I grew up avoiding being around groups of men. I didn’t feel welcome or safe often. As a kid, spotting a group of older boys was a danger sign. Bullies traveled in packs and I assumed any boys I saw that I didn’t know–or, in some cases, even those I knew—were out to torment me. At their best, a group of males would make fun of each other, be sarcastic and bust balls.
As an adult, I’ve learned that there can be great healing power in a gathering of men. There can be community, support, and love. I have recently been awed by the compassionate bonds that open-hearted men being of service can bring to the world.
I know that much of my fear around being with men arose from being molested by a male neighbor when I was five years old. Knowing that didn’t necessarily stop the feelings though. What did stop those feelings was a transformative weekend known as the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend put on by the ManKind Project – specifically the ManKind Project New England for me.
I went through the weekend last October and since I’d already done 40 multiple-day, personal growth events before I got there, I didn’t expect any big shifts. I was wrong. I was thrilled to be wrong. In all of those other events I was part of a male minority. Going through something only with men made a difference. It made a huge difference for me.
Over the course of that weekend I truly became comfortable around other men. I felt completely supported and loved. These were not things I was consciously seeking, but they were the gifts I received from the NWTA. I did a full episode of my podcast, Real Men Feel, sharing my experience without giving away details to detract from anyone else’s. You can check that out here:
This past weekend, I staffed my first New Warrior weekend and it was as amazing in different ways. It reconfirmed everything I got from my original weekend and helped me grow and heal even more. Staffing was fun, challenging, awe-inspiring, emotional, and so much more. I saw many familiar faces from my original weekend, both men who staffed it and some new brothers who went through it with me. Some men had seen my videos and podcasts, so I got to be the center of attention at times, and also witness and observe many powerful moments. I left it somehow happy and heartbroken at the same time. I fell in love with another group of 35 or so men. I have a new collection of best friends, brothers, and warriors who I know have my back, as well as my heart. Here is a video I shot moments after the event ended.
I urge you to explore attending a New Warrior Training Adventure yourself. They happen somewhere in the world every weekend. If I were in charge of the world, it would be mandatory training for all men. Learn more at mkp.org
More by Andy Grant here on GMP:
The founder of “Real Men Feel” reflects on words meant to disparage one’s masculinity.
Don’t get caught up in the competition, in matters of body parts, or life.
One man’s journey to figure out for himself what it means to be a real man.
Photo credit: Flickr