Schedule of Open Men’s Circles

1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month
6:30 – 9:00 PM
262 Union Street, West Springfield MA
(Park across street from Crepe’s Tea House (261 Union Street), & between Charlie’s Diner and A to Z Movers. –Identify A to Z moving building (3 stories) by AtoZ Moving Trucks & Sign. Entrance is on the ground floor, front (NE) corner of the building.)

Contact me directly for more information: boysenhodgson@mkp.org.

I also encourage you to join our www.meetup.com/openmen group to stay up to date with our meetings. See the widget on the right side.

Open Men has now been running for a decade. This is a PROVEN model for self-improvement in any area of your life.

We don’t try to make friendships … we make powerful bonds between men.  We build brotherhood. A ‘regular guy’ can step into this space and be feel empowered to tell the unvarnished truth about his life. We’re not here to put on a show for each other. We’re not here to set ourselves up in opposition to a perceived ‘other’ in the world. We’re not here to offer salvation. We’re here to cut through the bullshit that we’ve been taught are the fundamentals of being a man. We’re here to step through the fear of showing up authentically, warts and all, in our lives and loves. We’re here to find and explore our self-made purpose.

  • If you are a change agent, a man working with others for the good of society – the skills you can learn here are essential to your efforts to create sustainable solutions in the world.
  • If you struggle with commitment, with discipline, with emotional honesty, with feelings of powerlessness or inadequacy, with anger, frustration, depression – this is a kind of bonding that will help you break old patterns and find YOUR PLACE in a community.
  • If you are outwardly successful and looking to become more integrated with other parts of  your life – this is a place to come and explore, refine and express the other parts of yourself that may be hiding out in the shadows.
  • If you have never felt safe or at ease in a group of men – this is a place to figure out why and to change that. Your success depends on your efforts.

Without moving beyond ‘connection by cause’ and into ‘bonded commitment’, efforts to create and sustain community will fail … over and over and over.

Movements fail not because of the lack of good ideas or even good organization, but because of the lack of mature bonding – the kind of connection that allows groups to overcome personal and psychological blocks and resolve interpersonal conflicts in a way that is energizing rather than draining to their efforts.

This is what we’ve been doing for over 30 years in the ManKind Project. This is what we strive for in Open Men.

Is it easy? Hell no. Becoming a mature man isn’t easy. That’s why most men act like immature boys when faced with tough issues – emotional issues.
Is it worth it? Hell yeah. Making this commitment to yourself can change everything in your world.

The Dark Season – Open Men for November

It’s a tricky season eh? There is so much to be grateful for in my life. I see all the ways in which I am blessed and how my blessing can effect others. I rejoice in the renewed connections to family and friends. I celebrate the crisp air … all of this is true.

AND … we are entering the season when there are more suicides than at any other time of the year. A season in which millions of people use food and alcohol and material goods to disconnect from themselves and the people in their lives. A se    ason when the realities of scarcity of resources has lead so many of us to spend more than we have to ‘prove’ our love for our families. A season in which every day the amount of sun light decreases as we head to the winter solstice. A gray, wet, cold season.

Light and Shadow. That is what we deal with at Open Men. We deal with BOTH sides of the coin of life – not denying the reality of a man’s experience in his world. Not trying to push away or destroy the negative aspects of the personality but to MOVE with them, to integrate them so that your CHOICES about how you respond to the world can expand. Nothing is destroyed … only transformed.

The pain and suffering of life is real. We’re not going to deny it. We’re going to expand what we are capable of facing in the world and expand our options for responding with love and compassion in the face of pain – our own pain and the pain of others.

Tonight we will take some time to explore Gratitude – to recognize what we are grateful for – AND we will take some time to be honest about the blocks, the pain and the fear that is facing us on our paths as men in this world.

Show up. Get support. Embrace more of who you are.

Open Men’s Group – Personal Mastery Workgroup

Springfield, MA
264 Men

To be the man you want to be takes diligence and the support of a community. It’s time to Man Up. Time to get honest with yourself. Time to quit bullshitting your way through …

Next Meetup

Open Men’s Group – W.Springfield – Group Support For Growth

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017, 6:30 PM
9 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

How I got involved in New Warrior stuff – the truth about the ManKind Project

A question from an old friend who I haven’t connected with in years.

