Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Michael Taylor Talks with Ken Solin - "Act Like a Man"

I was fortunate to meet both Coach Michael Taylor and Ken Solin at Jayson Gaddis' Men's Summit in Boulder a couple of years ago. In this discussion from Michael Taylor's podcast, A New Conversation with Men, they talk about the pressures we get to Act Like A Man, which means to ignore how you really feel, stuff your emotions, and keep a stiff upper lip (thanks to the English for that gem). In being shaped by these cultural values from birth onward, we lose the ability to feel, to trust our emotions, to be open and vulnerable. We become two-dimensional.

Ken's new book is Act Like A Man: Really, There's Hope Men Can Change.

Listen to internet radio with Coach Michael Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

Act Like A Man

by Coach Michael Taylor

Be sure to tune in as Coach Michael Taylor interviews author and lecturer Ken Solin about why men need to become aware of how our societal and cultural conditioning makes it difficult, if not impossible, to truly express our deepest feelings and desires as men.

Too many times in our lives we are told to "Act Like A Man" even though we know that acting like a man in that moment is inconsistent with how we truly feel inside. This internal in-congruency is what causes so much pain and dysfunction in a mans life. The time has come for men to "get real" and stop playing by societies rules of what it means to be a man and learn to express themselves emotionally and authentically.

Ken's message is simple and profound, its time for us to redefine what "Act Like A Man" really means and support men in becoming authentically in touch with who they really are.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Think - Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American

I don't really have heroes, but if I did, Henry Rollins would certainly be one of them. He's intelligent and self-educated, talented as a musician and an author, healthy and muscular (he's been "straight edge," I believe, throughout his career), and he cares about and is passionate about the world in which he lives.

He was not handed success - he found it, took it, or made it. And along the way he finally learned to find humor and perspective in all the tragedy he has witnessed in the punk scene, in politics, and in the world. 

Here is the bio statement for him at Big Think.

About Henry Rollins

Henry  Rollins
Henry Rollins is an American singer-songwriter, spoken word artist, writer, comedian,publisher, actor, and radio DJ.After performing for the short-lived Washington D.C.-based band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from August 1981 until mid-1986. Following the band's breakup, Rollins soon established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, as well as forming the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups from 1987 until 2003, and during 2006. Since Black Flag, Rollins has embarked on projects covering a variety of media. He has hosted numerous radio shows, such as Harmony in My Head on Indie 103, and television shows such as The Henry Rollins Show, MTV's 120 Minutes, and Jackass. He had a recurring dramatic role in the second season of Sons of Anarchy and has also had roles in several films. Rollins has also campaigned for various political causes in the United States, including promoting LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief, and an end to war in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.
Big Think has posted two clips called "Letters to a Young American" - good stuff.

Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Do it Yourself

Jason Gots on February 28, 2012, 12:00 AM


Thought exercise: Open "stickies" or "notepad" or grab a real piece of paper. Write the words "Dear ___ year old self," filling the blank with an age at least 10 years younger than you are now. Now, for five full minutes, write whatever comes to mind.

What's the Big Idea? 

Chances are whatever you wrote contains some variation on the phrase "don't worry about..." with the ellipses representing some preoccupation that time has revealed to be meaningless, unproductive, even harmful. It's likely, too, that your advice to yourself contains something of more general value - the kind of sage advice that almost never comes to mind when you're explicitly trying to advise someone else. 

We asked Henry Rollins - a guy who at the age of 20 left his responsible job as manager of a Haagen Dazs to tour the country as the frontman of the hardcore band Black Flag, and has gone on to build one of the most diverse and unprecedented arts careers ever, as a musician, author, spoken-word artist, television actor, and world-traveling photojournalist – to improvise a “letter to a young American,” coming of age in a time of, at best, “cautious optimism.” The result, as we’d hoped, was a letter to a young Henry Rollins, full of invaluable advice for just about anyone on trusting in your own ability to learn and become whatever you want to, no matter what obstacles you face.

What's the Significance? 

Nobody’s perfect, but Henry Rollins has done a better job than most of approaching life courageously. Like his hero, Abraham Lincoln, he’s a voracious reader and autodidact in multiple fields. Too busy working his way through high school to take acting lessons, he invented his own form of performance art – a mix of motivational speaking, and strident sociopsychopolitical comedy – developing his unique voice onstage as he went along. Never formally taught what not to do, he has dared to make his mistakes publicly and had the humility to learn from them. 

In a recent article, Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom? Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money points out that many of America’s comfortable middle-management jobs have disappeared. As a result, he says, many ambitious young professionals without “something to fall back on” are diving into the jungle of Hollywood or other creative professions in which legions of drudges vie for promotion to a few top spots. 

An Ivy League education still looks good on a resume, but if “the best” formal education is no longer a guarantee of (at least monetary) success, then what do you tell a bright kid who wants to get ahead in the world? “Work hard, be honest, and trust in yourself,” the sage advice Henry Rollins stole from Abraham Lincoln and wants to pass on to the next generation, seems like a pretty good place to start.
* * * * * * *

Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Live Heroically

Monday, February 27, 2012

Understanding Porn Addiction - A Reply to The Good Men Project

Over at The Good Man Project there is a recent article called, no joke, "Theoretically a man could worry that he’s addicted to porn and it turns out he’s really not. Is there room in the diagnostic system for that possibility?”  Apparently this was a comment someone left on the post "Why Does Porn Seem Hotter Than My Partner?"

Please be aware, there is no diagnostic category for porn addiction - it's not a recognized mental illness, nor is sex addiction. Which is not to say that porn addiction does not exist - it most certainly does, and most porn addicts are not aware that they are addicts, and most of them certainly would not self-refer. 

The Editors, in their article based on this comment, offered their own definition of porn addiction:
Here’s where [the authors of the original post] are on solid ground: there are men who are aware that they have a problem with porn. These men know they have a problem because they feel like their porn habits are out of control. Their sense of being out of control gives them a lot of stress, and a part of each of them wants to change but is not sure how. I have no doubt the testimonials are genuine.

This is often how addiction or other psychological disorders are spotted and treated. Treatment often begins when the subject asks for help or when the subject identifies to himself that he has a problem. A diagnosis of porn addiction is literally “subjective” – based in large part on whether or not the subject thinks he has a problem. If he thinks he has a problem, then he probably does. This is a common threshold for a lot of conditions in the DSM-IV: the difference between a personal quirk and a disorder is how much it bothers the subject. If I have a problem with reliance on the subject’s own viewpoint, then I have a problem with psychiatry as a science in the first place.

So, if a man prefers to masturbate to porn instead of his partner and this bothers him, or if he can only get an erection to porn and this bothers him, then he has a problem.

