do. This move from “doing – having – being” to “being – having – doing” has been an important one for me.

I was very happy with my mission: “To create a world of joy and openness by being completely authentic, playing and letting go”.

Nevertheless, this hasn’t quite been working for me. The mission comes from my little boy, from my wounding, and it’s what I wanted to create in the world of my childhood.

Yes, it still forms a very important part of the man I am today, but I want to get clear in my wholeness what it is I am here to do. I have a good connection with my lover quarter so in mission I was naturally curious about what my magician had to offer.

The Mission Day we devised incorporated bits of shadow work, visualisations and sharing circles. We wanted to create a process where a man could step into sovereign and hear what his other quarters had to say about his mission. We created a space where men could connect with a felt sense of purpose before attaching to any intellectual understanding of what their missions might be.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open….” Martha Graham

To be honest my initial intention for the day as a participant was to construct a bulletproof protocol that I could take out “guns blazing”. A clear statement of my mission and intent which I would carry out into the world and execute precisely like a true warrior – then I’d be a real, glorious, MKP man who was truly loved, appreciated and respected.

What I got from the day was quite different!

My coming to mission has been matured by an appreciation of the tender way in which the men I met on the day were building a sense of purpose, each with his own different process and content, each at a different stage, and that’s not to say the stages are hierarchical.

Some men left with tweaks to their missions, having realised that what seemed to be minor elements of mission were actually the core of their mission. Others came up with clear new missions. For some men the process of reflecting on mission brought up important material and engagement with this inner work became their new mission.

When I opened up to my magician I saw there are parts of me which have always had a clearer sense of my mission than I’ve had in my conscious awareness. In fact, an esoteric flash of my magician revealed where my mission is heading. And it’s this core energy that I must allow.

However, I didn’t particularly like my new mission when it came out. It was a challenge for me to voice it. It has been a challenge for me to live it.

Yet, in truth, I’ve been engaged with this mission for a long time. I know that there’s something inside me which is wise enough not to hand the reigns to “little me” lest I self-sabotage. The fact is, if my little boy writes out my mission there are plenty of parts which he’d called dark, and which he’d rather not let out.

And I think a good mission must be challenging. I also think that to live it, some dreams must fall away.

One of these dreams is having the clearly defined mission I was looking for. There are some men around with these kinds of mission; they are beautiful and I do admire them, but I am not that kind of man and only if I life my truth can I give my gift to the world.

To do this I must accept that my mission right now is not clear or static. I must pay attention to the every changing plethora of micro-adjustments that allow my core urges to express themselves, and I must follow them until I know myself inside out.

In this I see that my work on mission will never be finished. And in that spirit there will be more days on mission like the last one where together we can go deeper into our work.

Ed R

“Exciting, Risky, Unknown, Daring!”

These are a few of the words used by the dictionary to describe an adventure. And what an Adventure it was!

ManKind ProjectInternational logo UKBut first, to begin, as they say, at the beginning. Both of my younger brothers had done the MKP Adventure weekend, and both had enthused about its amazing benefits. They urged me on. For several years, in fact! But I knew when it was my time to have a go:  when I understood that some aspects of my life would not progress without attention to my past. (The Adventure is also known as The ManKind Project New Warrior Training Adventure.)

And sure, while I knew that the Adventure might stir things up, I desperately wanted to be free of my burdens, free to acknowledge that I have great strengths, that I am useful, that I have a positive male identity. So there I was, making my way to The Comb in Northumberland in June 2013, accompanied by 3 other men who I’d never even met before.

While I know from my work as a Samaritans’ listener that the abuse meted out to me was mild by comparison to that experienced by others, in my experience any form of abuse crushes the human spirit.

I was first beaten with a stick at the age of 4 by my father, and then by a headmaster at the age of 8 for the “crime” of getting less than 6 out of 10 in a spelling test. And I was bullied and beaten at a South African boarding school, leaving me with a sense of total isolation and profound distrust and wariness towards other boys and men alike. These negative experiences, repeated over and over, from such an early age, left deep scars, and the wounds were buried deep inside me.

As the ManKind Project’s weekend Adventure unfolded, I came to see how each and every one of us goes through something that causes suffering. And this was an enormous relief to me – to discover that I was not alone. And I also came to see that men who I had always thought of as being better and more capable than me were wounded in deep ways too, that in fact we had much in common, that they also had their own wounds holding them back.

Video on the work of the ManKind Project UK & Ireland

Supported by the ManKind Project staff men (there is a remarkable ratio of one staff man to one initiate), all our pain was invited and embraced. And what a gem to discover that men can support and love each other with deep respect and brotherliness. What a gem to find a space where I could express my pain and vulnerabilities without judgement or shame, and to discover that denying and suppressing them is a huge burden, a source of even more pain.

