Archives for posts with tag: emotional healing

There is a lot being said about “toxic masculinity” and on the one hand, it is a good thing. It means there is a growing awareness of the problem that men have throughout the world. On the other hand, most discussions revolve around how bad it is without much in the way of solutions. It is bad, but saying it doesn’t do anything to change it. We should (and can) do better.

The problem with so many of our issues is that we often use the same approach or reaction to them that are involved in the dysfunction itself. Huh? What this means is we don’t really address the problem. We are fighting fire with fire. We tend to get caught up in reacting and stay in that reactionary space.

Talking about racism, or violence, toxic masculinity, or any of our other ill does nothing to fix them so long as we come to the table with our feeling of fear about them. That is where the discussion is right now in the main. Fear? It doesn’t look like fear to hear people talk about it. It probably more accurately sounds like anger, right? But as any psychologist will tell you, or as any thoughtful person intuitively senses, anger comes from something. Want to guess where it comes from?

Fear breeds anger and anger breeds hate. It is the same with nearly every dysfunction that humans experience. And yes, most feeling people who are expressing about toxic masculinity have fear tied up in them. People are afraid of what a toxic male might do, and they are angry about this fact. The blogs are full of how much people hate this about men. Are you seeing now how these feelings are all intertied? But feeling this is only the first step. If you are only at the reactionary stage, you are doing nothing to help be part of the cure. This is a nonstarter that will leave us on an endless merry-go-round. We have to learn how to approach it differently.

The way through and out of this is the opposite of our fear. That is love. Love brings compassion, and compassion stills our fear and opens us to understanding, or at least the possibility that we can. The way to solving toxic masculinity is by probing it and seeking to understand its roots through a mind and heart that is open, and you cannot have an open heart when fear, anger, or hate are present. We need to learn a different approach if we are to ever resolve this issue…or any issue like this. This is step two.

I have experienced many of the inputs that drive toxic masculinity. Some of them have to do with the roles that we as men have been saddled with. These beliefs about what a “real man” is supposed to be are often the very things that give rise to this toxicity. This toxicity as it is called, is the result of unnatural beliefs about manhood, beliefs that unnaturally chain men as they grow and learn about masculinity. These inputs, the behaviors coming from our culture that inform males from cradle to grave, come from all sides of life. It happens early in life, usually from the moment a baby boy is brought home after having been born.

We are all culpible in this failed effort at raising males to be better adjusted as human beings. The influences are so pervasive that a male born to an enlightened household will still probably grow up having friends who give him a picture of what they believe being masculine is all about.

This means that women are helping to form these beliefs in our sons in a number of ways, and men also perpetuate them by believing that they are important enough to internalize and pass on to their own sons. We are all involved in this. Men do it as much as women do, the only difference is that women complain about it when they see the results of the behavior in their male children and the men they are either friends with or are married to. Men, because they are the ones internalizing the beliefs that lead to emotional toxicity, are just less aware of it for the simple reason that when you are the one with the belief, that belief serves to blind you so you don’t see it as well as a bystander can. How many times have you seen a man behave from a toxic place and maybe apologize but then go on to continue with the same reactive behavior again a little later? The problem is that if you are a bystander you are often only seeing symptoms, not causes, and you are reacting to those symptoms rather than doing what I prescribed earlier, which is what will lead us more dependably to the source of the problem so that it can be fixed. Men, for their part, have so internalized something that they know is poisoning them, but seem powerless to do anything to change it. To remove the bite from this poisoned apple takes what might seem a herculean effort. I observe that it requires patience and love.

To explain this issue, I have a video that is brave and brilliant, that I hope you will take a moment to look at. It is a TED Talk, which means that it isn’t long, and the speaker gets to the point. What she explains, as a sex worker, are the problems she sees with men that need to be fixed. What needs fixing involves a change in what we believe masculinity is all about. We know there is a problem, but reacting to it only guarantees that the problem remains. Once you watch it, I will have a few words to put this into perspective as it relates to my life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7xLfeTytns

So one of the biggest problems has to do with how we create a belief about what being masculine is about. Real boys don’t cry, mothers calling their sons their “little man.” These are the beliefs that become internalized. They are literal poison to mens hearts, minds, and souls.

In my marriage my wife described our son as her “protector” when he was all of two years old, a signal to him that has had disastrous consequences for his mental health and well being later in life. I know the causal link to this relationship dynamic because I was able to see how it began innocently at age two with my son, and continued through his growing years into adulthood. I saw how a child grew increasingly neurotic and troubled, and when his mother and my relationship began to dissolve, he became polarized by her bad boundaries with him so that his and my relationship also dissolved. His mother’s divorce became his divorce, too.

