Gallery & Comments
Spring 2007 Natural Passages Program
*Note: Natural Passages was formally known as Medicine of Men.
Medicine – Webster's dictionary defines it as "The science and art of diagnosing, treating, curing, and preventing disease, relieving pain, and improving and preserving health."
I would say that summarizes what happened this year. The art of diagnosing, treating and healing ones own mental and physical self. This year's program has been a long year of transformation. From feeling over whelmed to become more relaxed with who I am. To realize I have choice in life and that all the voices in my head are just that, voices.
I have not been with a group of men that where as strong and dedicated to doing there work on each of the weekend retreats. There was much diversity in the group but at the same time I saw that the group held each other together in support. We where individuals but at the same time a group. I have been having feelings of really not being a part of the group but what I realize now is that each of us held our own individuality, did not have to give that up, but maintained a group support. This group supports each other as individuals, regardless of where we are at in our journey, the group held that individual support. What a blessing.
We dug in deep, choose to show up and do our work, face our selves and move through it. To make discoveries about who we are and how we show up in life. To choose to transform that which is not serving us well into something that is. As I reflect upon all the faces I can see the face that came in on the first weekend is completely different from the face that left at the end of the year.
It was a year of healing for me. Each weekend felt like a sanctuary away from the day-to-day crazy making world where I was able to take time out for just myself and heal. Sometimes it felt like a vacation even though I was staring at some of my deepest fears. Fears that evolved from trying to fill the needs and wants of all the voices that I held in my head from the past. Just this morning the voices went off and then the bell went off to say what the hell is this. Oh, its you again. I choose to move through you and let you pass by. You are not needed.
I have come to under stand the four-chambered heart to a greater depth. To see how when I am not in the center, I am off center. Strong, clear, open and full, you have to be in the program to see and learn this. To learn to walk differently in the world. I have had many years of therapy that helped me through my issues but did not teach me how to walk through life.
One Tree Standing
So much of my life passed while I was going through the motions. I showed up physically, but often not present to where I was, who I was, and who I wanted to be. After the four seasons of the Men of Medicine program -- with other dedicated men who worked to reveal their true selves and to strive for a higher purpose in life -- I am more present, more self aware, more committed to being the man that I am. I am grateful for the Men of Medicine program, a revealing exploration into my heart and soul that are changed forever. The journey continues.
David G. Molyneaux
The Natural Passages program has helped me make the transition to being a man. I struggled with taking that step on my own. With little more than a brochure a friend gave me and a five minute conversation with Herb, I drove 9 hours each way to attend. I knew something was missing and holding me back. I wasn’t in total crisis. I have a beautiful wife and two great kids. I’ve got a good job and a nice house. But still, I felt a hole. I would go to meetings or events and feel like I was 16 and scared to death that someone was going to find me out. A scared little kid pretending to be a grown up. I used lots of tricks including intimidation and my intelligence to keep people away and not let them know me. In this program, I learned how to occupy my space by paying more attention to how I feel instead of suppressing it. I don’t get as angry or frustrated at meetings and my input is more collaborative instead of as critical or negative. I am more self aware to all of me and not just the constant dialogue in my brain. I gained tools to better support and re-center myself including alone time, chord cutting, and transformation ceremonies. Today I feel like I can be a better father, husband, boss, coworker, and son by more fully understanding myself as a man.
The four truths as they relate to the warrior, sage, lover, and king are a road map for being a man. They are the owner’s manual that men should have gotten on their 18th birthday. These statements are so beautifully balanced and while they seem simple on the surface, there are endless layers to explore and build on. They are truly worthwhile goals.
I can’t say enough about the men of 2009. This was quite an eclectic group on the surface, but once I got in circle, all those differences melted away. I have never been as supported as I was in this group. These men held space without judgment or pity to allow me to look more deeply in myself and face issues I wouldn’t have found or been able to confront on my own. The example they set is the model I want for me and my relations. They were and always will be a part of me.
Be good to yourself,
There is strength in gentleness...Unexpressed frustrations are what breed resentment...Vulnerability isn't a vrtue, presence is...Courage, the courage to be both present and vulnerable, is the first step towards intimacy...Forgiving isn't about forgetting, it's about removing your hands from the other's throat...Compassion is the foundation of relations that have both heart and meaning...The essence of Love lies in helping others to complete themselves...
