Toxic Masculinity ?

Masculinity

/ˌmaskjʊˈlɪnɪti

noun

  1. qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men.
    "handsome, muscled, and driven, he's a prime example of masculinity"

  1. synonyms:

  1. virility, manliness, maleness, vigour, strength, muscularity, ruggedness, toughness, robustness





Masculinity is the new dirty word


Often preceded by the lovely “Toxic”


Personally, I hate this term : “Toxic masculinity’, not because it doesn’t exist, but because it’s become this carpet bombing term that is thrown at all versions of masculinity, good , bad and indifferent.


Yes, there are toxic or warped expressions of masculinity, Just as there are toxic and warped expressions of femininity.


But that doesn’t mean that every man is toxic, and that every expression of masculinity is bad. In fact, I would argue that embracing and exploring our masculinity is essential for us if we are to remain balanced and sane.


And don’t get me wrong, I understand and empathise with people that have been victimised for whatever reason, its shit. There’s no place for it in this modern western society.


This world that we live in now is very complicated, and people of all genders and creeds find it hard to define themselves and how they will express themselves to the world, and I suppose that is the price of a world with limitless choice and limitless information. A world where traditional knowledge is scorned and ridiculed as archaic and limiting.


But we need to have more respect for traditional knowledge, ancestral knowledge, Information was gathered and passed down through the ages because it was IMPORTANT, perhaps essential for the betterment of the species as a whole.


One of these ancient wisdoms is rites of passage for young men.

someone long ago, realised that young men, when left untethered, become dangerous and unpredictable.


Gather those boys in a group, and through natural competitive drive, before long they will be getting up to the most outrageous shit imaginable.


That is the nature of the young chimp, full of testosterone, one thing on his mind : rising above his peers. Being the big dog, the alpha chimp. Craving the respect and the acknowledgment of the troop.


But it’s all play, at this stage of the game, these are still adolescent fantasies, and in a fantasy you can live out all of the glory without having the cost attached. It is role play.


However, there is a point where this starts to become dangerous. When the young boys body starts to become the body of a man, when real power starts to manifest itself, we have a boys mind in the body of a man. And this can go horribly wrong if it is not addressed.


If this toxic masculinity exists on a large scale, it is in the young man. Power without experience or wisdom.


In ancient societies, they realised that this energy had to be moulded and converted into something less reckless and more real, something that allowed these young tearaways to integrate into the tribe and become functioning members of a community.

Rites of passage were the methods that they used.


A rite of passage is a trial. No, more like a road of trials, that a boy must pass through in order to become a man. It was usually both physical and mental, and generally involved the youth having to demonstrate their courage and spirit, their ability to see a task through to the end despite pain, and hardship. It seems barbaric to a certain extend, but ancient cultures understood that somewhere in the trial, within the midst of the pain and the confusion, that the young warrior would have to take a deep look into their own soul and face the demons that lay there in wait. All of the accumulated ancestral demons, their familial demons passed on from parents and their personal demons.


The trials had to be real enough, and hard enough, that the persons flaws and weaknesses would burst through whether they liked it or not, that all of their masks would fall away and their true nature would be revealed for all to see. A humbling experience, and a growing experience.


Now, in modern society, we see these practices as barbaric or outdated so we no longer practise rites of passage in the traditional sense. We do have coming of age ceremonies such as communion and other religious coming of age ceremonies but the lack of real challenge makes these practices mostly benign and useless. At least for the process of self development and cultural integration.


Personally, I was lucky enough to have several “rites of passage” that served somewhat to scratch the itch of that need to be tested as a young man. One was the 10 year journey to a black belt in a martial art. The process of progressing through the belt system and gradually taking on responsibility, culminating in a very intense testing phase, was a genuine rite of passage, it revealed my inner character, it humbled me, and is still to this day is one of the most memorable and meaningful things that I have done.


It changed me as a man and it gave me something to latch onto, to identify with. It gave me a code of ethics and morals to abide by.


The second was military training. 8 months, very intense, designed to break you down and rebuild you.  


Although the military training was a real test and i did learn a shit ton about myself and other people from it, ultimately I would class it as a “faux” rite of passage because it doesn’t  really prepare you for living in the real world, it grooms you to operate within the confines of the military, which is actually a completely fucked up system that has no real resemblance to actual life. (that’s why people are institutionalised coming out of the military, just like prison). They use the imprinted need that young men have to want to be tested in a rite of passage to actually create a robot, an automaton that simply does what he is told, there is no space for growth or introspection. They remove one mask and replace it with another. So for that reason I actually class military training as a damaging process for all but the most headstrong of young men. And it is something that I personally had to struggle with when I left the military after 12 years. I would say that it had a major part to play in my emotional constipation that has been so hard to overcome.


