by Art Patterson,
In 1973, I received a tragic phone-call. Tommy, my friend and former classmate, had passed away. Tommy was older than me and graduated from our school in the late 60s. Wheelchairs had not been invented yet and Tommy, who struggled with severe cerebral palsy, spent the entirety of his life in a cart. From what I remember, the cart was like a plain, four-legged wooden chair with two wheels on the back and a seatbelt. Any time Tommy wanted to move, his caregiver had to tilt the cart back and wheel him forward. There was a special window in the front room of his home in which he spent, nearly every hour of the day, looking through to see what the other kids where doing outside. He never left that cart and never went outside. Tommy died looking out of that window, looking in on life as an observer. As a disabled boy, I saw this and decided I wasn’t going to live that way.
Years later, in 1999, after discovering and becoming a part of a remarkable organization, I began my journey toward personal transformation. This organization, and ultimately the catalyst that changed my life was The Mankind Project. Up until that point, there was emptiness inside me. I knew I had potential, but I didn’t know how to bring it out. I felt as if I was on the outside of manhood looking in, an observer rather than a participant; strikingly similar to my old friend Tommy. Life in my mid-30s was experienced through the eyes of a victim. Like many disabled men, the people that cared for me misused my trust. Life had wronged me and I was angry. I was playing the part of the man everybody else wanted me to be while my inner truth slept dormant, buried in my soul. To feel accepted, to belong, to feel a part of life, I had to play “the game”: don’t feel emotion; exist in denial of who you really are. The religious institution in which I was raised didn’t accept me for who I knew myself to truly be. I learned about religion but knew nothing about spirituality. Because of this, I had no desire to make something out of my life or take risks because, if I did, I feared that I would again be shamed. Though society acknowledged me as a man, I had no concept of what constituted a real man.
To cope with feelings of anger, shame, and guilt that had spawned from my experiences with other men, from an oppressive religious culture, and from my own limiting beliefs, I turned to alcohol and sex. This dangerous outlet quickly became an addictive pattern and the maelstrom that was my day-to-day experience embodied a desperate departure from my true self. When my true self tried to emerge, I turned and fled. Life took a dark turn: loneliness, depression, I wanted to end my life. God couldn’t love me for who I truly was. Or so I thought.
Thankfully, the 12-step program provided a way out of the despair. This program started my journey toward self-discovery, healing, and unconditional love for self and others. While working the 12 steps, I bonded with a group of men who were doing something different and powerful with their lives, something I had never witnessed before. They were showing up in life with authenticity, integrity, and purpose. These men belonged to an all-inclusive brotherhood called The Mankind Project: an accepting community that welcomes all men, able bodied or not, all sexual orientations, and all faiths. After receiving an invitation to, and later attending, a workshop run by these men, I admitted, for the first time, that shame was a dominating force in my life. I learned how to work with shame. I saw a beacon of hope that, through this brotherhood called the Mankind Project, I could embrace my true self and become a part of a loving and unconditionally accepting community. The first step in doing so, according to these remarkable men, was the Mankind Project’s flagship training weekend: The New Warrior Training Adventure.
Designed to challenge men to embrace their full potential, this powerful weekend radically transforms the way in which men show up in the world. It accomplishes this by introducing a man to what lies beneath the surface, beneath the armor, beneath the shield, underneath the fear, behind the shame, behind the wall he has built to protect himself; the wall that was built to protect the little boy within, the little boy who was wounded. On the weekend, men access these wounds and begin the process of healing. Similarly, on my weekend, I accessed my wounds, began the process of healing, and received a call from God to continue on this path.
I knew as soon as I took the first step with the Mankind Project that God was trying to show me something. God was trying to show me the way to my true self. The Mankind Project gave me the opportunity, the tools, and the support to answer God’s call, but I had to do the work. It took all the strength, courage, perseverance, tenacity, and will to walk this path. But I was never alone: every step of the way, I had encouraging, loving, and nurturing brothers guiding me. In the beginning, I had to borrow their will, which they lovingly shared. But eventually, after I did the work, I found the will within me to discover, embrace, and integrate the real man inside. I witnessed, first hand, what it meant to be a real man; to belong to an organization that made me feel safe, appreciated, nurtured, and inspired.
I learned to love the man I saw in the mirror. That man said to me, “You are not broken, you don’t need to change, and you are complete within yourself.” Through this work, and for the first time in my life, I spoke up for myself, I didn’t allow men to abuse me, and I started setting boundaries. This brotherhood created a space for me to really process my anger towards my disability. In working with my anger, I learned to embrace my disability as the gift that it is, rather than a curse I had believed it to be. I found my gold. I went from being a bystander who was petrified to participate in life and share my talents to a fearless, kind-hearted, charismatic, and enthusiastic man. I was no longer sitting in my chair looking in on life through the window. I was living it.