The problem with this is that while it might feel good to have a child that is exhibiting these traits, they can have disastrous effects on children in the long run. A child should not be called upon to be a caretaker, that is the parent’s job. For another, when all a child has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Without his being able to understand what being a protector meant for him, this behavior served in his life to always side with his Mother and anytime she had a challenge, difficulty, or dissagrement, he was swift to come to her aid. Any time his Mother or I were not in agreement, guess who reflexively sided with his Mother? My son did. This created a sense that his Father, who loved him very much, might well be a threat. He was a child, really what did he know? It sounds like such a laudible trait, doesn’t it? He went on to have girlfriends, some of whom he felt were his job to fix or protect. It meant that he was naturally drawn to women who needed help. There is nothing wrong with helping a person, but when it is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, there is something amiss in that relationship. In our rush to follow our inner programming, we don’t always see the forest for the trees.

In this type of codependent dynamic, the male derives a reward for his behavior as a protector, making him feel important, and the female has a male that is attentive to her many needs, some of which are (in my life) based in uncertainty, anxiety, and fear (in the case of a codependent relationship). The male is in his own way also anxious and fearful (about being accepted), but most often neither are self reflective enough to even see whatis at the root of their behaviors. When you base a relationship on those qualities, you are effectively getting painted into a corner where both people remain in the pattern with little benefit to trying to break out of it.

This is one outcome of toxic masculinity. A boy is asked to do something completely counter to his own true nature because society expects it of him. He internalizes the behavior because of his desire to be accepted, and he suffers as a result. He is alienated from a father who loves him and he grows up angry and rageful because a child is simply ill-equipped to act like an adult. I can tell you that in my experience being mother’s “little man” or “protector” warps a male child’s heart and mind.

Males thus raised will wind up acting out because that boy or teen (or adult) is actively suppressing his truer nature, and his acting out is in turn hurting others, and the cycle continues adinfinitum. The problem is that he was brainwashed into believing that what was “out there” as a problem (the nail to his hammer) is now inside of him. A child doesn’t know how to properly protect anyone, so they are flying by the seat of their immature pants. Whoops.

The way out of this is to stop raising children like this to begin with. That means acknowledging that boys need to show love, compassion, and feel safe feeling their emotions instead of putting on a false act of pretending they are tough saviors and hero’s. Little boys are not little men. They are as tender and as sensitive as their female counterparts. The only difference is they are taught in subtle and overt ways that they should be something that does not fit them. Women are taught similarly, but with a completely different set of expectations. We dislike those roles on both of the ends of the spectrum, right?

When parents demand that their sons “man-up” or play the tough guy, they are robbing their boys of their humanity and their childhoods. The results are like what happened to my own son. This happens even without the dysfunctional element that was present in my particular situation.

This kind of programming isn’t always overt. Sometimes it is small, subtle, and often goes unnoticed. Thousands of miniscule things add up. When my then-wife came to me telling me with swelling pride about how our two year old son was her protector, I felt a stab of caution and concern. My impulse was to tell her that this wasn’t the kind of thing to be encouraging in my son. I thought how she would feel defensive if I did that, no matter how kindly I chose my words. I also thought that it was just a phase and that he would grow out of it, so I didn’t say anything.

I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING.

Would it have made a difference? 20/20 tells me no, but you don’t really know for sure. I could have educated myself as a first-time parent and then sat her down, imploring her not to encourage this in our son for his own sake, and shown her the studies. I did not do what many parents probably have also not done down through the ages. We just kept kicking the can of paternalistic toxicity down the road.

I find that I often ask myself what I could have done differently. I always wished that he would suspend his disbelief in my love for him and spend time with me away from his Mother, something I knew could short-circuit the pattern of denigration she engaged with my children in an effort to destroy my relationship with my children during our divorce. She wouldn’t be able to comment on our time alone together without any degree of accuracy, which might be enough, I thought, for him to be able to see what a lie all of this was. That never was able to happen. By that time, my son was a walking poster child for so much of what is wrong with men. The thing is, I had married with an unacknowledged desire to be the knight in shining armor. You can never save a person who is not ready to be saves, who is not ready to grow and change out of old patterns.

Toxic masculinity is front and center for me in my life. There is no glossing it over. I know how it has affected me, I know how it has affected my son. We are all responsible for the fallout from it.

Reprogramming Our Men

Once programmed, men need safe places to be able to explore their God-given humanity. They need patience and they need to feel safe from being ridiculed for feeling in a sensitive way. Our culture is saturated with this false view of masculinity. When men have to suck it up when women get to gush and emote, you know there is a problem. Criticizing a man for being reactive only causes him to dig in to his old programming more. If you find yourself going for that stoic cowboy, then you might become part of the problem. Please don’t do that to anyone, man or woman.

