New Whole Man Programs

As the founder and organizer of Whole Man Expo, I am very pleased with the programming that we have had the privilege of offering during the past three years for the Front Range of Colorado. We were extremely blessed with numerous high-caliber, dedicated presenters and with so many conscious men and women who participated in the events.

At this juncture, I feel it is time for more consensual planning of future activities that bring together men and women who are devoted to wholeness and to human evolution. On January 25, I met with a preliminary team to brainstorm new possibilities for this year’s offerings. The unanimous vote of the group was to promote one program monthly for a year or so, culminating in a weekend retreat during the spring of 2015. We will meet again in early March, adding a few invited others who were unable to attend the initial meeting.  During the March meeting, we would like to hone in on some specific, diverse events, as well as a new business name (I already have one in mind).

Our group would really welcome your input about topics that you feel would be particularly worthwhile and/or that you would be inclined to attend. Below are general themes, listed in random order, that were suggested by participants yesterday. You can select from this list and/or add some of your own. Feel free to mention a particular topic, or even a catchy title.

  • Communication (especially across genders)
  • Leadership
  • Financial power
  • Building internet businesses
  • Marriage/Family enrichment and parenting skills
  • Hobbies and creative fun
  • Sexual enhancement
  • Spiritual development
  • Nutrition and cooking
  • Increasing one’s Emotional Quotient (EQ)

Please post your feedback in the below comments box. I will be sure to present them at our March meeting. Thank you!

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Taking the Rut out of Routine

 

man_hamster_wheel_lg_nwm1

Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive. ~ Edith Wharton

As the meaning of the word “routine” implies, many daily regimens are a part of daily life:

sleeping, eating, brushing our teeth, relieving our bladder and bowels, dressing and undressing, working—and for some of us, much more. Regularity is helpful in various ways. Routine provides structure, organization and stability. In implementing our familiar activities, we gain a sense of ease and comfort. Many of our set behaviors come to feel like a “soft shoe.”

However, becoming routinized is also fraught with a number of serious downsides. Set patterns and rigid habits can put us in a trance, insidiously robbing us of vitality and spirit. We become prone to falling asleep at the wheel, just going through the motions—at worst, spinning like a rat on a wheel.  The result is that our energy gets depleted, our senses become dulled and we develop “tunnel vision.” Without realizing it, we can look, sound and act jaded or lackluster.  Unwittingly, we limit, often greatly, our inner and outer life experiences. Obsessive-compulsive patterns (OCD) serve to control anxiety, but usually are debilitating and stifle the lifestyle of many OCD sufferers.

The good news is that by focusing on changing just a few habits and routines paves the way for gradually modifying others, just as doing one or two push ups can eventually lead to the ability to do five, then ten…. Here are some simple examples:

  • Change the hand with which you perform an ordinary task, e.g. brushing your teeth, combing/brushing your hair, or dialing phone number.
  • Vary your morning or bedtime rituals a bit.
  • Attune to your body as you take several deep breaths.
  • Occasionally engage in “responsible rule breaking, “ e.g. return from lunch 5-10 minutes late.
  • Eat slower and savor your food in the process.
  • Alter your touch and patterns in sensual and/or sexual lovemaking.

As you develop fluidity with habit change, you acquire deeper awareness of yourself and greater presence with other people and your environment.  New neural pathways may even develop! You are likely to experience a wider range of feelings and your bandwidth of colors, tones, etc. may increase, leading to more alacrity.  Gradually, you become more open to new new realizations, trying some different activities, and more tolerant of people. Another predictable byproduct, especially if you remain receptive and very patient, is a greater state of happiness.

Hut, hut, drop the rut!

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Big Boys Do Cry!

Knowshon Moreno Sports Illustrated Cover. Photo from nfl.si.com.

Knowshon Moreno Sports Illustrated Cover. Photo from nfl.si.com.

 

At the end of their 1962 hit song Big Girls Don’t Cry, the Four Seasons concluded that big girls do cry. So do big boys and grown men!

I was very pleased to see that Sports Illustrated magazine ran a cover story about Denver Broncos’ top running back Knowshon Moreno in its January 13, 2014 issue: “The Truth Behind a Bronco’s Tears.”

Moreno’s two conspicuous streams that gushed from his eyes as the Star Spangled Banner was sung at the start of the Dec. 1, 2014 game in Kansas City soon became a huge topic of conversation that swept the nation. For example, in addition to being aired live, Moreno’s emotional display was shown that night on Sports Center and was tweeted ad nausea. Many of his teammates taunted him about his prolific release of moisture.

During his Sports Illustrated interview, Moreno volunteered that he has often become choked up or cried during the playing of the national anthem as far back as high school. Amidst the stillness during the singing, he takes the opportunity to express thanks to the Lord for “letting me play the game and for everything.” He typically gets emotionally stirred by his prayers.