My question is: if it doesn’t bother him very much, then can we still say that he has a porn problem? Maybe in some cases, maybe not. Maybe he’s addicted and he’s in denial, or maybe he doesn’t have a problem. That’s the tricky part.
Again, porn addiction is not in the DSM-IV, nor will it be in the DSM-5.

This brings me to my next point - porn addiction exists, for sure, but there are no standardized, agreed upon measures for diagnosing addicts. Patrick Carnes teaches counselors how to assess for this problem, but he is still an outsider in the mental health industry (this does not make him wrong, only a trailblazer).

There are differences in the brain scans of sex addicts than those of "normal" people. However, the scans of a sex addict are nearly identical to those of a cocaine addict - pretty much all addiction, with the technology we have today, looks alike in the brain. So a brain scan will not clearly identify a porn addict or a sex addict, largely because sexual addictions are very frequently comorbid with other chemical addictions.

So how do we identify a porn addict?

Obviously, if it is getting in the way of daily activities, or it is destroying an intimate relationship, or if you are acting out (viewing porn and/or masturbating) at work, you have a problem.

In my opinion, all addictions share one common element - the chemical or the activity serves to "self-medicate" our painful or disturbing feelings out of awareness. When we feel the need to engage in our addiction of choice, more than likely there is an uncomfortable feeling just beneath that urge, so we engage in our addiction, the feeling goes away (for now), and then if our addiction is sexual or otherwise troublesome (crack, heroin, meth, alcohol, etc.), then we feel shameful.

Here is how Patrick Carnes conceives of the addiction cycle - it would be the same for porn as it is for sex or drugs:
For sexual addicts an addictive experience progresses through a four-step cycle that intensifies with each repetition: 
1. Preoccupation—the trance or mood wherein the addicts’ minds are completely engrossed with thoughts of sex. This mental state creates an obsessive search for sexual stimulation. 
2. Ritualization—the addicts’ own special routines that lead up to the sexual behavior. The ritual intensifies the preoccupation, adding arousal and excitement.
3. Compulsive sexual behavior—the actual sexual act, which is the end goal of the preoccupation and ritualization. Sexual addicts are unable to control or stop this behavior. 
4. Despair—the feeling of utter hopelessness addicts have about their behavior and their powerlessness. 
The pain the addicts feel at the end of the cycle can be numbed or obscured by sexual preoccupation that reengages the addiction cycle.

[Carnes, Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sex Addiction, 3rd Edition, 2001, Kindle Location 462-470]
From an earlier post I did on this topic, here is more from Carnes on the core beliefs of the sex addict (likely true as well for the porn addict).

Sex addiction, like all other addictions (sex, like gambling, is often considered a process addiction rather than a substance addiction), is generally a response to developmental damage in the child, who is neglected, abused, molested, raped, or otherwise exposed to violence and/or sexuality at a young age. The result is a brain that is wired differently, a brain prone to seeking ways to escape, to numb the psychological pain.

Carnes identifies four primary areas in development that get hijacked and become unhealthy core beliefs, leading to addictive behavior.

There are four factors in a child’s development that ultimately become part of the sexual addiction:
1. self-image—how children perceive themselves
2. relationships—how children perceive their relationships with others

3. needs—how children perceive their own needs

4. sexuality—how children perceive their own sexual feelings and needs

These perceptions ultimately become “core beliefs” central to the addictive system. They are conclusions that can govern choices and behaviors during the child’s adult life.

[Carnes, 2009, Out of the Shadows, Kindle Locations 1432-1437]
In the addict, each of these areas develops into an unhealthy core belief. In examining how these beliefs comes about, Carnes offers a series of examples, including a man named Morris. Here is a brief summary of this man's childhood:
First, there is alcoholism in the family. Second, physical and emotional abuse accompany sexual abuse. Third, sexual experience is both humiliating and comforting. And fourth, the reality of the child is denied when the child’s accounts of abuse are not taken seriously. All of these are potent contributors to the addiction, as we shall see. 
By far the most important factor, however, is a sense of having been abandoned. From a child’s point of view, “you can abuse me, humiliate me, exploit me, and even not believe me, but by far the worst is if you don’t even want me.” Fear of abandonment is a constant theme in all addictions, including alcoholism. Within the sexual addiction, it is especially powerful.

[Carnes, 1454-1459]
Abandonment, in some form or another, whether literal, emotional, physical, or otherwise, is a foundational wound for addicts, but especially for sex addicts.
The sexual addiction receives its power from a fundamental concern for survival.

The first core belief of the addict is “I am basically a bad, unworthy person.” Abandonment means being unwanted. The child can only conclude that being unwanted means being unworthy and bad.

[Carnes, 1467-1469]
Abandonment does take many forms, and aside from the versions mentioned above, attachment psychology recognizes poor attachment as a form of abandonment, especially the absence of "mirroring" for the infant as a way to develop affect regulation (see Allan Schore). Schore refers to this as relational trauma, and the results includes inability to regulate affect (thus the 4th core belief in some form another as shown below), a sense of worthlessness, feeling fundamentally flawed, and a variety of other issues, mostly stemming from the right brain's emotional centers.

Here are the other three core beliefs and how they play out:
A second core belief comes from the first core belief about the child being a bad person. Because of personal unworthiness, the child believes, “No one would love me as I am.” Relationships with others become more tenuous the deeper this belief is. Children grow up believing that no one will accept them unconditionally. People will not be there; they cannot be trusted or depended on. If they do want a relationship, it is because they want something—not because they care. There will always be a price to pay. Minimally, there will be something that must be overlooked, ignored, or denied. To be close will mean to lose reality or integrity somehow. So intimacy is avoided.

[Carnes, 1483-1488]
[I]n the lonely search for something or someone to depend on—which has already excluded parents—a child can start to find those things which always comfort, which always feel good, which always are there, and which always do what they promise. For some, alcohol and drugs are the answer. For others it is food. And there is always sex, which usually costs nothing and nobody else can regulate.

This choice stems from the addict’s third core belief that is about needs: “My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend upon others.” In healthy families, children have a deep sense that their parents care for them as opposed to abandoning them.

Healthy parenting includes touching, loving, affirming, and guiding. The child feels cared for even when struggling with rules and limits. Trust in one’s self, as well as trust of others, emerges in that relationship.

When a child’s exploration of sexuality goes beyond discovery to routine self-comforting because of the lack of human care, there is potential for addiction. Sex becomes confused with comforting and nurturing. Moreover, the assumption is made that everyone else feels and acts the same. Therefore, to feel secure means to be sexual.