So how’d you get involved with the New Warror stuff?

I’m curious about the program. I may check it out but as I explained to J***, while the underlying concepts certainly resonate for me, I’m very peculiar about (and easily distracted by) the language and vessel chosen to convey ideas. Sometimes the idea is meaningful, but the way it’s expressed raises my hackles, sounds off alarms, and I just can’t trust the messenger. And the message itself gets diluted in the process. Sometimes, regardless of the messenger, it takes me years to fully absorb a useful message and translate it into meaningful change.

This really got me thinking. Here’s what I came up with.

I did the NWTA in April 2004, a year after I left a very complicated and painful relationship that I was in for 7 1/2 years. I had known about it for years because my brothers and my Dad had done it.  I was on a good path. I was feeling positive about my life, I had been with the beautiful lady who is now my wife for about 6 months, we were doing really well, I was taking risks again, expanding my world, creating friendships. AND I was ready to look at the deeper stuff – to go beyond therapy, which had really helped me, into active participation in something bigger. I was aware of a part of myself that I was still holding back in my life. Some doorway that hadn’t been opened.

The paragraph about the concepts, ideas and the messenger – I get it. And there is some serious jargon to digest. I have become very conscious about this language, so I hope I don’t bludgeon you with it.

Maybe you’re over-thinking? This kind of intellectual analysis kept me locked in a box for 8 years. For me, it’s an avoidance technique. I can think myself out of doing anything – especially if it calls to me – because that means that I sense something I WANT, but I am afraid to reach out for it, afraid to screw it up. When I dismiss the message because of the way it was delivered, I cut myself off from the opportunity to actually come up with my own insights. I expect perfection. There is none.

The EXPERIENCE is what it’s about. The New Warrior Training Adventure is an initiation into a different way of relating to being a man. It’s about trusting yourself enough to let go of the rope and trusting other men to catch you and not hurt you. It’s about learning what you are capable of – the beautiful good and the horrible bad. It may raise your hackles because it runs so contrary to the Lupis Goitalonis (lone wolf) mentality that most men carry. What? you want me to trust you? F*ck that. You want me to stop thinking for a minute and FEEL? F*ck you. You want me to tell you what I am really about? F*ck off. Last time I did that I got the shit kicked out of me.

I over-analyzed the “intellectual framework” of the work as it was understood by a couple of men with their own understandings, beliefs and biases. (they didn’t have the book shelf that I had, or the degree that I have … blah blah).

I didn’t believe it could possibly be all that the men in my life claimed it was. I said no for 7 years. I argued that I was ‘on my own path’, and that I was learning ‘in other ways’. I read, I went to 12 step meetings, I did therapy with a feminist therapist, I led anti-violence workshops for college students, I sat in some men’s groups sponsored by the local men’s center (and though well intentioned, they never even broke the surface for me). I read all kinds of negative press about the ManKind Project and the ‘mytho-poetic men’s movement’. I argued that it was anti-feminist, that it was brain washing, that it was some kind of pyramid scheme, that it was like a cult. My brother J* just kept asking me to trust him, to trust that he would not do me harm. J* is a very smart man – and he is one of the most cynical people I know- and yet this changed his life.

I chose to do it despite my fears and arguments, because I saw the difference it made in my brothers’ lives and marriages – and the difference it made for their kids. They weren’t brainwashed; they still had their own peculiar (and sometimes ineffective) ways of being, but they were kinder and more open with their wives and children, they were more accountable for their actions, they talked about their feelings, they treated each other with a clear, clean respect. They reacted less and responded more. They started standing up for themselves when they needed to. They made better choices. Most of them no longer participate in MKP men’s groups, but the effects that their time in circles had on them are clear in all their lives. Their kids are growing up with self-confidence that comes from being seen and valued for who they are, from being listened to, from having their emotions accepted and affirmed. My brothers had all this goodness inside, MKP helped them do was open the door to it.