Moreno’s life has been a Horatio Alger story, in which a poor boy from New York City and New Jersey became a star running back at the University of Georgia and ultimately attained success in the National Football League (NFL). In his youth, Knowshon was shuffled from home to home, sometimes weekly, and at times was homeless.

For me, Moreno exhibits some qualities of a balanced or “whole” man.  He manifests a noble range of deep sensitivity and humble gratitude to tough, hard-nosed performances as a professional football player. He demonstrated a positive attitude and persistence during his first few years with the Broncos, during which he was often considered a “bust” and scoffed at with derogatory names like “No Show” Moreno (including by me). Relegated to the Broncos’ practice squad for a number of games last year, he accepted his situation and worked very hard to receive a chance to redeem himself.  Since the latter part of the 2012 season and throughout the current one, Moreno has risen to be regarded as an integral part of the Broncos’ consecutive division-winning teams. During one game this year, he carried the ball a rare and punishing 37 times.

I celebrate that Knowshon’s tears were prominent enough to gain him national attention. Even in this era, our country needs role models of tender-hearted, yet strong men, especially in the ranks of the super-macho NFL. Cry on, Knowshon—you have won my admiration and respect, along with that of numerous fans and witnesses.

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Committed Couples New Year Delights

couple-talking

Our goal-oriented culture instructs us to compose a substantial list of New Year’s resolutions at the start of each year.  Often, we accept the challenge with gusto and conviction, yet soon abandon much or most of the goals that we declare worthy of achieving. Rarely are committed couples encouraged to collaborate on joint resolutions.

My wife Ruth and I, who have been married 43 years and serve as couples therapists and coaches, really enjoy and recommend the periodic practice of partners asking each other “What would delight you?” It’s fun and stimulating to spontaneously brainstorm a bunch of responses to that very upbeat question. What’s then practical/realistic is to select and focus on just one or two of those items for the week, month and year.

Some of your proposals can be simple—they need not be challenging, time-consuming, costly, and so forth. You could also consider negotiating a quid pro quo exchange: “I’ll do this if you’ll do that.” The key is to have fun and to remain lighthearted and excited during the process, rather than being demanding or manipulative with your desires. As your endorphins are activated, feel the sensations in your body that emanate from inquiring into the positive/joyful possibilities.

Here is a sample of our recent proposals, some of which we have already acted upon:

  • Play Scrabble (We hadn’t played each other for awhile.)
  • Fulfill a sexual fantasy
  • Attend a vision-building program together
  • Find venues and media sources to promote our book, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage, which will be released by Skylight Paths Publishing Co. this spring.

The only one of these items that we readily agreed on was playing Scrabble. The others required some discussion and compromise. For example, Ruth wanted me to attend all three days of the vision-building event with her, but I only got on board to devote one day to it.

Several examples of areas that you might consider discussing are:

  • Special expenditures, such as travel, a new house or car
  • Recreation
  • Cuisine:  your own cooking and/or restaurant choices
  • Events:  concerts, plays, seminars

Enjoy and value the process!

Ruth and I wish you a very soulful new year—one full of vibrancy and love.

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New Year Resolve

smart-goals

Firstly, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Wishing each of you a deeply fulfilling 2014, replete with a strong balance of loving give and take, in vibrant health. Thank you so much for reading my blog posts this past year; I hope that you have derived value from them.

I’d like to offer several keys for effectively working with your intentions and goals for the new year. Common practice involves cranking out a list of resolutions, taking on a few favorable activities for a short time, then abandoning the bulk of the goals. Each January, many guys who regularly work out at the gym joke about the onrush of new raring-to-go exercisers who virtually disappear from the gym by February.
someone writing

Here are my suggestions for increased satisfaction and success with approaching your formulated objectives:

  • For starters, just choose one or two character traits or attitudes and 1-2 behaviors to focus on improving during January. Write your goals and specifically how you plan to progress toward them. Ask at least one person to hold you accountable for your efforts. Acknowledge your daily accomplishments and perhaps reward yourself on a weekly basis. Doing so will “jump start” you.
  • Do essentially the same each month, building slightly on an incomplete goal or project, and deciding whether to take on just one additional focus for that month. Again, this allows you to progress in manageable chunks.
  • During the course of the year, consider taking on some brand new mindsets and activities that will “round you out” and add spice to your life. Some of these may feel like a “lark;” others will take you out of your comfort zone and involve a measure of risk.
  • Certain regular practices have proven very conducive for empowering success. These include daily review of written goals; nightly journaling of results from the day; visualizing further accomplishments; prayer; and requesting support from trusted others.

