Relationship as a Spiritual Practice

Photo by Johanna Reiner

I wrote this piece for Elephant Journal in 2011. Here’s that link.

Relationship remains one of the biggest pain and pleasure points for us humans.

Instead of seeing relationship as a place where I can feel good and get my needs met by “other,” I am inspired to see my marriage (and relationships in general) as a path to my own freedom and wholeness.

When we change the context of relationship to include this view, it opens up a whole world where we can grow deeper individually and together.

Instead of seeing the pain and challenges of relationship as potential road-blocks, each “obstacle” becomes an opportunity to grow.

Seen in this light, relationship frees us from the habitual need to have our partners, family members, or co-workers “be a certain way” in order for us to feel safe and okay.

In the American Dream, the white picket fence, two-car garage, and marriage are ingredients to a (more…)

Why Some Men Objectify Women

Here’s my post from the Good Men’ Project’s site. Within a week it had over 300 comments. Yikes.

I get this question a lot and it’s one I’ve explored for years. “Why do we (men) objectify women so much?” Sometimes men will follow that question up with “And, what can I do about it?” (sure, women objectify men too, but that’s not what this post is about).

I posted this question on my facebook wall and got quite the range of responses. I included a few short responses below and the longer, stand-out responses I have included at the bottom of this post if you are interested.

A few men also asked me to define objectification, which to me seems prudent. So, we’ll start there.

Defining Objectification in the context of this blog post:

Objectify:  To stare, gawk, or check out women and their bodies and body parts. To see them as objects (instead of real people) and to think of them in a sexual way.

A guy named Alex added,

“I think what we are calling “objectification” is its own line of development and that “picturing myself fucking her,” is a limited sliver of what the interpenetrating faculties which cause a man’s bodymind to go there can actually unfold into.”  

In other words, Alex is pointing out that how we define objectification will depend on where we are psychologically/spiritually/developmentally in life.

Here are some classic male responses to the question (continue reading here).

Healing The Gender Divide

I’m inspired to bring men and women together with the intention to reconcile whatever stands in the way of us loving and accepting each other more fully.

The non-dualists might argue “there is no divide” and there never was, so there’s nothing to “heal.” While I can appreciate that view, it can ignore people’s personal experience in life, which is that most folks see and experience many divides that keep us separate. I want to meet folks where they are, while holding a bigger view as well.

So, I’m going to assume that at least some of us agree there is a divide between the genders and it goes way back. Let’s also assume that that divide is born out of the masculine feminine (anima/animus) split within each of us.

If you agree, keep reading.

I’m inspired to co-host an event called Healing the Divide, a gender healing event where we work toward healing some of the real (not perceived) wounds between men and women.

This idea was born out of four key experiences: 1) My ongoing reconciliation of my inner masculine and feminine, 2) A truth telling workshop I led with Christiane Pelmas, 3)  After profound experiences of truth sharing between men and women during my annual Men’s Leadership Training which David Cates helped co-facilitate, and 4) Reading apologies and other attempts to heal the rift between the genders and the nearly 300 comments on my Why Men Objectify Women blog post.

But why bother doing a workshop where we (more…)

Transcending the ManBox

photo by J. Gaddis

I wrote this for the Good Men Project recently. It generated over 100 comments within a week. Here’s the post in full…

In recent years there has been more and more articles on the state of white, heterosexual men and boys.   These articles peaked in 2009-2010 after male unemployment spiked and women officially outpaced men in the workforce. The general question has been “what is going on with boys and men and why are they struggling so much?” (If you are a gay man or man of color, this post relates to you as well, but I imagine that you are facing much more than just this stuff).

(Check out these older posts for a good backstory on the subject: Start with a funny post–Ode to the White Whipped Male by Mark Morford of SFgate. Then read The End of Men, which essentially explores how the balance of power is shifting toward women. And a superb and confronting follow up by Ann Freidman in the American Prospect called “Not the End of Men” where she cites that gender stereotypes are responsible for the man crisis going on).

Is there truth to these articles?  What is really going on with men now? Are we still suffering? And finally, if there is merit in the press about boys and men, what do we do about it?

A lot of people have weighed in on this subject. Here are a few perspectives followed up with my own.

This year, in a new book called the Demise of Guys author Phil Zimbardo claims that the reason boys and men are flailing so hard is due to arousal addiction, specifically the rampant overuse of video games and (more…)

Acceptance

Acceptance is my nature. Yet, how quickly I forget and how quickly I want to be having a different experience.

Really loving and accepting myself as I am, someone as they are, and life as it is, is a very challenging practice for me.

It’s still quite a mystery to me. All day long, hour after hour are practice opportunities.

In new age spiritual circles “acceptance” and love get talked about a lot and supposedly practiced, but it my judgment often not embodied. This is true for me. This is where we can bypass true acceptance. In other words, I can accept intellectually, but not really be experiencing it in all of me.

So, I’m playing with the term embodied acceptance. This means acceptance in the here and now with all of me.

When I accept I send a message that communicates “I trust.”

To trust is to accept things as they are unfolding in each moment.

 

Really accepting what is so can be very (more…)