My local Yoga Studio started a Men’s Yoga Class. It was mostly men who were new to Yoga and who struggled with the postures. Men tend to be strong but stiff, we tend to be overweight and are not used to exploring this in the company of others. We were a far cry from the nimble women you see in the Yoga books, but we struggled on, taking care of our damaged joints. We stretched and still appeared to be immobile. I loved that my body started moving again.
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You have to learn to recognize your own depth.
The conversation continued the following year at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The resulting 24 hours of raw footage were edited down to six one-hour episodes and broadcast on PBS in 1988, shortly after Campbell’s death, in what became one of the most popular series in the history of public television.
Men think loving is for women. Men will look at you in horror if you talk to them about how to love yourself. That is so sad!
I have been changing my life recently. I have been going through a process of identifying what serves me in life and what doesn’t. I will be writing more on the details of this transformation in a future post, but now I want to outline a simple set of principles that I have adopted to frame how I live.
I realised later in life that you can only control yourself. To lead others you need to be seen to be in control of yourself, then others will respect you and follow you.
I have been talking to a group of men and women in the last few days about how to get men engaged in their own advancement, in their own future. I was told that men need it and women want it.
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Awakening The New Masculine is a new book by Gary Stamper. It focuses on The Path Of The Integral Warrior and is called a psychospiritual journey for men. It lays out his view of what men should aspire to based on his Integral Warrior workshops, as part of the mens movement.
It’s a brave attempt by Gary to outline a new paradigm for masculinity and provide a path for the mens movement to follow. It succeeds in outlining a spiritual path for men who are already on this type of journey, men who have already entered the castle of their own spirituality, but it fails to address what the new masculine means for ordinary men. It fails to account for the issues men face in the world of work and relationships and it fails to describe an accessible new masculine.
What is Awakening The New Masculine about?
The book is focused on the work that Gary does in his workshops and follow the structure of them. It expands on the work of David Deida by bringing in Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and combining it with a modern view of Shamanism. As part of the look at integral Gary brings in Spiral Dynamics to help understand the idea of moving through levels. Towards the end he devotes a large section to the four major archetypes of men described by Robert Moore.
He starts by outlining the history of the Mens Movement and quickly lands at the feet of David Deida, The Way Of The Superior Man and his three stages. Deida outlines these three stage as stages of relationship in his book Intimate Communion. The first stage causes couples to be dependent on each other for what they lack in themselves. This evolves into the second stage where a modern ideal of two independent people coming together as equals creates a 50/50 relationship. The third stage, or Intimate Communion, is where a couple open their hearts and give the unique gifts that lie deep in their sexual, emotional and spiritual core.
Gary takes these stages and applies them to masculinity and describes the ideal as a third-stage man, calling it the Divine Masculine. To simplify his explanation he describes them as:
- First Stage: a man who only embodies his inner masculine nature.
- Second Stage: a man who integrates his inner feminine with his inner masculine.
- Third Stage: a man who re-integrates his inner masculine.
This idea is based on an assumption or given, that he touches on throughout the book, that we all have masculine and feminine inside us and that wholeness is dependent on integrating both within us. This idea gets confused because, if you pursue it, you end up with a second stage man, which is not where Gary wants us to be. This necessitates a rather awkward re-integration of the masculine to create the new masculine.
My general view aligns more with David Deida’s view that there are masculine and feminine qualities that we access to different degrees at different stages of life. This allows more of flow between stages and enables men to create a masculinity that is appropriate to them rather than following a stereotype. I feel that Gary’s stages fall too close to being stereotypical.
For me the three stages of relationship each have their own assumption or given. First stage relationships operate on an assumption of a man embodying masculinity and a woman embodying femininity. This assumption gives rise to domination and patriarchy as the basis of the interaction between men and women. Second stage relationships operate on the assumption that is espoused in the book, that we all have equal amounts of masculinity and femininity within us and that wholeness comes from integrating them within ourselves.
The third stage, the one we are interested in, must assume a flexibility that mirrors the reality of how we are masculine and/or feminine. We are all born with a core essence which is altered by life. Our ability to enter the third stage is governed by our acceptance of our core essence and our desire to balance our assumption of qualities associated with masculinity or femininity to create our own independent masculinity or femininity. Whilst there is a general correlation between this and gender, there is no fixed relationship. This stage sees the full integration of masculine and feminine within relationships that are free and demonstrate an equality in power between the partners without an equality in sexual essence.