What Happened at my Weekend

It was the most powerful experience I had ever had to that point in my life. Parts of it were cheesy. Sometimes I was PISSED that they were ‘treating us’ that way. Parts I didn’t understand until much later. Sometimes I didn’t like the words that were being used. Feeling the power and care of 65 men who are not playing games, not bullshitting each other is life-altering. I have been sitting in MKP circles of men for 5 years now. And I keep getting more tools, keep deepening my ability to connect to people (everyone), I’ve stepped into leadership, handled the hard stuff, gotten accountable for what’s happening in my life. K* and I have honesty and connection that I haven’t ever experienced. There are some incredible, powerful, brilliant, passionate men out there doing their parts to make the world a better, safer, place for everyone. Many of them have different ideas and ‘frames’ for what this work is. Some I resonate with, others I don’t.

I emerged from the weekend saying … if only I had taken this risk then … I could have avoided hurting my ex-partner as I did, I could have avoided hurting myself for a lot of years. All the perfectly logical reasons I had for not going were actually based in fear of being seen for who I believed I was – broken, doomed to be alone, too afraid to live, a ‘bad’ man, somehow not worthy of being loved and appreciated.

So I understand the idea that the ‘vessel’ is important as a carrier of the message. And I would assert that the ‘vessel’ here is more important than the concepts that you are resonating with. Concepts are easy. You can get the concepts in a book, god knows I do. But you will never begin to approach the experience. There is no other vessel that compares to it.

The red flags are good, they will keep you self-aware, having a strong ego is good for this process. But can you take the next step and trust that you are strong enough to take care of yourself AND allow yourself to fully participate in the experience? The men who lead these weekends are experienced, sharp and dedicated to creating safety. Not to say that there aren’t f*ck-ups, there are, but there is always someone right there to step in. And most of all – there is safety. Emotional and Physical safety to do whatever it takes.

When you come out of it – there are men ready to help you process the other stuff that will inevitably bubble up. But it will be up to you whether you choose to reach out and keep working with it. My opinion is that being in a circle of men is the most responsible choice I can make if I am truly dedicated to making the world a safer place, because that is where I learn how to do it. Thinking that I want to help create a better world means little if I’m too afraid or disempowered to act or if I can’t even handle my own resentments against my neighbors, my wife, my boss. Activism is great! Speaking out is great! Movements implode when in-fighting destroys them. And the in-fighting is not about the concepts, it’s about the failure to process the underlying judgments, motivations, wounds and psychology of the individuals. One person with a poisonous lack of self-awareness can destroy an organization (or a nation!). And only a group of highly self-aware people with finely developed skills will be able to short circuit that destruction. MKP, for me, is about developing those skills.

Lots of men go on to do all sorts of other stuff. I know I have. There are lots of paths. But I have never spoken with a man who does not see how unique and powerful this experience was or how it contributed to making his own path more clear and vibrant – even if he hated the weekend. It gives many men the will and passion to go for their deepest dreams. It gives every man a sense of purpose (of his own creation) that he can go out and live in the world.

There is misogyny in MKP, and homophobia and ignorance and racism and arrogance and self-limiting tribal thinking and unconsciousness, but FAR LESS than I experience in most areas of my life. When that stuff shows up, there are men in MKP willing to stand up and confront it. We are actively confronting those harmful attitudes and beliefs in ourselves and each other, because we trust each other. We have the most self-aware ways of handling conflict that I have ever seen.

Some men who walk away from MKP are simply too attached to their rigid beliefs about difference to make any changes or stand as equals with men who challenge them. We are not a homogenous group. It’s not like being in a circle of just academics, or social activists or blue color workers, conservatives or liberals. Unquestioned beliefs, on both sides, will be questioned. In my opinion, we men can no longer afford to create segregated communities of ‘like-minded’ people. We have to do more than isolate ourselves in this time of global problems.

At a core level for me – it’s about escaping the nihilist belief that I’m alone. Because as a man among men – these men – I’m never alone. These men that I have shared this with – these are the men who will bury me – knowing everything about me and loving me deeply. They will comfort my children and my wife. There will be nothing left unsaid, because there was no fear to prevent me from saying it.

It’s an emotional bungie jump. Scary. Safe.

Next Open Men’s Circle – March 25th, 2009

Hey All – The next OPEN MEN’S Circle will be held on March 25th, 2009 from 7-9pm  in West Springfield, MA at the first floor offices of A to Z Movers – 380 Union Street, West Springfield, MA (right next to Charlies Diner, look for the Auction Preview sign above the door). Call 413 883 2462 for more information. If you have already attended the New Warrior Training Adventure – you are welcome to join us on any Wednesday evening!

