For The Morning Star
Men take on a lot in modern life with work, families and other relationships. When challenges come up, they might find themselves wondering where, or even if they could ask for support.
“Men often come to a low place before they reach out,” said Grant Waldman, who has brought A Circle of Men to Vernon.
The group offers a place for men to talk about their concerns in confidence and receive support and references to other resources as wanted.
“Our society says men should be strong and deal with things by themselves. In more traditional societies, men would have rites of passage to learn their responsibilities and how to use their abilities for their communities. There would be mentors to turn to,” said Waldman. “It is a mark of masculine strength to take the step to come to a support group where they can learn how to live in balance in all areas of their lives.”
Waldman is new to Vernon, having recently accepted a position as wellness counsellor facilitator at Round Lake Treatment Centre. He came from the Cowichan Valley, where he has been involved with men’s groups for 20 years, including the Mankind Project, an international personal development group for men.
He worked as executive director and wellness coach and counsellor at The West Coast Men’s Support Society, which supports men’s emotional and physical health and also supports families and the community. He also runs a marketing firm and is a singer/songwriter who has performed at the Coldstream Coffee House.
Waldman is pleased to bring A Circle of Men to the North Okanagan, which, with the Circle of Men in Kelowna, will reach out to the Okanagan. The Vernon Circle of Men has met several times so far.
“This is a place where men can stop feeling isolated and reluctant to ask for help for life’s challenges. When men come to the circle, they can expect to feel welcomed in a non-judgmental and confidential environment. We like to think of it as a kind of new round table where men are honoured for their choices and learn from and support each other when they want to make new choices,” said Waldman.
In other groups he has worked in, Waldman has seen men from all backgrounds and ages, from 20s to retired, and thinks a similar variety would make a strong circle here, with different experiences and competence to share.
“We invite men to come to a few meetings and see how it works for them. There is no long-term commitment. When men start working through their challenges, the results can be life-changing. They may want to deal with something from the past, even childhood, and let go of those old burdens, or it may be something current. It is empowering to acknowledge that change is needed and to take the responsibility for action for change. It is amazing how to see the impact of even the small first steps as men move towards healthier choices and how it affects them and those around them.”
Waldman noted that each man finds his own path with the support of the group and that men like to think of a balanced life in various ways. The First Nations Medicine Wheel values the universal balance of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual components of human beings. Other men like to call the different parts of their lives by the archetypes: king, lover, warrior and magician, and make these necessary components into a healthy whole.
As the men in the circles learn and grow, Waldman said he is also learning.
“I learn perspective, that it is not always the big changes that matter the most, that sometimes change takes increments of time. I learn more empathy. I learn more and more to respect the diversity of people and never to make assumptions.
“I hope that the Circle of Men will be of value to men here and that it will be a permanent fixture in Vernon, with more groups starting.”
A Circle of Men meets every other Wednesday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Okanagan Feldenkrais at 3005-32nd St., Vernon. Call or email Waldman at 250-896-0376 or email@example.com for more information and/or to confirm attendance.