“There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely - or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
Shallow. Can you think of a worse insult to hurl at a man? Superficial, petty, lightweight, vain, wishy-washy - there are plenty of ways to describe a shallow man, but what is his polar opposite, the man of depth? And why do there seem to be so few of them?
It’s easy to see how smart phones, 24x7 unlimited entertainment options, and instant internet gratification can lead to short attention spans and actions that reflect there’s no value in doing something that doesn’t feel effortless and fun. It’s too easy to quickly gratify hunger with fast food that leaves the body unsatisfied. Porn provides a quick jolt of distracting sexual energy with just a click or a swipe. Tinder and other apps allow people to hook up and have easy intimacy if they wish. However many people have found that after the thrill of newness wanes they are soon chasing the next high. Decades can pass by chasing fun and novelty without leaving anything of substance to show for those years.
A man's depth can be felt. A deep man has weight and substance - even a darkness - that conveys he knows where he is headed and that he won’t be swayed from his direction. Deep men feel into situations and other people, connecting heart with action, not just idle talk. Using their attention and presence they affect and shift the whole environment around them. Deep men are present in their bodies and trust their inner guidance. Deep men become familiar with fear, distinguishing between survival fears and those fears that must be stepped into to walk the path of their deepest purpose. Deep men have awareness that death could happen at any time, so they don’t hold back in love or when fighting for what they believe in.
To develop depth a man must practice choosing what he desires - being clear about what is most important to him, and moving forward with action. Sometimes this practice will manifest results in the moment, but most often reaching a larger goal, living in alignment with purpose, requires making choices; choices that may not be the most pleasurable in the moment, choices that require saying “No”, choices that postpone and delay pleasure. We can choose how we use the hours and days of our lives, who we share our life with. Choice is one of our greatest freedoms and responsibilities. Shallow men are washed along with the currents of life and soon find themselves washed up and stranded in some backwater of life.
I’m a sailor. One of the great joys of sailing is choosing a direction you wish to go, and then engaging with the vicissitudes of wind and sea to reach your desired heading. You can’t just point your vessel where you want to go and hope it will get there. That only works if your destination is directly downwind. You have to feel into the whole situation: the wind direction, strength, and movement; waves and current in the water, obstacles above and below the surface, even the depth of the water itself. Learning how to read all this input comes through practice and is an embodied knowing in an experienced captain. The wind is felt on the skin, waves and current felt in the belly; eyes feel into the color of the water and can detect depth changes. A captain with skill delights in this dance with nature; even relishing when She challenges and tests him in extreme circumstances. The most cherished sailing stories are of times when conditions were frightening, yet were well navigated, and in which the captain lived to tell his tale.
The deepest part of a sailboat is its’ keel: a flat blade sticking down into the water from the bottom of the sailboat. In most ocean faring designs, it is also the densest and heaviest part of the boat. The keel holds the ballast that keeps the boat upright and prevents the boat from being blown sideways in the wind. Depth in a man is the keel in his life. It keeps him upright and returns him to center when hit by a wave or gust of wind. A man with depth is self-righting and can’t be pushed over. His body, from the navel down, is grounded in something dark and hidden. He embodies deep gravity, unwavering direction, solidity. Deep men can be intelligent, but they are not heady or abstract. Deep men are present in their body and access visceral knowledge that shallow men cannot. More importantly, a man’s depth and purpose functions as a keel to turn headwinds into an energizing force that can propel him toward where he is pointing his life. A good man of depth actually derives joy from forces that normally would push a lesser man off course or backward.
The dense ballast that keeps a man’s life in balance is his relationship to death. A deep man knows he is buoyed up by life only for a finite time. Ultimately he will sink into the depths and become one with it. While he is alive he can enjoy this creative tension between life and death by venturing out to experience the thrills of open sea. Other men choose to keep their vessels in harbor where they are safe, but that is not what ships are made for. The joys of life are not experienced in dry dock - that is the worst kind of demise. A man who is fully alive appreciates his awareness of death. It gives him purchase in a world where most others are simply adrift.
I teach men how to cultivate and embody depth. It begins with each man becoming clear about his greatest purpose in life. A man knows he has found his purpose when his gut-level choices spring forth in alignment to it. His purpose rings true even in contact with the silence of death. The company of other men who are cultivating depth is the best crucible in which to refine one’s own purpose. Within a group of such men, feedback and challenge burn off the ways we ignore our deepest desires and calling in life. Using embodiment practices, the mind can be quieted and stilled so that it can be used in the service of the deeper purpose of our lives; instead of it being the demanding spoiled inner child seeking quick release or gratification. I have found that the most challenging and rewarding area to develop a man's depth is in relational practice with others. Love is the power that energizes and attracts us to practice living as deeply as possible. Building from a foundation of personal depth, it becomes possible to create passionate intimate relationships that continue to deepen in love and chemistry over the years. I specifically offer instruction in relational practice and sexual yoga as a path toward stepping into our full power and truth.