Initiate This: My Journey to Authentic Manhood, part 3

As I mentioned in my last post about my AMP Intensive experience, there is a solid theory base that undergirds all of the exercises we go through and games we play. It’s known as the “AMP Holarchy.” What’s a ‘holarchy’? It’s a way of visioning reality as nested, like one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls, layer within layer within layer. (See this for a more precise definition, and then if you’re curious peruse one of my favorite essays on holarchy, Ken Wilber’s From the Great Chain of Being to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps.)

Here are my notes on the “AMP Holarchy,” from the center radiating outward:


  • In my body, owning my space.
  • Expanding my awareness beyond my own skin – enveloping my woman, the room…really, there’s no limit to what present awareness can take in.
  • In the now


  • Loving what is – allowing – holding less tension
  • Access the regard that we have for one another – acknowledging the shared humanity between us and our woman.
  • Realizing that she has good days and bad; that she was a little girl once, that she played and has a favorite color.
  • Relaxing away from idolization and objectification…
  • Welcoming and celebrating another’s subjective experience.
  • Appreciation doesn’t mean you “like” how things are, but you embrace this moment – even this.


  • Words = Actions, alignment with values.
  • Fully owning my desire in the world; unapologetically forthright in what I want.
  • Doing what I say, living in alignment with my values, keeping my boundaries, respecting myself, owning my desire

When we put integrity before appreciation, judgementalism results. “I don’t like it.”


  • Contains and runs through all of this; it’s what’s generated when Presence, Appreciation, and Integrity are present.
  • Not needing anything outside myself to be happy – wholeness is the opposite of shame.
  • “I want you, but I don’t need you.”

The Pickup community (which AMP was started in response to) attempts to mimic wholeness, but ends up coming from a hollow core. Feign indifference toward women; tease; pretend you don’t care…

Photo courtesy of David Bollt: (c) 2012

As I said last post, I learned important truths from both the women and men who facilitated, as well as my fellow participants. I was shown how to look at difficult areas in my life, where I feel “trapped,” with artistry – even where I don’t see an immediate “way out,” I see new ways to re-frame the impasse with appreciation rather than beating my chest in despair. (Actually beating my chest would be more alive than I typically am – I should say “rather than thinking my way in pretzels, in despair.”)

Speaking of – and once again, I don’t want to give anything away – there were some fun, physical (but not physically dangerous) exercises we were given that brought me deep into a primal masculine state.

During one of the games, I saw how I can on the one hand “be with” a person exquisitely, yet not seem like I’m having very much fun.

During another game, I learned something I can totally try on an upcoming date with my wife – something that will almost-undoubtedly lead to major fun!

During one exercise, I saw visions. No joke. If your expensive conferences and boot camps fill you with conceptual knowledge but don’t give you the opportunity to experience altered states of consciousness (and make actual contact with other human beings), you might appreciate  the difference in AMP. (There’s still space for AMP: Evolution, starting this Friday.)

Sometimes it was intimidating, watching the most senior facilitators (women and men) interact with us and each other. Could I ever be that present to myself and others? I wondered. Will I ever be that comfortable in my own skin?

After the second night, I wrote this in my journal before drifting off to sleep:

Are there really two classes of people [with regard to personal mastery]?


Can this mastery really be learned?

That’s what I aim to find out.

* * * *

Photo courtesy of Mark Bollt: (c) 2012

My masculine journey isn’t over yet, and it’s taken some fascinating twists and turns. It’s not the “John Wayne” M.O. that turned me off as a young twenty-something, but nor is it (in the words of Tripp Lanier) the “New Age Wimp” either. There’s a bold path that’s filled with both appreciation of the present moment as well as the energetic desire to make a difference in the world.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing with you an inspiring reflection from MKP’s Boysen Hodgson, but for now I want to wrap up with my gratitude for the men and women who make up Authentic World, and the Authentic Man Program that started it all for them. The Authentic Holarchy of Presence > Appreciation > Integrity > Wholeness has teeth; put into practice, it’s a way into the world that makes relationships all the more risky and rewarding. And that’s what authentic humanity, in my judgement, is all about.

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.

4 Responses to Initiate This: My Journey to Authentic Manhood, part 3

  1. Kevin Perez August 13, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    Hello Mike,
    I had a similar set of experiences with similar teachings with Richard Rohr’s M.A.L.E.s from 2005 through 2010. And I might still be a part of the thing if not for a growing divide between its description of wholeness and its prescription for getting there.

    I have concluded that these kinds of teachings about and approaches to spiritual reality work better for individuals than they do for communities. The challenge for me was M.A.L.E.s approach to corporate structure – where the talk of unitive consciousness meets the practice of differentiated structures.

    • zoecarnate August 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      Kevin, please say more about this. What do you feel like was the difference between the wholeness desired and the prescribed path?

      • Kevin Perez August 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        Hello Mike,

        I guess it felt more like 5 years than the 3 it actually was. I remember now that my participation ended in ’08.

        The beginning of the end came when I assumed a leadership role. In the absence of a shared understanding of purpose and structure a tension began to grow between me and one of the meeting’s two founding members. I wasn’t looking for any purpose in particular. But I did expect honest answers to honest questions. What I found instead were hidden agenda. And that didn’t jibe with what we were talking about and with what we were affirming and practicing, a la Richard Rohr.

        Although it wasn’t intended to be exclusively Catholic, all the men were, and the meetings were held at a Catholic retreat center. On a completely separate track, I had completed my RCIA classes and was confirmed a few short months after I joined the group.

        Today, it’s all I can do to not count that experience as my last attempt at religion.


  2. Johnny October 22, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Wow, Mike. Very interesting stuff… I hope we have a chance to talk about this on your next visit to Atl.

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