by Clay Boykin
What is in a man’s heart? Men are likely the only ones who truly know. Normally, they protect what’s at their very core from other men and perhaps the women and partners in life. Fear of being vulnerable and shame keep them from connecting with other men, yet it is only when we men open our hearts that these questions get answered.
When Can Men Put Down Their Swords and Shields?
The emphasis over the past fifty years in the U.S. and a few other countries has been on raising the consciousness around women, addressing women’s issues, validating their rightful place in the world and the sacredness of the divine feminine. To say this work is long overdue and that we have a long way to go would certainly be an understatement.
But what about men? When and how do men get the opportunity to put down their swords and shields to go inward to heal themselves? What about the divine masculine and what about male spirituality?
In the Western culture we are only in the early stages of creating a space for men to heal and find their spiritual selves. We are just beginning to recognize publicly that we men are wounded, to acknowledge our shame, allow us to be vulnerable, and shed what no longer serves us. We are learning that men and women are made up of both divine masculine and divine feminine energies.
Suffice it to say, all of us need to learn this so that we can all rise to a higher level of consciousness. We, as men, and all of us as a society have a lot of work to do.
Whom Do We Turn To?
Brené Brown hit the nail on the head in her TED Talk when she shared a comment from a conversation with a man after one of her lectures:
My wife and daughters… they'd rather see me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall off. You say you want us to be vulnerable and real, but c'mon. You can't stand it. It makes you sick to see us like that.
So if we men cannot let our families see us in our raw and most vulnerable state as we wrestle with our shadow, then to whom do we turn to, our social friends or business partners? Sure, religious institutions, various forms of therapy, twelve-step programs, wilderness experiences, and books all play an important part. But at some point we need to connect on a much deeper and contemplative level with other men who are struggling or have struggled along their path.
Creating Safe Circles for Men
With this as a backdrop, almost seven years ago I launched the Men’s Fellowship Network. I quickly realized that with about twenty guys in a safe and non-judgmental circle we can have contemplative conversation about life and male spirituality. Coming together in this environment where we are not trying to fix or challenge one another opens us to safely learn how to go into our hearts and connect on a level seldom found in our society today.
Having a Positive Impact on the World
Learning how to truly speak from our hearts with other men helps us connect our head and heart in our daily lives. And with this we show up a bit more aware and conscious of the positive impact we can have at home, at work and in the world.
Author of Circles of Men: A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Creating Men’s Groups
Pictures: Clay Boykin and Men's Fellowship Network
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