Awakening The New Masculine is heavily dependent on Integral Theory and Shamanism, neither of which attract me and which are probably too esoteric for most men and for the mens movement. Unfortunately that means that most of the book is of little interest to me and probably many others. I accept that these can be paths to a new masculine for men, but they are narrow, esoteric paths. Many disciplines have paths to masculinity but they are only paths for those disciplines. What I hoped for was a path that was beyond the acceptance of a specific theory of life and spirituality. The book will, inevitably, be sidelined as far as men in general are concerned, that is a shame.
The one aspect of interest that is touched on is the concept of the four quadrants that is essential to integral theory. This balances the importance of the interior and exterior with the individual and collective. This is a tool that could be used to explore the three stages a man goes through on a deeper level to find a path that can be followed by men in general. This is something I look forward to.
The book makes heavy use of Spiral Dynamics and the four major archetypes for men, King, Warrior, Lover and Magician. These are great tools for analysing and understanding men in general and can even be useful for understanding your own personal approach to life and, therefore, masculinity. They do not, for me, provide paths to understanding where to go. They are too general and applicable to all to provide any kind of concrete guidance for men. The four archetypes are too associated with the mytho-poetic men’s movement which is increasingly seen as out of date and inapplicable to modern life.
Awakening The New Masculine will help a certain group of men to go beyond the mens movement and beyond their drumming circle but I don’t think it will help them to truly understand what it means to be a man awakened to the new masculine. Many men are still struggling to define this in a way that is both understandable and accessible.
Men Are Easy To Understand!
Understanding men is easy, some would argue: you just have to know what men want, thats all. Why do so many men feel confused about themselves, then? Why is it that most men couldn’t tell you what they want or who they are?
Men are considered to be far less complex than women. A large factor in this is the way their brains are organised. The male brain is compartmentalised: every part works independent of the other. Specific behaviour that has been labelled as masculine results from this, for example being able to do only one thing at a time, or putting focus onto something else as a way letting go, or being in the mood for – and ready for – sex in a matter of seconds.
The two halves of the male brain are connected by merely one third of the connections the female brain has. These connections regulate the ability to switch from the logical, left, side of the brain to the sensitive, right, side of the brain. This is an important factor in understanding men and male behaviour.
Although the constitution of the male brain is a scientific truth, does this scientific truth explain why men are considered less complex? Does the way the male brain is organised determine men’s level of emotional depth, men’s ability to understand themselves, to understand women? Somehow that doesnt feel right. Could there be another reason?
Understanding Men – The Background
As I outlined in Male Dominance we live in a patriarchal society. Everything we are taught and all of our systems and structures are male focused. Boys are groomed to be part of the structure, to contribute to it and to share in its rewards. For many boys this grooming leads to them shutting off part of their personality. Boys are taught not to cry, to be strong.
Crying and displaying emotions are the domain of girls.
By the time men grow into adolescence, they are often no longer capable of truly expressing the full range of their emotions. When they reach their twenties and thirties, some real men are no longer in touch with their emotions, their feelings at all. Some men in positions of power or authority might express anger and frustration, but that is considered to be in bad taste.
Fathering children and providing for the family is a responsibility that prevents many men from following their inner most desires. I have met countless men who talked about how they would have liked to do something important or real with their life – if they had only had the chance. Alas, duty called.
Men reap all the benefits, are out there in the world while the women stay at home. Men have access to things women dont have. Men, however, have areas they can’t go to. Today, careful grooming still keeps men from developing, knowing and living in their emotions. Knowing this makes understanding mens confusion a little easier. A man needs access to his full range of emotions to live a balanced life, a life of purpose.
Society adores great works of art, great men of vision and creativity, but the men who are painters, actors, singers and dancers are themselves despised. They often live unhappy lives, filled with alcohol and drugs. They are going against societys viewpoint that has branded their emotions an outrageous display of their feminine side.
Thus the confusion grows. It becomes ever easier to understand how men can feel so adrift. In a world increasingly under the influence of the feminine, men are expected to show their emotions and to talk about them, yet on a subconscious level society still moulds them not to.
We are all the product of the same groundwork that has shaped and formed us. It is no use us blaming the past, what is done is done.
