It’s a funny thing, isn’t it, you know the role cranky old guys play in the movies. Tongue in cheek humour, bitter and jaded, scarred by life and happy to let all who come in close contact know about it.
As funny as it is, there seems a deeper truth that lurks beneath this humorous joust at males.
It really has me wondering, why do us male species seem to get jaded the older we get, and is it just when we’re older we embrace our grumpiness but when we’re young it wears a different mask?
Been having a few chats of late with friends, kinda camp-side fire chats without the fires. Getting deep into the psyche and the collective scars of men.
Discussing male suicide, depression and the older males falling victim to the black dog despite many achieving wealth and success, it seems a lot of males get lost in a void of desperation and unfulfillment.
And I reckon it starts pretty young, a lot of us start to carry a big bag of toxic masculinity. We bottle things up, play it tough and be a man’s man. At least that was the generation I was brought up in, you know “boys don’t cry”, “Take it like a man” all that sort of BS that was thrown around.
I reckon this toxic masculinity still hides in the shadows of today’s generations. Even amongst all the supportive noise on social media and I say noise literally as I have personally felt the ripple effect of stepping out of the norm and sharing poetry, art and information on Meditation. The result of that? Well lots of odd comments and mates sharing words spoken that others had made such as “sheez what’s that all about, bit odd hey?”, whereas if it’s footy, cars, fishing or surfing it’s all good.
So it seems like we’re here for you but if it’s outside our comfort zone, keep that to yourself kinda thing that goes on with males. We’re less open and less inclined to be open minded and accepting to those who are outside our “accepted” models of the world.
And this takes its toll on men. We still see the undercurrents of this and know it’s safer (an illusion) to stay tucked under the covers. But these covers end up cloaking us in darkness.
A great illustration of this is to look at the suicide statistics. 75% of people who committed suicide in Australia in 2017 were males. That’s a pretty big hint something’s amiss.
So what is it? What is this that kills us, cuts us off from others and makes a lot of our elderly role models bitter?
I would say that it is a total sense of Disconnect.
This sense of disconnect can lead us to not being able to stand up in the world to step up and be counted, confident in who we are, what we are and continue to face the world with a sense of strength regardless of what comes our way. As if we have an underlying sense of connection, it helps us navigate the BS. As until there’s a utopian conscious overhaul I predict there’s always going to be these negative challenges and issues. Seems part of human nature.
Especially in this modern world, as I can’t imagine suicide, depression and anxiety rates in the ancient times being too prevalent, sure there maybe would have been the odd mental health issue, financially stressed or broken hearted soul. But certainly nothing like today’s world and throw in a dash of social media angst…
Even the elderly were revered and respected for their accumulated wisdom, celebrated and consulted, whereas now?
Well, off to the nursing home for you Grandad…
Maybe that’s why a few of our grumpy grandfathers have the shits, as our youthful zest no longer requires such sage advice when we have good ol’ Uncle Google – after all he knows it all.
Now if we take a look at the concept of “Disconnect” we can see evidence of this in indigenous cultures where the spear of the western world has decimated their cultural links with many of their youth.
After-all, Google, Adidas, Coca Cola and iPhones are far sexier than hearing of the old stories right?
The super sad thing here is suicide rates show that indigenous males are twice as likely to take their life than non-indigenous.
Well again, just me throwing some thoughts on the table. Disconnection. Thanks to the last couple hundred years of genocide of these ancient cultures, their youth, probably like a lot of western youth, now also feel less connection or perhaps they want to connect to the modern over-hyped western culture. Not a great idea as we can see what has taken place there, whereas for millennia they had a stable source of connection woven through the fabric of their DNA.
The issue with feeling a sense of Disconnect is it also creates a sense of Dis – Ease. And it’s not long before the mental battle takes a massive toll on the health and wellbeing of someone’s psyche.
And this disconnection I reckon runs so strong within our culture.
Boys don’t know how to become men, men don’t know what it means to be a man, other than getting a job and feeding the family. I do hear you though, again this is a mass generalisation and there are plenty of amazing men out there, but for the sake of this article, I’m addressing the average…
As the reality is, we really don’t learn about becoming a man, there’s no school for that is there? Our rite of passage in Australia is “woo hoo, you’re 18, go get shit-faced and act like an idiot as you’re a man now. Its legal!”
No walk about, no time to stand up and be counted, no rite of passage into manhood, no connection to our sacred past and doing what our forefathers may have. Giving us a sense of connection to something beyond the confines of the ego mind. Discovering what true strength is, strength of the individual amongst the collective.
It’s just go get a job and party…
For me, it was a continuance of getting wasted every weekend. As I didn’t even wait until I was 18. Probably like most, I started drinking and taking drugs far too young, which is like hanging precariously on a very slippery slope above a deep nasty crevasse, from which, for some, there is no return if you fall. Thankfully I managed to crawl my way out of those big black holes.
Yet partying is now entrenched in our code, it’s become our right of passage. Which sure is a lot of fun, but for me that slippery slope eventually led to a feeling of isolation, depression and disconnection and getting “out of it” was the only way to feel connected…
Ah connection, don’t you reckon this is what we are all, deep down, desiring? I believe this runs very deep within our psyche. Perhaps the dominant force of all our unconscious actions is that pull towards connection, sometimes though it is a little misguided.
