Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Exploring the Future of Masculinity
Photo Credit: Jens Wazel

Adam Leonard and Dustin DiPerna first met 15 years ago helping to produce a series of integral workshops in Colorado. They re-connected years later when they found themselves participating in similar communities and conversations in California, and ultimately embarked on a teaching collaboration that embraces theory (having a good map) with practice (experiencing the actual territory).

Both credit Esalen — its teachers, transformative practices and cultural experiments — in influencing their personal evolution and capacity to support others along their journey. They return to Esalen this fall to lead Evolving Masculinity: The Future of Men’s Work.

Esalen News: How do you define masculinity in a world that is leaning towards more gender fluidity?

Adam and Dustin: At our core, we each have masculine and feminine energies. Early in life, our family and culture sculpts us, determining which energies we are allowed to express and which we must repress. As our own development progresses, we reclaim the aspects of our being that have been pushed aside into the shadows. When this occurs, masculine and feminine energies find deeper union in our heart.

In our opinion, the trend toward gender fluidity is a surface expression of the deeper wisdom of the soul that seeks recognition of both its masculine and feminine dimensions. To answer your question more specifically, in the context of this retreat, masculinity can be defined as one side of an energetic polarity in our being. Masculine energy (in both male and female bodies) relates to the capacity for directionality, purpose, presence, courage, and the capacity to penetrate the world with love.

Photo Credit: Adam Leonard

Esalen News: What are the greatest misperceptions about masculinity today? What contributes to those misperceptions?

Adam and Dustin: Among the biggest misperceptions we see is the tendency to reduce complex topics (such as masculinity and femininity) into simple stories that generate hurtful tribal divisions and antagonistic debates. This happens when we think in binaries (either/or) over spectrums (both/and), when we fail to take multiple perspectives, when we numb our hearts and empathy, and when we lapse into a fixed mindset that values defending our position over being authentically curious about other points of view. Almost everything can become unhelpful when taken to an extreme.

Photo Credit: Dustin DiPerna

And, unfortunately, the views we often see represented in both mainstream and social media tend to be extremes not shared by most people. The response to these misperceptions, we believe, involves a more sophisticated conversation about masculinity that stays clear of the dysfunctional extremes while including the many nuances and subtleties inevitable with such a complex subject.

Esalen News: You both began teaching Evolving Masculinity prior to the #MeToo movement. What, if anything, has changed in your workshop? And what has not changed?

Adam and Dustin: Masculinity can refer to archetypal energies that endure through time. And masculinity also evolves with the cultural context in which it’s embedded. Cultural movements such as #MeToo have expanded and accelerated our collective conversation about masculinity and femininity, which is a great thing! Even corporations have entered the dialogue with commercials depicting their moral vision of how masculinity should be.

Like all movements, we see less mature versions that paint an oversimplified black/white narrative populated with saints and sinners. And we also see signs of more mature narratives that take larger, more complex, multi-dimensional perspectives into account that can identify and honor important partial truths on all sides. We hope to facilitate this cultural maturation with our workshops, which themselves evolve each time we explore the future of masculinity.  

Esalen News: Each of you have deep connections with Ken Wilber and his work in integral theory. How is that reflected in your teaching and this workshop?

Adam and Dustin: Wilber’s integral frameworks help us make sense of certain trends in culture. Historically, feminine gendered bodies were expected to express feminine energy and to repress their masculine energy. Masculine gendered bodies were expected to express masculine energies and repress their feminine energy. The move toward gender fluidity allows everyone to express both types of energies in whatever way feels most authentic.

This is, of course, a good thing, but there can also be a shadow to this freedom. A drive toward gender fluidity can create a muted quality to both masculine and feminine expressions. Instead of finding healthy expressions of both, there is a risk that the potency of each pole is blended into the center where neither quality is present in any sort of clear form. In other words, people lose access to the best of both masculine and feminine expressions.

