When I was ten years old I took my first communion. Because I went to public elementary school I had to take catechism classes once a week at night at the Catholic school. The Catholic school kids had their own mass for their first communion and then our public school group had ours a few Sundays later. It was a spring day with a beautiful blue sky full of potential activity. My parents made me wear a mustard yellow ascot to go with my burnt orange velvet blazer -the one with my dried snot on the right sleeve where I had wiped my nose which made my mom so mad. She was right. It really was a cool blazer. It definitely wasn’t a blue suit.
I can picture the photo of us outside on the church steps afterwards as we posed for the portrait of the moment. My mom was shining her beautiful smile as always. My dad was in full 1970’s style with the big tie and bigger sideburns. Grandma, my dad’s mom, was there in a nice baby blue dress. She was of the era, born before 1900, when you didn’t smile for photos. She definitely didn’t break rank that day.
I got paired with a girl from our catechism class to take the Communion offering and collection up to the altar. She got the money. I took the Bread of Transcendence.
I was really nervous as we walked up the aisle. It was my first time. There was nothing I was repeating. No Habit to tyrannize me; no Routine to coach me. The girl and I and everyone at mass were participating in a Ritual. Called Communion. This Communion ritual is the act of elevating the Daily version of ourselves to experience the Devotional one. A communion of Daily and Devotional.
Priests, parents, teachers and Elders are understood to instruct the young on the arts and skills of releasing the Devotional into the Daily. That means the religious service connects the participants with higher energy – Devotional; and young people need help to walk the talk of this life wisdom. Actually we all need guidance to process the impression of formal religion on our mind and soul so we can create habits that amount to a personal religion. It might feel easier to release an elephant from the local zoo into your city centre than to step into your personal religion.
Ritual abounds in religion, in sports, in art, in making tea, in meditation, in martial arts, in connecting with nature, in nature. Ritual is high intention combined with mental focus and followed through with an action that attracts confirmation from the higher purpose of those doing the ritual. The Ritual is a vehicle for the person to accumulate in their blood and bones the residue of higher forces. The sound, movements, words, songs, dances are in support of this human – energy connection. If we lose sight of this then what was supposed to be ritual becomes tradition.
This topic is important because all men are constantly receiving real energy to grow as a male, man and gentleman. The confusion is while some guys seem to be able to manage their energy without getting into too much trouble, why do some men use the energy they receive to disrespect women through violence and other forms of aggression?
The energy that powers a man is powerful. If we suffer from an inability to give this power expression then we might: feel agitated, lack confidence, get crushed by depression. And some of us get violent. The violence can be swinging fists, hurling insults, sexual perversion to name a few of the many forms. Instead what can be really useful for young men is to learn their unique energy management. The violence against a woman can happen in a brief, horrible moment. But the frustration of a lack of self understanding in a man builds up in him over years. Bomb like. They can explode in a fit of violence, be detonated by a psychologist or be dismantled by the man himself.
That is why it is crucial to develop Habits, create Routine and be ready for Ritual.
We are all allowed to get frustrated and talk about it. Get angry about the frustration. Anger doesn’t imply aggressive words or threatening stances or personal insults. There is no blame. A man is responsible for his energy management. That is something he needs help with. Something he needs to learn and refine all life long. So when we have an argument with our wife there is no violence because we don’t have pent up energy. Instead we have some sense of momentary Satisfaction. Generated by Habits of cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen, checking your sports scores; Routines of taking the dog for her walk, of seeing your buddies in the weekend; Rituals of eating dinner together, of pursuing your personal religion. That way we have avenues of expression for our energy. Because the frustration or disrespect or stress you bang up against in daily life is handled by a foundation of Habit, Routine and Ritual.
There are lots of variations of energy in men including: sexual energy, Devotional energy where one is caused to look for meaning and a higher purpose, the energy that goes with their Life Stage, marriage energy and male energy to list a few. It is good to recognize there is a lot going on all at the same time. We all need help. Conversation. It is our role as a man to grasp the natural influences in our life and do something about them. Your energy and how you react or respond to it actually has nothing to do with your wife or girlfriend.
A quick word about sexual energy. The human sexual energy is very strong. It is not bad nor is it well understood. It is not just sex. Physical sex. It is a range of creative powers that can result in a new business, a new relationship, a new recipe or even a new baby. You see teenagers and some young adults, even some famous adults, who can’t think about anything else. It makes their decisions for them. It runs their life. Their inability to resist it or manage it ruins their life. For a pubescent teenager this makes sense it almost consumes their life because the connection with this energy is itself always new, so intense in the moment and powerful in its impact.