Consequently, the child’s relationships with people have the potential for being replaced with an addictive relationship with sexuality. Addiction is a relationship—a pathological relationship in which sexual obsession replaces people. And it can start very early. The final core belief of the addict emerges clearly: “Sex is my most important need.”

The kinds of childhood situations described here are further complicated when the children are surrounded by negative rules, messages, and judgments about sex. When addicts and their spouses study their families of origin, they are flooded with memories of events where they were told that being sexual was bad or, worse, that they were bad for being sexual.

When children’s primary source of comfort is sex and yet they are told by those whose judgments count the most that to be sexual is perverse, the conclusions they make about themselves are clear. They are unlikable. They need to hide that central part of themselves, which others will despise. Rather than repressing the sexual behaviors, they hide them or keep them secret. Needing to keep that central part of themselves secret adds to the pain and loneliness—which, in turn, creates a need for comfort, making the sexual fix that much more necessary.

[Carnes, 1494-1512]
In summary, here are the four core beliefs held by most sex addicts in one form or another (and if you substitute something else for sex in the fourth one, like cocaine, heroin, or food, these may apply to all addicts).
  1. I am basically a bad, unworthy person
  2. No one would love me as I am
  3. My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend upon others
  4. Sex is my most important need
These core beliefs were the foundation of the child's life as s/he grew up (can also be a she) become the axis of the addict's adult life - with each belief adding to the disconnect between the addict's interiority (the "world the addict experiences, with its pain and shame") and the addict's exterior persona or image that is projected to protect his secret and keep his inner life hidden. 

To cope with this disconnect, to cope with the belief that "I am a bad, unworthy person," some addicts feel that any degradation or humiliation that comes their way is justified - it reinforces their sense of failure and inadequacy.

Other addicts develop a grandiose or detached  persona (mask) that they show to the world hide their foundational guilt and shame.
Addicts create a front of “normalcy” to hide their sense of inadequacy. They may even appear grandiose and full of exaggerated self-importance. The front contrasts with actions that appear degrading or self-defeating or both. Others see decisions or behaviors as irrational, unfathomable, or even self-destructive, but not “normal.” 
Close friends and family members become angry and frustrated with the addict’s egocentric quality, especially when there is insensitivity to others. They are troubled at what looks like destructive or curious behavior that does not fit the image the addict projects. 
The belief “No one would love me as I am” also sustains the secret world. Addicts continue to believe that everyone would abandon them if the truth were known. Consequently, they have a constant fear of being vulnerable or dependent on others.

[Carnes, 1568-1574]
A lot of sexual addicts proclaim extreme sexual propriety, or in some circles, "postconventional moral development" - the results of this can be moral self-righteousness around sexual activity, with those who call them on their behavior being dismissed as morally underdeveloped or morally rigid.
Cover-ups, lies, and deceptions are made to conceal personal sexual behavior. The addict’s protestations of high sexual morality are like a smoke screen, obscuring the impact of sexual obsession. Friends and family tend to reject suspicions of sexual compulsivity because of the addict’s “values.” However, as evidence of powerless behavior and unmanageability mounts, these persons are confused because they do not know what to believe. In addition, they do not wish to intervene in something so personal.

[Carnes, 1604-1607]
As this quote shows, people around the addict often dismiss accusations around the addict because they do not match their experience of the addict's professed morality in the sexual realm. Those who are closest to the addict risk becoming co-addicts, according to Carnes:
By definition, the addict replaces normal human relationships with sexual compulsiveness. Loved ones feel the loss, try to deny it, and become angry, feeling despair and sometimes hope. The coaddicts’ efforts to restore the relationship are not only ineffective, they can intensify and deepen the addictive system for the addict. To compound the tragedy, coaddicts will take actions which are self-destructive, degrading, or even profound violations of their own values. Family members, as coaddicts, become part of the problem. Hence, the prefix co-.

[Carnes, 1640-1644]
 I highly recommend Carnes' books as a good foundation for understanding this addiction - he is a recovering sex addict so he knows the terrain. More importantly, however, we can learn a LOT by talking with porn addicts and sex addicts who are will to share their stories so that others might understand their experience.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Waiting - A New Short Film Made by Boys in Westchester Jail

This story ran in the local paper for Eastchester, NY. It's great to see boys (young men) who have been in trouble make something creative from the experience. Sending blessings for these young men to create lives that their backgrounds would never have predicted.

Film Made by Boys in Westchester Jail to Premiere

Rick Pezzullo (email)

VALHALLA, N.Y. – A film created by students in a youth program at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla will premiere at the Jacobs Burns Film Center (JBFC) in Pleasantville Monday night.

The nine-minute feature film that chronicles masculinity in prison today was filmed entirely within the confines of the prison by a handful of now former inmates from the Southern Westchester BOCES Incarcerated Youth Program.

"It's been an incredible experience for the JBFC to work with the Incarcerated Youth Program and we are proud to be screening the courageous story the students chose to tell this year," said Emily Keating, director of education programs at the film center. "This transformational experience provides the youth with essential 21st century digital literacy skills and gives them a powerful means of expression."

The film entitled “In Waiting” is an adaptation of Israel Horovitz's seminal play “The Indian Wants the Bronx,” which tells the story of an Indian native who comes to New York knowing very little English and is subsequently taunted and attacked by some young punks.

JBCF staff spent six months teaching the students how to film and edit digital video and helped them produce, write and direct a film amid the dark, barren walls of the jail.

The film project initiative first began at the jail in the fall of 2008. “In Waiting” is the third film made by youths and JBCF. The first was called “Judgement,” which explored the idea of being judged and judging others, while the second, called “Look Inside,” looked at the daily life experiences of being in jail and reflections from students.

The Southern Westchester BOCES Incarcerated Youth Program serves approximately 900 students annually and 140 students a day. There are 18 classrooms available to students, who are in class five hours a day. Credits for the courses are given by the home school districts of the students.

Donnie Simmons, supervisor of the program, said the goal is to "provide the best quality educational services we possibly can to this entire constituent population."

None of the students who worked on “In Waiting” were available for comment.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sherri Rosen - F***ing and Making Love: What’s the Difference, Men?

Shari Rosen, in her recent Good Men Project article, asked men for their perspective on what the difference is between f**king and making love. Interesting answers.

This has been something I have thought a lot about over the years - and in the past I saw them as very different things. More recently, however, it is my experience (and that of my partner) that it's possible to do both at the same time. 

F***ing and Making Love: What’s the Difference, Men?

February 23, 2012 By

Sherri Rosen went in search of some answers.

I was curious on what is going on with men and whether they know the difference between fucking and making love.  So I decided to have a set of 10 questions to ask many different males—different races, ages, single, married—to see what they had to say.