The third was going to the amazon and taking part in a month long plant medicine retreat. Which, as i have talked about on many occasions, was a completely life changing experience for me and without doubt was a true rite of passage. My ego was smashed and i was forced to rebuild myself from the ground up.


So my belief is that rites of passage were a very, very important process for our young men to go through, where they were tested and they had to dig deep and demonstrate their character both to themselves and to their society to show that they had what it took to be a man within the tribe and take responsibility.



Without rights of passage, boys never become men. And we are left with overgrown children that have never matured beyond the dick measuring, “trying to be the man” phase.


Teenagers in men’s bodies.


Men who pursue power and status at the cost of everything else,

Men who’s only system of self value is to chase power and try rise above others at all costs.


And you know what ?!


It’s not their fault, they have been given no road map to follow, they have been given no incentive to move away from this way of thinking. The men that have that insane drive to succeed will just hammer it, 80 hours a week, no matter what game you put them in, and the game that they have been shown, the path to success for them is to simply make as much cash as possible and climb the corporate ladder at all costs.  



And only the ones who happen to stumble across the scant few rites of passage that exist will start that journey.


We…..society as a whole, men, women, everyone are responsible for it. Just as responsible as we are for creating equal opportunities and rights for oppressed or marginalised people. If we don’t provide guidance for our young men, show them the path to wisdom and growth, then all we will be left with is overgrown man-boys and we have only ourselves to blame.


So how about : rather than branding all men and expressions of masculinity as toxic, we provide guidance on how to be a man, how to wield the power and responsibility that comes with being a man. How about we take a long look at ourselves and try to be better examples of what men should be. Embrace the courageous, the heroic attitude, dig deep inside and be proud of our power, but never use it in a negative way.


Boys will be boys


Men will be Men


The sooner we realise that trying to suppress male expression will simply make everything worse.


Let’s think of ways that we can provide real, meaningful rights of passage that make boys want to take responsibility and become shining examples of men.


Warriors for good. Tested in battle. Humble, honest, courageous.




This autumn I will be running a series of 4 events designed to provide a true rite of passage for men.


Places will be limited.


It won’t be easy


The work will be deep


Drop me a mail if that sounds like something you are drawn to.


Stay solid,


Jody


Ps ,


Would love to hear your thoughts on rites of passage if you have any.


Peace and love baby !





 


Nasal breathing basics - why and how ?

Take a deep breath….


Did you breath through your mouth or your nose ?


If you breathe through your mouth, you are most likely one of the massive percentage of chronic hyperventilators out there. This really is an epidemic!


But air is air right? Who cares if it comes in through the nose or the mouth?!!


There are some distinct advantages to breathing through our noses as opposed to our mouths :


  1. Filtration : your nose contains millions of hairs that  act like a filter for pathogens and debri in the air that you breath, (they also activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help to bring us out of fight or flight)


  1. Humidification : the cilia filters in our noses moisten the air and either warm or cool it before it enters the lungs creating an optimal state for gas exchange.


  1. Increased carbon dioxide uptake : carbon dioxide is a gas that we exhale, it is a waste product from the burning of carbohydrate and fat for energy utilisation, but it isn’t just a waste product, we actually need to reuptake a certain amount of carbon dioxide in order to be able to absorb oxygen into the tissues and oxidise fat as a fuel source. Breathing through the nose restricts the amount of carbon dioxide we exhale and retains some for reuptake which allows us to absorb the oxygen into our tissues. Mouth breathing allows us to dump too much carbon dioxide and therefore degrades our ability to absorb oxygen.


  1. Nitrogen oxide : as you breathe through your nose, nitrogen oxide is released into the air from your nasal passages. Nitrogen oxide serves several purposes


1.Vasodilation : nitrogen oxide dilates the airways and allows us to breath a larger volume of air through our passages (if you’re a chronic mouth breather, it’s very common to feel like your nose is clogged and you can’t breathe properly through it, this will open up over time from the nitrogen oxide, asthma sufferers have even reported huge benefits and even complete relief of symptoms from practicing nasal breathing)


2.Increased oxygen uptake : nitrogen oxide allows us to uptake 30% more oxygen through a process called perfusion which makes the blood flow to more surface area of the lungs.


  1. Nervous system down regulation : when we enter a fight or flight state, we automatically pant through our mouths in order to activate our anaerobic energy system (burning sugar without needing oxygen to liberate energy) and put us in sympathetic nervous state. This also works in reverse : Chronic mouth breathing can actually trigger a  constant low level state of fight or flight activation which can lead to anxiety and interfere with sleep patterns and ruin your ability to recover.


