Meditation as a New Warrior Tool
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here I will present three separate but connected stories … all concerning meditation. Meditation is a core practice for many New Warriors (men who have completed the New Warrior Training Adventure). There are multiple approaches to this in the ManKind Project, from basic sitting practices, ‘sit-spot’ practices done by many outdoor trackers and indigenous skills teachers, TM (transcendental meditation), Yogic Pranayama practices, Breathwork practices, Hollow Bones or Mondo Zen Rinzai traditions … and many others. Because the ManKind Project is not affiliated with any one religious practice – there are multiple paths offered and explored to increase self awareness. Here are a couple of pieces from within and outside of the ManKind Project on Meditation.
First – A Video from FemiA. a New Warrior in the Greater Washington DC community on the power of meditation in his life … “Hit by an acute depressive episode in college, Femi turned to meditation and thought it was “magic”. Since then, his practice has given him inner strength to go through hardships such as the consequences of his father’s death.”
Becoming the Hollow Bone
Zen Meditation has long been connected to the ManKind Project through the Hollow Bones / Mondo Zen practice. [learn more http://mondozen.org/] Over the last 12 years, men like JunPo Denis Kelly, Doshin Michael Nelson, DiYinFu George Burch, and Fugen Tom Pitner have helped build and spread this modern zen meditation practice to hundreds of ManKind Project men. These men are all New Warriors. The Mondo Zen process has added yet another set of skills to expand the tool-box for many New Warriors, and regular sitting meditation is a daily practice that helps many New Warriors deepen their self-awareness and commitment to living responsible and AWAKE lives.
I’ve had the opportunity to sit with many of these men over the last 6 years – and am incredibly grateful for the wisdom I’ve gotten from them – and from my meditation practice.
~ Boysen Hodgson
Lastly – a post from a man who hasn’t yet done the New Warrior Training – Cameron Severson. Thanks for the post Cameron!
Meditation for the New Warrior
by Cameron Severson
I recently came across the ManKind Project website, and it struck me as being a poignant call to action recognizing that “ALL the characteristics required of men” are available to each of us. It’s always encouraging to find an organization that is open and clear about its objectives, feeling that they are truly beneficial and inclusive. And seeing that the New Warrior Training Adventure resourcefully uses “multiple established methods” to realize the New Warrior ideal, I felt compelled to lend my support. Drawing on my experience practicing and teaching meditation, I hope to offer a useful perspective here on this established method and how it can be used to realize the MKP ideals of self-awareness and the New Warrior.
Let’s start philosophically. Meditation can be thought of as direct self-awareness. In practice, meditation involves persistently ignoring impulsive tendencies in favor of greater clarity: a closer, more complete attunement to reality, and thus, to one’s self. Any form of resistance to this attunement reveals partiality, a tendency to favor one aspect of the self over another, resulting in only a superficial understanding of it. In this context, bravery means being able to put partiality aside and confront reality however it appears. To be brave, to be a warrior, is to commit to a lifestyle of defying partiality.
But what other characteristics are required for a man to be whole? Bravery alone doesn’t guarantee the respectful, prosocial orientation that the MKP advocates. Essential for this are empathy and compassion, characteristics that arise naturally when partiality to self-centeredness is tempered. And what qualities can help us avoid excessive deprivation as bravery and compassion become the norm? Creativity and intelligence are ones that are certainly critical in guiding this transition judiciously, in discerning which forms of partiality are most unnecessary and finding innovative ways of giving them up.
So meditation reveals partiality, but how does it help us get beyond our attachment to it and embody all these characteristics of the New Warrior? The simple comprehensiveness of meditation is this: The very act of tuning into what is most fundamentally present, to the most basic aspects of the “self,” loosens the grip of old habits while preventing the inadvertent formation of new ones. (As grandma always said, “idle hands are the Devil’s playground!”) Through persistent self-awareness, impartiality develops naturally along with a holistic perception of reality. This is not apathetic impartiality but the kind that allows us to take risks and fearlessly assume our full power in a way that serves the whole, not just ourselves.
The radically simple world view that emerges from meditation is that, whatever our maladaptive behaviors and beliefs, partiality is the common thread in all of them. To make things right in the world, then, is to simply recognize the validity of all aspects of experience and learn to face them fully, that is, with impartiality. To even consider this as a real possibility though requires a colossal suspension of disbelief when we’re accustomed to buying into the repressive social norms that consider a certain degree of mediocrity to be inevitable or even preferable. To gradually realize this simple truth in practice, however, is to wake up from the dream of powerlessness and to assume full responsibility for not succumbing to it.
I certainly commend any organization that provides a challenging yet supportive environment for breaking through personal barriers. Overcoming limiting tendencies is a pervasive challenge that spans all aspects of being, and to support one another is an integral part of meeting that challenge. The more we commit to self-awareness, taking responsibility for our own problems, and offering solutions in a sincere way, the more we can accelerate the collective transition to New Warriorship!