Director's Message - July, 2016

July 2016

Greetings Sacred Path/MCLA Community,

It is evident that the world is experiencing change of a magnitude and velocity that is stunning and alarming.  Terrorist attacks, the impact of ecological changes and environmental disasters, the unraveling of the European Union, and the political turmoil abroad and on our own shores signal that we are standing at the threshold of a massive global transformation. Some say that we are on the brink of revolution.

Dr. Jed Diamond

Dr. Jed Diamond

I hear people utter the word “overwhelm” as a poignant description of what they are feeling so much of today.  The one word that people want more of is “relief.”  Mood states of depression and anxiety, fueled by the stress of uncertainty, unremitting pressures and challenges on all fronts, are manifesting in a myriad of dysfunctional conditions and behaviors.  Brutal events of violence including unimaginable acts of cruelty and mayhem are becoming commonplace.  And men are at the forefront of this onslaught of negativity and destruction. But why? What’s troubling men and causing the trouble that they are enacting en masse?

My friend and colleague, Dr. Jed Diamond, in a recent blog post titled Why Women Are Saying “No” to Marriage and Men Are Becoming Angry, Depressed, and Lonely put it this way,  “I’ve seen a disturbing trend where more and more men feel disconnected, disrespected, and angry. We see the anger acted out in violent attacks such as the ones we saw in Orlando (read Dr. Diamond’s article Preventing the Next Orlando Massacre: A Modest, Radical Proposal included in this newsletter) and also in the rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald Trump.  We also see it in a rise of male loneliness.

When I speak to large groups of men and women, I ask the women how many have three or more close friends that they can talk to about their hopes and dreams as well as their fears and frustrations. Almost all the women raise their hands. When I ask the same question of the men in the audience, almost no one raises their hand. Many men don’t have even one close friend that they can share their most intimate concerns with. For men who do have a close friend, it is often his wife. If there are stresses in the relationship, as is true for all marriages, the man has no one who he can open up to and with whom he can share his feelings.”

Jed goes on to say that , “Men’s increasing isolation from others helps account for the fact that men die sooner and live sicker than do women. According to social scientist Thomas Joiner, author of Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success, ‘Males experience higher mortality rates than females at all stages of life from conception to old age.’

Unfortunately, this is a common experience for an increasing number of men. Joiner concludes that ‘Men’s main problem is not self-loathing, stupidity, greed, or any of the legions of other things they’re accused of. The problem, instead, is loneliness; as they age, they gradually lose contact with friends and family, and here’s the important part, they don’t replenish them.’”

Thirty years ago I was inspired to create the first Sacred Path Men’s Retreat.  I had an innate sense that men needed a safe place to express their vulnerability through being heard and hearing what other men were feeling and thinking.  I realized that men tended to keep their most intimate concerns close to the vest.  I often heard men describe themselves as lone wolves and not group guys.  Yet, I’ve also seen how surprised and actually amazed men are when experiencing how comforting it can be to be in the presence of other lone wolf types who learn to transform their loneliness through connecting at a deep and fulfilling level with other good men.

For the past thirty years I have been privileged to be a guide on the Sacred Path as men have gathered for the purpose of becoming mindful of what it takes to be responsible to self and accountable to others as a friend, husband, parent and family member.  I have witnessed that community is central to providing what men need as they delve into the core of their longing. 

This October will represent a milestone for me as I turn 70 and commemorate 30 years as shepherd of the Sacred Path/MCLA community.  I’m planning to take a year Sabbatical to reflect and contemplate as well as to commence work on a new book.   I invite you to join me as we celebrate our accomplishments on the Sacred Path and prepare ourselves for what’s ahead.  Participate with other men invested in transforming loneliness through belonging, building and maintaining friendships and camaraderie, grieving and healing the deep losses that have been so painful.

On retreat this Fall we will once again gather in community at our camp at the top of the hill overlooking the ocean.  We will come together to review our lives and share ourselves openly as we listen and learn from each other about what it takes to rise up as a tribe of Spiritual Warriors making a bold statement regarding conscious masculinity. 

Enrollment is now open. I encourage you to take advantage of the early enrollment discount by registering soon for:

Sacred Path Productions
In Association with The Men’s Center Los Angeles
presents

Celebrate 30 years of Sacred Path Retreats
As Spiritual Warriors gather
At Hilltop Camp in Malibu
Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 23

 

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In the spirit of brotherhood,

Stephen

Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director

 

 

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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director
of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower
of the The Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years.
He is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about these men.
Click here for additional info.