Masculine Meets Flow
You know I love planting a seed early, so here goes…
"A man rediscovers and fine tunes his purpose in solitude, in challenging situations, and in the company of other men who won’t settle for his bullshit."
- David Deida
In my downward dog, I open my eyes to watch a bead of sweat drop off my face. This time it descends slowly. On occasion I don’t even notice how long it takes - my presence determines its speed. The salty drop then kisses and morphs into different shapes as it spreads on my mat below. The mat holds me like a lover’s hand; no pressure, no real intention besides support and the reminder of comfort. That hand is okay with taking the sweat from my cheek, just like it does with tears.
I can feel the veins pulsating in my forehead, my shoulders tense, my focus shifts to my hearing. I listen to the cues of the instructor, “Get away from the shrugging of the shoulders.”
Is she talking to me?
The tension in my shoulders releases and, so too, does the tension in my face..
I always enjoy looking for a deeper meaning in circumstances, but it can also ‘do my head in’ at times. I stare at the sweat on my mat, and try to understand why the beads fell the way they did... It’s just fucking sweat on the mat, I remind myself to snap out of my head and get back into my practice. Getting in my head during a yoga pose is a way of escaping the challenge, the challenge that pulled me to the mat in the first place.
"The cure for lack of purpose is to be challenged to live at your edge, since you lost the
capacity to live there by yourself. The two ways to bring you to your masculine edge of
power are austerity and challenge."
- David Deida
And that’s why yoga is so special... It challenges me and keeps me at my edge, also bringing me into balance. It’s what I’m there for. So why am I trying to avoid the challenging discomfort by jumping into my head? It’s as though the ego knows my soul is about to be released after the gripping, pulling, and wrestling, so to avoid the reward that comes from this, the mind-noise creeps in. Without mind-noise, the ego loses its clawed grip.
I’ve tried many yoga spots, and the one I have joined, Body Mind Life in Byron, is probably the furthest away from my home.. So why here, you ask?
Holding pose in the front row of five people, are four men next to me. That’s why.
Going into downward dog, I can see more men scattered throughout the session. That’s why.
Being committed to yoga these past couple of years, in my experience, I've observed that it's usually a feminine-filled practice. Moving from Sydney to Gold Coast (GC) last year. In the GC it was often I was the only man in the class. I love and honour the feminine flow, however, I found only surrounding myself with this energy during my practice and day-to-day life, I was softening my masculine edge. I love my alone time and spend the majority of my days alone (boohoo), and having moved away from Sydney, I don’t have many of my homeboys to hang with. So, in a few of the select sessions here at Body Mind Life, strong, masculine, and conscious men are everywhere, and even though we don’t speak much, just their presence, the odd fist bump, or even a nodding of the head, you can feel the mutual respect with the other men. For me, it also brings more of a masculine challenge to the yoga party. In the past, I used my frame as an excuse for not being able to hold certain poses, and complimented my muscles as a reason for my tightness. However, I can’t use that bullshit anymore. The other men in the session are calling me out without even speaking. Their energy, strength, fluidity, and presence is doing all the talking. Having the men there has brought with it new psychological challenges as well... I compare, I feel inferior to some, superior to others, I measure up against their bodies, their movements, looks, and age, and it’s a nice reminder of the yoga practice being a microcosm of life. The stickiness in a practice is a reflection of what we do off the mat. I don’t get angry at myself for this, it’s just the ego and conditioning at work. I like to observe this happening and bring myself back to the practice. Every time I do that, it’s like a push up for the soul; it’s getting stronger. I also like to squint, if not close my eyes, and envision my yoga mat being a lane, and to just stay in my own.
Like David Deida said, “Austerity and challenge are what brings the masculine to their edge”, and the yoga practice is both rolled into one. He goes on to explain about Austerity.
