The ManKind Project nonprofit (MKP) hosts a signature weekend retreat program called New Warrior Training Adventure. Callan Loo answers questions about his experience.
What need attracts men to the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA)? What are they there for? What are some aspects of the program’s goal of men emerging into “emotionally mature” men?
Men are attracted for many reasons. In my opinion, a big one is to join a community of men doing their internal work to become more emotionally connected, healthy, and happy. MKP offers a safe container and set of tools for men to explore their feelings — including processing past traumas and experiences — with other men doing the same. The NWTA kick starts the process, enabling an MKP newcomer to begin or accelerate their internal work during a weekend retreat staffed by established MKP members. They can connect with other men in their community and begin doing inner transformational work using a well-designed set of tools.
What was it like before, during, and after? What are Integration Groups? Why does it work, or transform? What is the status of the local MKP network?
MKP intentionally doesn’t provide too much information about what happens during the NWTA weekend because the mystery is a very important part of the transformational experience. Because of this and some of the questions about it raised on the Internet, I was honestly a bit apprehensive [to register] at first, but a good friend and MKP member assured me that if I let go and trusted the process, I’d be safe and I’d really like the experience in the end.
They really do a good job of shaking you out of your comfort zone to open you up to something new coming through. Throughout the weekend it became more clear I was in a safe space and friendships began to form, especially with the other men going through it with me. I had carpooled with several other men from the area, and we all headed home feeling a bit raw, definitely opened up, and feeling like members of a healthy brotherhood.
Afterwards we were encouraged to attend follow up focus training that reinforced what we learned and taught us new tools and skills to continue our growth and development. We all then joined local Integration Groups (iGroups) that are made up of men committed to doing the ongoing work to be the best, most healthy, and emotionally literate men we can be. To my knowledge there are currently three of these iGroups actively meeting in the Ann Arbor area.
In my experience MKP did a masterful job of providing an authentic, intentional, and effective rite of passage, helping me and my cohorts move from one place in our personal development to another level.
Why do people go? When in life is this coming into focus for many men? Are there common transitions, like during their 40’s or when healing from a divorce, that this experience uplifts?
The need for this kind of work often comes into focus after one or more major life transitions that shake our personal foundation. Things like a divorce, an illness diagnosis, loss of job, and death of a loved one can all be big life disrupters that cause us to look inside and see the need for change and personal growth.
The Saturn Returns phenomena hits many men (and women) in their late 20’s and early 30’s and often leads to big life changes that may cause them to question who they are and why they are the way they are — and I find it encouraging that things like NWTA are available to help young men work their way through these changes. We as a society don’t do a good job of processing major life transitions, and if we learn to consciously let go of an old state of being and fully embrace a new one, we could find peace and happiness on a new path much more quickly.
Given the rise in consciousness around female empowerment in recent events, what need do you see ManKind Project responding to? Do you see it growing?
There’s a power imbalance in our society that needs to be addressed and it’s so very good that women are coming together in groups to share their experiences, to collectively heal the traumas they’ve experienced, and to claim their own power. There is sometimes a dark side to this, a finger pointing at men that says, “You, men, made this happen. It’s your fault!” and right or wrong, many men really don’t know how to handle this. They don’t know what they’re supposed to do. It’s clear men need to do their work — to learn what it means to be healthy men today, to embrace a healthier masculinity, to learn to balance the masculine and feminine energies within them and in relationships, and to become more emotionally literate so they can rise up to meet the feminine.
For our society to heal and become healthy, for the feminine and masculine (regardless of gender) to heal and come together, then men in our society also need to rise up. But men often don’t get a good blueprint to work with. Many men are taught what it “means to be a man” from outdated or unhealthy (even if well-meaning) sources, and ManKind Project and other groups like Men Evolving Non-violently (M.E.N.) give men a good place to learn to be better men and integrate those learnings in safe, supportive space. I’m also aware through my network that there are new groups coming together in this space and I’m excited to see where this leads!
Briefly, does your work with The Intentional Living Collective incorporate ManKind Project concepts?
Yes, we offer experiences to the community in line with what MKP/NWTA offers men in transition. The Intentional Living Collective and Conscious Rites serve two primary functions — we provide direct programs that offer hope, inspiration, education, and resources to the community members as they shift to more authentic, heart-centered lives. We also explicitly connect local organizations in collaborations that let us all reach more community members and have a bigger impact.
Are there New Warrior Training Academies near Ann Arbor soon?
There are NWTAs coming up in Wisconsin on May 18; Ontario on June 8; and both in Chicago and West Virginia on June 22.
The next, closest to Ann Arbor retreat is in Woodstock, Illinois, June 22–June 24, 2018. Registration is $695. More information can be found on the mkpconnect.org calendar. More info on the local meet-ups can be found at www.meetup.com/ManKind-Project-Ann-Arbor.