(Continued from Initiate This: My Journey to Authentic Manhood, Part 1)
AMP, or the Authentic Man Program, is (as I understand it) what happens when dating-scene pickup artists collide with the human potential movement in San Francisco: A community developing practical ways to delve deep into your core masculinity in all your relations, particularly those with the opposite sex.*
(*Yes, AMP does tend to be hetero-normative, though there’s plenty of space to bring who you are regardless of orientation.)
My friend Adrial, whom I met when I initiated with him in MKP, was my entrée into the world of AMP, years after listening to the New Man podcasts. It all started with the Authentic Games Nights he hosts around the Triangle: these awesome evenings of rather psychologically intimate mutual exploration with mostly complete strangers – think of ice-breakers on Ayahuasca.
(And if that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, well…it isn’t for everyone, and yet it’s gentler than it sounds. It pushes my edge around introversion and extroversion in a way that I appreciate).
From my experiences with Authentic Games – including when we brought Adrial into Wild Goose East this year – I knew I wanted more. Imagine my delight when he introduce me to John Church, who told me that there were two upcoming AMP weekends happening right in my region: the AMP: Intensive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and AMP: Evolution in DC (which is happening in two weeks; I’ll be there as support staff. Check it out!). I decided to take the plunge, and go.
I’m so glad I did.
True to its name, it was an intense weekend. Ten men were present, all of us seeking to work on very personal dimensions of our own lives. We were all bound by a common desire to grow beyond our comfort zones.
We were supported in this by two main male facilitators, as well as four other co-facilitators, seven amazing female coaches, and a number of support staff who took care of everything from breakfast to chair arrangements throughout the weekend.
The whole weekend was a series of exercises, which I’m reluctant to say too much about because I don’t want to spoil the magic should you decide to take the AMP plunge for yourself. (And, ladies: there are plenty of Authentic World opportunities as well – like AWE in DC at the end of September – see the Resources at the end of this post). The entire weekend has been designed and carefully-honed over the past decade to draw out your full thinking, feeling, embodied self. There’s a solid theory core (see tomorrow’s post) supported by present-moment-awareness “circling” in small groups, combined with the exercises and games that identify and trouble-shoot areas where we each might be stuck. I feel like I was accurately ‘read,’ held, and challenged throughout the weekend.
It wasn’t all riding one epiphany after another, though. There were times that I was brought uncomfortably close to the things I try to hold at bay so often: feelings of loneliness, not fitting in a crowd, inferiority, shame, and more. What’s beautiful, though, is that these times served me as much as the times of overt breakthrough. These times allowed me to bring these familiar banes of my existence fully to the next exercise or circling round, deepening the breakthroughs I was having, and expanding their effects to more areas of my life.
Overall, wow. It was like a body-mind-spirit tuneup that actually works.
AMP’s marketing is heavily-slanted toward men who are single and looking to have more meaningful, powerful connections with women. But as a married man, I got a ton out of it too – both personally and vocationally. You might be wondering: What would a married man get out of learning to show up more powerfully toward the opposite sex?
It turns out, lots.
Let me put it this way: Whether I’m in conversation with a new friend (of either gender), negotiating a contract with a client, or giving a talk via Skype or in-person, the lack of mastery I often feel between what’s going on inside and what’s expressed in my body feels like a drunken toddler operating a sky-crane in the middle of the city. Can anyone else relate?
If not, imagine you’ve felt this way your whole life – as I have – and imagine that the most substantial feedback you’ve ever received, even from those good friends who care enough to be observant and tell you hard truths about yourself, is “you seem uncomfortable a lot of the time.” Painfully honest but often not terribly useful. Ohh – I just need to be more comfortable and confident – now I get it!
For me as a man (who is, among other facets in life, married), I want more quality connection in several arenas:
- More of a sense of play and intimacy with my wife
- A greater sense of trust, ease, connection, and direction with my friends
- A fuller sense of healthy power when giving my vocational gifts to the world – in writing, speaking, and consulting
- An increased feeling of well-being in personal mastery in how I’m present to myself
- A more luminous sense of integrity, honesty, and vulnerability before the Divine
…you know, things like that. 🙂
I have to say, more than much I’ve experienced in my life, AMP delivered on these points of connection. Not that I’ve “arrived” by any means, but I have tasted peak experiences in these arenas, feeling what it feels like to know wholeness as I relate to God, myself, others, and my environment – and being given practical tools (as well as community) to turn the taste of these peak states of being into ordinary, practicable stages of my day-to-day life.
Question: What’s helped you delve deeper into a substantial sense of who you are & why you’re here?
Continued in Initiate This: My Journey to Authentic Manhood, part 3, where I delve into the theory basis behind the transformation that’s possible here.
Resources for your masculine – or feminine! – journey:
Authentic World: Co-ed trainings and intensives
Authentic Man Program – weekend events, on-demand courses, and coaching for exploring relationship excellence for men.
Authentic Woman Experience: Authentic World’s course by and for women
ManKind Project: New Warrior Training Adventure – initiation experience for men, held worldwide
ManKind Project: Find a Men’s Group – find open men’s groups worldwide, as well as those open to MKP-initiated men
Woman Within: MKP’s sister-organization leads initiations and has a global network of women’s circles.