"Austerity means to eliminate the comforts and cushions in your life that you have learned to snuggle into and lose wakefulness. Take away anything that dulls your edge. No newspapers or magazines. No TV. No candy, cookies, or sweets. No sex. No cuddling. No reading of anything at all while you eat or sit on the toilet. Reduce working time to a
minimum. No movies. No conversation that isn’t about truth, love, or the divine. If you
take on these disciplines for a few weeks, as well as any other disciplines that may cut
through your unique habits of dullness, then your life will be stripped of routine
distractions. All that will be left is the edge you have been avoiding by your daily routine."
I had a full hip replacement a few years ago, so I sat in the comfort of having the tool to use that as an ‘out’ for not doing something. Yoga has always been a piece of the spiritual puzzle I’ve wanted to explore, but hey, I’ve had a hip replacement. I kidded myself by insisting I couldn’t do all that throwing- my-legs-around-stuff. I could, however, just sit in my comfort zone of lifting weights, something I knew. I did have to give up my passion of boxing because of the hip, and that was a warranted reason. I couldn’t
throw my right hip into my punches anymore, and when I did I felt discomfort and a shitty clicking feeling. So, no more fighting. Growing up fighting, with organised street fights, and then boxing, throwing punches had always been in my life. My right hand was my knockout shot, but now with the right hip replacement, it was like the greater good knew that shit had to go. No more punching (unless protecting myself or my peeps) .
Even though, at first glance, boxing may seem like an ‘on your own’ kind of sport, it’s actually a lot more team based. My boys at the gym definitely kept me at my edge, and vice versa. We’d be there encouraging and pushing each other, giving insight, and trying to mess each other up after a spar got out of hand. As a motivational speaker for schools, & corporate events speakers, it may sound strange hearing me say that fighting will teach a young boy a lot about life, but I firmly believe that. Before I go onto why, my dad explained his view on this in my best selling book, Stabbed Ego – A Thug’s Journey to Enlightenment.
"You think I could fight?" I asked Dad while he was taking the pads off after a hard training session one day.
He stopped in his tracks. "Luke, having a fight in the ring is something all men should do at least once," he said. "It teaches discipline. You have to give up certain foods, train hard and even stop hanging around people who might bring you down. You learn a lot about life when you train for a fight. A fighter has to set a date for a fight and train hard to get it right. It's the same as any goal you want to achieve. Mate, once you're in that ring -" He suddenly looked serious, as though remembering past fights he'd had.
"- There's no one to help you, you're on your own." Dad had always believed in boxing as a way of improving your self-esteem. He reckoned it taught you discipline and goal-setting, and how to stand on your own two feet. In the ring, you realised just how strong you were and anything was possible.
"I'm going to do it, Dad." I said, nodding.
I'll add to this by saying that boxing, and even getting hit by my brother, or someone at school, put me in line. It made me realise that there were repercussions if I didn't work hard, or if I was being a dickhead. It showed me that there’s consequences in life, and not everyone is going to be nice to me. It also showed me that I wouldn't be rewarded for just turning up. You’ve gotta work and push through some shit first. Without the above, there’s no resilience, without resilience, well, that's where a heap of anxiety and doubts come from.
Boxing was the catalyst for my change, it got me away from toxic masculinity, and around those that were using their competitive energy to benefit their lives. I lost 50 kilos, gave up the drugs and alcohol, and ended up winning a state title and amateur boxer of the year. Boxing changed my life and started it all. It got me out of my comfort and challenged the hell outta me. Some days, after sparring, I felt I could win a world title after my performance. Other times I would spar terribly and doubt if it was all worth it.
Either way, the world title, or give it away, I couldn’t get attached to the outcome and just keep moving forward.
If that doesn’t teach you much about life, I don’t know what will.
So, back to yoga (sort of)...
I was talking with a friend, Alex, recently about boxing being a positive influence on our lives (he boxed too). He’s one of the boys I grew up with during the heavy times, and now he’s got a family, a beautiful home, and is a strong masculine presence I look up to and go to for chats. He calls me out on my shit too. I gave him a copy of The Way of the Superior Man (WOTSM), and I reread it at the same time so we could bounce our insight off each other. Before I go on, The Way of the Superior Man is an interesting title... I like to see the responses from people when I tell them I’m reading it. The energy is either one of respect because they know what the book is about, or one of a slight disgust because they get triggered by the title. I love observing human behaviour and how the conditioned mind responds to different stimuli, even a book title. Depending on who the person is, I’ll either let them sit in the judgemental disgust, or I’ll go on and explain that it has nothing at all to do with men being superior over women. The book is about a man being superior over his weak-self. Wait… writing this, I just realised something. My judgement of the persons judgement of the book title is determining my actions. Depending on my preferred outcome, I’ll either want the person to like me if I like them so I’ll explain what the book is about, or if I don’t want to impress, I don’t care what they think. Very interesting. Something I need to look at further for myself.
Those few weeks with Alex while we both read the book, where we would call, or chat over a coffee, are times I wouldn’t give away for anything. We spoke about the tests, and rewards, that the feminine brings, and spoke in detail about...
"The most erotic moment for a woman is feeling that you are Shiva, the divine masculine: imperturbable, totally loving, fully present, and all pervading. She cannot move you, because you already are what you are, with or without her. She cannot scare you away, because you already penetrate her in fearless love, pervading her heart and body. She cannot distract you, because your one-pointed commitment to truth will not bend to her wiles. Feeling this hugeness of love and freedom in you, she can trust you, utterly, and surrender her testing in celebration of love. Until she wants to feel you as Shiva again. And then the testing will begin anew. In fact, it is precisely when you are most Shiva-like that she will most test you."
Testing is a form of challenge, and a weak man will shy away from such a challenge. I was this weak man in the past (still am at times), and would project my stuff onto women and talk about how they were "Hard work", and used it as a reason to get out of relationships. I’m not saying you have to put up with incessant bullshit, but to be tested by your partner should be seen as a challenge for growth, for the relationship, yes, but ultimately for your own consciousness. Easier said than done, but with knowing this, I’m excited to have this dance when I get into a relationship again.
Talking further with my friend, Alex, we were discussing the balance of masculine, feminine, the polarity between the two, and how to play with it. I was talking to him about the yoga session that was dominated by masculine energy, but then stopped... It wasn’t dominated by masculine energy at all. It was perfectly balanced by the others in the class and especially by the divine feminine at the front of the class directing the experience. ‘Directing’ is largely masculine, however the yoga teachers aren’t really directing, it’s
more of a gliding suggestion; a guidance where the shaman-like entity is holding space for each individual’s encounter. It can be looked upon as a ceremony, deep enough to bring on a psychedelic-like experience, or it can be as playful as falling over and having a laugh with the teacher. It’s up to you how you want to receive the offering. Sometimes though, it isn’t up to you, your practice may be a reflection of what’s going on subconsciously. I’ve had some pretty dark moments on the mat, where certain movements released thoughts and emotions, the practice is just like life with its tension, dance, fight, angst, blissfulness, smiles, tears, stickiness, and fluidity, and that’s the magic of it all.
It really is a trip, a trip that I love. When I get the idea for an angle on a blog, or my podcast, The Stabbed Ego Project, cool shit starts happening which opens my mind (and yours, hopefully) to different angles of the topic I’m looking to construct for you guys. This one was no different. A couple of these cool synchronicities happened during the yoga practice. While reading WOTSM I was in a class that was being instructed by someone who is one of the best in the yoga teacher biz, Fee Zard. Her power, with little to no movement herself, is something I haven’t seen before. The way Fee speaks, her suggestions and the way she holds her space, seems effortless. It’s like when writing or being creative, it comes from beyond thought, beyond the mind, and that’s where the soulful power lies. Fee’s guidance doesn’t require her physical being to move much, it just comes straight from soul.
She was talking about the breath (I’ll paraphrase) and allowing it to lead the pose. She then mentioned that the breath in yoga is directing your practice, it is the masculine element, so allow it lead and be one with it.
This cue alone took my practice deeper.
This was all while reading about the masculine as the director.
A small synch, but one no doubt.
The next one, though, was a lot bigger!
I go to a lot of Fee's classes, and recently she was covered by another teacher, Kerrie Norgate. I sometimes get to the studio an hour early to read, but also to avoid the Ewingsdale Rd traffic. While reading before class, I was deep into the chapter about challenge and austerity. When I spoke earlier about being in a class filled with men in the front row, this was the class I was talking about. As soon as she started speaking, I could tell we were in for a nice experience. Her language and tone was perfect, and a WOW synch moment raised my smile as it took my breath. We were holding a challenging balance pose, a few grunts and millimetres of a release in the pose were realised by our intuitive guide at the front.
“Hold this pose. It’s a challenge. It’s what has brought you to this mat. I was reading recently in a book, The Existential Kink, about what pulls us towards the tussle, tug, wrestle, and dance of the challenge. The reward is the holding, continue the dance and move through it. Don’t shy away. It’s what brings you here. So don’t back away now...”
I smiled to myself. The challenge is what has brought us here. I then got in my head a bit and started designing the framework for this blog, while I was still in the practice. I was thinking about asking all the men after the class for a photo to put into this post. I wondered if I should speak with the teacher after to tell her about the synch. I thought deeply about more content. I laughed thinking about explaining in this blog how I was laughing at thinking about explaining what I’m writing now (get your head around that one!). Then... I got a little disappointed for not being present, so I smiled again, realising it was just a part of the dance.
After the class, I did speak to Kerrie, and showed her the section I was reading. We had a nice chat about the connection, and I felt peaceful in her feminine presence. I walked out, sweat still dripping, released for now, from the challenge that keeps bringing me back to the mat.
Like Dad said, "Mate, once you're in that ring, there's no one to help you, you're on your own."
Similar to when you stand on that mat, you have your team there with you, there to touch, hold space, encourage, or even to be still, they’re there, but this is your moment, and so is every other.
Thank you x
Luke S. Kennedy is Australia's most sought after guest speaker. He uses his "Breathtaking" story to inspire deep, lasting change, and self-awareness, for a wide range of audiences, from primary schools, high schools, businesses, events, and even prisons.
For eight years of his life, Luke was an obese alcoholic and drug addicted thug (Luke PG's Story & Content for Primary Schools). Leading a violent street fighting crew, he was stabbed on two separate occasions; once in the lung, the other time in the head (again PG's Story & Content for Primary Schools). He was depressed, anxious, paranoid, and hated himself.
Luke now connects deeply with any demographic. It doesn't matter what the demographic is though, he's found that we all suffer from the same internal battles; worrying what people think, living up to labels/expectations, social awkwardness, anxiety, dealing with past trauma, and not knowing who we really are or where to fit in. Through on the edge of your seat stories, Luke's talks have proven to help in all of these areas.
Luke shows how when we come into this world we are our true-self with unlimited potential and happiness. As life goes on though we get disconnected from this true-self. Some dramatic events will occur, we may do some regretful actions, or get negative beliefs about ourselves or labelled with certain things that take us away from this true-happy-self. The further we get away from the true-self, the unhappier we become because we’re not being ourselves. Labels, ego, negative beliefs, and worrying what people think, crushes productivity and results in an overactive and doubtful mind - a feeling of being lost, depressed, flat, anxious, and socially awkward, is a result of this.
Becoming a successful business owner, best selling author, mental health advocate, and one of Australia's top motivational speakers, his purpose is to now use his experience to inspire, motivate, and enlighten others. To stop worrying what other people think. To develop mentally, emotionally, and physically. To shed the labels. To be free.
"The Best Bit of Professional Learning I've Witnessed in 15 Years." - Teacher, Wellington NSW
"Luke's the best speaker we've had!" - Optus Marketing Team
Do you have a group of kids that need a push in the right direction? Let Luke inspire your kids.