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42 summers left – and that is with the highest average life expectancy for men anywhere in the world (Hong Kong 81.9 years). My inner child is going mad trying to accept the absurdity of that! But here I am. And so too are many of my peers – fathers, husbands, bread winners, businessmen – all trying to hold it together and make sense of it all. And many of us, my dear brothers, are hardly really coping. We dread each day for the stresses that it will inevitably bring, and then at the end of each one, we lament at how little we actually did for ourselves. None of us were really prepared for this type of life, and certainly this state was not something we could have fathomed when we were kids. I must at this point state that I write this piece as a man, for men. I cannot possibly write this from the female perspective as I have absolutely no experience of the degrees and depths to which women are suffering, nor do I pretend I have the right to. But I do believe that the answer would be similar. More on that later.

Dr Bruce Alexander conducted a range of experiments in the 70’s which became known as the “Rat Park” experiment. Researchers had already proven that when rats are placed in a cage – alone – with a heroin or cocaine laced water bottle and a “normal” one, they would continuously imbibe the drug laced water until they overdosed and died. Case closed, the drug is the problem. But Alexander wondered whether it was the drug or the environment that was causing the issue? Rats, like humans, are social creatures that prefer to live in packs. So he created an environment where the rats could play, have sex and socialise at will. The same drug laced water was available to all of them, yet not one overdosed throughout the entire Rat Park experiment. Those rats that did drink the drug laced water did so occasionally, but never obsessively. So what does this have to do with healing men’s hearts?

The answer perhaps lies in how men are programmed and conditioned from a young age. A common trait across many cultures (particularly those that have lost connection with their old tribal traditions), is that “cowboys don’t cry”, and it is not “okay” to show weakness and vulnerability. And the result of this programming? We learn to isolate and build walls (ironically Trump is a classic case of this programming), and ultimately we do not know how to truly connect with ourselves or our community around us. We become prisoners in a cage that we built, and the pain is so unbearable that we reach for that “drug” to cope. These drugs take many forms, but the desired result is always the same: some reprieve from the pain of the environment (the cage) in which we find ourselves. What I have also observed is that trauma does the same thing. The pain of the trauma – albeit pushed down out of the view of the conscious mind – is so great that the only respite is some form of coping mechanism to numb the pain. But pain and trauma also manifest themselves in more subtle ways. I had an experience the other night where I misunderstood what my wife said to me regarding a particular issue, and I reacted in a way that was completely disproportionate to what she had said. Wow, where did that come from? When I meditated on it, I realised that I was merely re-acting a scenario I had experienced nearly 20 years ago with another woman! None of what happened in the present moment had anything to do with what happened 20 years ago, yet the subconscious response was as real. And the first thing we do; we isolate in our pain and turn to the coping mechanism.

Thankfully I have done the work to heal much of my past traumas, but just when you think you have a handle on it, another pops up. And this is a good thing! What many people don’t realise about healing – and certainly don’t like – is that things need to come up and out so that they can be transmuted into the light. This is not a comfortable process, but what form of growth is? I delve more into my perspective on what healing is here https://deushomine.com/on-healing/ , but the key is that true healing is “healing that which does not know itself to be God.” With this understanding, I would like to suggest that perhaps the worst outcome from this programming is a fundamental lack of Connection to Spirit. And this manifests itself in the lower realms i.e. physical, as a lack of connection with each other.

Because Spirit is infinite, it means that we are inherently connected to the All of Everything. This is Who We Are. So if our our natural and highest possible state is connection, then lack thereof is counter to our very nature. Therefore, by continuing to allow our pain and trauma to sever connection with others, we not only act against the will of God, we also ensure the condition that is keeping us “ill” is perpetuated. And when such a large portion of the human population is fundamentally programmed in this way, then there can only be conflict between all these isolated and dysfunctional entities. And the real kicker in all of this? Because our natural state is connection, we seek “connection” through finding other human beings who share our pain and programming. This then gives rise to isolated groups of people who seek to blame other isolated groups of people, for all the ills in their lives and the world around them. And we wonder why racism, sexism, classism and heterosexism (to name a few), are spreading like a great cancer within the human condition. This madness must stop!

So how can we bring greater connection into our own lives? There are so many ways, but for me it is easiest to start with our closest loved ones. Quality time with my children without an agenda of an outcome. A sensual massage with my wife, or just staring deeply into her eyes and getting lost in her wonderment. And this is so healing for her heart too! This practice then slowly spreads into our everyday contact with other people, and then you begin to see not the differences, but the commonalities between each other. You are not alone my dear brothers, and by consciously choosing to move through all your boxes of isolation, you not only begin to heal your own heart, you also begin to heal all of those around you. We need good, strong and connected men more than ever, for so long as we allow this state to continue, we allow those who profit from separation to have dominion over us.

Our children deserve a better world than we have allowed, and it is our duty to ensure that we leave it a better place for them. And one massive key in all of this is to reprogramme ourselves, so that our sons don’t suffer the same programming as we have. Show them connection! Show them what it is like to truly connect with your partner, so that their frame of reference in relationship is connection. Show them connection with nature, so that they cannot fathom destruction of an environment that we are inherently a part of. Show them connection to all sentient beings, so that they may treat them better than we have. And show them connection to all creeds and colours, so that they may understand that they are not apart from the great human tapestry, but rather that they are a part of the great human tapestry. All form of separation is an illusion, and it is time we recognised this, and lived this. 42 Summers. That is not a lot of time.