A few nights ago, a men’s group I’m a part of gathered at my house in what we call the “meditation room.”
Each time we meet there is a “king,” a person who is in charge of facilitating the group for that evening.
The other night Jared Nations (AKA Jah, Trail name: Cameltoe) was the king.
Over the next two hours Jared led the 7 of us through a completely sober, yet psychedelic experience.
Halfway through the breathwork I started to see geometric patterns in my field of vision with my eyes closed. By the end of it I had the most pleasant, ecstatic energy coursing through my veins. Then we laid down for a yoga nidra which is all about stillness.
Over the next 20 minutes I reached an incredibly deep state of meditation. I feel like I uncovered a new level of stillness within my mind, and I had the feeling like if I sat there focusing on my breath indefinitely it would continue to unfold into infinitely more stillness. Like there was no bottom to the stillness.
When we finished, we all opened our eyes and shared our experiences with each other.
If you don’t understand anything I just said, that makes two of us.
This was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had in a long time. If you try it out here are some tips:
- In the breathwork session, 1 means inhale and 2 means exhale. Breath only through your nose if you want a more mild experience. Breath only through your mouth if you want it to be more intense. If you are feeling overwhelmed you can go back to nose breathing.
- Don’t do this while operating heavy machinery
- Sit straight up on a seat or cushion for the breath work and lie down for the yoga nidra.
- DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE PREGNANT
The power a men’s (or women’s) group
Several years ago I watched my friend Baya’s TED talk on the cure to loneliness. Spoiler alert – the answer is ritual. Rituals that bring us together with people we love.
A ritual is an action or set of actions done regularly.
Personally I’ve never struggled making new friends. However, before moving to Austin I had been nomadic for a few years, and outside of my relationship with Adee I felt really lonely. I wasn’t spending enough time in a place to build the sort of deep relationships I was craving.
Even after being in Austin for over a year this hadn’t changed much.
I had made a close friend named Zach. A couple years ago Zach invited me to be a part of his men’s group that met weekly.
That group along with another one I’ve created has become one of the most important parts of my life.
The intention of both groups is essentially to commit to each other by hanging out weekly. I’ve had a ridiculous amount of fun with these groups. I’ve been challenged emotionally and intellectually. I’ve been supported through my hardest moments.
Here are some of the things we do that have helped them be amazing:
- Both groups are closed meaning that it’s the same 7 people every time (depending on who’s in town). No one new can just pop into the group, and the process for adding someone new is a long, intentional process. This massively adds to the emotional safety and depth of the group.
- We meet weekly to biweekly. All of us have very busy lives so it would be really easy to say we can only meet monthly. However, we have all made a stand that community and friendship is one of our top priorities. We back that up by putting a hangout on our calendars each week.
- There is always a king. A leader. Without a plan or leader we’ve tended to default to shallower conversations that don’t leave us feeling as fulfilled. The role of the king is to curate an awesome experience for everyone. The king is responsible for deciding what we do and the topic of conversation.
- We occasionally do things in the beginning of a meeting that help all of us let go of the outside world, the stresses and responsibilities of the day, and to get present. This looks like a guided meditation by the king, a breath work session, spikeball, some movement, etc.
- We usually have a topic, question, or sentence stem. Here are some examples that have led to some incredible conversations:
- One thing I’m afraid to share with the group is…
- Where are you out of integrity in your life?
- If I was going to work on something tonight, I would work on… (after this sentence stem we have occasionally spent an entire hour working on one person’s issue)
If this sounds interesting to you, I can’t recommend initiating your own group enough, or at least a planned hangout with your closest friends regularly. I think the sweet spot is 5-10 people.
If you want any support around how to do this please reach out to me.
Tracking school and animals that eat shit
I took a wildlife tracking course this past weekend and one of the many things I learned is that there are animals whose digestive systems aren’t strong enough to digest their food on the first go round. They’re called coprophagic.
They eat something, shit it out, then eat their shit to get nutrients the second go round.
That reminds me of my friend’s dog that is constantly eating her own and other dogs’ poop. I think it’s more of a treat for her than essential. 😂
Anyway I took the course essentially to understand more about nature/to form a deeper relationship with it.
I did a podcast years ago with a guy named Daniel Vitalis, host of the ReWild Yourself podcast and Wild-Fed TV show, where we talked about the benefit of understanding your surroundings more. So I’m learning about animal behavior patterns, tracks and signs.
Another commitment I’m making is to just learn about all of the plants on my street that I walk on. My friend Mansal Denton is a Texas native and avid outdoorsman that walks with me in our neighborhood and points things out.
Journal Prompts – Soul Craft
Lastly, I’m reading a new book called Soul Craft. In it, I was reminded of a powerful concept.
The amount of joy you are capable of feeling in your life is directly related to the extent to which you are willing to feel your pain.
If you numb yourself consciously or unconsciously from feeling your grief, you will automatically dull your joy.
I recently asked myself some questions in my journal:
- What are you NOT grieving?
- What have you NOT allowed yourself to grieve?
One of the things that came up was the way that I left Louisiana when I was 17. I thought that I had processed all of that “shit.” I thought I had moved on. But when I really sat with it, I still have a lot of grief and sadness.
What about you? What are you NOT allowing yourself to grieve?
- Loss of a loved one or intimate relationship?
- Loss of an identity?
- Loss of a job or career?
Try journaling about this for a while if you’re into it.