Before we start, we need some distinction between “making love” and “fucking.” Fucking, Wikipedia says, is “the act of sexual intercourse.” Making love, says Wikipedia: “It’s a bonding, a reinforcement of the partners commitment to one another.”

Now here are the responses.


Lawrence, 65

Do you know the difference between fucking and making love? Have you ever thought about it?

I’m writing this in the context of a long, healthy marriage. I think we express both in the marriage. We have a lot of intimacy, a lot of fun, some playful aggression and the occasional fight. All of it is the substance of love making, which we generally think is ongoing. It’s like extended foreplay. Then suddenly, for no particular reason unless one of us asks for it, there’s sexual intercourse . . . or sexual commerce in its many manifestations.

Other times, it’s just plain fucking. A “let’s get it done, and move on.” I like that we can be so direct with one another.

Do you care about the difference?

I think the difference makes the relationship richer.

Do you feel it’s important for a couple to please one another or just fuck?

I think it goes without saying. As soon as you say couple, you’re saying it’s not a one-night stand. And couples want to please one another. If they don’t, then it’s not a couple. It’s 2 individuals occupying the same space.

How do you feel about communicating your sexual needs with your partner and your partner to you?

Gotta do it. Again, enriches the relationship. You don’t want a one note symphony, gets boring. And I don’t know your instrument as well as I know mine, so I gotta hear from you.

Is sex different married as opposed to being single?

Sure. It’s better. See the symphony analogy. It’s a whole orchestra when you’re married, lots of different notes and tones, some of them quite base and dark. Others light and airy. Single, it’s more like a band.

Do you believe it’s the quality of sex or just how many times a week that’s most important?

Come on, especially as your life gets complicated . . . lots of demands upon time and creativity . . .

Do you feel the women you have slept with know the difference between fucking and making love?

I think it’s got a lot to do with age and maturity. These are the distinctions of age, a wine mellowed to full fruitiness. They are also the distinctions of sanity. I’ve been plenty insane in my time, and slept with plenty of similar crazies. Fact is, you’ve got to be sober to enjoy the most expensive and rarest wines. If you are crazy drunk, even Thunderbird looks good to you.


Mike, 38

Do you know the difference between fucking and making love? Have you ever thought about it?

Not sure if I “know” the difference. The first time I thought about it was when I was 13 when I saw Eddie Murphy Raw. Eddie got caught by his girlfriend cheating with another woman. His defense to her: “Yes, I fucked her! I fucked her! But I make love to you.”

What is fucking to you? What is making love to you?

Sometimes fucking falls under the umbrella of making love and sometimes they can be considered opposites. In general, both are done passionately with consideration to your partner. Making love is perhaps a little slower, giving more time for romance and satisfying your partner’s emotional and physical needs. Fucking is consensual sex that is intense, aggressive and more about taking control. In my experience, the power factor heightens the level of excitement. Both ‘making love’ and ‘fucking’ are necessary for a healthy sexual relationship.

Do you care about the difference?

I think there is a time and a place for each.

Do you feel it’s important for a couple to please one another or just fuck?

Couples should always try to please each other, even when they are fucking.

How do you feel about communicating your sexual needs with your partner and your partner to you ?

Very comfortable.

Is sex different married as opposed to being single?

I don’t know.

Do you believe it’s the quality of sex or just how many times a week that’s most important?


Do you feel the women you have slept with know the difference between fucking and making love?

I think most of my previous partners share my point of view. All of them wanted to make love as well as get fucked.

Do you feel both are important in a relationship?


Read the whole article.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Will Johnson - Full Body, Empty Mind

© Warren Darius Aftahi 
This is a very cool article from the Tricycle Wisdom Collection. Johnson advocates that we learn how to feel into our bodies through our meditation practice as a way to deepen it. He now teaches embodiment training, which he defines as “a path of awakening that views the body as the doorway, not the obstacle, to personal growth and spiritual transformation.

A lot of men (and women as well) are raised to experience their bodies as a tool, especially if one grows up playing sports and/or lifting weights. We do not learn to be embodied, to relax our muscles and joints, to feel the tension and tightness loosen and the contractions give way to softness and tenderness. We seldom if ever experience this deep relaxation, so with all that tension and tightness in our bodies, we remain numb to our feelings, armored against being vulnerable (as Wilhelm Reich would have taught).

Johnson's approach is based in deep experiential bodywork, Sufi teachings, and his Buddhist practice. This is good stuff - there is a lot to learn in simply reading this article/interview.

Full Body, Empty Mind

Will Johnson explains that by turning our awareness to the full range of physical sensations, the body becomes a doorway to awakening.

In many Buddhist groups, the body is addressed only in basic instructions on posture for meditation, sometimes lasting no more than a few minutes. Many practitioners are drawn to body-based practices such as yoga, martial arts, or the Alexander technique to complement or even enable their sitting practice, but they are often on their own when it comes to integrating these traditions with their larger spiritual path. What is being lost in this gap? One of the most convincing voices for the importance of the body in meditation belongs to Will Johnson, author of several books on the topic, including The Posture of Meditation; Aligned, Relaxed, and Resilient; and Yoga of the Mahamudra.

Johnson, the director of the Institute for Embodiment Training in British Columbia, Canada, began his Buddhist practice in 1972 and was certified in the deep bodywork system of Rolfing in 1976. Drawing on his experience in these traditions, Sufism, and others, he now teaches embodiment training, what he calls “a path of awakening that views the body as the doorway, not the obstacle, to personal growth and spiritual transformation.” I exchanged emails with Johnson to discuss how meditators can explore the body and what they might gain from the practice.
—Andrew Merz

You’ve said that in order to experience emptiness of mind, one must first experience fullness of body. While this intuitively resonates with many meditators, clear explanations of why that is true and how it can be integrated into a Buddhist meditation practice are hard to find. How do we start to understand this view in a Buddhist context, and how do we address it without feeling as though we are detracting from our usual sitting practice? 

This focus on awareness of the body is what, for me, the teachings always kept leading to. The part of the Four Noble Truths that attracted me the most, for example, was the explanation about why we suffer. The Buddha’s observation that we create upset for ourselves when we’re in reaction, and that we manage to do this to ourselves through the twinned actions of desire and aversion, just rang true.

The teachings tell us that actions disturb our peace of mind, but what I’m suggesting is that we can’t just look to what we conventionally call our mind to sort this out. Reaction, clinging, and aversion are physical actions that the body performs and that, no matter how subtle, create muscular tension through the repeated motions of either “pulling toward” (desire) or “pushing away” (aversion). Repeat anything often enough, and you create holding patterns in the body that predispose you to continue doing that action. Sitting practices that focus on relaxing the underlying tensions and holdings you feel in your body, as well as restrictions to the breath, help you mitigate the legacy and habit patterns of reacting, clinging, and aversion.

