What what follows are some hard cold facts of where we are as a country.
This is the environment we are living in right now. It's abhorrent and it must stop. Yes, we need stricter gun control laws...NOW. Yes there are clearly some mental health issues attendant to this type of behavior. That should go without saying. But even more importantly, we need to address and change what I believe is a giant root of the problem.
Wait for it...it starts in the home. Fathers need to do a better job raising their sons. Let's get real. No matter how disenfranchised a male youth becomes with the system, the idea of killing others out of hatred should never even enter their mind.
Because young boys would be raised by fathers who get it. Dads who who love up on their sons. Who let them know each and every day how valuable they are, how loved they are, how appreciated they are and how significant they are. Young boys crave this from their fathers.
It's time for dads to tell their sons from the day they're born, that they love them, give them hugs, hold their hands, dance and sing with them.
It’s time for dads to allow “soft” to be the new strong. And by soft, I mean being strong enough to express and then exemplify what it means to be kind, loving, humble, empathetic, compassionate, patient, playful, peaceful, joyful, generous, forgiving, understanding and adaptable. Let’s rise in this way Dads. Join me, won’t you!!!
For far too long, what it has meant to "be a man" was rooted in a partriarchal belief system where it was condoned to express machismo/bravado and toxic masculinity, where it was US vs THEM, where you're taught that boys don't cry, where misconduct was dealt with through spanking (violence) and yelling, where fathers were workaholics whose sole responsibility was to be the bread winner and rarely were present for their sons, to fight fire with fire and so on and so on.
How has this been working? I submit to you, rather horrendously.
This antiquated and pathetic Toxic Masculinity Culture is destroying us and our planet.
War, hatred, violence, and climate change are the order of the day. We are killing our own at alarming rates and are on the brink of a mass extinction for the human race with what how we've been mis-treating/raping our planet.
Fathers, in particular those of us with sons, need to once again take a long hard look at the facts listed above at the beginning of this article. Key point; males are almost exclusively the ones carrying out these dreadful and horrifying acts of mass shooting.
I would submit to you that these males weren't born killers or haters, they were nurtured/developed into this. 17 years months ago, my son came onto the planet. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, he (and all little ones under the age of 2 or 3) exist as the purest form of human life. There isn't even an ounce of hatred, racism, or evil in their blood or bones. They don't know a thing about exclusion, competition, animosity, vitriol, or violence. They come earthside essentially as blank slates. Yet, so much of what they learn, (it has been shown that a great majority of our beliefs, opinions, proclivities, ways of being...our personality, is established in the first 7 years of life), is through imitation.
Now please understand, I'm not saying that all these shooters were raised by shooters, but I'm suggesting that there's a good chance that the primary male role model in their lives early on, either wasn't present much, ruled with an iron fist, didn't model love for them or their mother, expressed violent/devisive/belittling tendencies (through words or actions or both) toward them or others at large, did little to let them know how appreciated/worthy they were, and/or rarely if ever exemplified compassion, kindness, or understanding and joy.
At a fundamental level, our little ones are 100% dependent on us and crave affection and love. When it's not given, our sons are far more likely to develop into insecure, unkind, narcissistic, angry, cruel, sexist, racist and zenophobic young men.
In my opinion, when we take on the role of Father, it is our mandate, at a base level to provide love and affection to our children. If you have a son, it is ESSENTIAL to make sure you provide in this way. In fact, at this time in human history, it's far more important than being solely a financial provider.
If you're already fathering in this way, I applaud you and say Keep Going!
But if you're not, it's time to start. Life needs YOU and ME to uplevel our game and consciously evolve. It's not just important, it's ESSENTIAL. We are at a tipping point and it's time to wake up.
Not sure where to begin?
Start with regular practice of meditation. It's a practical tool to help you develop greater self-awareness which leads to greater choice-ability. That is, moment by moment you will be able to exercise dominion over what you think, speak and how you act.
While not exhaustive, the following is a list of the Top 6 Reasons ALL New Dads Need To Meditate. Put another way, in my opinion these are some of the most important bi-products of a consistent meditation practice. And by the way, all of these apply toward yourself, your son/daughter, and the world on the whole.
