If Only Men Read This Before Rejecting Spiritual Stuff.
Many men won’t look into spiritual stuff like mindfulness or Yoga because frankly, it usually comes off as weak, lame, or way too feminine.
I get it. I never thought in a million years I would be teaching Yoga or seen online making videos about organic food. I grew up in Michigan watching sports, drinking beer, and loving it.
I remember when a friend first recommended me one of these You are consciousness kind of books. I read half of it, was sort of interested, but stopped when the author starting talking about energy fields. That phrase sent off bullshit alarm bells for me, and a lot of guys are the same. When anything comes up that seems non-scientific, or like some kind of spiritual pseudoscience, we shut down.
Discernment is key, but not everything from the spiritual world is complete nonsense.
Some of it totally is though. As a kid, after seeing my church spend millions of dollars decking out the halls in gold and marble, I became disillusioned with religion. I remember thinking, “Wasn’t that money supposed to go to the poor?” After that, I rejected all things spiritual and became an atheist.
By age 23, I was a professional poker player living in Los Angeles. I had a free lifestyle where I was flying around the world and making money like it grew on trees. My favorite thing to do was get bottle service at the club, because that’s what 23-year-olds with lots of money are supposed to do, right?
I was introduced to Yoga because I was getting intense back pain caused by sitting long hours hunched over the poker table. I never expected to get anything more out of it than becoming pain-free. I did get that, and I also found that Yoga massively helped me deal with the crazy stress in my life.
On top of that, the people at the Yoga studio were so damn nice to me! I was used to hanging out with overworked CEOs, drug dealers and dickhead lawyers, so the Yoga studio vibes massively shifted my perspective. The Yoga studio become my sanctuary, and the casino soon turned into a place I dreaded going to.
At that point, I was often spending all night in the casino, sleeping through the day, and partying on my days off as a stress-relief mechanism. Then the moment came when I simply said to myself, “I can’t do this for one more day.” That decision was the beginning of a journey into exploring myself, and trying to figure out what the hell was the point of my life.
At that time, I was lucky enough to have a mentor watching over me. This man owned six companies, was a free solo rock-climber — that means, no ropes — and was one of the most intelligent men I’d ever spoken to. He told me one thing I’ll never forget as I started on my spiritual journey; he said, “Don’t lose your masculinity.”
I never really knew what he meant by that until I moved to an alternative community in Thailand. When I got there, men were running around with flowers in their hair talking about oneness and trying to get me to come to their spiral dance mediation. That’s great for them, and all I’m saying is most guys throw up in their mouth when they think about becoming that guy.
But because we never want to become that guy, a lot of men also reject knowledge that would benefit their life. It’s the classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yoga is a perfect example. Many men think it’s either about becoming a human pretzel, or turning into Mr. ultra-spiritual meditation guy.
But in fact, many top businessmen are now recognizing the real benefits of Yoga. More men are starting to understand that Yoga is not some kind of a lifestyle to follow, a religion, a trendy form of exercise, or a means of turning off the mind. The truth is that Yoga is a breath technology which creates energy and mind optimization. In other words, Yoga trains one to breathe correctly, which has incredible benefits.
Here’s an example of how it works. While exhaling and folding the body in half, the abdomen is compressed, which forces the expulsion of air from the lungs. Similarly, while inhaling and lifting the arms over the head, the chest expands and allows air to rush into the lungs more easily.
The brain requires oxygen to function, and when the brain is getting above average oxygen levels, it naturally functions better.
It’s interesting that when we get tired, we use the expression out of breath. The yogi is rarely out of breath, because he has trained his breathing mechanism to work exceptionally well. Over time, even while asleep, the yogi is receiving higher levels of breath nourishment, because the breath has been normalized to its correct pattern.
Our breathing patterns are also linked to our emotional state. Observe the breath when upset and see that the breath becomes shallow. In states of joy, the breath is deep and smooth. The breath affects the emotions and the emotions affect the breath. It is literally impossible to be in a state of stress when the breath is long and smooth.
Yoga has massive benefits when practiced consistently, including heightened mental focus, more restful sleep and stable energy levels. Especially for men who are striving forward in their careers, even 10 minutes of daily Yoga practice — specifically designed by a knowledgeable teacher for them as an individual — can be life-changing.
The point is, to explore oneself, to ask deeper questions, or to look into something like Yoga, does not mean one must become a wishy-washy spiritual kind of guy.
John Miller is a Yoga Teacher, Mindfulness Trainer and founder of Real Man Circle. At 23, he achieved the dream life served up to every young man in rap videos, TV and movies. He was buying $500 bottles at the club, chasing women, gambling, and trashing expensive hotel rooms. After finding Yoga, he left his toxic lifestyle behind. Now his mission is to empower men to step into a more dynamic kind of power that can only be achieved through the mindful lifestyle. His men’s group, Real Man Circle, is a weekly online gathering with men from around the world, discussing what it means to be a man and how men can be better men. You could check out the Real Man Circle YouTube channel here.