As the eleventh-century Mahamudra teacher Tilopa said, “Do nothing with the body but relax.” When we start to relax, we start feeling the body. Tensions and contractions in the body serve as a numbing blanket that keeps the tiny physical sensations that exist on every part of the body from being felt. Learning how to relax while remaining upright in the sitting posture allows the body’s full range of sensations to come out of hiding and make their existence felt. It’s always struck me as peculiar: If I know that sensations can be felt to exist everywhere in the body, then why don’t I feel them? And what effect does blocking out awareness of feeling have on me? And finally, if the mind that is “lost in thought” is somehow dependent on my not feeling the sensations of the body, what happens to the mind if I let myself feel the entire body, head to toe, as an unbroken field of sensations? The sitting posture itself can be a kind of crucible for burning off the tensions and restrictions to body and breath that all too often keep us lost in thought and unaware of feeling presence.

A good place to start is examining what happens to the body when you’re lost in thought. This, of course, is tricky to do, because when the mind is off wandering in involuntary thought, you’re not very aware of the body at all. But if you can include an observation of the body while you’re off in a thought, you’ll find that the condition “lost in thought” is directly accompanied somewhere in the body by muscular contraction and tensing, stillness and rigidity, and a subtle contraction or holding quality to the breath. In other words, when you’re lost in thought, you’re tense in body. It follows, then, that if you can consciously work with the body during your sitting practice to soften and relax the tensions and allow more resilient and natural movement to accompany the passage of the breath, the chatter of the mind can be reduced, and your practice can start going really deep.
Read the whole interview.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. - A Radical Way to Break Free from Automatic Negative Thoughts

In this article from Psych Central, Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., looks at some ways to break free from negative thinking - what I might call non-adaptive parts - through reframing our perspective on those voices/thoughts (they originally existed to help us in some way).

All of us have these negative thoughts/voices - and the more trauma we have experienced, or the more neglect as children (physical or emotional), the more negative and destructive these thoughts can be, including compulsive self-hate, cutting, or even suicide.

The key to working with these parts of ourselves, rather than stuff them down or drowning them in sex or drugs/alcohol, is to try to approach them with calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness - when we can do that, we are coming from our Self, our Buddhanature, or our soul (the IFS model calls it Self Leadership, but it is whatever you conceive it to be). That is where the healing comes from.

If you are struggling with these thoughts and think you might need help, you probably do need help. You can find a therapist in your area through and/or Psychology Today, or you can seek an Internal Family Systems therapist - they are trained specifically to work with parts.

~ Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the just-released book The Now Effect: How this Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, with a Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and the author of several other apps, audio series, and training programs. You can join the Elisha Goldstein Facebook Community to keep up with important information, tips, and events.

depressed man 

I often write about the demanding and criticizing voices in our heads because they are so amazingly prevalent and I figure just about anyone can identify with that and almost all of us need support with them. Every day these voices arise out of habit, telling us “I can’t do that right,” “I’m never going to achieve that,” or “I’m not good enough.”

More often than not we indulge and get overwhelmed by these limiting beliefs or as Thich Nhat Hanh says,” we water the seeds of our own suffering.” The end result is we end up hating ourselves. But what if these voices were trying to help us in some way?

That may sound crazy, but really, consider it for a moment. What if these negative and limiting voices were looking after our best interest?

Many of us have past wounds in our lives, whether it was parent seeming too busy to pay attention to us or losing someone early in life, or being the victim of assault. Voices start arising inside us to help us maintain some control over our environments to keep us safe from being wounded again. These voices may judge us or others so we don’t get too close and run the risk the danger of either losing them or being hurt by them.

Or maybe the voices just criticize us so we don’t have to face the discomfort inside and spend all of our time taking care of other people. Although at the end of the day, these voices aren’t effective in maintaining a life of health and well-being, they can be viewed as really trying to help.

The moment we can see these voices for what they are is a moment of clarity where we step into the choice to relate to them differently with greater mindfulness. This space of choice is called The Now Effect and it gives us immense mental and emotional freedom. The end result is that we can learn to be more kind and caring to ourselves instead of damning and hating.

So, rather than damning and hating these voices that keep us down, we can learn to be a bit kinder to them, acknowledging their presence, and then choosing a different path. For example, if the voice arises “you’re not good enough, don’t even try it,” try and notice it and see it as a part of you that is simply trying to keep you safe from a past wounding experience.

Whether the negative voices come to you in relationship to abilities at work, parenting, traveling, procrastinating or issues with stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or trauma, you can acknowledge and view this wound coming to life and rather than entertaining it, thank it for trying to keep you safe and rather than cursing it, see if you can acknowledge the pain.

In that space of awareness you can get perspective, telling yourself that you know this is a difficult task, but that was then and this is now and you’re going to give it a shot anyway.

Easier said than done, but in practicing and understanding that even our damning voices have the intentions of keeping us safe, we can begin to “water the seeds of happiness” by breaking the habitual cycle of sending hate into ourselves and instead sending compassion and care.

See if you can put the Now Effect to work for you and notice how past wounding in your life may be sending you messages that keep you from getting too close to others or risking success to keep you safe from harm. When they arise, thank them for trying to keep you safe. Notice what a difference this can make than struggling with the messages.

As always, please share your thoughts and comments below, you additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

***Announcement – The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life hit bookshelves Tuesday, February 21st 2012. Order your copy now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frank Deford - When There's More To Winning Than Winning

This story conveys the heart of sports - the compassion and the courage of fighting challenges and honoring that fight, even when the person is from the other team. Beautiful.
Senior Cory Weissman (center) of Gettysburg College, takes his second free-throw shot in a Division III Centennial Conference game against Washington College.
Senior Cory Weissman (center) of Gettysburg College, takes his second free-throw shot in a Division III Centennial Conference game against Washington College.
February 22, 2012

When last we left the NCAA, it was February madness, colleges were jumping conferences, suing each other, coaches were claiming rivals had cheated in recruiting — the usual nobility of college sports.

And then, in the midst of all this, the men's basketball team at Washington College of Chestertown, Md., journeyed to Pennsylvania to play Gettysburg College in a Division III Centennial Conference game.

It was senior night, and the loudest cheers went to Cory Weissman, No. 3, 5 feet 11 inches, a team captain — especially when he walked out onto the court as one of Gettysburg's starting five.

Yes, he was a captain, but it was, you see, the first start of his college career. Cory had played a few minutes on the varsity as a freshman, never even scoring. But then, after that season, although he was only 18 years old, he suffered a major stroke. He was unable to walk for two weeks. His whole left side was paralyzed. He lost his memory, had seizures.