For example, during one of the exercises on the weekend, I found myself surrounded by a circle of men. I stood within the circle opposite one man. This scene was reminiscent of the times at my school in South Africa, when I was often pushed into the circle formed by the entire school mob, and forced to fight with “adversaries” with whom I had no issue.

Without any fight in my veins, it was usually a quick affair. A couple of well-placed punches to my face, the utter dejection of being mocked and deserted by the whole school, as I lay bewildered on the ground wondering what I had done.

Except this time, rather than standing opposite some snarling youth trying to win “friends”, I stood opposite a staff man. Rather than experiencing frothing hatred from the man before me, I was faced with a benign smile and those magnificent words, those generous and concerned words, “all your emotions are welcome here”. They were music to my ears. They were so beautiful coming from an unknown man. I basked in their warmth.

So why, 35 years later, would re-exposing myself to the pain of so much buried emotion be such a positive experience? What could I possibly have gained?

I came to see that pain and suffering are part of everyone’s life. This made me a much more forgiving person. As a teacher (in a boarding school, ironically!), I understand much better now than I ever did, that people only ever behave with unpleasantness towards others because of internal conflict.

The ManKind Project Adventure also convinced me that our default setting as men is to be loving to each other. Love is such a confusing word for the modern man because the idea of a man showing love to another man is something that can still sit uncomfortably in our society. But surely love is a deep concern for the welfare of another?

I moved from distrust and apprehension to reassurance and understanding in my relationships with men. What an enormous relief, a heart-warming shift. And the Adventure has helped me to recognise and acknowledge all that I have to offer myself and others. I understand more about the emotional needs of boys and men, I understand how we express both positive and negative masculine energies, and I understand so much more about my experiences.

In fact, I felt an urge to step into my inherent strength and brilliance. I remember Marianne Williamson’s words here: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure”.

photo of men's groupAfter the Adventure, I wanted more of what MKP has to offer. I discovered a local iGroup* that meets once a fortnight just down the road from me in Hampshire. And now I have truly remarkable, deep friendships, with a profound level of trust and honest communication between us….

Charlie E.

*Editor’s note: an iGroup is an ongoing men’s group for men who have been on the ManKind Project Adventure weekend. Photo of men’s group copyright istockphotos.com

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

The Power Of The Adventure (NWTA from MKP)

I was at the Adventure weekend at the Comb in September 2012. It was certainly one of the most unusual things I have ever done!

The Adventure weekend was indeed quite an experience for me, positively challenging in some ways, empowering in others, and generally a place to learn quite a few things about life and others. I don’t know if it was a milestone that will give me the power and courage to take life in my hands and decide and risk and do so many other things that I need to do, but it certainly gave me an insight into men’s struggles in general, and it gave me courage and the sense that I am not alone.

What have I personally gained by participating in the weekend? Overcoming my fear of meeting new people and of being amongst men. A better general understanding of myself, especially regarding the issues that are keeping me from living my life freely and more empowered. Realising that, while I can seek advice and insight from other people, in the end the duty and responsibility of making a choice belongs to me. Acknowledging that I cannot undo the past, my background, but I can own the shadow and use it in a positive and motivating way. Striving to discover a mission, a purpose for my life, and a way to live in integrity regarding it, rather than in denial and evasion.

Two aspects have especially touched me over the weekend. First, the courage and determination of so many participants in knowing and also sharing themselves so as to develop themselves to be better men who live in accordance with their expectations and dreams. Second, the dedication of the staff who were facilitating the whole weekend in service for us. They were an inspiration for me through their knowledge of humanity in general, their strength of character and integrity. My sincere thanks and deep appreciation goes towards all the men who have staffed the September weekend! I am truly grateful for their effort and dedication!

Especially, at the end of the Adventure, on Sunday afternoon, there was the good-bye ceremony which involved all the members of staff and weekend participants. As we were doing this, I noticed so much kindness, encouragement and love in men’s eyes, and many of them had tears in their eyes. Their images, their faces, have deeply touched me, and for some reason this saddens me (perhaps realising once again, both the greatness and transience of human beings).

To conclude, there aren’t many environments nowadays in which men are encouraged to communicate and share deep and profound experiences, to be true to themselves, to discover themselves, to show their emotions and to strive to live in integrity. I think ManKind Project’s relevance resides precisely in encouraging this work and offering this space for men.

