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.