But by strenuously devoting himself to his rehabilitation, Cory slowly began to improve. He was able to return to college, and by this year, he could walk without a limp and even participated in the pre-game lay-up drills.

So for senior night, against Washington, his coach, George Petrie, made the decision to start Cory. Yes, he would only play a token few seconds, but it meant a great deal to Cory and to Gettysburg. All the more touching, the Washington players stood and cheered him.

That was supposed to be the end of it, but with Gettysburg ahead by a large margin and less than a minute left in the game, Coach Petrie sent Cory back in.

Nobody could understand, though, what happened next, why the Washington coach, Rob Nugent, bothered to call time out. The fans didn't know what he told his players there in the huddle: that as quickly as they could, foul No. 3. And one of them did. And with 17 seconds left, Cory Weissman strode to the free-throw line. He had two shots.

Suddenly, the crowd understood what Coach Nugent had sought to do. There was not a sound in the gym. Cory took the ball and shot. It drifted to the left, missing disastrously. The crowd stirred. The referee gave Cory the ball back. He eyed the rim. He dipped and shot. The ball left his hand and flew true. Swish. All net.

The crowd cried as much as it cheered.

The assistant vice president for athletics at Gettysburg, David Wright, wrote to Washington College: "Your coach, Rob Nugent, along with his ... staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics."

Cory Weissman had made a point.

Washington College had made an even larger one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daily Om - Sitting with Feelings

This was the Daily Om from a couple of weeks back - I've been wanting to post it here because I think that learning to sit with our feelings (not stuff them down, not self-medicate them, not act them out in inappropriate ways) is something most of us - men and women - can be better at, especially when the feelings are challenging or we have little experience controlling our affect.

This piece talks about listening to our bodies and becoming more embodied can help us to know and accept our feelings more easily. Learning these skills, which are based around mindfulness, can help us increase our emotional intelligence.
As the Earth Allows the Rain: Sitting with Feelings
February 8, 2012

Taking the time now to sit with your feelings and acknowledge them will save you much distress down the road.

It can take great courage to really sit with our feelings, allowing ourselves to surrender to their powerful energies. All too often we set our feelings aside, thinking we will deal with them later. If we don’t deal with them, we end up storing them in our minds and bodies and this is when anxiety and other health issues can arise. Denying what our bodies want to feel can lead to trouble now or down the line, which is why being in the thick of our feelings, no matter how scary it seems, is really the best thing we can do for ourselves.

One of the reasons we tend to hide or push aside our feelings is that we live in a culture that has not traditionally supported emotional awareness. However, as the connection between mind and body--our emotions and our physical health-- becomes clearer, awareness of the importance of feeling our feelings has grown. There are many books, classes, workshops and retreats that can help us on our way to emotional intelligence. We can also trust in our own ability to process what comes up when it comes up. If sadness arises, we can notice its presence and welcome it, noting where in our bodies we feel it, and allowing ourselves to express it through tears or a quiet turning inward.

When we simply allow ourselves to fully feel our feelings as they come, we tend to let them go easily. This is all we are required to do; our feelings simply want to be felt. We often complicate the situation by applying mental energy in the form of analysis, when all we really need is to allow, as the earth allows the rain to fall upon it. As the rain falls, the earth responds in a multitude of ways, sometimes emptying out to form a great canyon, sometimes soaking it up to nourish an infinitude of plants. In the same way, the deeper purpose of our feelings is to transform the terrain of our inner world, sometimes creating space for more feelings to flow, sometimes providing sustenance for growth. All we need to do is allow the process by relaxing, opening, and receiving the bounty of our emotions.

Discuss this article and share your opinion

Monday, February 20, 2012

Michael Castleman - Men Fake Orgasms, Too

This seems to me to be a risk of the casual sex trend - too much to drink (or drug), the newness of the partner, or even prescription medications (like antidepressants) all can make orgasm seem unlikely or impossible.

In a committed relationship, with trust and openness, faking it should never be necessary (or even an option). A little honesty goes a long way when we are clear that it's not about our partner, but about our own exhaustion, racing mind, or lack of emotional closeness (yes, some men need this, too, to relax into sexual expression).  If it is about your partner, it's time for a talk.

But when it's casual, or friends with benefits, no reason to hurt the other person's feelings, I guess.
Men faking orgasm? Unheard of! Well, no, not exactly. 
Over the past 40 years, many surveys have asked women if they've ever faked an orgasm, and consistently, half to two-thirds (53 percent to 65 percent) have said yes they have at least once.

But men faking orgasm? That's unheard of. Well, no, not exactly. Many sex therapists offer anecdotal reports, and a 1981 study of 280 college students (185 women and 95 men) showed the familiar rate among women (60 percent)—and faking by 36 percent of the men. But that was the only real study, until recently.

In 2010, researchers at the University of Kansas asked 281 undergraduates (180 men and 101 women) to complete an anonymous sex survey that included questions about faking orgasm. Consistent with previous findings, two-thirds of the women (67 percent) said they'd pretended at least once—and 28 percent of the men said the same.

While not a nationally representative sample, the participants included a reasonable demographic cross-section of college students: largely white, but some Asian, Hispanic, and African-American, and largely heterosexual, but some gay/lesbian or bi. Pretenders and non-pretenders reported generally similar sexual experience, but the fakers were more experienced, so they'd had more opportunities to pretend. Fakers were also sexually more adventurous, reporting more masturbation, oral sex, and anal play.

Most faking took place in established relationships (78 percent of the women, 53 percent of the men), but it also occurred among dating couples (2 percent of women, 16 percent of men), friends with benefits (10 percent and 9 percent), and casual hook-ups (10 percent, 16 percent).

No women faked it with men they'd just met, but 7 percent of the men did with new women acquaintances.

Most faking took place during vaginal intercourse (55 percent of the women, 80 percent of the men), but some occurred during oral sex (8 percent, 11 percent), or other unspecified sexual play (37 percent, 8 percent).

Women's pretending was rarely linked to alcohol, but men's was. Two percent of the women had some alcohol before faking orgasm and 6 percent said they were drunk. Meanwhile, 11 percent of the men had been drinking and 24 percent claimed they were drunk.

Faked orgasms typically involved acting—moaning, hip thrusting, and thrashing about in an effort to fool the partner. Young women's acting often tricks young men because guys with limited sexual experience may not recognize the pelvic muscle contractions of real female orgasms.

But men's orgasms produce visible evidence, semen, so how can men fake it? Condoms are often the key. Men thrust and moan, and then deftly discard the condom before the women notice there's nothing in it. But the men who'd pretended didn't always use condoms, so it seems that some college-age women are as clueless about men's orgasms as men can be about women's. As one man recalled about faking it: "She was like, well, did you get off? And I was like, yeah."