Wilber’s work reminds us that healthy development moves from fusion to differentiation to integration. If we are to truly allow both the masculine and feminine to evolve, it will serve us well to allow each pole to be fully expressed in our being as a separate and unique drive. For many of us, this often requires the work of reclaiming our opposite (often repressed) pole. With this healthy differentiation in place (and with repressed energies reclaimed) we can find a higher integration. Rather than falling into an undifferentiated fusion that is neither masculine or feminine, we gain greater access to the expression of each in a fuller and wider integration.

Photo Credit: Jens Wazel

In more evolved expressions, we find a deeper masculinity and a deeper femininity dancing in our being. Each pole is able to be expressed in whatever way serves most fully in any given situation. In this way, when we talk about “evolving masculinity” it involves weaving a rich tapestry where we become both more masculine and more feminine.

Esalen News: What do you hope workshop participants take away from their experience with you at Esalen?

Adam and Dustin: We hope participants take with them a set of practices and a clear map showing each of them how they can continue to evolve their own masculinity. Inspired by new possibilities for masculinity’s future, we hope participants will share their insights and vulnerabilities with others in their life through men’s circles, workshops, and their ever deepening relationships.

Esalen News: Esalen is often referred to as the birthplace of the human potential movement. How would you define or describe the human potential movement today?

Adam and Dustin: Of all the great social movements that emerged in the late 60s, the human potential movement remains the least well known and, arguably, the most important. As human society comes to grips with the unprecedented crises confronting us, we begin to see how our current ways of being come up short.

This deeper meta-crisis could be framed as a crisis of human potential. The wicked problems that threaten our ability to thrive and survive challenge us to consciously evolve our collective human potential as a species. Only then will we gain the ability to make wiser and more compassionate choices on a global scale. Because of this, we predict that the human potential movement will continue to increase in significance, though it will be given many different labels and names.

Adam, a former Esalen residential student, works with business executives and teams to help them realize their full human potentials. Dustin is a Harvard University-trained scholar of world religions. Their workshop will be held at Esalen September 13-15, 2019.

Photo Credit: Angie Smith



“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?



About

Esalen Team

Exploring the Future of Masculinity

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Photo Credit: Jens Wazel

Adam Leonard and Dustin DiPerna first met 15 years ago helping to produce a series of integral workshops in Colorado. They re-connected years later when they found themselves participating in similar communities and conversations in California, and ultimately embarked on a teaching collaboration that embraces theory (having a good map) with practice (experiencing the actual territory).

Both credit Esalen — its teachers, transformative practices and cultural experiments — in influencing their personal evolution and capacity to support others along their journey. They return to Esalen this fall to lead Evolving Masculinity: The Future of Men’s Work.

Esalen News: How do you define masculinity in a world that is leaning towards more gender fluidity?

Adam and Dustin: At our core, we each have masculine and feminine energies. Early in life, our family and culture sculpts us, determining which energies we are allowed to express and which we must repress. As our own development progresses, we reclaim the aspects of our being that have been pushed aside into the shadows. When this occurs, masculine and feminine energies find deeper union in our heart.

In our opinion, the trend toward gender fluidity is a surface expression of the deeper wisdom of the soul that seeks recognition of both its masculine and feminine dimensions. To answer your question more specifically, in the context of this retreat, masculinity can be defined as one side of an energetic polarity in our being. Masculine energy (in both male and female bodies) relates to the capacity for directionality, purpose, presence, courage, and the capacity to penetrate the world with love.

Photo Credit: Adam Leonard

Esalen News: What are the greatest misperceptions about masculinity today? What contributes to those misperceptions?

Adam and Dustin: Among the biggest misperceptions we see is the tendency to reduce complex topics (such as masculinity and femininity) into simple stories that generate hurtful tribal divisions and antagonistic debates. This happens when we think in binaries (either/or) over spectrums (both/and), when we fail to take multiple perspectives, when we numb our hearts and empathy, and when we lapse into a fixed mindset that values defending our position over being authentically curious about other points of view. Almost everything can become unhelpful when taken to an extreme.