The opposite happens with nasal breathing , it helps us to activate our rest and digest (parasympathetic) nervous state, gives us the ability to fight anxiety and stress and allows us to recover adequately from physical stresses.


If you are any way interested in aerobic fitness (hint : you should be) it is very important to know that the latest research is pointing towards the fact that you are only aerobic (using fat as fuel) when you are breathing through your nose! Any time you breath through your mouth, you are anaerobic (using carbs as fuel). Runners take note !!!


Practicing your nasal breathing helps to open up your airways, absorb more oxygen, fight sickness, utilise fat as your primary fuel source, and increase your aerobic health.


But perhaps most importantly, it gives us a tool that we can use to downregulate our nervous system and bring ourselves out of a fight and flight state (sympathetic) into a rest and digest state (parasympathetic). The importance of this to modern homo sapiens cannot be underestimated. We are living in a time where chronic elevation of stress hormones can and is making people extremely sick.







It is no coincidence that the word for spirit, life and breathe is the same word in many ancient languages. Our ancestors recognised the importance of  this so acutely that it is woven in to the fabric of our language.


Spend 10 minutes consciously breathing every day.



Box breathing


Box breathing is a beautifully simple technique to get you started on your breath-work journey.


The fact that the US navy seals have adopted it for their operators speaks for itself, they only use things that are effective and simple.


It allows you to retain co2 and increase your tolerance while down regulating your nervous system and putting you in a parasympathetic nervous state (rest and digest)


Box breathing uses a pattern called 5-5-5-5 :


Inhale for 5 seconds,

hold with full lungs for 5 seconds,

exhale for 5 seconds,

hold with empty lungs for 5 seconds.


You can lengthen or shorten the pattern to make it easier or harder ie. 3-3-3-3 or 6-6-6-6 but it should never feel strained.


Do 30 cycles of box breathing every morning and every night.

During normal activity day to day, Breathe through your nose.


There are tons and tons of varied breath-work patterns up regulating (energizing), down-regulating (calming)  and tons of physical exercises for strengthening and mobilizing areas like the thoracic and hips that have a huge impact on our ability to breathe correctly.


But for now, use box breathing to strengthen your breathing patterns, build your tolerance to co2, develop your nasal breathing, train your body to use fat and oxygen as your primary fuel source rather than carbohydrate.

in later articles we will talk about nasal breathing for training and aerobic base training.


Discipline or Regret

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Jim Rohn


The essence of discipline


Why is discipline important? It seems strange that we cannot just go about our lives as the animals do, making decisions and choices based on what we feel at the present moment. Serving whatever fleeting desire we feel at the time.


Wouldn't that be so much easier?


I struggled with this concept for a long time when I was a younger man, where everything seemed to be designed to stop you enjoying yourself or fit you into a box with someone else's dimensions on it.


But when I found martial arts, and  through it was exposed to philosophy, I began to understand the value of discipline, the necessity of it, and now, more than ever  in this modern world where comfort comes easy and meaning is a rare treasure.


Discipline is what allows us to become greater than what we are, it is what allows us to realise our true potential as divine beings in this world.


It is the thing that stops us becoming slaves to our desires and our insecurities.


When our mammalian brain craves something, it is the prefrontal cortex, our logical, modern, problem solving brain that kicks into action to serve that craving and make it happen.


A truly magnificent survival skill.


But now, in this age of comfort, where the ability to experience any form of slight discomfort is non existent. And as we move more and more into a “collective comfort zone”, Our own problem solving skills work against us, convincing us to just eat the cake, or not to bother going for that walk.


I mean, from an ancestral point of view, eating the cake and not going for that walk is a perfect survival strategy, if we were surviving !


But we're not struggling to survive any more, even though our brain still thinks we are. We must use our higher consciousness to rise above impulses and cravings, and figure out which of these are serving us and which are detrimental to us on a personal level, and on a collective level.



And that's not even taking into account the drugs.


Drugs !?


Yes, the drugs.


When you perform an action that your brain perceives as contributing to your survival or the survival of the species, it rewards you with a little home brew narcotic concoction :


dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.


These 4 neurotransmitters cause a pleasurable response in our brains and they make us feel generally really fucking good!.


Actions that cause this response are known as PHENOTYPIC INDULGENCES.


It is essentially your system saying : “you just helped us survive champ, well done, here’s some happy juice”


It is why sex is pleasurable.


It is why fat, sugar and salt taste good.


It is why cooking meat smells so god damn delicious!