Men and women fake orgasms for similar reasons:
  • Orgasm was taking too long or wasn't going to happen: women, 71 percent; men, 84 percent.
  • They wanted the sex to end:  61 percent and 82 percent.
  • They wanted to avoid hurting the partner's feelings: 69 percent and 47 percent.
  • They felt bored, or tired, or sleepy, or no longer in the mood for sex: 56 percent and 72 percent.
This study confirms the previous research that a majority of women have faked orgasm at least once, and it corroborates the one previous study that men also fake it. Based on these two studies, it seems somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of college-age men have faked it, meaning that men pretend to have orgasms about half as much as women.

Have YOU ever faked orgasm? I'm especially hoping for comments from men. Why? And how did you explain the lack of semen? Or did you? I'm also interested in reports of faking by people older than college age. Is anything about faking different for older lovers?

The study: Muehlenhard, C. and S.K. Shippee. "Men's and Women's Reports of Pretending Orgasm," Journal of Sex Research (2010) 47:552.

Call for Submissions - Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power

I found this call for papers at Who You Calling Boy? Theorizing Masculinity. Since then I have seen it a couple of other places as well. Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power is not really a "trade" title - you are more likely to see it on the syllabus for a gender studies class than in your local independent bookstore. On the other hand, they are not looking for scholars and academics, necessarily, either, but well-written papers from people who are living with these issues.

Here is the publisher's text from the first edition:
Men Speak Out is a collection of essays written by and about pro-feminist men. In the essays, which feature original, lively and accessible prose, anti-sexist men make sense of their gendered experiences in today’s culture.

The authors tackle the issues of feminism, growing up male, recognizing masculine privilege, taking action to change the imbalance of power and privilege and the constraints that men experience in confronting sexism. They describe their successes and challenges in bucking patriarchal systems in a culture that can be unsupportive of - or downright hostile to - a pro-feminist perspective.

In these chapters, a diverse group of men reflect on growing up, share moments in their day-to-day lives, and pose serious questions about being a pro-feminist male living, working, thinking, and learning in a sexist society.
There is a clear slant toward pro-feminist men, which leaves out the whole MRA crowd (although I disagree with them, their voice needs to be included in some of these books as well). I really do not consider myself a feminist anymore as much I feel I am a supporter of equality between sexes/genders at all levels (is there a word for that?).

Call for Submissions - Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power 

•Revised second edition• (Routledge)
Deadline: March 30, 201

How can we better understand and imagine new possibilities for men and feminism? Are you a guy who hates sexism? Do you call yourself a feminist? Have you spent hours over coffee (or beer or on blogs) debating issues of gender, power, race, class, and sexuality? Are you involved with social justice activism? Have you grappled with accountability, imperfection, and social change? If so, then you have stories to tell and I’d like to hear what you have to say. I am collecting essays for a revised second edition of Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power (Routledge). I’m interested in first-person accounts of growing up male and identifying with — or questioning the ideals of — feminism. Stories about pivotal moments in personal or political change are especially welcome. You don’t have to call yourself a feminist to have a relevant story. There are so many directions your essay can take, but I am NOT looking for an academic essay. No citations, no footnotes. I AM looking for thought-provoking stories written in your own unique voice using language you actually use when you talk with your friends.

You can use personal stories, things that happened to you, things that people said to you, or that you said to them (or wish you had … or hadn’t.) I am looking for a wide range of experience and perspectives on men and masculinity.

This book respects the risk involved in being willing to critically investigate gender, sex, and power — especially when this isn’t what some people expect from guys. There are lots of good books written by and about feminist women. Men Speak Out is written by, for, and about men and male-identified contributors. The revised second edition will add compelling new perspectives on culture, society, masculinity, feminism, women’s/gender studies, social justice, and anti-sexist movements.

Your essays and stories may reflect on growing up, they might focus on a day-in-the-life vignette, they might explore experiences with racism or homophobia, or they might pose questions that you’ve asked yourself about not power-tripping as a man in a sexist society. These questions might not have answers and this is entirely okay. This is your story in your own words and only you can tell it. The focus, content, and tone is up to you and based on your own thoughts, experiences, concerns, fears, hopes, struggles, and surprises.

Themes and topics of particular interest are included below:

Technology and Social Media — Do you have experiences with gender issues and social media that you want to share? Think: blogging, trolls, Facebook, dating, and organizing for action.

Culture and Society — Are you an artist, musician, rock fan, or hip-hop head? Do you have compelling stories about gender and sexuality in the scene? Was there a time in school, at work, or among your family and friends where you had to grapple with issues of gender, race, sexuality, and power? Was there a time you spoke up about sexism or violence — or a time you wish you had?

Sexuality — Has pornography impacted you or your friends? Are you a feminist man working in the sex industry? How are you affected by the politics of porn?

Family — Do you have a story to tell about being a father, a son, or boyfriend, husband, or partner? Did you grow up with a non-custodial mother? Did you hire a surrogate to start a family? Are you a full-time dad? Do you wish you were?

Masculinity at Work — Do you work in a job where masculinity is an issue? This topic could take plenty of different and unexpected directions.

Masculinity and Identity — What is your experience of masculinity from a transgender, gender-queer, cisgendered or queer perspective? Do you love sports and reject sexism? Were you in the military, prison, or a gang? What does it mean to invite questions of race and men in relation to feminism?

Gender Dilemmas and Social Change — If you want to ally with feminism but you’re not sure what you, as a male, can do, describe this dilemma. Are you wondering if you’re even entitled to be participate since you’re not a woman and don’t quite know how it feels? How have you made a difference or participated in progressive change? Did you radically change your mind or your life because of shifting views on gender, sex, and power? How have you grappled with accountability, imperfection, and social change? These stories may involve a commitment to large-scale politics, personal reflection, or activities in everyday life.

DEADLINE: March 30, 2012
LENGTH: 2,000 to 3,500 words.

FORMAT: Essays must be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-point font, paginated, double spaced, with standard margins. For full consideration, submit full essays, a brief bio (75-100 words), and complete contact information. Send submissions in .doc or .docx attachment.

SUBMITTING: Send to Shira Tarrant at Include Men Speak Out 2e Submission in the subject line. Essays must conform to these complete guidelines for full consideration.

Feel free to pass this call for submissions to friends you think may be interested in this project. Although submitting an essay does not guarantee it will be published, doing so early in the process definitely gives you an advantage, and it does ensure that you have a pivotal role in shaping this book.