Far beyond trivial truisms, these are just a few of the lessons --- no, epiphanies, deep and sometimes gut-wrenching realizations --- that I've been blessed to receive from three rounds of Natural Passages over the past 5 years. Never a simple repetition of past experiences, each time building on previous learnings, this program has deepened my life in ways hardly describable by words. And with an incredibly supportive Brotherhood that has both encouraged and made it safe for me to shed decades-old armor I'd previously wrapped about my heart, both I and my family are enjoying more and more every day experiencing the man we now see I can be. A man striving to live consciously, choiceful in every moment with a strong, clear, full, and open heart.
In spite of some of the hardest work I've ever tried doing, it's actually been fun! I'm already looking forward to my next turning of the Medicine Wheel with Herb and the Men Of Medicine.
With Big Love,
The Natural Passages program far exceeded my expectations. As the year began, I realized that my word for the year was rapidly becoming"transformation". Well, transformation is exactly what I experienced. I never expected the depth of experience and personal growth. My biggest surprise was the way I began to see who I really am in my day to day activities and living (my own personal mirror). My partner helped me immensely to clearly see how my explosive nature impacts everyone including myself. Through the year, I began to understand that daily, even moment to moment, I get to choose how I am and whether to react or reflect before speaking or acting. Today I am much different than the man that began Natural Passages in the spring of 2009.
My learning from Natural Passages has helped me to strengthen my marriage and regain positive, open relations with my adult kids. Today, I am living my life not just passing through until I die.
This program helps men to make a difference in the lives of many. I wish I had the courage at 40 to join with Herb Stevenson and learn about the "initiation into manhood" a few decades ago.
Blessings and love to the clan or 09 – you are truly inspirational and have contributed so much to who I am today.
A true transformational program that gets to the heart of being a man in today's world. I spent the year transforming in ways I would have never believed. Learning to find myself and my desires in a world of mixed messages and confusion. I learned to relate to men (that I have never met before) on a whole different level. Learning to become myself and become part of a bigger picture.. Men supporting men... at a whole new level. Herb has created a program that goes beyond traditional men's groups and teaches you how to support yourself and your fellow man. Something that truly needs to be experienced by men looking to find their place in this world. An eye opening and beautiful experience, one that is worth repeating.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Being seen for who I am as a man by the men engaged in the Men of Medicine Program and loved by them has embolden me to be secure in being, loving, and nurturing the man that I truly am.
For me, the MoMen program was an experiential learning about myself and other men. I feel that it built upon my learnings at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, and offered me learnings that I could get nowhere else. I am particularly appreciative about how it has rounded out my spiritual beliefs about this life.
I am honored to be part of the continually growing circle of men. Thank you (again) Herb & Will.
This program is a wonderful experience of the sacred in Native American spirituality, in nature, in the hearts and minds of men, and in the wholeness that is more than the total of these parts. I planned on being Lutheran minister from age 13-26 including seminary. For many reasons I had drifted away from this formal faith community and from regular attention to my own spirituality. The Medicine of Men program was a warm and receptive context in which to reestablish a more intimate contact with my heart, my soul, and my spirituality.
What the program did for me was to open me up how to be more intimate with myself and other males. How to support other males with love, compassion and understanding. To be more present with myself and other males. To remove the masks and step out to be who I really am. I would like to Thank all who showed up, the men of the program, the Hawk, the hummingbird, the wolf, the creek, the rain, the snow, the snake, the spirits and to all the others.
Peace and Blessings,
Medicine of Men accelerated the transformation of my consciousness from mind based consciousness to spirit based consciousness. It helped me to become more aware of my true nature. It greatly enhanced my spiritual life. It was a joy to know the other men in the program in a far deeper way than I have ever known other men and observe the growth of their spirits. Each of the original participants achieved observable spiritual growth. It was wondrous to behold. Herb Stevenson is an exceptional and mystical leader. I shall always treasure my association with Herb and with all the Men of Medicine.
"The Medicine of Men program has taught me to speak, to men as well as women, from my heart and feelings. It's essential for my life and soul. I stand taller as a man and a compassionate human being. I laugh louder, cry from a deeper place, and enjoy life from a more authentic place within me."
There is a lot I would like to say about the program. The effect it has had on me has been resonating louder and louder each day. It's like the bell that calls you to your life and you can't ignore it. I am learning that these rumblings inside of me are not a bad thing to run from, but a good thing. Rumblings of a desire for life. Feelings of wanting to be present and deeply connected to other men who are my brothers as well as a deep longing to be connected to spirit. I have learned how important it is to heal old spiritual wounds (the thought of a condemning god kept me away from this desire to feel connected to spirit and sometimes people) and accept a spirit that loves all. Open heartedness is my path to feeling connected to all things.
Forgiving myself and others is one key to my open heart. I learned that my life starts now. My medicine and gifts are ready for the world as is. They will improve but holding them back is a disservice to me and the world. We all have the highs and lows of life. That is life. Just sit with the lows and allow them to be. They will move through me.
It is 'normal' to experience both the up and downs of life. I bought into the advertising that life is one big high and thought that once I felt good everyday I would be able to share my medicine and I would be healed. Healing and learning is part of the adventure of life. Sharing my medicine helps me and may impact others. I have been impacted profoundly by what some individuals share - but not by all. That is the beauty of it for me. If my medicine and story are needed it will find right the ears. It is not my job to heal the world, just myself. That happens by speaking my truth.
I also think that you and Will's medicine is perfect for me. I hear what you say and listen. I never feel less than or dumb. I feel you both immerse into the group and lead by example with an open heart. It's was an enlivening experience. (except for the throwing up part heh heh). Even that was getting rid of the old dead stuff which is ok.
Have a great Holiday,
The Medicine of Men program was transformational for me. I was able to finally say goodbye to the "boy" inside me to allow space for the "man" to come out. I got a chance to slow down, to listen to my heart and soul instead of my mind and to see what is really important to me. I learned to be intimate with another person, to push past the fear of letting some one "see in to me", so that I can enjoy being fully present. I have gained a focus and power in my personal and professional lives and am being more authentic in both. I have become reacquainted with the spiritual world, enjoying my connection with other people, a hawk flying overhead or the wind blowing through the trees. I have learned to accept my gifts and abilities and realize I am a unique being here on earth AND that I share so much with the matrix of life that is around me. I have been able to find MY OWN "medicine" and have it come out in my life. I am simply more alive and that is a good thing! Herb, thanks for the wake up call.
The impact of Medicine of Men on me is transformation. Mostly that I know not to give an invasive, non-descript statement because I and the Medicine of Men community I belong to expect and deserve more of me.
Transformation: I let you see me and began to see more of myself. Being different and being seen while standing with and belonging. I am standing in my heart, from this I am not moved. I went out to the edge and you held me, so I did not look away. I have experienced myself. I have experienced relationships. I experience gratitude.
Cleveland Hts, Ohio
My intention in the first Medicine of Men program was to document on video
as well as participate as much as possible in the discussions, exercises
My ability to capture the essence of the program on video proved
disappointing at times, but rewarding in experiencing four long weekends,
through four seasons of nature with 14 men sharing there thoughts, hurts,
beliefs and prayers. Where else in our lives could we get that experience.
It's a precious gift.
Thank you Herb and Jackie.
Blessings, grace and peace...
The Men of Medicine initiation process has taught me many valuable lessons. Perhaps, the most important lesson that I learned was how to speak the language of the Medicine Wheel. By understanding the nature of the medicine wheel, my ability to create sacred space and find harmony in my personal life has greatly enhanced. Consequently, I am more grounded than I have ever been at any other point in my life.
Nolan R. Shaw
These are my impressions as I reflect on the times that Mark returned from the Medicine of Men week-ends.
Mark attended the Medicine of Men program at a time in his life when he was coming out of a "dark night of the soul" experience. I was amazed at how much brighter and more focused he was when he would return home. He was more loving, sensitive and hopeful. I found myself looking forward to his next event!
I've noticed many positive changes in Hawk due to the MoMen workshops. He's softened and released layers making him more available to his inner depths and our relationship. He's owning himself in stronger ways with me, his family and other people. He also seems to be more connected to his heart's desires and more confident in his abilities to create them.