Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Conversations We Should Be Having: Unwinding Toxic Masculinity Through 5Rhythms Dance
Category:
Healing

Vulnerability is a feeling men often labor to avoid.​​ They’re frequently taught to be strong, stoic, and unfeeling. As children, many hear: “Be a man!” and “Swallow your pain!” Yet to collectively strive toward healing the mind, body, and spirit, we must break free of limitations that harm our relationships and limit our human experiences. Consensual touch and explorative dance and movement can be richly transformative. This month for Conversations We Should Be Having, we hear from Esalen’s Director of Healing Arts & Somatics Douglas Drummond, who led a group of men in a 5Rhythms workshop that focused on the embodied masculine. In his most recent workshop, Douglas witnessed metamorphoses and epiphanies that have left him inspired. Within this community he is building, he also finds the support he needs.  

“I was navigating my own grief surrounding a miscarriage my wife and I experienced,” shared Douglas. “Struggling to contain so much emotion, I began to connect with the men in my closest circle. I was struck by how many similar experiences those men shared with me, yet had not opened to anyone about it, many due to shame, some having kept their deepest challenges secret for many years. I realized that I also needed to address this stoic masculine, ‘go it alone and handle it’ archetype in myself. Inviting a group of men together to move, share, and support each other felt timely.”

Douglas Drummond enjoys a moment in the Garden at Esalen


As Gabrielle Roth, creator of the 5Rhythms method, would say, “When we are most vulnerable, we are the most powerful.” Douglas and his students broke through to the healing catharsis that comes from being open and unguarded. Together, they created a safe container and community where they could share and listen with presence. 


To help spread the message so many men can benefit from experiencing, three participants of that workshop have offered their powerful testimony.   

“The journey from strangers to brothers was truly divine.”

“This type of intimacy with other men is vital,” says Adam Christie, an infantry lieutenant who served in Iraq. “As we attempt to heal the collective and the planet, men’s work is a critical component. We as a society need to unwind toxic programming around masculinity so we can fully show up for our loved ones. This offering changed my life, and it now ripples out to my daughter and all those I come in contact with.”

Still, Christie was not instantly accepting of the process. “When I saw the Men’s 5Rhythms workshop offering, I immediately felt resistance,” he says. “Yet I intuitively knew I needed this. I had never done a workshop at Esalen, let alone a men’s workshop based in embodied movement. This was a real edge for me. My ego told me to find something less activating, but something deeper felt called.”

“I experienced my immense capacity for love. The journey from strangers to brothers was truly divine. I was able to examine old belief systems that no longer served. On more than one occasion, I was moved to tears. It was deeply cathartic. Men need to be witnessed by other conscious men in order to complete the initiatory process.”

“I felt the need to hear each man’s story.”

Tom Donnelly, a real estate executive, felt significant and accelerated life-changing personal growth through the specifics of men’s work, and says that being at a “men only” Esalen retreat allowed him to both express himself better and understand men from all walks of life.

“Men’s work has changed my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love being in the company of women, but I’ve come to realize that men often have an easier time expressing themselves when they’re around other men who are doing the same.” 

“Having only men there encouraged more authenticity without pressure or our egos getting in the way. I personally enjoyed the diversity of men who fully expressed themselves and didn’t hold back: straight, gay, bisexual, queer, etc. I felt the need to hear each man’s story and I felt like they heard mine.”

“I found that I could actually be me.”

For Steven Bradshaw, a marriage and family therapist, a primal scream rattled and awakened his awareness. 

“When a man in the group screamed, ‘I HATE MEN!’ and pounded his fist against the wooden floor, he summed up what many of us had been sharing — we had each been burned in our relations with other men and had done violence to ourselves in trying to ‘be a man.’”

“Many of us expressed aversion to ‘chest-thumping’ cocksure movements and other forms of dominance-signaling that reliably emerge in groups of men. We felt burned out by mainstream male culture, and hungry for something that few of us had ever experienced: vulnerable and real emotional relating between men.”

For Steven, this meant opening up about his masculine wounds: an overbearing and shaming father, a dominating and competitive older brother, and twenty-five years of feeling trapped in male-dominated institutions. “As a highly sensitive child, I was easily crushed by these experiences.” 

“I learned to hide out in a false masculine shell around other men and to avoid men at all costs. As a result, I found myself highly resistant to cooperating with men in business and avoided taking on authority roles, including that of father.”

“The first night, the room full of men felt like an anvil weighing on my spirit. I could do little more than act as a witness. Through the course of the weekend, I found that I could actually be me in the company of men without being crushed or false.”

“When men come together with an unconditional invitation to express their vulnerability, a transformation can occur,” says Douglas. “The warrior spirit is catalyzed by questioning the patriarchal stigma of ‘what it means to be a man’; that pressure becomes the boundary which the group can explore leaning on, challenging, and ultimately breaking down.”

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Douglas will be returning to facilitate a 5Rhythms workshop, Return to Source: Authenticity in Motion, later this month.