Who am I today? I’m a volunteer, a proud uncle, and a member of a wonderful band. I mentor and sponsor young men. Recently, I’ve been called to leadership within the Mankind Project; that’s why I’m writing this article. Through the challenges I have overcome in my life, I have been called to inspire challenged men to discover and share the golden gifts that are within every single one of us. My name is Warrior Dove with Fierce Open Heart and my challenge to you, reader, is this: Are you going to sit back and look in on life from the window? Are you going to let life pass you by? Or, are you going to step into your greatness and share your gift with the world?
If you are willing to accept this challenge, I invite you to reach out to The Challenged Warriors of The Mankind Project and begin your journey toward transforming your life.
By Gonzalo Salinas
According to Charles Duhigg author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, approximately 40% of what we do every day, we do unconsciously. We have formed a habit that we tend to repeat every day, and it’s making our choices for us.
So, think about all the things you do every day. Some of them probably don’t serve your highest purpose but still, you repeat them religiously … even knowing specific behaviors are putting you away of the reality you want to live. Duhigg explains that every time you repeat those habits your brain reinforces them … so it craves, later on, this repetition. Even if is not beneficial, you get a neuro-chemical reward in your brain that not only will create some sort of addiction but also reinforces the identity you have created for yourself.
I have tried many times to change bad habits and create new ones. With a sincere heart I must confess that I have failed more times than I have succeeded. But I noticed something happened every time I was succeeding; the positive new habits were daily rituals.
Yes. I do have rituals. Ritual – “a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.” I repeat certain rituals every day, and believe me dear reader of the MKP Journal, to repeat an action every day, is not an easy task, especially when I am trying to create a new self.
Let me share some daily rituals hoping that this will inspire action to enhance lives.
I do my rituals first thing in the morning: I wake up and I go for a run. The running part is simple. I already told myself that as soon as I hear the alarm I must jump out of the bed. At the beginning it was hard, now is automatic. My recommendation is to avoid dealing with ANY logistics – so your sportswear must be ready next to the bed from the previous night.
A second ritual is: I carry in my wallet one handwritten page. One side of the page is divided in two: on the left side I have a few statements: my flaws or weaknesses to become aware of what I want to change, and on the right side my good qualities and virtues to remind myself the tools I have for my own growth. Deliberately this second list is bigger than the first one. On the other side of the paper I’ve written a brief composition about who I want to be. I’ve included goals and projects and a description of how I see myself in the next three years.
I read this paper three times a day. As soon as I wake up, at lunch time, and before I go to sleep. It takes me two minutes each reading. When I read it I focus on staying present: just reading.
Third: In the morning I also do a brief visualization … right before I come back from running I stop and I visualize: It takes me three to five minutes. I visualize the same three goals I have written on the paper I carry on my wallet.
Finally, is my gratitude time. On a notebook I got specifically for gratitude, right before I go to sleep, I write three things that I’m grateful for that day. It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as “the kid I saw having some ice cream at Lincoln road in South Beach.” If I feel like writing it, I write it. Then I say a brief prayer, and I go to sleep.
These four rituals have changed my life dramatically in the last two years. Have I been 100% consistent with them?… absolutely not. I used to give to myself a guilt trip, this usually led me to abandon my regular practice for a while. If for some reason I miss my rituals now, instead of the self punishment, I just carry on.
That’s it. Just a couple of thing before I finish: You may notice that my rituals are very simple; they are simple because when I create a complex plan, I find I’m planning to fail. Start small and keep going; it is a great exercise of self love.
And lastly, be creative with your rituals! Some people create a vision boards with images, others do mantras or incantations, others meditate or do breathing exercises. The rituals become habits because of repetition, and the daily practice causes transformation.
I’ve got more from my 2 years of rituals than from my entire previous life without them. Use them and then you tell me!
– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.
by Gonzalo Salinas
I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Lissa Rankin. I think she saved me by helping me understand what was happening in my life. I was training for a triathlon, and I wasn’t feeling good. My body couldn’t take it anymore and when I went to three different doctors, they each ran some tests, and the result was the same: Everything was all right.
But I wasn’t feeling good. One night as I was leaving work, checking my email, I found a video in my inbox, I can’t recall now who it was from. The title was The shocking truth about your health by Dr. Lissa Rankin. It was a TED talk from 2011 (I included it below). After watching the entire video, I was hooked. I ordered her book Mind Over Medicine, and I started a healing process that was more related to a daily practice of my passion than to a pathology.
Lissa Rankin is a brave soul fighting against a system that treats our bodies like machines. Her armament to fight the battle: LOVE. She says her mission is to highlight the “care in the health-care.” I consider her work an amazing opportunity for every doctor, healer, therapist, shaman, people involved with medicine or any kind of healing practice to learn and grow in their practice.
She is on a mission. And she is being recognized. I pray that she continues healing humankind.
Here is a link to a great article she wrote. Check it out, and consider getting involved: