Author: Hannah Seligson
On a Monday night in a sparsely decorated room in midtown Manhattan, a group of approximately 20 men including an endocrinologist, a sportscaster, a policeman and an employee of the United Nations were baring their souls.
“I’ve been digging deep with my girlfriend and we are having those talks about moving forward in our relationship, and I’m having nights where I can’t sleep,” said Andrew Cummings, 44, an opera singer in New York who has performed at Carnegie Hall.
“I’m angry that my health is deteriorating. I’m not ready to be an old man,” said Jeff Nichols, 70, a former consultant.
“I’m checking in with some anger. I didn’t get accepted to the Ashtanga Institute, and I smashed two candles, which I know isn’t very yogic,” said another man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions.
Ranging in age from 30 to 70, the men were gathered as part of the ManKind Project (MKP), a 33-year-old nonprofit with 24 chapters in the United States and 11 regions abroad. It focuses on men’s emotional well-being, drawing on elements like Carl Jung’s theories of the psyche, nonviolent communication, breath work, Native American customs, and good old-fashioned male bonding. Minus ogling women, drinking or fist fighting, of course.
The goal, according to many affiliated with MKP, is to break down patriarchal and hierarchical ideas of masculinity. And the place to start is where another man, Socrates, did centuries ago: with the mandate of “know thyself.”
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