Best wishes,

Alex M

From The Head To The Heart

My first impression of The Comb was one of sadness and desolation, which at the time felt odd. In fact, it really concerned me: I didn’t understand why I felt that way. I’d had a pleasant enough drive up, re-connecting on the way with two brothers who were staffing at “my” ManKind Project Adventure Weekend just over a year before.

I want to take a moment here to honour these two men and many more like them who give up their time regularly to keep the NWTA-wheels rolling. It’s a great gift you give.

Also along for the ride was a man I hadn’t met before, with whom I had an inspiring conversation around the subject of family. Looking back now, I realise that the empathy with which this man spoke somehow planted the idea in my head for the first time that I was going to a place where I could be held, held safe. Previously, that seemed impossible. In my iGroup I always say “You and all the energies you bring are welcome in this circle of men tonight” – and I mostly believe it, but not then, at The Comb. At that time, I just didn’t feel welcome.

As a first time staffer, I’d never seen how a man can fully let go of his grief without running the risk of somehow disrupting the process with the initiates, and so my dark thoughts were that if I let go, I’d be swamped. The initiates must come first and there would be no time for me. And while other people felt welcome, people who could stay cheerful and positive for the greater good of the task we were gathering for, even if they were in mourning, that wouldn’t be true for me.

Because I was in mourning. It took me the whole journey to accept that – and the OK-ness of it.

In June last year I flew out to Cape Townfor three weeks to be with my Mom and brother. She died about half way through that time, which was great in a sense because I was able to stay on for the Celebration of her life. I’ll never forget it: there were lots of people, many with outlandish anecdotes about how she’d touched their lives. As a member of the Black Sash, she’d actively demonstrated against Apartheid in the bad old years.

Later she was member of a whole string of volunteer groups, some of which I’d known nothing about. She became something of an eco-warrior, a peace activist, a writer, a teacher, a Quaker. Eccentric and iron-willed, she had very clear ideas about right and wrong, and if something was wrong she was all about finding a way to change it. One story typifies this quality: I guess she was in her mid-sixties when she noticed that her favourite outdoor clothing shop, Cape Union Mart, had an advertising campaign that was unduly biased towards the young and hip; I think of pouty nubile models who normally wouldn’t be seen dead within a mile of a camping site. She duly marched into her local branch to discuss her “constructive criticism” with the management. The result?

We found a clipping from the Cape Times, an advertisement for this same shop featuring a black and white photo of a raggedy-assed pensioner with an unruly shock of grey hair sitting bow-legged on a park bench, looking for all the world like a hobo, except she has this smuggest of grins on her face. It says: Name: June H. Occupation: Peace worker. Favourite restaurant: so-and-so. Favourite clothing shop:CapeUnionMart. And then just: “Real clothing for real people.”

Much of this felt new to me. To my deepest regret, I realised that my Mom had been the realest person I’d known. It was almost as though it was only through death that I’d finally managed to connect with her warrior spirit or somehow even realise that she had one. How did I miss that? At 23, she’d hitchhiked alone right through South Africaand Botswana. She was 50 when she got stabbed while demonstrating for People Need Water, Not Weapons. Later — I think she was 69 – she suddenly announced to us that she was off on a backpacking trip toIndia. And at 75, she came to England to take a job looking after the elderly, rounding it off by taking herself off to the Edinburgh Festival for some culture.

Even on a shoestring budget, she always knew the things she wanted to get done and wouldn’t rest till she’d found a way.

I stood in awe of her integrity and single-mindedness and decided to dedicate my life to becoming a son worthy of such a role model. But in Cape Town I was on compassionate leave and the clock was ticking. Two days later, back home and standing outside my workplace, steeling myself to go in, I slammed the door on all that had happened and moved on.

Fast forward 10 months to MKP and my staffing at The Comb and I was still trying to get fully into the idea that the grief I’d shut out, the grief I could feel welling up again, had any place in what we were doing.

I was in conflict: on one side, it was dawning on me that I had both the right and the need to grieve. On the other: what was I thinking, bringing this weight in with me, when there was men’s work to be done? As a first time staffer, I guess I just hadn’t seen it modelled and didn’t get how grief this deep could be turned into a gift. And then a man pulled me aside and pointed out that there would be men coming who were experiencing a similar grief and, whether they knew it or not, were looking for someone to model a way of expressing it. The penny dropped, the light went ON!

I was still dazed, rushing round the kitchen like a headless chicken or losing my focus, but from that moment on I let go and started to enjoy myself. The patience, humour and support I felt from my team-mates in the kitchen and from every man, though not always spoken, was palpable. And … well, humbling.

And I’ve since remembered that being strong-willed has a shadow side. Not so, Ma? Actually, she’d be the first to admit it, bless her.