1. Become More PRESENT
With consistent meditation practice, you will become more present. And by present I'm not only talking about physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Meditation is the practice of presence. It's one thing to be present physically, but a whole other ball game to be CONSCIOUSLY present for your child and/or partner if you have one. I'm talking about being off your cell and not thinking about anything but the present moment and being fully. Meditation provides us with small pockets of profound practice in developing this ability. We train the mind in meditation to be focused on one-thing at a time...be it your breath, a mantra, a sensation. We first use the mind to free the mind. The direct application to your life will be profound. The quality and depth of connection you have with yourself, your child(ren) and partner/spouse will be amplified beyond your imagination. Time with your little ones is fleeting and before you know it, they will become a teenager, then young adult and so on. Don't miss these early formative years with your child and the glorious gift of being a light in your child's life.
2. Become More PATIENT
With consistent meditation practice, you will become more patient. We need boys/men who are less reactive and more responsive to the "stuff" of life. For the most part, we are living at a time and space where due to hyper stimulation, we operate from our sympathetic nervous system...fight or flight. Far more impulsive and reactive and survival in instinct. With regular meditation practice, we are able to shift this over to the parasympathetic nervous system...rest and digest. In short, we will be operating from a space where we have the ability to pause, take a few deep breaths and think about what is the best/highest vibration response to the current situation. So when your little one is pushing your buttons, rather than pushing back, you will be able to remain far more even-minded, calm and grounded.
3. Become More LOVING
With consistent meditation practice, you will become more loving. This is a big one. We need more men living more from their hearts rather than their heads. It's been said in the yoga community, that the heart has the power of 1000 suns. It just needs to be recognized and then released/activated. Scientifically its been shown that the electro-magnetic field coming from our heart spans out 30-60 feet beyond our body. So when we're standing in line at Starbucks, whether you're award of it or not, all the people in line and in the store are in your heart space and you're in theirs. In short, we're all connected. For our sons to live this way, they need to be shown what this looks like by their dads. Meditation provides you with a road map for how to do this.
4. Become More PEACEFUL
With consistent meditation practice, you will become more peaceful. We need more boys/men who are living "at ease". That is, who are comfortable in their own skin, enough that they understand the power of we vs me and that kind is cool and soft is sexy. That understand there is just as much value in knowing when to use the break as when to push on the accelerator. Listen, if you're always flooring it, at some point in the near future you're either going to run of gas or run into something (crash). And so it is in our lives. With specific breathing techniques you develop the ability to togle between the right (calming, cooling) and left (energizing, heating) hemispheres of the brain so that you can move through life actively calm, yet calmly active.
5. Become More PLAYFUL
With consistent meditation practice, you will begin to experience a "lightness of being". You begin to not take yourself so seriously all the time. You will discover/remember overtime, the underlying connection between all things. And from this, there is a return to a childlike nature which is within all of us...one which brings about a desire to free-form play. This is a natural state for humans, but as adults it has been forgotten. When we play, it's as if we lose sense of space and time. Typically we let go of the need to outdo anyone or be better than others. We let go of our typical "egoic" ways of being. Play improves the brain's neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the amazing ability of your brain to change based on what you do and the environment you're in. It's been shown that PLAY improves memory and stimulates growth of the prefrontal cortex (cerebrum, home of the conscious mind). As a Dad, becoming more playful will add more joy to your life and your child's.
6. Become More ADAPTABLE
With consistent meditation practice, you will become more adaptable or flexible. In essence there is a softening of your "angularity/rigidity". Your desire to impose your way on others will become less and less. As one of my teachers, Michael Bernard Beckwith has said, "Where there's willfullness, there are walls. Where there is willingness, there are ways". It used to be all about your IQ (Intelligence Quotient), then it moved to EQ (Emotional Quotient) and now it's about your AQ (Adaptability Quotient). It's no longer ok to live from "my way or the high way" mindsets. The world needs more boys/men who understand the power of compromise and cooperation as opposed to competition and alienation. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. The great Bruce Lee once said, "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
Enough said. Do yourself and everyone in your life and huge favor, start meditating asap. Frankly, our future as a species depends on it.
*If you're looking for a great way to get started with the practice of meditation, please check out my donation-based, online Meditate With Ease course. It's a step-by-step guide for beginners to develop your own self-led, seated meditation practice.
Thanks for listening,
Enter your name and email to receive Adam's 3-Minute Meditations...A Simple 28-Day Jumpstart To The Life-Changing Practice of Meditation.
By signing up, you give consent to have your name added to the Conscious Dads NEWSLETTER list, where you will be kept up to date with what's BREWING.
*3MM is a downloadable, digital product.