What It Means to Be a Man

 Photo by Dallas Graham

Photo by Dallas Graham

Yoga means union, in part union of masculine energy and feminine energy. The marriage of these two seemingly different parts creates a whole that is both balanced and interdependent. What better week than the week of Valentine's Day to celebrate this union as we practice understanding the marriage of these energies within us through the practice of yoga. Let me be clear: we all have both masculine and feminine energy regardless of our gender or sexual orientation. This week, I want to talk about the masculine, and though we all have both, some of us exhibit more of the masculine and others more of the feminine. To make it simple, I'm going to label the masculine as "man."

To be a man means to be courageous. Courage literally means full of heart. Therefore, being courageous is being connected to emotions, not divorced from them. Embodying this kind of courage has been a theme in my inter-personal work over the past few years. To be courageous you must know your own heart and that means doing the work, getting in there and finding who you are inside. It means meditation and yoga. It means soul searching, often times on a solo retreat, or a daily meditation or yoga practice, sometimes for an extended period, then coming back to your family, your relationships, your work, passions, and hobbies with that courage, that conviction and that strength of spirit to share that knowledge and stability as a gift to the world.

To be masculine means to be conscious. It means being spacious, holding space for the dynamic and beautiful qualities of the feminine. The quintessential archetype for the feminine is the dancer, the beautiful, expressive, dynamic, and changeable presence. The changeable world-nature, time, and everything that moves-is part of this feminine realm. So, anything that is changeable is an expression of the feminine. And the masculine's job is to be able to stand and witness this beautiful dancing feminine, to look it straight in the eyes and let it dance. Hold space. Going into nature and witnessing that realm of growth, decay, expression, and beauty is a marriage of the masculine presence and the feminine dancer. Of course this consciousness also extends into the realm of holding space for the women in our lives with honor, love, and respect. To be a man means to appreciate and celebrate what it means to be feminine, in the interdependent balance of wholeness.

Men are protectors. But to be a protector a man must be vulnerable. Protecting means going into the darkness to explore the unknown in order to make safe what you love. It means leaving the warmth and light of the fire to explore the sounds coming from the dark woods. Nature is feminine therefore the masculine can help protect it by giving a shit about our air quality and natural resources. Being a man means protecting the feminine. Women are certainly powerful. Let's not forget that the lioness is the fierce hunter of the family. But like a pride of lions, the protective males respond to any abuse of the female. Like lions, men must help protect women.

It's a tragic truth that one out of three women in the world have been, will be, or are currently subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Being a man means creating a line of warriors, of lions, that will stand up to any abuse and say, "not on our watch!" It means being conscious of a problem and saying, "no." It is about marrying the male consciousness and the feminine call to action in order to make a world where all our brothers and sisters can enjoy living safely and nobly. True strength is not about muscle, it's about courageously exploring your heart, it's about consciousness, and it's about being willing to be vulnerable in order to protect nature, women, and all of us by sometimes challenging the status quo. The yoking or yoga of these elements is the true expression of masculinity.

In the name of standing up in opposition to the abuse of women, I invite you is to look at this wonderful cause, One Billion Rising. This cause is dedicated to creating a voice for the abuse of women, raising consciousness, and making a difference in women's lives. Any abuse of any one of us hurts all of us.

Choose this Valentine's Day, the day dedicated to those you love, to evoke the spirit of masculinity and stand up for women.

Check out this beautiful video "Man Prayer," words by Eve Ensler. It made me cry.