Men have to take the reins and make an effort to not perpetuate this programmed set of responses. Men need to support other men by not trying to shame other men for being tender, or sensitive. Men must learn to hold the line with their women they are with and call out any effort they make to imply that they aren’t being manly enough, with false equivalences. Yes, it will mean walking away from women who exhibit these behaviors, but don’t look back unless there is real awareness on their part and an exhibited desire to begin changing their own programmed views and responses. A woman like this is not worth losing you soul over.

That said, a woman has a potentially fantastic power over a man to disarm and beguile him. Men are known to do anything for the woman he loves. This means that if a man is with a woman who has healthy boundaries, is not herself tied to the old modes of what being manly is about, she can, through grace and a gentle hand, show him the way to her heart if that way harmonizes with his own innate humanity. No false expectations, no tough guy bullshit. Yes, we are tough because of how we are built, but our hearts are as tender as anyone else. The problem is, you wouldn’t know this to look at most men. I promise you that it is there. The soft touch with great patience is what is required. You also have to know that you sre suited for this kind of work.

It will take time, but each encouraging word and action will have an effect. We can change this, but it wont change by just being angry about it. We have to love ourselves back into our existence and never again fall prey to the false beliefs that got us here.

Imagine what it could do: men whose natural aggresiveness is expressed in a more natural way where that aggresiveness is no longer laced with anger and rage. Men who are more sensitive, and less controlling. A man with something to prove often lacks the necessay approval of himself and will go looking for its substitute which is approval from others. By teaching him not to trust his natural instincts, he will look to someone to supply him with the false instincts that so far hasn’t served them well. All of this can be turned around, a cosmic 180º turn, but it needs to be important enough to begin integrating new behaviors based in authentic emotion instead of our culturally foisted ones. I say this as a man who has been through it.

The way through is with real love, not a false sense of compassion or anger and upset over it. Lets get this done for our boys.

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kundlini2I have been going to have reiki treatments recently to assist with some clearing in my chakras, and my energy field in general.  There is a lot of talk about chakra clearing and chakra meditation.  It is useful to know, though, that your whole body is a vast network of criss-crossing energy lines that go all the way down to the atomic level.  If you were to see your energy field, you would look like a densely packed fibrous body of light, with branches that are big, like arteries, but also with a very fine system like capillaries.  Where energy draws towards the trunk of the body, there are vortices of energy that are called chakras.  There are many many more than the seven we normally talk about, but that is mostly because people aren’t as aware of them, but they are there nonetheless.

All throughout this body of light, energy flows. It seems that anything that we do not experience fully and acknowledge completely emotionally winds up getting lodged in the same way that a splinter or scar exists in the body.  When I began this process of awakening almost seven years ago, I knew next to nothing about Chinese medicine and when I hear that the light body stores old memory, I thought that was a little funny. Didn’t the brain do that?  I am sorry to say that up until that time, I had been seeing auras and reading energy for years.  I had been seeing how the aura, which is in the body, would show or exhibit emotional states all over the body and I certainly learned to read this energy. It wasn’t until I awoke that I became aware of the phenomenon of releasing blocks.  These blocks are merely unprocessed emotion that gets lodged in the energy body.  Once you are able to go down deep into the very block, you can release it. There are a number of methods I was shown how to use by none other than the intelligent energy that has been living in my bod all these years.

Having the reiki reminds me again how these blocks contain memory in them.  Last week I was able to go back into the first year or less of my life.  This was pretty amazing given that I have no memories of my first year of life.  Its just a haze to me.  However, whenever I dig up a block and release it, its almost like uncorking some ancient emotion that I feel again perhaps for the first time.  I was speaking to a friend today while taking a break between teaching my classes at the university how I had encountered this last block and how I had actually KNOWN that the problem that the block was existed all these years but somehow in my own physiology and energy field, I seemed to need to experience the actual  feeling directly instead of having a version of it resting in my awareness.

Isn’t that kind of weird?  To me, it actually feels like the block is a living being, locked in ice and waiting to be let go like some KundaliniMastadon whose organs are preserved and all that is needed is a careful electrical jolt to get the creature up and moving again. In a real way, though, this was what this last release was all about.  I KNEW that I hadn’t grieved my father’s passing as an infant.  Of course.  That is obvious, right?  And yet, deep inside the block there was this very specific feeling or awareness that lived in the pit of it.  When I felt THAT, I encountered a week-long process of grieving ina powerful way.  Call it speed grieving if you wish, because that is just what it felt like. Long since dead, I had to get on with it and not stand on ceremony. I was raw for about five days and slowly began to feel more healed from the ordeal.

