“Seeing your attempts at finding your way in this life, commits me to my own journey. To know that I too can struggle, and we are all working to find our way, gives me strength and commitment to my own path.” ~ a previous men’s circle member.
We all need to have real, authentic relationships. Humans are not in their optimal environment for wellbeing and growth when they lack real, open relationships in their life. Unfortunately, authenticity and sharing what’s really going on are regularly discouraged in men. Our cultural norms and expectations pressure men to pursue status and succeed competitively. We are expected to control our emotions and even disconnect in order to perform, succeed, or just fit in as a “real” man. This leaves men feeling isolated, out of balance, and unfulfilled, and research suggests man’s ways of disengaging takes real hits to his physical and emotional wellbeing.
Beginning to reconnect and engage can be simple. A simple, yet powerful, way is to sit and listen to the honest stories of struggle and success of another man in your presence. It is to hear what life is really like for another man, not just the “Oh, I’m good man, thanks” response. Rather “Hey, this is where I struggle or am stuck, this is where I have inspiration and hope, this is how I’m dealing, or not dealing, with situations in my own life.” Men honestly sharing and hearing other’s stories, in an environment that encourages authenticity, nudges each man to explore and improve on how he shows up and engages in his own life.
Research on the influences of cultural expectations on men argues that the pressures are often too widespread for men to succeed in making isolated changes on their own. Thus, there is a strong need to create situations where it is encouraged and expected for men to show up authentically and let themselves be seen and to truly see others.
A Circle of Nine is a men’s group for exactly this purpose. A Circle of Nine gives nine men the opportunity to regularly share a part of his story in a council style format – meaning each man gets his turn to share to the amount he is ready without feedback or advice from the other men. There is the intention to speak, as well as to listen, from the heart. Each session will also have a brief practice in settling in and becoming present, as well as a brief introduction and reflection on a topic on masculinity. The intention is to meet regularly over 5 months starting Feb 5th, with the possibility of extending the group further for those who are interested in continuing the group connection.
For those not able to attend, I encourage you to begin expecting that the men you meet throughout your day want more honest, real communication. I encourage you to be the one who takes that leap and begins to share from your own heart. If not for yourself, then for the other men in your life.
There will be a sample meeting January 22nd, 7-9 for those who want to get an idea of what the Circle of Niine men’s group is.
For more information on the Circle of Nine, you may go to: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/ws?studioid=-190764&stype=-8&sTG=23&sVT=35&sView=day&sLoc=0&sTrn=100000001&date=02/05/19
or email kevinJkunkel@gmail.com.