Poor sexual energy management can have harming repercussions that cut deep and last years. In marriage, family, society and men in general we generally make it difficult to talk about and direct this power. The youth need guidance from elders like mom and dad. And they need to do stuff that uses up the energy. This is a huge challenge. How do you use up the undeniable sexual energy running through the bodies of young people without it being physical sex? Think sports, guitar lessons, dancing, hanging out, parties, fixing up your bike, fixing up your car, cleaning your room!, hiking, swimming, help them get a part time job, volunteering, anything and everything, … Keep thinking and doing and talking and guiding.
When a man is beyond the reach of his elders because he won’t listen to them, they aren’t worth listening to or he has simply outgrown them in his case – how does he know when and how to use the natural sexual energy? Hopefully throughout this book there are ideas and inspirations that generate avenues of investigation and belief that help in this aspect.
Please remember that sexual energy and your Devotional energy are not the same thing and should never be confused. Both can have an aspect of attraction/calling, companionship, loving and being loved, connection and an impulse for meaning that drives you to do things you wouldn’t do yourself. But they are not the same. Those in positions of power that they wield to confuse others about these two natural energies are misusing their power. The priests of the Catholic church has a lot of damaging experience in this territory.
This book is written to create some distance between all men and this confusion of sexual/devotional energy mentioned above. We urgently need passion and ideas and people to clarify a man’s path forward and specifically highlight the unique man they may see before themselves.
It is vital to grasp that this is a daily challenge for a man. The challenge of finding his path forward using his unique abilities to synthesize the task at hand into daily life in a satisfaction producing way. This urge upon him for self-realization is non stop. At times subtle. At times shouting. At times a beautiful congress in the moment of life trajectory and courage. At times a complete mess of what he wants in contrast to what he is doing and what he thinks he should do. Some guys can wake up and even before they open their eyes they are already depressed! And others wake up without an alarm at 4:30 am everyday to: work out, meditate, write, make breakfast and then get to work by 6:30?
Habits can categorize a man’s energy. Routines can process it. Rituals can reveal it.
You can’t talk about Habits without mentioning Routine. With a mention of routine then the next logical step is to see the where and when of Ritual. If it this isn’t your experience then you need to create the circumstance and meet the people and ask yourself the questions to generate your own purpose. In the moment that can make us vulnerable to not know the way forward and ask for directions. And it can also can take us to new places and introduce us to the New You.
Stanford University psychology professor BJ Fogg has a good grasp on the aspect of habit as a way to improve daily life. He has been looking into the topic for many years and has many anecdotes to share in his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. He is practical in finding how to side step self sabotage on the journey of growth. It is annoying for those of us who think we are maximizing our time and producing based on our work habits. Take a look.
It’s all in your head. And it is also in your blood and bones. A few connections to ponder:
Ritual – Projection – Energy – Beliefs
Routine – Imagination – Power – Prayer
Habit – Location – Strength – Declaration
Tradition can be reduced to a routine, converted into a ritual minimized, squeezed into a habit. Or you can build your own traditions that have the power of Habit, the reliability of routine and the Attractive energy of Ritual.
For guys to hear mention of the word ritual they can go down four different mental paths.
1 .Ritual to mean religious ritual that is something you do in a temple/house of worship and it has always been like that, you unconsciously repeat a few prayers and you are done. Whether there has been a transformative process is another question;
2. New Age flaky ritual based in ancient traditions with everyone bearfoot, wearing white and chaniting themselves into a trance. Perhaps the greatest difference between these first two types of rituals is that the New Age one is probably more effective at delivering on the concept of a transformation.
3. The ritual display that guys know is in sports: The goalie goes onto the ice first. Or the quarterback puts eye black under his eyes (TB12) because that’s what he always does to get him to his peak performance.
4. The ritual well known through the animal world: mating. This ritual can take place at any hour in any place. Popular mating ritual temples are bars on Friday night. However increasingly the ritual has gone online. The ritual nowadays amounts to swiping right. Dating apps and websites made famous by Tinder.
What is a habit you:
What is a Routine you:
What is a Ritual you:
Can enliven with your Belief
Can create to connect with nature