It is why hugs make us happy and breastfeeding feels meaningful.


It is why seeing your child excel at something makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.


It is the reason getting a promotion or a pay rise  makes you happy.


These phenotypic indulgences are powerful drivers in our lives and they tend to shape why and how we make many of the decisions that we make.


let us look at sugar as an illustration of how phenotypic indulgences can work against us without discipline to temper them :


In ancestral times, when we lived from the land, hunted and gathered, which is any time before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago(the blink of an eye in human history). sugar was an extremely valuable asset.


It gave us energy that we could use instantly as glycogen and also allowed us to store the excess energy as fatfor a later date. Excellent from a survival perspective.


Sugar is also quite rare in the wild in most parts of the world, so when our ancient ancestors found a source of sugar (beehive, ripe fruit tree etc) we would gorge on it and eat as much as possible, giving us instant energy and also topping up our body fat stores for the winter (most sources of simple carbohydrates ripen at the end of summer/ start of autumn which is perfectly timed to put on weight for a cold winter in the wild)


However, fast forward to our current situation, sugar is no longer a scarcity, in fact when you walk into any shop now, the vast majority of “foods” are high glycemic, carb based crap!


The thing is our drives and impulse remain the same as our ancient brothers and sisters. (we are biologically identical to them believe it or not!)

We still have the drive to eat all the sugar, to prepare for a winter that is never coming !


This is where discipline comes into the equation.


Understanding which of these phenotypic indulgences are absolutely necessary for our physical, mental and spiritual well being, and honouring those.


At the same time, understanding which of these phenotypic indulgences work against us and need to be curtailed.


The first step is to understand the process of these things and how they can control us, then exercising higher consciousness and discipline to redirect or ignore them for our own good.


I often explain this to people that find it hard to control their dietary intake : it isn't simply a matter that you are weak and a failure, these are very strong primal drives that are acting upon us, and it takes practise and consistency to control them and learn to work with them.


At the same time , there are things that maybe are not pleasurable and don't fill us with joy, that we still must do for the personal and collective good.


physical training probably falls into this category, I don't necessarily WANT  to go to the gym and train, but I do want to be healthy and able bodied, I want to be able to protect my family and household, and I want my wife to be sexually attracted to me, so I take the short term hit for the long term gains.


This is discipline, feeling an urge or an impulse, and deciding whether to follow that urge or impulse depending on whether it is good in the long term or not.


The same is true for cold showers in the morning, I definitely don’t WANT  to turn that tap to cold and it is a battle every single morning, but I know that the long term payoff is great, (wakes me up, trains my ability to downregulate my nervous system, builds healthy brown fat stores, strengthens my cardiovascular system) so I do it for the better good.


The thing is, discipline is literally like a muscle, the more you practice, the easier it gets.


So start flexing that muscle, understand the underlying process of phenotypic indulgences and how they can trick us, don't follow every impulse and desire unless it gives you a return on your investment. exercise your higher consciousness and make decisions based on whether they are good for your long term development.


understand that discomfort is something that we need to experience in order to develop and grow, and that “comfort” is the true enemy of growth.


Thanks for reading, please reach out if you have any thoughts or feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day!

Jody

WHERE HAVE ALL THE MIGHTY HERO’S GONE?

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke

Where have the mighty hero's gone?
Those fine examples of men, that made sacrifice beyond measure for the greater good.

Those who were willing to spill their very life blood so that we could live this comfortable life, free from risk and fear.

Those men who's stories filled me with morals and higher order thinking when I was still just a boy too young to understand the true essence and power of the narrative!

Yet without even understanding, I still drew deep lessons from these stories of Hercules, Chuchullain, Oddyseus and other imperfect but virtuous Heroes.

Speak the TRUTH, be COURAGEOUS , and have EMPATHY for your fellow man.

This is a simple doctrine, but it rings true as a moral code to live by.

Because men left untempered, without a code, become dangerous and destructive animals!

We desire a cause, we need a cause!

To guide us, to give us a direction to orientate ourselves towards good,
now more than ever before!

And now, I feel nauseous at the thought of people who would have the audacity to tread carelessly upon the graves of these mighty hero's, to speak ill of their achievements and to condemn their mighty deeds to the realm of patriarchy, barbarism or warlike selfishness.

In reality, these men are most likely fictional, but their stories are archetypal, they are a road map for us to follow, the narrative contains a treasure that has grown and formed over millennia.

You see, every human possesses both the shadow and the light simultaneously, and it is not our score of mighty deeds that makes us hero or villain, Rather the small decisions that we make minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day.

Giving up your seat for an elderly person is an act of heroism.