These are simple truths, I see that now. But what was it the fella once said about the journey from the head to the heart? It takes a little longer sometimes and that’s not always a bad thing.

Ben H

The Journey To The Comb, June 2011

My friend at work mentioned the Mankind Project during a lunch conversation about two months before the weekend, and though we spoke very briefly, the NWTA somehow caught my mind very quickly. I can’t say for sure whether my curiosity, or the concepts of MKP, or the title of the program “New Warrior Training Adventure”, got my attention – but I made up my mind immediately to participate!

However, as the weekend was closing and when I needed to make my commitments, I was thinking over a lot; my wife was pregnant and needed a lot of my time; I had spent a lot of money on medical procedures recently: there were many criticisms on the internet about NWTA and the unconventional approaches…and so on. All these reasons looked logical and very valid for not attending the weekend… however, deep down in my heart I felt I must attend it.

At the Comb

On day one, when everyone had a turn to say what they wanted to achieve by the end of the weekend, I didn’t have anything in particular to say. I tried reason out why I was there, came up with many reasons, but none looked like why I really was there. At some point I stopped thinking and said to myself that I just wanted to have this experience.

I must say day one wasn’t the most convincing one; it could be that a lot of sudden changes in my regular environment meant that my mind and body were too cautious about everything. I kept thinking logically and tended to be apprehensive about the program. And I wanted to complain lot about a lot of things, the mystifying registration procedures, accommodation, toilet facilities, water, lighting, mosquitoes, and the unusual environment for a training…. but on day two none of those concerns looked important and I started to enjoy the excitement and brightness of the experience.

One of the most valuable things about the weekend was that I was able to get to know about 40 other men in an utterly honest environment, their values, mission, issues, regrets etc. I often learn lessons by making mistakes; however the weekend environment was such that men can learn their lessons without making mistakes. It was invaluable. Most of the men I met ultimately wanted to create a better world and determined to go about making it happen. This experience was remarkable; it took all of us back to our childhood and enabled us to rebuild our character through what is important to us today.

The MKP seniors were invaluable in making this experience real, their true desire to help someone was remarkable. My experience was thoroughly enlightening, I returned with an ultimate sense of being unblocked. I have been sharing myself with my friends and family ever since my weekend!

Karthicraja G

The Adventure – I fell into the arms of men

This weekend I fell into the arms of men.
I fell into trust of man.
I fell into myself.

I opened my eyes and saw the shining sky.
I looked out and saw my brothers’ eyes.
I looked out and saw the familiar face
of the complete stranger
who is me.

And for the first time
felt love for him.
Is this compassion, then?
I saw greatness and beauty in other men:
in their fierce nakedness,
in their innocent strength,
in eyes that have seen what I will never see…
in ways I will never fathom.
Eyes so different from me;
eyes that lovingly behold me;
eyes of another man,
and another,
and another…
Just ordinary men:
as vulnerable
and mortal
and wildly beautiful
as each other.

I am a Wild Salmon,
Journeying Home.
Towards a new mortality.
A new death.
I am going,
to die.
I have already died
and will die again and again.
Let it always be a good death:
Clean,
Sheer,
Complete.
So I can be free to live
with power
and authenticity.

I left for this weekend with not a single hero,
and returned with 80.
Plus one.
I’ve never believed in anything,
least of all me –
Life is full of surprises….
And the journey
Continues.

Matthew H

The ManKind Project and The “New Warrior Adventure”

I was so excited by what I experienced on the MKP weekend, I wanted to write about my experiences. These are all my personal beliefs and comments, not those of MKP!

I believe that the ManKind Project is a modern form of initiation, which helps men make the transition from a common kind of adolescent emotional state to full-grown masculine maturity. (And by that, let me add, I don’t mean the kind of macho swaggering masculinity that leads people like Tony Blair and George Bush and David Cameron to invade countries like Iraq and Libya just for the sense of their own grandiosity.)

I’m talking about true masculinity: the kind of masculinity that meets the world head on, giving you steadfastness and determination to stick to the principles that you believe in. Somebody asked me before I went on the ManKind Project Adventure Training Weekend, “what is the cause that you would die for?”

And this struck me as a very powerful way of actually expressing what’s missing in today’s society for most men – they don’t stand for anything. One of the things the ManKind Project does is to  teach men to speak for themselves, not for others, so let me do that: I know that I didn’t stand for anything before I went on the Mankind Project weekend.

Indeed, that was one of the reasons that I undertook it. Whether I could admit it or not, my life wasn’t working. I was unhappy, I didn’t have any purpose, and my relationship wasn’t going well. But I don’t want you to think that I’m saying the ManKind Project will cure all those problems in one weekend.