That it is why it is so, so good to see the windows of change upon us, with people talking of connecting, finding their tribe and so many great male role models stepping up to shed the old snake skin of the toxic masculine. And no no, not talking about a return to the sensitive new age guy, true masculinity is powerful and a necessity, where we own our shit, yet remain open, vulnerable and accepting, toxic masculinity the opposite.
But this connection, however great it is the tide is on the turn, cannot be truly found outside ourselves, as that is what we have all been doing, searching for it in friends, in groups and in material possessions.
Sure, we can find support, friendship and fun.
But love and connection has to come from within.
If it doesn’t, it’s a temporary fleeting game, relying on the love of others is like catching a bubble from a kids bubble thrower and seeing how long you can hold it before it pops. Not long…And if that person who is the focus of our love projection decides it is no longer there, then where does that sense of love and connection go?
You got it. The same place our bubble did, back into the ether.
Once again, leaving us to feel disconnected and not loved.
So, my friends, the long and short of it is, we have to cultivate a sense of connection and love within ourselves. Going beyond the surface level of our lives and touching that space within to get to “know” on a deep level the self beyond the self, the you beyond the you.
And no, I am not talking about religion, a god or deity. I am talking about the essence within yourself.
Sure, for some this connection goes beyond self, which I am sure would be super powerful for a lot of people.
But the ultimate – in my humble opinion – is when we connect deep to ourselves, as it is from here we start to see our connection to all things, a deeper connection to friends, lovers, family and all. A connection that is not dependent on the love of another, a connection that does not buckle upon negative opinions or actions, which will always be there to test us.
When you think about it, I am sure this is what many of our great teachers speak of.
Just like one of the many great saints, Jesus (and no I am not religious, this is just a relevant saying) offering us this: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within”, what a beautiful saying and one I feel goes beyond all religions, all boundaries and mental frameworks. I reckon Jesus was basically saying “look inside” that’s where all life unfolds, don’t wait until some mystical afterlife, or until you have your Wishlist of material possessions. this is it. Live your life now as if this is heaven, as who knows, perhaps it is.
So, within is the doorway to our connection and love. After all, there can and never will be anything we can achieve that is outside of consciousness.
Everything resides within. Love, happiness, fulfilment and CONNECTION.
We just have to develop an inner game to help us take the silent steps within to access this state and from there, life will blossom. As per a beautiful quote from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi “Water the root to enjoy the fruit”.
What is the root?
Connection to self and from there, all your gifts start to flourish for who and what you are.
“Great Rich, sounds good, connection, I get it, but give me something tangible if this is to help us and as you say prevent males from living unfulfilled and falling victim to disconnection, what are we to do?”
Good Question, glad you asked.
The answer is a double edged sword, for it is so simple yet feels so complicated.
Go within. Sit and be in nature, turn your attention 180 degrees inward and go within. Listen to what is below the surface level of your mind – as the ego mind will do its darnedest to keep you spinning plates and distracted by bright and shiny colours…
“Oh check that out, check this out, don’t worry about going within, that’s BS. I’ve got you covered pal, we’ve been working so well together for years, just ignore this idiot. We’re happy right, and I’ll always keep us with loads to occupy our time with, dramas, negative thoughts and feelings, feeling greater or less than and the constant judging of others – my favourite – so just stay with me right.”
With a daily practice of cultivating connection within, eventually that noise, that constant ego companion, subsides and as intuition starts to rise, greater creativity and connection starts to take sprout.
And it all starts with a question. Am I truly happy?
If yes, hats off to you, if not, hats off to you for being honest.
The good news is, no matter where you sit right now, you can change. But do not look outside for such change, connection and happiness, it won’t stick.
Start a daily practice of sitting and observing the space within. Go to the beach, the bush, a river (you don’t need natural surroundings, you can do this where you are right now but nature is a great place to start, as the energy can assist us to slow down) and close your eyes, sit in that space and start to feel what starts to bubble up, let the mind do it’s thing, let it run wild but just listen, feel beyond that space. Observe sensations, feelings, thoughts rise and fall with no judgement just a beautiful practice of being “mindful” which helps us to go beyond mind.
No need to analyse your thoughts or feelings, let all that go, it is all a construct of the mind, castles made on sand. You are so much more than that.
This activity of starting to be the observer of your mind is a powerful way to start going beyond mind and feeling yourself, the you beyond you. Slowly you will begin to sense the connection or for some they may feel it right away. Do this daily. Give yourself 5,10 or 20 minutes to just “be”.
At first this may seem like an intellectual experience, but over time you will go beyond that “Oh I think I am feeling/experiencing something” and you will start to know and feel the energy that is you. After all, that is all we truly are, energy dancing in consciousness.
Other ways, get a Meditation app on your phone, there are loads of good ones out there, go to a meditation group or find a meditation teacher/course. The key is to just start, but another caveat, carry no expectation as that is ego and it will run you back to the ground in no time. We just surrender to the moment with no goals, no expectations and no desires, and let the “you” bubble up from the depths of your being.
Give it time, it’s like a beautiful garden, plant the seed, water it and over time it will grow. The flower?
Connection, Love and happiness. The outcome, you perform far better in this crazy old world we live in.
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