So, I mentioned I was away supporting a men's retreat this past weekend.
Wow am I tired. Wow was it worth it.
The Mankind Project (MKP), which I was supporting, is one of those organizations that developed during the men's movement in the '70s & '80s in the US. When men began to realize there was more to life than corporate clones and mimicking the unhealthy behavior their fathers and father's fathers had passed down.
I was working as a part of the support team called Men of Service (MOS). MOS men are behind the scenes of the initiation weekend and do not interact with the men attending the retreat until late in the day on the final day of the experience. MOS cook, clean, nurture and support the staff men who are facilitating the workshop. It is a seriously important part of the work, it is very taxing, and it feels amazing to know your team has helped 100 men heal by removing the distractions of food prep/self care from the minds of the participants and staff. This past weekend, my husband was participating as a staff facilitator - which made my MOS experience even more intense for me.
I am staffing, as in helping in the facilitating, a weekend coming up in March, 2012 in Tucson, AZ. This will be my first staffing experience through MKP, though I have over 25 years of experience in facilitating workshops, men's retreats and social support groups.
The March Tucson weekend is what MKP calls a Gateway New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA). Gateways are for specific populations of men - men of color, gay/bi/questioning/trans ftm, Spanish Speaking, Younger Men, etc. I attended a Gateway for gay/bi/questioning/trans ftm men in October 2011.
Understand, all false modesty aside, I consider myself an evolved, empowered and emotionally developed man, who has spent decades on self awareness and self development, and this is a focus of my professional life - community development from a community member transformational participatory level ('grass roots').
I was still transformed and changed in ways I did not anticipate; I communicated things that I had not brought to light in 30 years; I grew tremendously over that weekend.
There were all ranges of ages, sizes, colors and physical types on my weekend, in staff and in initiates. Gateways are designed such that the standard ratios in the community at large are reversed - so for my weekend, 90% of the staff were gay/bi/trans men and 10% were hetero allies of the gay community. This will be true in March in Tucson as well.
My husband attended a standard NWTA, not a gateway and his experience was just as transformational for him - he has said in some ways he is glad he went through with a lot of straight men, it helped heal old wounds and it helped him see that straight men are not always the threat they seem.
I encourage any man who finds self development and spiritual growth an important part of his life to attend a NWTA. It is not a cult - it is simply a step along the path for any man in his transformational journey through life.
This excerpt from the Norcal MKP website says some of it well...
What Is The New Warrior?
Men have been warriors since the beginning of time and every man has his warrior side. But social forces pressure many to repress this part of themselves. They unconsciously substitute a distorted shadow for the healthy warrior energy so essential to sustaining individual and communal balance.
The New Warrior is a man who has confronted this destructive "shadow" form and has achieved hard-won ownership of the highly focused, aggressive energy that empowers and shapes the inner masculine self. Sustained by this new energy, the New Warrior is at once tough and loving, wild and gentle, fierce and tolerant. He lives passionately and compassionately, because he has learned to live his mission with integrity, and without apology.
Our Statement of Purpose
"We are an order of men called to reclaim the sacred masculine for our time through initiation, training, and action in the world."
Like a stone dropping into a pond, the New Warrior Training sends ripples through the lives of men, their families, and their communities.
If you are interested in finding out more, go here (the community to which I belong) or here (the National website), and look for a community near you.
While there are detractors out there (like the nutter Throckmorten) who have less than pleasant things to say about MKP, the vast majority of information out there is positive. I encourage you to look into it.
There are communities of MKP all over the US and abroad - there is probably a NWTA somewhere near you - and if you are interested in the March Gay/Bi Gateway NWTA here is a link; there are several Gateways held every year.
Talk at you again soon!