Man Up: Expanding Our Definition of Masculinity | Development | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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Man Up: Expanding Our Definition of Masculinity

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Twelve years ago, Khalsa had just separated from his wife. He was being encouraged by her male relatives to man up: Be more tough, more sexually powerful. "Tame her; she'll respect you for that." "Show her what you want." "How are you going to win her back if you're not a man in her eyes?" Instead, Khalsa made a solo 50-day hike from Vermont to Virginia on the Appalachian Trail, and confronted his sense of unworthiness. As his knees gave out and his mind took over during his evenings alone by the campfire with no screens to distract him, his self-reliance grew. "I didn't need to feel juiced by my wife in order to feel confident and good about myself," Khalsa remembers. "I'd found a source within that I could draw upon." When he returned, he and his wife reconciled.

"One of the modern problems for boys and men is that there are so many ways we can become disconnected—too mental, without being grounded in our bodies and connected to our hearts," Khalsa says. "Fundamentally, we have to experience what it is to be human, connected to ourselves and to others. If we can do that, and have an awareness, then our own masculinity will naturally blossom."  

This summer, Khalsa, a teacher, will be leading a workshop for boys ages 5 to 12 at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. "The Sacred Power of Boys" is an adventure with the five elements: sitting by the fire, walking outside barefoot, playing games, experiencing silence, swimming in Omega's lake. Yoga, meditation, and discussion will be at the camp's core. Khalsa hopes to share tools to help the boys feel interdependent with everything around them, to have respect for themselves and others, and to explore an essential question, "How can we feel powerful without having power over others?"

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