What is a Men’s Group?

What is a Men’s Group? We are a group of men that share our experiences, our wisdom and our presence with one another to support self-awareness, positive change and transformation. We challenge the destructive aspects of masculinity and our own personalities that hurt us, our families, our communities and our world. We form a community of peers who take risks for ourselves to improve our lives and help others. All kinds of men are involved. We are non-religious and non-profit. Any man ready to follow some simple ground rules and take responsibility for himself is welcome.
read more …

Why Men’s Work?
Because the way we see it, the world really needs men who have courage (heart) enough to get real with one another. Dominating, chest pounding, ‘tough it up’ or ‘laugh it off’ masculinity is a facade that often covers up the truly effective, powerful, compassionate, nurturing, mature man. Men supporting men by fostering a greater sense of self-awareness and personal responsibility has profound impacts on families, friendships and communities. Remaining in denial about the harmful effects of being ‘disconnected’ from ourselves and each other, whether through machismo, addictive behaviors, cynicism or isolation is bad for our health, dangerous to society and bad for the planet.
read more …

What is the New Warrior Training Adventure?
The NWTA is an intense 48 hour experience that challenges a man to look at himself honestly and deeply while being supported by a non-shaming group of highly skilled facilitators and volunteers. It is an opportunity for a man to truly examine himself in a way that few men do in our world. It is an initiation made for the modern man – we call you into community with yourself. Parts of it will rock your foundations, parts of it may seem ridiculous to you. You will have fun, you will be challenged, you will enter altered space and return safely. read more …
To read and watch testimonials about MKP CLICK HERE.

What’s in it for me? Many men experience profound shifts in their lives as a result of the work that they do in our circles and at our trainings. Greater emotional intelligence can bring you stronger more intimate relationships with your family, your spouse or partner, your children, your friends, your co-workers. Personal satisfaction, a greater sense of internal peace, more successful business ventures, more happiness, the courage to make the changes that you have been scared to make. Men leave our training empowered with a sense of personal purpose for their lives that often translates into service in the world – a mission that they create for themselves and a renewed sense of agency to make it happen. read more …

What are you trying to sell me?
We are selling a new way of seeing men and of being a man. The values we hold are timeless. Compassion, Awareness, Integrity, Accountability … to name a few.

  • If you are looking for a community of men to collaboratively make a difference in the lives of others – to awaken yourself and serve the world – we’ll see you there.
  • If you are feeling stuck, depressed, full of anxiety and fear, dissatisfied with your situation … if you are standing at the crossroads,
    you might find a second chance.
  • If you feel you’re on the right path in your life, feeling ready for the next step, feeling a calling to fully express yourself … we are offering you a community of like-minded and empowered men to help you overcome your internal obstacles and challenge your self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.
  • If you feel happy with who you are and satisfied with your life … we are offering you a deepened connection to your own brilliance and a community to share it with.

We are not selling Perfection, Salvation or a Weekend Fix-it All. The work of being authentic, connected, emotionally intelligent and self-aware is ongoing and not something that ANYONE can promise you on a weekend. We are not out to save you, we are only here to hold up a mirror to your life. You get to choose whether you look in that mirror.

The NWTA costs $650 for the full weekend. The deposit is $150 and is transferable for 2 years. In New England we use a payment process that is based on the value received & the ability to pay for the weekend. Call to learn more. There is limited scholarship money available.

Put simply, how much is a better life worth to you? How much is a better world for your children worth? To read and watch testimonials about MKP CLICK HERE.

To register call 1-877-THE-NWTA.

Involvement with a ManKind Project Men’s Group is FREE unless there is an agreement to pay for a rented space or an agreement to support the New England Center with a donation. You can visit a men’s group in your area, call 877-THE-NWTA for more information.

Risk Free? Nope. There is always a risk in opening up. There is always a risk in being honest with yourself and with those around you. We won’t be hard selling you on attending a training. What we will be inviting you to do is to take a chance and look at your life in a new way.