As you go through the year, continually strive to place your gains, however small, in the forefront of your attention and let your mistakes or shortcomings recede into the background. If you find yourself making great strides on many of your goals, you might decide to challenge yourself to “go bigger.” Conversely, you may elect to take some resolutions off of your “plate,” without chastising yourself in the process.

HAPPY GROWING in the service of yourself and of the numerous people you will interact with, impact, or “touch” this coming year.

I look forward to continuing to build our relationship and to remaining in communication during 2014.

 

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Deep Dive into Darkness

night_sky

Praise G-d Supreme, who made the moon and stars to rule by night. His Love and Mercy endures forever.  ~ from Jewish liturgy

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. ~ Anne Bradstreet

On the eve of the 2013 winter solstice, the longest night of the year, my wife Ruth and I attended our friends’ 27th annual solstice gathering. The 30 lovely guests deeply and vulnerably shared poetry, songs, personal joys and adversities over the past year. As always, many folks referenced the power and beauty of the darkness and of the illumination that penetrates the dark during this month of religious/spiritual celebrations.

In his famous 16th-century poem Dark Night of the Soul, the Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross portrayed the painful experiences and hardships that people endure during the soul’s journey toward ultimate union with the Creator. Amidst the many pleasures of life, nobody is exempt from being at least periodically tested through various challenges and adversities. We can choose to learn and grow from these difficult trials.

bare_tree

The extended darkness, barrenness and cold of winter beckons us into a prolonged period of introspection. Beyond merely formulating new year goals, this month and season offer an ideal time for us to take stock of our character and personality deficits.  The objective of a rigorous personal inventory is self-improvement, not deprecation or chastisement.

My nature is well-suited to self-scrutiny, so I value opportunities to dig deep. However, I must admit that lately I have been so busy with counseling, coaching and completing a book, that I have been somewhat negligent in doing my personal work. Last week’s shooting at a nearby high school (I counseled one of the students) coupled with participation in last night’s solstice have jostled my consciousness. I am intent on taking advantage of a lighter Christmas-week schedule to slow my pace and to resume my soul-searching. Will you join me?

Wishing each of you a blessed, joyous holiday season and a loving, meaningful 2014!

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Mass Shootings

assault-weapons

In the wake of the December 13 school shooting at Arapahoe High School, four miles from my home, I once again want to direct some attention to the matter of mass shootings. With each occurrence, beyond the harm done to the shooting victims,  countless numbers of people are traumatized by the violence—often, for years.

I have previously written blog posts concerning male violence. This time, I will simply present several glaring facts, raise some key questions for you to contemplate and/or inquire about, and put out a call to action.

Photo from go.abcnews.com

Photo from go.abcnews.com

 

A few salient facts (so as to avoid bogging down with data):

  • Virtually all of the mass shootings globally have been perpetrated by males.
  • Most of the weapons used in the incidents were legally obtained.
  • Approximately 80% of the worldwide mass shootings have occurred in the United States.
  • Only three of the past 32 years did the U.S. not experience a mass shooting.
  • About half of the mass shootings in the U.S. have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005.

Some questions for consideration and investigation:

  • What factors contribute to males being the shooters about 99% of the time?
  • What societal or cultural determinants trigger (pun intended) the grossly disproportionate incidence of mass shootings in the United States?
  • What are the common personal stressers that catalyze these violent events?
  • How do biochemical and neurological disorders affect the perpetrators?
  • What kind of gun-control legislation would be most effective and accepted?

I encourage you to generate additional relevant questions and to research the answers.

Most importantly, what would you be willing to do to reduce the prevalent gun violence? Your responses could be as simple as consciously being kinder to people you interact with on a daily basis and/or making a deliberate effort to react better to stress in your life. You might also elect to (further) involve yourself with some form of activism, e.g. educational or political, or perhaps to offer a specific type of preventive guidance or support of victims. Taking some kind of stand is obviously more proactive and effectual than merely whining about the egregious acts of violence each time they hit the headlines.

Regarding my own actions, I have worked with thousands of men in various formats, ranging from psychological and couples/family counseling to ongoing groups to weekend retreats, in an effort to resolve emotional conflicts, enhance mental health, and to promote overall well-being: http://www.energyforlife.us.  I have also founded and organized Whole Man Expo in the Denver area, which has for the past three years served to facilitate male balance and personal integration.  I publicly pledge to continue my own efforts toward kindness and effective stress management on a regular basis.

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A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

My company, Energy for Life, has sponsored the Whole Man Expo in the Denver, CO area the past three years. At each Expo a committee has selected five finalists and a grand winner of the Whole Man of the Year award. If I could vote for a whole man statesman of the year, I would without hesitation cast my ballot for Nelson Mandela, posthumously.