Photo Credit: Dustin DiPerna

And, unfortunately, the views we often see represented in both mainstream and social media tend to be extremes not shared by most people. The response to these misperceptions, we believe, involves a more sophisticated conversation about masculinity that stays clear of the dysfunctional extremes while including the many nuances and subtleties inevitable with such a complex subject.

Esalen News: You both began teaching Evolving Masculinity prior to the #MeToo movement. What, if anything, has changed in your workshop? And what has not changed?

Adam and Dustin: Masculinity can refer to archetypal energies that endure through time. And masculinity also evolves with the cultural context in which it’s embedded. Cultural movements such as #MeToo have expanded and accelerated our collective conversation about masculinity and femininity, which is a great thing! Even corporations have entered the dialogue with commercials depicting their moral vision of how masculinity should be.

Like all movements, we see less mature versions that paint an oversimplified black/white narrative populated with saints and sinners. And we also see signs of more mature narratives that take larger, more complex, multi-dimensional perspectives into account that can identify and honor important partial truths on all sides. We hope to facilitate this cultural maturation with our workshops, which themselves evolve each time we explore the future of masculinity.  

Esalen News: Each of you have deep connections with Ken Wilber and his work in integral theory. How is that reflected in your teaching and this workshop?

Adam and Dustin: Wilber’s integral frameworks help us make sense of certain trends in culture. Historically, feminine gendered bodies were expected to express feminine energy and to repress their masculine energy. Masculine gendered bodies were expected to express masculine energies and repress their feminine energy. The move toward gender fluidity allows everyone to express both types of energies in whatever way feels most authentic.

This is, of course, a good thing, but there can also be a shadow to this freedom. A drive toward gender fluidity can create a muted quality to both masculine and feminine expressions. Instead of finding healthy expressions of both, there is a risk that the potency of each pole is blended into the center where neither quality is present in any sort of clear form. In other words, people lose access to the best of both masculine and feminine expressions.

Wilber’s work reminds us that healthy development moves from fusion to differentiation to integration. If we are to truly allow both the masculine and feminine to evolve, it will serve us well to allow each pole to be fully expressed in our being as a separate and unique drive. For many of us, this often requires the work of reclaiming our opposite (often repressed) pole. With this healthy differentiation in place (and with repressed energies reclaimed) we can find a higher integration. Rather than falling into an undifferentiated fusion that is neither masculine or feminine, we gain greater access to the expression of each in a fuller and wider integration.

Photo Credit: Jens Wazel

In more evolved expressions, we find a deeper masculinity and a deeper femininity dancing in our being. Each pole is able to be expressed in whatever way serves most fully in any given situation. In this way, when we talk about “evolving masculinity” it involves weaving a rich tapestry where we become both more masculine and more feminine.

Esalen News: What do you hope workshop participants take away from their experience with you at Esalen?

Adam and Dustin: We hope participants take with them a set of practices and a clear map showing each of them how they can continue to evolve their own masculinity. Inspired by new possibilities for masculinity’s future, we hope participants will share their insights and vulnerabilities with others in their life through men’s circles, workshops, and their ever deepening relationships.

Esalen News: Esalen is often referred to as the birthplace of the human potential movement. How would you define or describe the human potential movement today?

Adam and Dustin: Of all the great social movements that emerged in the late 60s, the human potential movement remains the least well known and, arguably, the most important. As human society comes to grips with the unprecedented crises confronting us, we begin to see how our current ways of being come up short.

This deeper meta-crisis could be framed as a crisis of human potential. The wicked problems that threaten our ability to thrive and survive challenge us to consciously evolve our collective human potential as a species. Only then will we gain the ability to make wiser and more compassionate choices on a global scale. Because of this, we predict that the human potential movement will continue to increase in significance, though it will be given many different labels and names.

Adam, a former Esalen residential student, works with business executives and teams to help them realize their full human potentials. Dustin is a Harvard University-trained scholar of world religions. Their workshop will be held at Esalen September 13-15, 2019.

Photo Credit: Angie Smith



“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?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Exploring the Future of Masculinity

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About

Esalen Team

Exploring the Future of Masculinity

About

Esalen Team

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