Living in Integrity – Part I

I belong to a wonderful men’s organization called the Mankind Project (MKP). In 1999, I was introduced to MKP by a friend who was going away on a weekend retreat for it and asked me to go. He told me it was called the New Warrior Training Adventure. It sounded amazing by name alone. At the time I was harboring a lot of pain inside and was told the weekend may help get to the root of it. Given my analytical nature, I wanted to know a lot more about what goes on and consistently I was given vague answers which irritated me yet made me that much more interested. The best description I could get was that the weekend was there to help me find me. And I needed that. Badly.

During that time of my life when I was considering going on the training, my father’s suicide had been weighing heavily on me. I had been carrying a lot of anger, sadness, rage, and disillusionment in my life since his death and hoped somehow the weekend might help alleviate it. It did. And it was the spark I needed in my life to begin a spiritual journey of growth, reflection, and change.

Today, I am part of what MKP refers to as a “IGroup”, which is a group of men that meet together in various frequencies, some once a week, some every other week, and some once a month. During one of these meetings, each of the men present have a chance to reinvigorate themselves drawing closer connections to themselves and to the other members (referred to usually as brothers). More importantly, each man also has the opportunity to work through any issues they may be facing, utilizing tools that the initial training first exposed each man to.

Most of my life I’ve tried to work through many issues on my own and did not get very far. Before MKP, I also was a bystander in my own life and expected things to change without putting forth too much effort. In other words, I didn’t want to have to work too much to get what I wanted in life. Even worse, prior to MKP as well, I blamed everyone and everything for what was wrong in my life and I took no responsibility for things that I committed myself to. This organization helped me to go deep within and find the root causes of why I was that way. It helped me to heal many wounds that were buried deep within me. And most important of all, it helped me to move forward in my life being accountable and in integrity with myself and with all others. I believe it created a foundation in my life that I never had growing up in such a dysfunctional family.

I’m currently in an IGroup that meets twice a month. In my last meeting, about 30 minutes into it, I was feeling disconnected to everyone and wasn’t sure why. There’s a part of the meeting where I am able to identify whether I’m “clear” or present with everyone else that’s there. I spoke up and said I wasn’t clear. Through a small piece of work that followed, I verbalized that only one person had hugged me prior to the start time that night. In the past, my ego would have felt that everyone who walked in after me should have come up and initiated a hug. My IGroup on the other hand, helped me to see that my piece of work in this was to be the initiator of each hug. I know it might sound rather simple but for someone like me who for so long expected everyone else to change to make me happy, hearing this was profound. And so I had the chance to express my needs and wants at that time and offered to give everyone there a hug. At that point, each man accepted and stood up and embraced me with warmth and connectivity. And guess what? After that, I was clear. Not just with each of them, but also with myself, remembering this was why I joined MKP in the first place.

While MKP helped me to create a platform to have an accountable and integrity based life, separating myself from all the addictions that once controlled my life, and asking God to be at the center of my being each and every day, has created a lot more peace and happiness within me. One of the greatest lessons MKP first taught me is that change begins from within. I’m glad I took the time back in 1999 to do that initial training. I’m even happier that I’m currently active in an IGroup again. But most importantly, I am confident that God guided me to this group of men, as I can already see the positive changes happening just from showing up, being accountable, and living with integrity.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson