Recently on my Facebook Page which has a global and loyal audience (cultivated since 2010) of some 250,000 souls, I posed a question. I reached out to all of the men who follow my work, asking them why they seemed to engage ‘less’ than the women on my page and indeed, why more men aren’t openly sharing their spiritual experiences online. Was there a stigma (between men and/or women) about men being ‘openly’ spiritual?
I did this in response to a comment made by a male member of my page, who mentioned the 80/20 rule and how there were always 4 times as many women as men in spiritual groups. He also mentioned that he found it difficult to trust the integrity of men that he had met in spiritual groups. This comment touched me deeply. It got me thinking and then it sparked an important conversation on my page.
Indeed, I was truly overwhelmed (and encouraged) with the outpouring of insightful and truly heart-opening responses received to my question about ‘spiritual men’. To date there have been nearly 1000 ‘in-depth’ comments, 250 shares and almost 3,000 likes on the post, on my page alone. The question about ‘men and spirituality’ had struck a chord with our male and female audiences alike.
And so, in today’s blog post, I’ve sifted through the responses received and broken them down into 11 key areas. I trust that you find this information and feedback (from real life situations and real life men and women) helpful and insightful, as it encourages you to cultivate a greater openness and awareness of sharing between men (and women) who are consciously developing their spiritual path.
But, before we begin, let’s frame the word ‘spiritual’. Each one of us is a spiritual being, born of the spiritual dimension – men and women alike. Being spiritual is inherent within us all. And yet, in our human life, it often takes a great deal of conscious awakening for us to remember and acknowledge this. Being ‘spiritual’ is not something that makes you better or more informed than anyone else. But, it can create a deeper compassion for the world that you live in and for the incredible journey that you experience in this lifetime. Spirituality is also not akin to religion. Spirituality is free flowing and available to all to discover of their own accord. Whereas religion can be seen as a human-based system of beliefs and organised practices. Therefore, one can be spiritual and not religious. The two are separate.
And so, let’s look at the 11 Key Areas of responses received…
HOW DO MEN EXPRESS THEIR SPIRITUALITY?
1. Spirituality at a Younger Age – From responses received, those men who were exposed to a ‘spiritual lifestyle and concepts’ at a younger age, perhaps being encouraged by their family or living environment, seemed to have fewer problems with being open and even ‘outspoken’ in championing the spiritual way of life. They had lesser issues with others knowing that they openly embraced a spirituality. And this is encouraging, for all of those mothers and fathers who are living conscious lives today and are doing their part to educate and raise their children, as awake and aware humans for the future benefit of us all.
2. Coming From a Religious Upbringing – Many of our respondents (now on a spiritual path) had been brought up with a religious slant, where the male was seen as the ‘leader’ and women took on a secondary role. This past conditioning has made them hesitant about sharing their spiritual experiences more widely with our female community for not wanting to come across as sounding too aggressive or over-bearing. In this instance, men were showing their sensitivity and respect for females and also their uncertainty at how to express their spirituality, so that it wouldn’t be taken ‘the wrong way’. Many women responded deeply to this, encouraging our male respondents and feeling uplifted that so much care was being shown. It was a new way of seeing one another.
3. Men Being Privately Spiritual – There were many men who openly embraced their spirituality (this wasn’t an issue with them). But, they did say that the reason they didn’t share more openly about who they and what they love online (or in person) is because they saw their spiritual path, as a private path. All that mattered was that they knew what they felt and experienced and it wasn’t for others to consume. I found this very interesting, as it could be a reason for why so many men stay quiet about their spiritual leanings.
4. Men Not Wanting to Be Seen as Egotistical – A common theme amongst our male respondents was that they were cautious of being seen as having a ‘big ego’ if they shared their spiritual experiences online. This was particularly evident ‘between men’. Many men said that they inherently saw women as having greater natural access to their intuition and spirituality than many men do. Therefore, if they were to share their experiences it could seem that they were coming across as ‘knowing it all’ and possibly intimidating women. Again, it was clear that men respected the feminine energy and were being cautious about not overstepping their mark and upsetting women. Not that they would, but this was the perception from the male standpoint. I feel that this shows, women can be more understanding, that men may be holding back in expressing their truth – in order to give us room to rightly shine, in our own light.
5. Men Pressuring Men – Many of our male respondents said that the pressure men felt from other men was huge, when and if they were to come out and admit that they were openly spiritual. It’s one of the key reasons many men kept their spirituality quiet and close to their chest. Many said that there’s an innate competitiveness between males that shamed them into feeling ‘less than’ and defensive for not sharing the mainstream ideal of what it is to be ‘masculine’. And yet, many women (as well as myself) said that we found it extremely masculine when a man can openly share his feelings and express his spirituality. Men said that they have difficulty opening up when other men are around, as they tend to feel that they’ll be judged or put down. Whereas, they felt safer opening up in front of women who would be more accepting of them. Although there were some men, who said women were judgemental too and had ideas that spiritual men can be ‘too soft’. Of particular note amongst our male respondents, is that they said it was common for men to assume that another man is ‘effeminate’ when he shows or shares his spiritual side – seeing spirituality, as being ‘feminine’, rather than ‘masculine’.
6. Spirituality Seen as ‘Not Masculine’ – Many of our male respondents agreed that men (and women) saw spirituality as a feminine quality and one that diminished their masculinity in some way. This applied added weight to the reason why men were reluctant to openly share their views and experiences in spiritual discussions, as they feared their gender would come into question. Indeed, it’s so important that we understand that being open to your spiritual truth has nothing to do with gender (that polarises it way too much). Spirituality is our common source and isn’t gender based. Yes, we can express our spirituality through the lens of femininity and/or masculinity. Each of us has access to both of these energy flows. One is not better than the other. One is not more spiritual. Both combine to create the whole. Indeed, the more that we can see more men openly sharing their spirituality while maintaining who they are, in their integrity and authenticity, the greater permission it gives for all men to do the same and for women to also follow suit.
7. Blending Science and Spirituality – Another great point from our respondents was that some men view spirituality through the lens of science. They see science as the essential corridor through which the spiritual dimension can be quantified and touched, thereby making spirituality more accessible and acceptable to all. And thus, these men don’t tend to share their views from a spiritual ‘subjective and personal’ standpoint, but more from a structured, results and evidence based perspective.
8. Male Spiritual Leaders Dominating – Many of the respondents (men and women alike) had a similar experience where men they had come across in spiritual groups or forums would try and take over – or take on a leadership role, not long after joining. In particular, this would happen with men who may have been ‘new’ to the spiritual path, but felt that they ‘knew everything’ after only a short time of being exposed to spiritual concepts and perspectives. This was ‘off-putting’ to many genuine men (on their path for many years) who attended spiritual groups, classes or workshops in order to contribute, grow and learn. They were actually ‘embarrassed’ by some men trying to take over and dominate discussions and teachings, so soon after joining a group. They said this is what put them off from sharing too much about their spiritual path publicly, as they didn’t want to be judged, as one of ‘those domineering males’, who try and take over – particularly when there’s a predominantly female audience in attendance.
9. Men Feeling Safer to Express in Groups – Many of the men who responded to my post also said that they felt safer opening up in group situations that they were familiar with, rather then doing so (perhaps in a more random way) online. Whereas women, found a common bond by sharing (perhaps to those they don’t even know). Men seemed to be much more cautious, preferring to keep quiet, until they felt they were safe from judgment or recrimination. Again, this appears to be because they don’t want to be judged or pressurised by other men and/or women.
10. Spiritual Men and Ulterior Motives – A popular response was the number of instances that men (and women) experienced where men who were openly ‘spiritual’ or perhaps even ‘spiritual teachers’ were abusing their positions of trust. Many said that men they have come across in spiritual classes or retreats were only there to meet women, who they found to be easy targets – looking for their soul mates or spiritual men who understood them. Indeed, I’ve seen this happen with some men that I’ve met in spiritual groups and I’ve heard it happening (quite a lot) with women I’ve worked with in personal sessions. Many women have begun a relationship with their male spiritual teacher, which has been confusing to them. I’ve always thought that men ‘in particular’ must have great integrity if they are to be a spiritual teacher, because with so many women in this field open, trusting and looking for men to relate to on a soulful basis, one must always be – above reproach.
11. Losing Touch with Friends When Coming Out as Spiritual – And finally, the other common theme amongst many male respondents was that they found the spiritual path a lonely one, once their friends or colleagues knew about their spiritual path. Many felt sad or disappointed that once their friends and/or family knew more about who they are that they no longer wanted to be around them. They slowly saw people from their past move away and lose touch. And on the flip side of this, some men said that they were actually grateful that they had been open and honest about who they are and what they follow, as it meant they no longer had to play a charade and associate with people they no longer resonated with. So, it can go both ways.
This is such an important conversation to have. As a woman, I can safely say that women ‘in general’ would love men to be more open and able to communicate their feelings, intuition and spiritual experiences with us. Yet, as you can see from the core responses received (from males when I posed this question) so many men love and embrace their spirituality, even if they never publicly admit to this. Perhaps, we’re assuming men aren’t open to their spirituality – when really they are? They simply need to feel safe and secure in order to share.
**By Elizabeth Peru