A few months ago, our team shared a clip online of me talking at one of our Week Long Advanced Retreats. I was reflecting on the transformation of men in the audience after one of our Walking Meditations – and how much courage it took for them to open their hearts.
The response to that post was immediate and eager. People wanted to know more about the impact of this work on those who’ve been trained – by society; by advertising; by culture; and especially, by unconscious programming – to keep their hearts closed.
As a man, as a father, I’ve been thinking about this for some time. It’s why I created my new meditation, “The Courageous Heart.” And it’s a conversation we need to have as a community. Because we can overcome that conditioning – and create a new, heart-centered, way to live.
The First Three Energy Centers: Our Animal Nature
Men come into life with some automatic programs built into our biology that allow us to function in similar ways. As males of the human species, with thousands of years living as mammals, we’ve had to adapt to our external environment with certain drives and behaviors. We’ve also been conditioned and programmed by society to behave “accordingly” – to a certain set of social standards that are deemed acceptable.
What that means is, our culture has taught men to act primarily from their first three energy centers – focusing on the powerful drives to reproduce; to create a family; to provide stability and security; to accomplish; to compete for success.
We, as human beings, are part animal and part divine. Starting from the lower part of the body, the first three energy centers are related to our animal self.
When energy moves into each of these centers, they become activated. When the first center is activated, the energy in that “mini-brain” creates a mind that signals its glands and hormones with a very specific directive – or intention – to create another life; to reproduce; to propagate the species.
The second energy center has a lot to do with our biological metabolism. When we feel safe and secure, we use this center’s resources primarily for consuming, digesting, assimilating, excreting, and breaking food down into energy. Our second center is related to the metabolic long-term building projects that keep the body in balance and in health.
When conditions feel unsafe or unpredictable, we have to act – or react. That’s where our third energy center comes in. This center is a resource for enormous amounts of energy – to empower; to overcome; or to use our will do some “thing” to restore safety and comfort in our environment.
For men who’ve been programmed in this kind of culture, “success” usually means achievement (sometimes dominance) in these three centers – and only these three centers. A healthy, thriving family; a safe, secure homestead; a strong financial foundation; sacrificing and working hard so there are enough resources – and everyone’s needs are provided for.
When these goals are achieved, and these needs are met, you could say these centers are in balance.
A Moment of Reckoning
Many of us are unaware, in such moments of balance – the moment of triumph and success, according to these standards – of a decision we face. A choice we have to make.
Do we allow that energy to continue to ascend into our heart – the fourth energy center? Or do we unconsciously go back and pass on the success that’s been recorded in our genes; in the sperm; once again seeking out the opposite sex for greater chances of survival?
Do we automatically start the cycle all over again, remaining in our animal nature – and never accessing our higher, divine self?
Here's the thing: very few men take the path to move that energy up into their hearts. To do that requires transforming the power of our passion, our security, and our success – into love. Into joy. Into kindness and caring. Into compassion and gratitude. And that requires vulnerability.
To do all of that, as a man in this culture, means overcoming the messaging from our outside environment – and going against thousands of years of built-in programming.
That’s why I say the greatest courage is to open your heart. Because doing so offers another way for men to look at how to live their lives – to evolve their experience of what it means to be a man.
It takes tremendous courage to take a chance on ourselves in this way. To harness all the energy we cycle around those first three energy centers, again and again – and move it up. To turn it inward, activate our hearts, and give ourselves permission to feel. To live from a new level of consciousness.
There’s nothing wrong with our first three energy centers, by the way. But when we live only in those centers, we tap the body’s vital resources by living only in survival. As a result, there’s very little energy left for our hearts to open.
But if we transform that energy, tune in, and awaken our hearts, a whole new life becomes possible.
For the men in our community, this meditation is for you. I hope you enjoy it.
View "The Courageous Heart," Dr Joe's new meditation for men and fathers.