Putting a friend's interests before your own is heroic.

A father working 2 jobs to give his children a better life than he himself had is an act of heroism.

A mother, sacrificing her body to bring new life into this world is true act of heroism.

It is the small acts day to day, the consistent decisions we make are what make us hero or coward.

When we shrink from challenges and fail to put others before ourselves, our world shrinks and we become less than we could be. We walk the path of the coward.

When we rise to challenges and think selflessly, our world grows and we begin fulfill our potential. We walk the path of the hero

I remember a great mentor of mine telling me this: "We do not rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our habits and our training"

Many of us live in denial and we think that when something happens, we will rise to the occasion, but in reality the opposite is true, when crisis strikes it is the patterns that are ingrained in us through repetition that come to the surface, not our fantasies and ideals.

If you think of every choice that you make, every decision, either moving you towards the path of the hero or the path of the coward.

Every decision is making you weaker or making you stronger.

Stop doing things that make you weak, because if we make ourselves weak, we make the species weak, in every decision we have the choice to walk the hero's path or the cowards path.

The responsibility of a man is to be ready, to prepare himself, for the unthinkable eventualities that may come to threaten him and (more importantly) his family and the greater good. To put himself in a position where he knows that he will take the correct action when the opportunity arises, that he will make the heroic choice if and when that time comes.

This is a heavy burden to bear, the thought that if you fail in this duty you not only fail yourself but those close to, and dependent upon you.

I believe that the preparation for this happens in every little choice that we make. Each choice being a vote for heroism or a vote for cowardice. each choice moves us closer or further away from realising our ultimate potential as a man. Closer to finding that hero deep within us.

Ultimately, I think that the opposite of heroism is not really cowardice but apathy, doing nothing, not caring. Going back to the quote at the start of this, doing nothing is the true act of cowardice.

This is where I feel society is letting us down. muting our young men and telling them that all of their masculine instincts and traits are negative and toxic. We will have a culture of cowards if we don't educate our boys and young men on the importance of the heroic mindset.

we want men and boys that rise to the challenges instead of navel gazing and selfishly looking after themselves, we want boys and men that will go out of their way to help those less able.

Nothing is more detrimental to our soul than ignoring our moral compass and failing to act when we know that we could have acted in a heroic manner.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, do you practice daily acts of heroism, do you go out of your way to help those less fortunate, do you educate your boys on the values of the heroic mindset???

The warrior within

The plight of modern man.

 

Our story is an incredible one,

our minds and bodies evolved over millennia to be the very pinnacle of adaptability, our ability to problem solve and think abstractly in times of crisis is unparalleled amongst all animals. For the last 3 million years, we have been locked in an unending battle to survive, living from day to day, unsure what the chaos of the next dawn would bring for us and our people.

 

We rose to each day, ready for battle, ready to face whatever chaos mother nature would throw our way, ready to do what it took to ensure the survival of ourselves, our tribe, and ultimately, our species.

 

Society would have us believe that the very traits that allowed us to survive and thrive amidst the chaos of the wild, are now somehow "bad" traits that we must suppress.

I say no!!!

We are savage.

We are animals,

We are homosapiens,

We are programmed to live on the edge, riding the fine line between chaos and order,

To cherish the essence of adventure.

 

Not to sit on a couch eating nachos and vegetating in front of a screen.

we need challenge,

we need adversity,

we need our brothers

we need to know the measure of our spirit

we need to know our value !

 

If we suppress these innate built in needs, then we suppress our very essence.

We become like a tiger in the zoo, angry and miserable, we lash out at those around us for no reason.

 

We need to honor these ancient, innate parts of ourselves and celebrate them.

 

Because if we don’t nurture these built in traits that we have, if we suppress them, over time they will seep out through the cracks in ways that we have no control over. They will manifest in putrid and horrible ways.

 

This is the plight of modern man, hobbled, gagged and caged.

 

No longer encouraged to explore, to run free, to jostle and fight with our brothers!

 

Like lions pacing behind the bars in the zoo that is modern society.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way !

 

Unlike the lion, we have consciousness, we have will, and we have the ability to shape our own reality………..

 

If we have the courage and humility to look inside ourselves and listen without prejudice. To take heed of that little voice that we’ve been ignoring for so long.

 

Because inside every one of us is a warrior, an explorer, a fearless hero with a mission and a purpose that aids in the greater good

 

But he has been suppressed, told that he is not desirable in this world.

Since early boyhood, we have been told to push him back into the deepest part of ourselves and only to let him out in private.

 

So it may take some searching, some looking in, before you hear the voice of your inner hero call from the abyss……. But he is there, waiting.