If you would like to talk to someone about MKP and can’t make this open circle … give me a call.
Thanks

Boysen Hodgson
877-THE-NWTA

Seeking a Singular Awareness

Another way to look at WHY I participate in a men’s group and why I did the New Warrior Training Adventure was to gain more Self Awareness.  Self awareness is the state of being where you I can be watching my thoughts, feelings and actions without being lost in them. I am aware that I am feeling Sadness, or Anger, or Fear and yet there is a distance between me and the emotion that I am feeling – such that I don’t have to REACT to the emotions in a way that is harmful to me or to those around me.

To learn more about attending Open Men or about the ManKind Project or the New Warrior Training Adventure, email me or call 413 303 9193.

What is Men’s Work?

I have had several men ask me – what this is all about … what do you do?

We sit in a circle on chairs. We talk to each other about ourselves. We listen intently. We do not shame or criticize. We do not spend time giving advice. We use processes to ‘dig in’ to those parts of ourselves that we find confusing, upsetting and STUCK. We resolve conflicts, both internal and external, by taking responsibility for ourselves.

A men’s group is a place to figure out what you want in your life, take steps to making it happen and continually look at what is getting in the way of you being fully alive and empowered.

Do you want better relationships?
Do you want to learn how to better handle situations that stump you over and over?
Do you want to break out of a rut that you have been living in for years?
Do you want to sit with men actively working to make the world a better place?

Here’s an even harder question … do you instinctively NOT trust men (or women or yourself)?  You learned this somewhere. Not only is it bad for your physical health, but it is probably preventing you from living fully. Continue reading “What is Men’s Work?”

What do you want?

Do you want more out of life?
Do you want better relationships?
Do you often feel isolated from the people around you, even those closest to you?
Do you struggle with anxiety, depression or anger?
Do you want to know other men dedicated to self-improvement and the improvement of the world for all human beings?

Are you ready to do something about it?

On the Fourth Thursday of every month, there is an open men’s group held for any man to come and experience what connection, support and camaraderie feel like.

Open Men is sponsored by a local ManKind Project men’s circle. This is a safe, facilitated, deeply connected group of men who get together weekly to build self-awareness and explore a new kind of masculinity. The mature man takes full responsibility for himself and his actions in the world. He is connected to his feelings, has compassion, respect and deep wisdom. He tells the truth and lives with integrity. He is focused on the present. He gets things done and lives with a strong sense of self-worth and purpose.

Men who have deep, supportive friendships; beyond the bar, the game, and the office, are more satisfied with their lives, have fewer addictive habits and live longer. They are better fathers, partners and workers.

Are you tired of feeling alone?
Are you looking for a community to help you gain success in your life?
Are you looking for other men dedicated to making the world better for everyone?

Come join us at 380 Union Street, West Springfield at A to Z Movers on Thursday night at 6:30pm. Call 413 883 2462 for more information or email boysen@openmen.org

What in the world is biological essentialism?

Biological Essentialism refers to a way of thinking that says, in essence, “biology is destiny”. In the past this kind of view has been used to create different classes of human beings, like saying that Native Americans are ‘savages’, black people are somehow ‘less’ than human or women are not ‘capable’ of being scientists. These more blatant examples have given way in our era to much more subtle ways of perpetuating power based gender differences. “Boys being Boys” is one very routine example. The idea that men are somehow entitled to behaving immaturely because of biological differences is a way that men hold on to dated understandings of the roles of men and women. And I am not an exception here – I still try to get away with some ‘typical male’ behaviors when I don’t want to accept responsibility for my actions and motivations. And don’t get me wrong – I think that these distinctions are reinforced by the WHOLE culture, not just by men. Continue reading “What in the world is biological essentialism?”

The Heart of E.Q. – why Emotions Matter

My belief these days is that we need all kinds of people working to bring sane solutions to the problems we face in the world. And one of the things that I see as missing from the dialog about current events is an acknowledgment of the well documented reality that our bodies, and the sensations and feelings that arise in our bodies, have a huge impact on the thoughts and motivations and actions that we all take. Our bodies process information faster than we can formulate thoughts. We are, in large portion, often unknown to ourselves. Our motivations, the foundation for what we believe and how we act on those beliefs, is not being looked at in our intellectualized discourse.

So bringing awareness to the body, to the emotional and chemical information stream that is often overwhelmed in today’s world, can help all of us bring some added information to any decision, reaction or response. I see this as valuable. Continue reading “The Heart of E.Q. – why Emotions Matter”