Recently I spoke with Zat Baraka and Ken Blackman, the coaches behind The New Masculine Program, a webinar series to help men with confidence, sex, purpose and money (what else is there?).
One of the coolest things I’ve discovered about choosing to be a personal development mentor is that I get to meet and partner up with other powerful thought leaders. Recently I spoke with Zat Baraka and Ken Blackman, the coaches behind The New Masculine Program, a webinar series to help men with confidence, sex, purpose and money (what else is there?). Here’s what they have to say about life and sex and all of the above…
What does the “new masculine” mean?
Zat: First I want to be clear that there is no set prescription for what the new masculine is but there are some strong guidelines. The new masculine is a path not a destination. The beginning of the path is to explore and uncover the unhealthy programming we received from our family, and society. This misunderstanding of what healthy masculinity is, keeps us trapped. This conditioning of old outdated masculinity, greatly affects our actions in life. Looking at the programming, and clearing that programming is crucial.
Ken: So many of us have inherited the tattered remnants of a hopelessly outdated model of masculinity, one that was unceremoniously dismantled in a wave of backlash in the ’60’s and ’70’s, then half-heartedly revived to try to fill the resulting vacuum. We are left struggling to live up to a model that doesn’t even work.
The new masculine is a revival of organic, internal manhood. It’s a recognition that every archetype, every template, every model is just a frozen snapshot of a moment when some guy followed his intuition and did something that worked, that felt right. So rather than give men a new template, we’re having them tap into that source within themselves. That is the wellspring of masculinity.
Zat: To name a few other aspects:
Having a commitment to one’s personal growth, being vulnerable, honoring women, and cultivating compassion for others. Using sexuality to create more intimacy, seeing men as allies not competition, radical self awareness and honesty.
The new masculine includes ‘not being unapologetic for being a man’, for some it may include having a tough edge but doing it with a depth of loving behind it.
How are you ‘living empowered and awakened masculinity’?
Zat: I feel the foundation for living an empowered life is to live with a deep commitment to personal and spiritual growth.
This is what drives my actions, my focus is on developing myself, evolving myself as a man, so that I can show up in my confident and loving self while at the same time choosing to be of service through my work, to bring more sanity, loving, equality, and freedom to the world.
Awakened masculinity means having the courage to be vulnerable in life, this is super challenging but ultimately leaves me feeling the most empowered, the other big piece is being what I call a “life practitioner”. Which means taking responsibility for my own life, my own upsets and challenges and being in approval of myself and others. Not easy but it is the path of awakened man.
Ken: I live from a sense of my own rightness. It is solid but does not exist in opposition. Those around me experience this rightness as power. I trust my intuition and my inner sense of things. My masculinity springs not from a template or role model but from my own organic unfolding as a man. It’s a result, not a goal in itself. Masculinity naturally arises from my striving to be a better man.
When did your interest in masculinity and self-development start?
Zat: My interest in self-development begin in my teens, but specifically in doing mens work was about 20 years ago. I was in a very dark time of my life and the work appeared and really saved my life.
Ken: At 28, I was a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I was happy and successful by most measures but, like many, I was clueless and terrified of women. It was my examination and journey of cultivating that part of myself that I began to have a different relationship to my own masculinity.
What are the most common issues that men face these days?
Ken: Here are a few.
– The idea of “yes means yes”, of getting overt permission, versus the equally prevalent, “I wish he would just f*ing f*ck me already, throw me on the bed and be rough with me.” How does a guy know what to do?
– Our tendency to distance ourselves from other men, to distrust them, to see them as competition for scarce resources, rather than being each others’ powerful allies.
– The feeling that our desire, our hunger, our devotion, are signs of weakness and neediness, and that our lust and our strength make us dangerous.
How does your 6-week program work?
Ken: For 6 weeks we’re real with them and we demand their realness. We give them permission to be who they are. We strip away viewpoints and behaviors that aren’t serving them, and give them real alternatives that work. We have them bond and learn to support and be supported by each other.
Zat: The New Masculine Program is a deep immersive six week program. It is a powerful journey with other men that all support each other and hold each other accountable for what they want to create in their life. We will have weekly webinars, small group pod calls, and a 2 ½ day intensive in Los Angeles.
What personal experiences or people have been your biggest teachers?
Zat: Unhealthy relationship and divorce, raising my son were HUGE teachers. But my training with my Buddhist teacher has been one of the most powerful change trainings. My current relationship with a powerful women in which we are in conscious relationship is one of the most potent experiences of transformation for me.
Ken: So much of my training has come from women who were willing to be honest with me. My initial studies were in female orgasm and its effect on not only women but on their male partners. This profoundly shifted my relationship to sex and to women and was also a path of self-discovery.
What’s your big dream?
Zat: TO stem the tide of violence against women and children world wide. To train men and support men out of pain and suffering into being leaders themselves.
Ken: I’ve dedicated my life to helping others experience the joy and richness of life that I’ve had the privilege to experience. I want a healthy masculinity, one that works for men and for those they interact with, to be the new norm.
When do you feel happiest?
Zat: When I am in nature on spiritual retreat.
Ken: When I’m coaching a client. And when I’m having sex. I’d say the tie-in is deeply engaged, intimate relating with another human being.
Most inspiring book you’ve read recently:
Zat: The beautiful world our hearts know is possible by Charles Eisenstein
Ken: No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover.
Zat: That what I do won’t really mater
Ken: I’ve lived risky. I’ve left successful careers to start something new, something I believed in. I haven’t regretted a single one. But I have to say, living on that edge at 51 is a very different experience than doing it in my 20’s. There’s more at stake.
Best light-bulb moment:
Zat: When I saw that vulnerability was my great power
Ken: When I realized that every moment i ever experienced of sitting there thinking about kissing a woman and wondering if I should…. she was thinking about it too, and wishing I would.
You’re a superhero, what’s your special power?
Zat: Invisibility or mind control
Ken: Translator. Intuitive understanding someone, knowing them a lot deeper than their words gave away, and then speaking that in the language of the other person who’s trying desperately to understand them.
Quote you live by:
Zat: “The sacred warrior conquers the world not through violence or aggression, but through gentleness, courage, and self- knowledge. The warrior discovers the basic goodness of human life and radiates that goodness out into the world for the peace and sanity of others.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Ken: Life is fantastic… and I have a want list.
Words of wisdom for all the men out there:
Zat: Let your wish for your own transformation and growth be your greatest wish.
Ken: You have the answer inside. I promise. Trust your gut.
Your wish for the world:
Zat: All people are free from suffering and the causes of suffering
Ken: Emotional engagement, and cultivating our natural capacity to feel each other deeply, the same as we cultivate smarts or physical fitness.
If you want to learn more about the New Masculine Program, just head to the website here.