As many of you know this past year I have fallen in love with yoga. I’ve practiced at other points in my life, but it wasn’t until meeting Tutti last fall and trying out Yoga Vida here in NYC that my love affair blossomed. It has been an incredible blessing to my body + soul, and I have felt stronger and more balanced than I have in years.
I started taking Zander’s classes at some point, and immediately connected with him. He resonates with a philosophy that I live in my life “how you show up for one thing is how you show up for everything” + I learned quickly in his classes that so much of what he teaches applies to life “off” the mat. Like living a balanced life, being present, letting go of things we can’t control, and so much more. I’m so excited to have him talking about vulnerability today on The Refined Man. And if you’re a local NYC’er or Brooklynite be sure and check out his retreat ‘The Yoga Adventure’ May 15-17th in upstate; it’s going to be wonderful!
When most men hear the word vulnerable they think weak or sissy. The kind of vulnerability that I’m talking about is not the lost child kind or the naked at school kind. The refined man becomes more powerful through the vulnerability of being honest with his challenges, and sharing his story to empower and connect with other people. To be a refined man means being open to life, to love, to change, and to growth. He says yes to what life throws at him, and is not afraid of pain or being hurt. There is a bold confidence you get when living an unapologetic life that is not concerned with others people’s opinions of you. Haters gonna hate regardless, your choice is to either stand up and shout from the mountain tops, or sit down like a “good boy” and be quite.
The tough guy and the macho man is an outdated system of belief. These concepts of being strong and not feeling pain or not caring are all just masks. The macho man has literally built a shell around him because he is so afraid of how powerful his emotions and true feeling might be. The man who builds up the shell of his body with muscle and won’t show emotion tends to be the most scarred and disconnected of us all. OK, I love muscles and getting stronger but there is an inherently flawed idea that the physically big and strong man is also mentally and emotionally strong. You can trace this machismo culture back many thousands of years to the warriors and hunters who had a reason to be this way. The 21st century man tends to live a sheltered life that is a far cry from these battlefields.
Vulnerability means living in the moment, it means being OK with any and all of your emotions. Letting them flow through you so they do not get stuck and create tension. What we resist tends to persist and the more we deny something that is true and real, the more it tends to affect the very fabric of our lives. Our bodies become riddled with stress and the physical manifestation of emotional wounds when we deny our experiences in order to be ‘tough’ or ‘strong’. We have all experienced this to a lesser degree when we are ‘stressed’ or late for a meeting and get knots in our shoulders or pain in our stomach. Over time these little stresses that are not acknowledged build up and can lead to debilitating disease. The refined man is vulnerable enough to embrace the flow of emotion so it can do what it wants to do – move through you and be experienced. As you bring consciousness into your body, you begin to understand the energetic charge that is emotion, and in so doing, you allow it to flow through you.. Emotion is just energy that wants to be In-Motion. Let it flow.
Being vulnerable also gives a man the space to know what he wants and takes action. He has defined barriers and structure, but they are not rigid and he is not confined by them. He is connected to his body, his breath and the fullness of each experience. He knows that true growth comes from living in the messiness that can be life. To be a refined man means not having it all figured out, it means not knowing everything and being OK with it. This means being open to all that life has to offer and to know that the only permanent thing in life is change. To embrace flow while still being the architect of your fate.
Vulnerability is one facet to being a modern, refined man. Essentially we must take risks if we are to have a life well lived. Being vulnerable means taking risks with our hearts, bodies and our minds by exposing them to ourselves and to others. We have to risk getting out of our comfort zone and unconscious habits in order to see the world a little differently. We have to risk doing new things, meeting new people, getting out of routine and not knowing how it will all end up.
P.S. If your are interested in taking a small risk that has the transformative potential that comes from being a little vulnerable, then you are welcome to sign up for The Yoga Adventure retreat to Upstate New York, May 15th -17th. You don’t have to have a yoga practice but you do have to be open to trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone. We will be hiking, doing yoga, eating local vegetarian meals, dancing, laughing, meditating and having bonfires, all while getting off the grid for a long weekend. For more information and to register click HERE.
Photos C/O Kat Harris