Learn More

About

Esalen Team

Conversations We Should Be Having: Unwinding Toxic Masculinity Through 5Rhythms Dance

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Healing

Vulnerability is a feeling men often labor to avoid.​​ They’re frequently taught to be strong, stoic, and unfeeling. As children, many hear: “Be a man!” and “Swallow your pain!” Yet to collectively strive toward healing the mind, body, and spirit, we must break free of limitations that harm our relationships and limit our human experiences. Consensual touch and explorative dance and movement can be richly transformative. This month for Conversations We Should Be Having, we hear from Esalen’s Director of Healing Arts & Somatics Douglas Drummond, who led a group of men in a 5Rhythms workshop that focused on the embodied masculine. In his most recent workshop, Douglas witnessed metamorphoses and epiphanies that have left him inspired. Within this community he is building, he also finds the support he needs.  

“I was navigating my own grief surrounding a miscarriage my wife and I experienced,” shared Douglas. “Struggling to contain so much emotion, I began to connect with the men in my closest circle. I was struck by how many similar experiences those men shared with me, yet had not opened to anyone about it, many due to shame, some having kept their deepest challenges secret for many years. I realized that I also needed to address this stoic masculine, ‘go it alone and handle it’ archetype in myself. Inviting a group of men together to move, share, and support each other felt timely.”

Douglas Drummond enjoys a moment in the Garden at Esalen


As Gabrielle Roth, creator of the 5Rhythms method, would say, “When we are most vulnerable, we are the most powerful.” Douglas and his students broke through to the healing catharsis that comes from being open and unguarded. Together, they created a safe container and community where they could share and listen with presence. 


To help spread the message so many men can benefit from experiencing, three participants of that workshop have offered their powerful testimony.   

“The journey from strangers to brothers was truly divine.”

“This type of intimacy with other men is vital,” says Adam Christie, an infantry lieutenant who served in Iraq. “As we attempt to heal the collective and the planet, men’s work is a critical component. We as a society need to unwind toxic programming around masculinity so we can fully show up for our loved ones. This offering changed my life, and it now ripples out to my daughter and all those I come in contact with.”

Still, Christie was not instantly accepting of the process. “When I saw the Men’s 5Rhythms workshop offering, I immediately felt resistance,” he says. “Yet I intuitively knew I needed this. I had never done a workshop at Esalen, let alone a men’s workshop based in embodied movement. This was a real edge for me. My ego told me to find something less activating, but something deeper felt called.”

“I experienced my immense capacity for love. The journey from strangers to brothers was truly divine. I was able to examine old belief systems that no longer served. On more than one occasion, I was moved to tears. It was deeply cathartic. Men need to be witnessed by other conscious men in order to complete the initiatory process.”

“I felt the need to hear each man’s story.”

Tom Donnelly, a real estate executive, felt significant and accelerated life-changing personal growth through the specifics of men’s work, and says that being at a “men only” Esalen retreat allowed him to both express himself better and understand men from all walks of life.

“Men’s work has changed my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love being in the company of women, but I’ve come to realize that men often have an easier time expressing themselves when they’re around other men who are doing the same.” 

“Having only men there encouraged more authenticity without pressure or our egos getting in the way. I personally enjoyed the diversity of men who fully expressed themselves and didn’t hold back: straight, gay, bisexual, queer, etc. I felt the need to hear each man’s story and I felt like they heard mine.”

“I found that I could actually be me.”

For Steven Bradshaw, a marriage and family therapist, a primal scream rattled and awakened his awareness. 

“When a man in the group screamed, ‘I HATE MEN!’ and pounded his fist against the wooden floor, he summed up what many of us had been sharing — we had each been burned in our relations with other men and had done violence to ourselves in trying to ‘be a man.’”

“Many of us expressed aversion to ‘chest-thumping’ cocksure movements and other forms of dominance-signaling that reliably emerge in groups of men. We felt burned out by mainstream male culture, and hungry for something that few of us had ever experienced: vulnerable and real emotional relating between men.”

For Steven, this meant opening up about his masculine wounds: an overbearing and shaming father, a dominating and competitive older brother, and twenty-five years of feeling trapped in male-dominated institutions. “As a highly sensitive child, I was easily crushed by these experiences.” 

“I learned to hide out in a false masculine shell around other men and to avoid men at all costs. As a result, I found myself highly resistant to cooperating with men in business and avoided taking on authority roles, including that of father.”

“The first night, the room full of men felt like an anvil weighing on my spirit. I could do little more than act as a witness. Through the course of the weekend, I found that I could actually be me in the company of men without being crushed or false.”

“When men come together with an unconditional invitation to express their vulnerability, a transformation can occur,” says Douglas. “The warrior spirit is catalyzed by questioning the patriarchal stigma of ‘what it means to be a man’; that pressure becomes the boundary which the group can explore leaning on, challenging, and ultimately breaking down.”

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Douglas will be returning to facilitate a 5Rhythms workshop, Return to Source: Authenticity in Motion, later this month.

Learn More

About

Esalen Team

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