In western society, however, things are starting to improve, there is more clarity in understanding men. Men have increasing opportunities to choose differently, to educate themselves and learn to bring the parts that are missing back to the whole.
There might be another light on the horizon for future generations. Recent studies have suggested that young boys might actually be more sensitive than young girls. But before you get too excited, let me give you Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Sebastian Kraemers reaction, from an issue of the British Medical Journal:
“If parents were more aware of male sensitivity, they might change the way they treat their sons.”
The traditional attitude that “boys will be boys” needs exploring further. Seems like we still have a long way to go
This is for all those men who are wondering how to be a man in these times, how to live a great life.
There is a lot of pressure on men from all sides, pressure to justify, pressure to perform. The answer is simple, let the intellectuals and the activists argue about the state of men and look at yourself and how you live.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
(Bernice Johnson Reagon)
In my view there are six areas of living a great life to focus on:
1. Love Yourself
This is the primary gift you can give yourself. It’s an act of selfishness to love yourself, it’s a supreme act of giving. If you are unable to love yourself you are unable to love someone else.
To love yourself you need to be grounded and certain of who you are. You need to connect with yourself and learn how to live your life as yourself. Your friends will be glad to know someone so strong and in control of himself.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
2. Your Core Masculinity
It’s important to get in touch with the maleness that you were born with. This is the sense of being a man that was imprinted in your brain in the womb. Many men struggle because they believe the lie that it is all a social construct. It isn’t, you were born a man in many ways.
It helps to be focused and clear about what was intended for your life. Learn to enjoy who you are and accept the creative challenge of growing and developing yourself. Don’t stay still and live on what you were, but hold that as the solid foundation of the life you build for yourself.
“To me the definition of true masculinity – and femininity, too – is being able to lay in your own skin comfortably.”
3. Love Others
Learn how to love others: friends, family, intimate partner, even enemies. Show them how solid you are and how fearless you are, what a great life you lead.
You need to separate love from desire or neediness and let it stand on it’s own. Learn how to be contained in yourself and how to provide a container of love for those close to you in your great life. Hold them in an embrace that allows them to fly to freedom with your love.
Live at your full potential and draw others into that circle of strength and love.
“And what do all the great words come to in the end, but that? I love you — I am at rest with you — I have come home.”
4. Your Personal Masculinity
The masculinity you build for yourself is the one that will carry you through life. This is the masculinity that comes, like a Phoenix, out of the fire of all the influences that bear down on you: from family, peers, teachers and the media. Out of this you will make the choices and forge your own masculinity. You will not be a stereotype but an individual, you will be you.
Learn how to be dynamic with energy and flow. Harness the power of your masculinity and use it to show compassion and understanding of others. Be generous, you know you have nothing to lose.
Full engage with your passion and create your success through your dynamism.
“A man may conquer a million men in battle but one who conquers himself is, indeed, the greatest of conquerors.”
5. Love Your Partner
Focus your love on your intimate partner, give her love without expecting anything in return. She needs you attention and she needs to know you love her. Don’t ever assume she knows what you think or what you feel, you need to be open and honest without displaying your inadequacies to her.
At all times you should be present with her, making her the most important person in your life. Yes, you need to focus on your work and follow your direction in life but you also need to show her that she comes first. Find the balance in this, the balance that doesn’t come from neediness.
Live in authenticity, feel your emotions and love her.
“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”
6. Your Sexuality
Live in and love your sexuality but don’t use it to dominate and control. It will grow naturally out of the power and strength of your personal masculinity, let it develop and encourage it. This sexuality can be a terrible weapon, though, so use it carefully and lovingly.
It is important to understand how much intimacy and polarity play a role in your sexuality and in your great life. You need to be emotionally intimate with your partner, you need to love beyond physical desire. The polarity that will exist between you will be the powerhouse of your love and your passion, encourage it and guard it well.
Always us what you have to drive your vision and to build your life.
“Freud’s view is that all love is sexual in its origin or its basis. Even those loves which do not appear to be sexual or erotic have a sexual root or core. They are all sublimations of the sexual instinct.”
Celebrate A Great Life
Keep these areas in your focus and you can’t go wrong in living a great life and loving. Let those with an axe to grind go about their business of grinding, all you have to do is stand firm and know who you are.
Every day is the most important day in your life. So remember to live, love and celebrate this day as the man you are.