So I know that I am not any different from the rest of you.  I know that others who have gone through the release process have also described allowing themselves to really FEEL the blocked energy as a way to help move the energy. This works, but it assumes you know how to access the energy.  Its not always possible.  There are other ways to access these blocks, and each is about as useful as any other.

WHile feeling deep into the block is one way, another way is to remain aloof, to allow the Observer part of you to come to the fore.  This Observer is actually very detached and it may help you to allow yourself to feel the same sense of detachment that comes with the Observer,  By allowing yourself to watch everything as though it is just a play, you can watch and see, but not become emotionally enmeshed in what is happening in front of you. Being able to step back like this is useful because it allows the focus of awareness to be present in the healing process, and while it may seem crazy, I have observed that it is observation or awareness being brought into the moment that serves to heal these blocks. Interestingly, the folks doing the reiki on me were saying the same thing.  I never learned this concept in any book, I was taught it by kundalini itself. It showed me years ago that my job was to SEE the block.  Just SEE itl in time, the block will go away.  If you can imagine that just behind your eyes is an infinite consciousness using your eyes to see through you, you can actually begin to allow more of the infinite through because…..that is exactly what is happening!  The method used to dissolve blocks is not to think it but FEEL it.  Thinking it or rationalizing is a very limited activity and is good for solving small problems like how to fix the kitchen sink but is really horrible at being able to divine the core of an issue that might stretch back lifetimes for you. It is the feeling self that must be enlisted for this.  I know; curious that I was just speaking of being aloof. Think of it as using your eyesight to SEE a problem but not get enmeshed in it.

There is another method for releasing blocks and this is movement.  Movement itself can be divided into several different classes.  One is shaking. Shaking has been shown to help release trauma stored in the body. It was first observed in animals that had been attacked by large prey animals.  Turns out, humans also use this method without realizing it when releasing old trauma sometimes. The other form of movement is the kind of movement found in the eastern traditions of Chi Gung and Tai Qi.  Both methods are designed to help move energy and eliminate blocks. Both are gentle workouts for the body and have been shown to bring a variety of health benefits. For anyone dealing with a backlog of blocks or who is aware of the blocks more than the average person, I would suggest keeping with a form of movement like Qi Gung and staying with it for at least a month with one or two session per week.  This is because some clearings take time to happen as well as once clearing does happen, you can sometimes get more clearings as a result of one clearing. Everything affects everything else.

There are a lot of very good visualizations to try when releasing blocks.  One is to stare into the block and feel your gaze breaking it up.  Another is to imagine a large hand opening up instead of clenching. Another is to imagine a river that is flowing and carrying you with it.  You do not control anything, you let the river take you.  Yet another very good visualization is imagining that your body is like a conduit or straw and energy flows through you unimpeded.  You let go of trying to be in control but become more of an observer.  By doing this kind of work, you can begin to shift your focus so that you can help to facilitate the movement of energetic blocks in your system.

Image © Stafford Artglass, Parker Stafford

Image © Stafford Artglass, Parker Stafford

By studying and knowing the chakra system you can learn more about how to dissolve a block.  If energy is stuck in one center, say, the heart, you can meditate on what the heart does and how the heart might be blocked and how to release it. For example, when dealing with root issues, like I have, I have found that I have been feeling emotional energy surrounding things like survival, nurture, and even abundance and sexuality. I can begin to get a clue about why the material is blocked, but knowing the basics of the center wont always lead me to the block, I have to allow myself to just FEEL it.  Somewhere inside of you, you do know the content of every single block in your body, but we do a lot to filter all of that out from conscious awareness. That is why meditation can be so handy. It can help to bring back into focus those things more on the edge of your awareness.  It is known, for example, that the left hemisphere acts as a giant filtering agent and that by letting down our “guard” so to speak, we can begin to broaden our awareness and filter less.  When you filter less, you also feel a flow of energy.  You don’t necessarily have to focus on everything that moves by, but being in a place where you can observe is very helpful as I am sure you can imagine.  Its different, but a very good kind of different and is within your own abilities to try.

The advantage of clearing is that you can better feel and hear the flow of the universe in you. If you want to know cosmic consciousness, this is a good way to do it; by reducing the noise!  It allows you to feel more clearly and it also helps to erase karma.  Being able to reduce karma in your life is huge.  By releasing blocks you are releasing also the vibration that the energy that has exerted all this time.  You will find, bit by bit, that you will attract based more on what you feel you want and need instead of constantly getting stuck on a karmic merry-go-round with different faces and names but the same behaviors popping up over and over and over.  It isn’t the world that needs to change, it is merely conforming to what you are.  It is you that must change if you with to attract a different kind of world in your experience.  The really great thing is that you can!

 

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