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Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

It’s my week to host our men’s group. Guys I talk to often ask me “what goes on” in the group, so I thought I’d sketch out what a typical meeting is like.

We’re a group of 6-7 guys (one guy is currently living out of state for a few months) who meet for a few hours every other week on a weeknight. We take turns hosting at each of our respective homes in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties, and we often car-pool. We arrive at 6pm, share a meal, and then have out meeting from 7-9pm.

Whoever is hosting provide the meal – most of us like to cook, and some cook quite well, but even the best cooks resort to take-out on occasion due to time constraints. These meals seldom include alcohol, but one a few special occasions it has been offered by the host. Those assembled try to help the host in whatever way they can, but it is his night.

After we’ve enjoyed our meal and helped clear things away, we move to the living room (or whatever space is available) for our meeting. To get ‘centered’ and shed distractions, we usually go through some sort of relaxation exercise. One of our guys is particularly good at leading a relaxation meditation and enjoys doing it, so we often avail ourselves of that gift.

When we’re ready to start the meeting, the host welcomes everyone and asks if anyone ‘needs time’. Men may have something that they’ve been thinking about recently, been burdened by, had an epiphany about, or otherwise wish to share with the others. Not every man is required to share at each meeting (though there is the expectation that, over time, all men will share with the group). Then the host asks who would like to go first.

When a man shares what he has brought to the group, the other men listen. The point is the opportunity to be heard and to share feelings (“I feel” instead of “I think”). Sometimes the man speaking may not be clear or what is being shared is complex – the other men can occasionally interrupt to ask a question or clarification, but it is important to allow the speaker to continue where HE is going with his stream of thoughts and feelings.

When he has relayed what he brought to the group, if moved to do so, other men can respond. They can speak from their own perspective (“when I feel that way, I . . .” instead of “I think you ought to . . . “). Advice is occasionally requested directly by a man, but it should not be a primary assumption that a man is seeking advice in all cases. Often just being heard is enough.

The man of focus is asked if he is ‘done’ (said all he wished and heard enough responses) – if he is, another man starts his share. It is important that men assess the urgency of other men’s need to share at a given meeting since time may run out. It is also useful of the host can monitor the group to make sure we’re staying on task and not wandering aimlessly and wasting valuable time.

What have men shared? Anything and everything. Residual childhood issues, employment problems, relationship struggles, insecurities, anger, shame, dreams & nightmares, the burden of aging parents, raising children, monetary problems, etc. In all cases, the other men will encourage the man speaking to say how he actually feels about what he is sharing and not just the explanation of events (from which feelings are to be inferred). Each man’s experience of an event is unique, so we try not to make assumptions, but to get to that man’s reality.

What I find most interesting about all of this is learning that other men experience many of the same struggles and challenges that I once thought were mind alone. And some men have significant challenges that dwarf my own in comparison. The perspective provided is enlightening.

We try to make sure and wrap up nicely by 9pm. If one guy really missed sharing something, we might decide to run over or at least make a note to allow him to start off our next meeting. As a ‘close’ to our meeting, we gather in a tight circle, arms on shoulders, looking down at our feet, and chant three ‘ohm’s in unison (the sound and vibration is quite primal and brings us into a sort of synchronicity with each other).

Then its hugs all around, thanking our host, and departing for home.

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Why a group of veterans with PTSD allowed 60 Minutes cameras to record their gut-wrenching therapy sessions and air them on national television; then, Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell objects to critics who say he fails to credit other people’s works; also, In an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, author Malcolm Gladwell critiques his bestselling book, “The Tipping Point”; and, On the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, former Secret Service agent Clint Hill remembers his emotional interview with Mike Wallace in 1975.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/60-minutes-overtime-112413/

 

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This meeting’s topic was Health, but one of our men had a need to discuss something else, and we honored it.  We’ll postpone the topic of Health until next time (unless another need arises).

(We try to respond to what the men in the group need, rather than some sort of arbitrary objectives.  Our men need to know that we’re there when they need us.  We actually had a great meeting, with all the men contributing something of worth toward this man’s topic request.  We’re maturing as a group.  Cool.)

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This week’s meeting is a little different than usual.

Ken Solin, the guy I’ve talked to you about, will be visiting the group to talk about his experience in starting/participating in a men’s group for the past 20 years.  More information about Ken can be found here and here (you might find some of the exchanges between the men in these videos seem familiar!)

Ken will be here to share his experience with groups like ours and to satisfy his curiosity about what we’re doing.  Aside from writing about this whole business, he is also interested in helping encourage groups of men coming together to talk about their issues.

We’ll plan on doing our breif check-in from all those in attendance and then move onto to sharing ideas about groups of men with Ken.

Please let me know if you plan to come.  Looking forward to meeting.

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This week’s meeting is a little different than usual.

Ken Solin, the guy I’ve talked to you about, will be visiting the group to talk about his experience in starting/participating in a men’s group for the past 20 years.  More information about Ken can be found here and here (you might find some of the exchanges between the men in these videos seem familiar!)

Ken will be here to share his experience with groups like ours and to satisfy his curiosity about what we’re doing.  Aside from writing about this whole business, he is also interested in helping encourage groups of men coming together to talk about their issues.

We’ll plan on doing our breif check-in from all those in attendance and then move onto to sharing ideas about groups of men with Ken.

Please let me know if you plan to come.  Looking forward to meeting.

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Our next meeting will be on Monday, August 29th, from 7:30-9:30pm.

The theme for the meeting will be ORIGINS.

(We discussed this topic a year ago, when the East Bay group started.  Due of the number of new men in attendance, and because this topic is always relevant to each of us, it seemed like a good time to revisit.  Below is Stefan’s original text.)

We all come from a specific place in the world. It is possible to adopt a new home, to find and claim a new land as “ours,” but there always remains some trace where we were young, an indelible mark. Where we come from becomes a subtle and deeply personal myth. This story will often color and frame our present more strongly than the actual events occurring in the moment.

Where did you come from? What were the places that you grew up which shaped you? How was your life impacted by your exposure (or not) to nature, to people who were like you, and people who were not? What are your earliest memories of place? What was the light like, the temperature of the air? Were you happy or uncomfortable? Why does this memory stick? Does it have any special meaning?
How does your place of origin manifest in your life today? What have you kept? What have you rejected? How strong is your feeling of “home?” What do you consider your home, your sacred space? Where do you find peace and safety? Where do you not?

If you are interested in attending this meeting, to be held in North Oakland, contact us for the location.

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Hello all, our next meeting will be on Monday June 6, 7:30-9:30.  The topic for the meeting will be Healthy Communication.

How we communicate can be crucial in the success or failure of our everyday relationships.  In the last meeting we expressed an interest in exploring all the different qualities of healthy and successful communication.  Here are some questions to think about:

What are qualities of a relationship where healthy communication is practiced?

How would you rate your own communication in relationships?

Are you the listener?  The talker?  Or do you have a good balance with both?

Are there tools one can use to practice proactive listening?

When someone you are close to confronts you and is mad or unhappy, what is the best way to communicate?  Does it automatically trigger anger or other strong negative emotions in you?  If so how do you manage your own feelings in that situation?

Society gives us the opportunity to communicate with mass amounts of people at the same time.  How do we manage an overflow of communication?

Are there tips for verbal and non-verbal communication?  ie., body language as a way to show you are interested in what the other person is saying.

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