Most of you are well aware of Mr. Mandela’s sterling credentials, a combination of exceptional character traits coupled with “eye-popping” national achievements that have had touched and rallied people world-wide. I want to highlight the reasons I regard Nelson as a consummate whole man and statesperson.

  • Unwavering courage in devoting his life to fight apartheid in South Africa
  • Complete self-sacrifice for his cause, enduring 27 years of imprisonment in a tight cell under squalid conditions
  • A genuinely charismatic and visionary leader, who not only rallied his nation to overcome an evil system, but who inspired people across the planet
  • Demonstrated poetic eloquence in speaking and writing
  • Recognizing the potentially transformational value of sports, the driving force behind hugely-underdog South Africa’s World Cup soccer championship
  • In general, a man with a pure heart and a massive spirit

nelson-mandela-crowd

This Mandela quote bespeaks the power, dedication and beauty of the man:

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.

Bless you, Nelson Mandela, for your glorious contributions to humanity and may your brilliant love shine forth in the afterlife. I fully believe that your soulful work will soon continue in the “high heavens.”

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A Simple Challenge

Shortly after awakening this morning, I realized that today is December 1st, signifying to me that we are now in the thick of the holiday season.  A propitious, simple idea occurred to me, which I soon turned into a challenge, that I immediately took on myself.

My idea was instigated by a former spiritual teacher of mine, who in 1991 advanced a campaign to have the entire world stop at a set time in 1996 for five minutes of silence, which he referred to as the “moment of truth.” Impractical as this brazen initiative was, it served to plant a lot of seeds on a global level.

Although my idea is likely to be less far-reaching than the “moment of truth,” it has the potential to ripple out in many directions and favorably impact many people. Happily, it is quite doable and I assure you that if you implement it with sincere intentions, you will experience positive results .

I invite you to devote just five minutes per day for ten consecutive days to contemplate or reflect on these two questions:

  • How can I enhance the love that I give and receive?
  • How can I serve others better?

couple meditating

I suggest doing this practice soon after you awaken, but you may do it anytime during the day and anywhere in which you are free of distractions. Intend to keep your focus of attention on the stimulus questions.  When your thoughts stray, which they surely will (as in any form of meditation), gently return them to one of the questions. Consider viable and efficient responses to the two items. Your ideas need not be elaborate; they can be very basic or simple. Furthermore, it is fine to repeat a thought that you previously had, which may serve to reinforce or refine it.

Given that I’m an advanced meditator, my first crack, today, at this little exercise was delightfully successful. As you might guess, the practice tends to spill out into your day and speak/whisper to you at opportune times.

Please inform me if you decide to accept my simple challenge. Also, let me know what opens up for you in the aftermath of this 10-day practice.

Finally, I would really appreciate your liking this page and forwarding the link (just click the title) to your social networks.

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Rachel’s Challenge

Rachel's Challenge

Yesterday my daughter, Alaina, shared with our family the 2013 DVD video, Ambassador of Kindness: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Scott. This 45-minute DVD was one of the most inspirational and moving true stories that I have ever witnessed. Rachel Scott, a junior at Columbine High School was the first of 13 people who were shot and killed in the Littleton, CO school massacre on April 20, 1999.

I will share generally what I found so evocative, powerful and beautiful about this video, but I don’t want to detract from anyone’s firsthand experience of the story by sharing specific details.

Craig Scott Speaking

Rachel’s brother, Craig, speaking to a crowd

 

Despite some commercialized polish and hyperbole, this riveting video portrayed a deeply compassionate and fiercely passionate 16-year-old who proved amazingly prophetic. The DVD portrayed Rachel’s dedication to befriending downtrodden and bullied peers, her poetic, philosophical and ethical writings and her mystical nature. Clearly, this youth was loving and wise way beyond her years! I guarantee you that the video reveals one of the most mystical/magical experiences you have ever heard. I’ve had and been informed about numerous mystical events, but this one “blew me away!”

In the process of piecing together Rachel’s voluminous writings and many accounts from her friends, Rachel’s father and step-mother, Darrell and Sandy Scott, were flabbergasted by the realizations they had about this incredible girl. After addressing the U.S. Congress, they gathered a staff of family members and Ms. Scott’s close acquaintances to present monumental experiential programs based on Rachel’s profound principles and code of conduct. Rachel’s tragic death gave impetus to an international campaign that has now reached well over 20,000,000 students, business people, club members, etc.  The programs focus on unleashing inner convictions to treat others with respect and gentle understanding. Given the vast ripple effect of the project dubbed “Rachel’s Challenge,” this synthesis has served to touch countless numbers of people and to save untold lives.

I highly recommend viewing this empowering video and checking out the website rachelschallenge.org. The heart-rendering DVD offers potent, timely perspectives for the holiday season and beyond!

Photos courtesy of rachelschallenge.org.

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