Shira Tarrant received her doctorate in political science from UCLA and she is an associate professor with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. Her books include Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power (Routledge), When Sex Became Gender (Routledge), Men and Feminism (Seal Press), and Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style (SUNY Press, forthcoming). Read more at

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Guante - 10 Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up’

The Good Men Project posted this awesome video from a 2-time National Poetry Slam champion, Guante, offering 10 Responses to the Phrase "Man Up." You can read the full text at Guante's site.

I bow to his brilliance.

10 Responses to the Phrase ‘Man Up’

A spoken word poem by 2-time National Poetry Slam champion, activist and social justice educator Guante.

“New piece. I really hate those Miller Lite commercials, but it’s definitely bigger than just that. Felt good to talk about it on stage.  This is one of the first performances of this piece, and it’ll probably be polished some and hopefully filmed more professionally at some point.  But I wanted to post it now.

"On a side note, I know there are a ton of spoken-word pieces out there about masculinity.  I’ve got this one too.  But I think it’s important to keep talking about these issues, especially if you can do it in a creative way, or at least have a new angle or hook.  I think there’s a bad tendency in spoken-word circles to dismiss any poem that covers well-trod territory (like “here’s another hip hop poem,” or “here’s another domestic violence poem”) and while I completely understand where that’s coming from and agree that we should be pushing ourselves in terms of subject matter, I ALSO believe that certain topics deserve the attention.  Especially as someone who works with young people–particularly young men– I like to have three or four of these kinds of poems in my pocket.

"Anyways, hope you like it.  Might be a bit of a “preaching to the choir” piece in some ways, but that all depends on with whom we all share it.  Any FB posts, tweets, tumblr posts, re-blogs and whatever are much appreciated, as always.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Secret Lives of Men - Harriet Lerner: Marriage Rules

From Chris Blazina's Secret Life of Men, this is a useful discussion with Harriet Lerner on the "rules" of relationships. Her new book seems like a good handbook for the average couple, and my guess is that Blazina would not have her here if it was not also useful for men.

Marriage Rules: Harriet Lerner

by Secret Lives of Men

With Chris Blazina, PhD

Tue, February 14, 2012

Listen to internet radio with Secret Lives of Men on Blog Talk Radio

Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up

Following a unique format perfect for today's world, the author of The Dance of Anger gives us just over 100 rules that cover all the hot spots in long-term relationships.

Marriage Rules offers new solutions to age-old problems ("He won't talk"/"She doesn't want sex") as well as modern ones (your partner's relationship to technology).
  • Calm things down and warm them up
  • Talk straight and fight fair
  • Listen well as a spiritual practice
  • Connect with a distant partner
  • Survive the unique challenges of children, stepchildren and difficult- laws
  • Follow a 12-step program to overcome defensiveness
  • Know how and when to draw the line
  • Take back your marriage when things fall apart 

    Marriage Rules is a treasure chest of lively, practical advice to help you navigate your couple relationship with clarity, courage, and joyous conviction. If one person in a couple follows ten rules of his or her choice, it will generate a major, positive change. All that's required is a genuine wish for a better relationship and a willingness to practice.
Harriet Lerner, PH.D., is one of our nations most loved and respected relationship experts. A renowned scholar on the psychology of women and family relationships, she is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Dance of Anger, and other acclaimed books that together have sold over six million copies. A clinical psychologist in private practice, Lerner is a distinguished speaker, consultant and workshop leader. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, and NPR and she hosts the "Dance of Connection" blog on She is also, with her sister, an award- winning children's book writer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Met Myself for the First Time Today

Through Coach Michael Taylor's webcast (A New Conversation with Men), I have discovered an interesting new site called Men's Group, created by Brett Churnin and Mike Britton. The site provides a wealth of information on men's groups, including why we might want to join one, how they work (or can work), how to form one, and a whole lot more. It's an excellent resource. Coach Taylor will be speaking with Brett and Mike on Friday, February 17th, so check it out.

Their site also includes a blog, so I thought I'd take a look. The first post I came upon was this one below, I met myself for the first time today, which reads a little like a prose poem. Nice piece.

I met myself for the first time today 

I control and am in control because that is how I am able to protect myself.

The exploration started from that place and why my heart as a way of being is closed and protected.

And how it expresses itself in my life is that I control things and people – because that which I can control can not hurt me.

But he who controls also dominates, imposes, tells, forces, distrusts and manipulates.

All of that without even realising that I was doing it.

My earliest memories of controlling people and situations goes back to Kindergarden. I was really small and being small I was scared of the big kids.

So controlling became a way to survive. I did not have the physical size but I did have the brain. So I became the leader. I had my gang and I told them what to do. Where to play, how to treat the others – and my gang protected me.

Despite being the controller I have still been hurt many times in my life, mainly by woman.

This morning I woke up and I asked God to help me. I recounted all the people who had hurt me, let me down, betrayed me, left me, abandoned me and I forgave each and all of them.

I did it with words and I released them.

I then asked God to open me and open my heart.

Nothing happened.

I asked again, I lay prostrate, my arms open like a crucifix, vulnerable and surrendered.

Nothing happened.

I asked out loud and then my jaw locked, I could not open my mouth.

And I heard or felt a voice saying “you do not believe your word”

And then I grew silent, it grew silent. I asked myself to just be, be in silence, I said to myself – no one is coming into this room, no one knows I am here, my phone is off, no one is going to ring, there is nowhere to go so just be here.

As I lay, things came up, experiences, conversations, and I felt myself loving right into them, almost like acceptance as an active process, A person, a judgement, an experience I just loved deeply into it and it felt peaceful, powerful, liberating.

I felt cleansed, and clean and this time I asked God in silence to come in.

Nothing happened.

And so I lay there quietly for a while until needing a pee became a strong enough reason to get out of bed.

I got up and went to the bathroom. As I walked past the mirror I caught my refection so I went to the mirror and stared at myself.

I could feel that I was confronted by this person in the mirror, separate, even fearful, I could say “hi” to this person like I would a stranger. And then I stopped and looked at him and said ” hi ” again, and we stared at each other and laughed out loud but it was still the laugh of strangers.

I asked the him who was me in the mirror If it was okay for me to go and have a pee and I got the absurdity of the question. I got that I was asking this question to myself like a stranger would ask it as if he in the mirror were someone else.

I went and peed and then returned to the mirror.

This time we looked deeply into each others eyes. At first I was confronted by him, this stranger but his eyes were soft and so I stared and he stared back. We drank each other in and I said hello, lovingly, with deep respect and compassion, and with love. And he answered back in the same loving way.

And we breathed, and we drank each other in more deeply this time, and we softened and then I met myself for the very first time.

We laughed and then we cried and I was no longer afraid of the man in the mirror.

Hi we said to each other again, Hi we said back.

And tears rolled down our cheeks