In the last century, the role of men in society has changed significantly, resulting in confusion and uncertainty about who men know themselves as at a much deeper level. Prior to the women’s movement towards equality, men have mainly identified themselves as the rational leaders, warriors, providers and problem solvers of our communities. However, with the drastic modern day changes in women’s roles and the shift towards a more integrated world that is accepting, interconnected and interested in much bigger questions about life’s purpose and personal fulfillment, men are beginning to recognize the importance of finding inner peace, experiencing deeper relationships, living authentic lives, and expressing their true feelings and vulnerability that many have hidden and suppressed under previous gender expectations.
Although this is an exciting time for men, it is also a challenging one. Whether man or woman, embracing who we are as spiritual beings is often difficult until the pathway into our inner selves becomes visible and accessible. As Wayne Dyer explains in his new movie, The Shift: The Move from Ambition to Meaning, today’s men and women have different sets of values before and after that quantum moment in their lives when the ego loses its control over their true essence as spiritual beings.
Even though spirituality-based principles such as compassion, integrity, honesty, humility and honoring others are not gender specific, who we are as men and women arises from our early influences and experiences throughout life, many of which are culturally grounded. For me this explains why different qualities of spirituality might arise in men that are just as authentic as those that more commonly arise in women and that the unification of these qualities between men and women represents the wholeness that encompasses who we are as both human and spiritual beings.
As Dr. Dyer shares with us in his film, before men experience this key moment or shift, their core values include wealth, a sense of adventure, achievement, pleasure and respect. After the shift, their values transform to spirituality, personal peace, family, gods will/purpose (god meaning any representation of source energy) and honesty/feelings. Women on the other hand express values of family, independence, career, fitting in and attractiveness before the shift. Afterwards, their values transform to personal growth, self-esteem, spirituality, happiness and forgiveness.
As our core values and beliefs about life shape the way we identify ourselves, how we view others, and what’s possible or not possible in our lives, this moment of transition is the pathway to fulfilling our life’s purpose, experiencing true inner peace, and living a life in line with who we authentically are. Patriarchic values such as power, dominance, and control over others loses significance and importance, no longer providing us with what we want.
Returning to men specifically, it can be extremely beneficial for men to begin to incorporate some practices to help them move towards this quantum shift or support them once you have. I’ve listed a few suggestions of my own, but there are many others that are just as effective.
1. Connecting with Men
There are many men’s groups that offer a comfortable setting for men to talk about their lives and share their stories with other men who are facing the same challenges. If you don’t have access to a group or the desire to start one, consider connecting with your father or an older and perhaps wiser man who can act as a mentor. For those that don’t have a good connection with their father today, initiating a conversation of this nature can profoundly alter an otherwise unfulfilling father/son relationship which can be tremendously healing. Many may find that their fathers (having grown up during another era) were never genuinely “fathered” and thus don’t know how to father and create intimacy with their sons.
2. Quiet time of Reflection
For many men, it’s easier to flip on the TV during moments of down time then to give the mind a rest and open oneself up to deeper reflection. Consider spending some alone time in nature, writing in a journal, going for a jog (without music) or simply sitting quietly and doing nothing. Just a few minutes of quiet time each day can refuel your energy while also giving you the opportunity to know yourself on a deeper level and confront those ways of being or areas of your life that aren’t authentically serving you.
3. Reading/Expanding Your Thinking
Reading is a great way to encourage new thinking, insights and ways of looking at the world and humanity. There are many great books linking science and spirituality that offer a rational approach to spiritual topics. Find something that you connect with and never force yourself to read something that doesn’t capture your interest. Eventually you might find that reading appeals to you more then other forms of passive entertainment.
Many men are intimidated by the idea of meditation, conjuring up an image of a cross-legged Buddha or experienced yogi. However, there are many ways to meditate and sitting is just one of them. Standing, walking and laying meditations are all useful and effective ways to create stillness in the mind. Meditation has many benefits related to health and wellbeing. Begin with just a few minutes a day until you’re able to work up to an extended period of time that feels comfortable and useful.
5. Be the Warrior, Not the Soldier
I recently read an article describing the difference between a warrior and a soldier that I found to be a great metaphor for today’s men. The soldier is the one who follows the orders of another even if is against his own heart and doesn’t feel right. However, a warrior takes a stand for something he believes in and does so on equal ground with others. A warrior is willing to let go of all of his external-based accomplishments and pride, knowing that he will die alone. With this clear understanding of his mortality, he bravely lives his life to the fullest, appreciating and loving the present moment, rather then making sacrifices to defend for another day.
Spiritual health stems from how we integrate our inner and outer lives in a way that supports us in living life from a place of purpose, compassion and strength. When we are peaceful, relaxed, comfortable in our own skin, in tune with our selves and others, and detached from our circumstances and possessions, our perspective on life and the world around us changes. This can profoundly impact what’s important to us, how we face challenges, the decisions we make, the thoughts we have, and the actions we take; giving us more options from which to live a joyful and rewarding life.
-The Shift: The Move from Ambition to Meaning by Wayne Dyer
Published On: June 25, 2010