It obviously won’t, but it can get you really back in touch with who you are and what you want in life, and for men whose lives are not working it can be a most incredible reconnection experience. Forget what else you’ve read on the Internet from fearful and dissatisfied men. The reality of the ManKind Project adventure weekend is simply this: it helped me get you in touch with myself, in other words, it helped me understand what I needed to do in life, what I wanted to do and how I might do it, and what purpose I  might have that I could call my life’s mission. A purpose in tune with my deepest values. Now, what man wouldn’t want to understand that?

For men who are ready to move into a more mature place, a place of full power and potential, or at least who are willing to start making the journey, the ManKind Project adventure weekend is unrivalled in its excellence. And no matter what you’ve read elsewhere from disaffected men I experienced it as more supportive than anything I had ever previously had in my life. One of the guiding principles of the organisation is the sense of integrity and honesty that pervades everything it does.

So let me tell you some other things it did for me: it enabled me to meet with unwavering steadfastness my female partner in our relationship, and to stand like a rock against the tide of emotion that sometimes comes washing over me from her…. And after a while, the tides of her emotion became less strong, and our relationship deeper and more harmonious. What I discovered through this experience was that women test men for their stability and steadfastness, they test men to make sure that they are reliable and dependable and that they have the strength of character that a woman needs from her male partner.

I also discovered that I could bring a much needed sense of integrity and honesty to everything I did, and that I could say what I thought without fear or favour to almost everyone I met. What a change from cringing in fear and reacting with anger to those I loved!

And finally it allowed me to deal with challenges from my children, from my family, my friends, my boss. It allowed me to stand up to these challenges with firm boundaries, and in the process I discovered that what everybody actually wants is a firm boundary, so they know exactly where they stand, and they know exactly what their rights and responsibilities are. That’s just about the nicest thing I got from the ManKind Project – I discovered my rights and responsibilities on Planet Earth as a man.

If you have any sense that what I’ve said in this article might be relevant to you, then you owe it to yourself, and you certainly owe it to those around you, to look into the Mankind Project to find out whether it might be right for you. Good luck, and I hope to see you there.

Fred

Just what is the ManKind Project, anyway?

What’s the Mankind Project (MKP) all about?

I found MKP in 2002 and was immediately drawn to the NWTA (New Warrior Training Adventure). I guess, looking back, it was my sense that this was a community where men could get together without judgement, competition or having to play a role which drew me to the organisation. And – maybe more important – I sensed it was where I could learn to be a man. I certainly knew I hadn’t learnt that from my father – but I didn’t quite know what was missing.

MKP is like a level playing field, where there’s no need to worry about what you’re saying to your boss, your spouse, your family, your friends. For men who’ve been judged by others their entire life, this can come as a refreshing change!

Acceptance is the key for me – to be accepted for who and what you really are is rare in this society. I think people live by the masks they create to cope with everyday life. To drop them takes courage – often a man’s identity is tied up in who he appears to be to others, or what he does. In this organisation, my experience has been there’s a sense of equality born of the fact that we all serve a common purpose – I once heard it expressed like this: to introduce men to themselves, to who they really are.

I’d add that it’s also about opening a man’s heart to himself and others, regardless of whatever wounds have encouraged him to close off. Of course, no matter why a man’s life appears to fall apart, he’s really in crisis because of the strain of living without fulfilling his inner desires, or trying to be someone who he is not, or following a path given him by someone else, or…..whatever.

I needed and wanted so much to find a purpose, a way of life that fitted with who I am, and with my deepest values and beliefs. (And that wasn’t working for a multi-national chemical company, as I was then doing.)

I’m not saying such changes happen easily, or quickly, but the point for me is that MKP provides a place where the potential for change is available – and the support I needed to help me change my life has been freely available in ways I could never have imagined when I started this journey.

My family and friends and partners over the years have served me in many ways (and I hope the same is true in reverse!), but there’s something unique about MKP. I’ve mentioned a few of the qualities I see in the weekends and the wider ongoing community: openness, lack of judgement, support, but there is more: for me, it was also a way to connect with the deep masculine energy I knew I possessed, but somehow had never been able to access.

After all, I was brought up by a woman who wanted a “nice, well-behaved” son, not necessarily one who could freely express his masculine nature. And by that I mean freely express my strength, courage, loyalty, desire for adventure, spontaneity, loving nature, sexuality, and male power. Now I feel equal to the female power of the woman I’m loving and living with, and I understand what masculinity means to me.

To reconnect with those things more fully in some cases, and for the first time in others, is a wonderful adventure. And it can be so for any man, at any age, I believe – you included!

Rod B