In today’s article, we delve into the often overlooked realm of men’s issues and masculinity. While contemporary focus tends to gravitate towards women’s challenges, it is crucial to also shed light on the specific struggles faced by men.
Not only through psychedelic medicine, but also through open dialogue and a safe and nurturing environment can men explore their emotional landscape, liberating them from societal expectations and fostering a genuine embrace of vulnerability.
We argue that psychedelics actually offer a fresh perspective on identity and gender, creating greater self-awareness beyond all labels, which in turn can stoke the fires of personal freedom and autonomy.
Together we can co-facilitate the nurturing of men’s highest potential and empower them to navigate the complexities of stereotypes and gender roles.
And as we navigate this topic, we aim to inspire conversations, promote understanding, and pave the way for a more compassionate and inclusive society.
To gain insights into this work which is reframing the narrative around men’s issues, we had the privilege of interviewing Michael Wally, member of The Sacred Circle, a men’s group led by Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Nicholas Levich.
Wally’s exploration of his own masculinity through relational work and men’s groups inspired him to establish Walk With Wally, where he offers experienced guidance to inner peace through self-awareness, practical techniques and transformative insights.
The Power of Vulnerability & Expressing Our Emotions
“Getting out of the mind and getting into the heart,” Michael says, is the key to healing “the wounded masculine.”
When it comes to “toxic masculinity,” this term often fosters a lot of resentment and leads to a shutting down of meaningful conversation around the topic of men’s issues.
We must acknowledge that masculinity is not toxic, but that anything out of balance can become detrimental and maladaptive to the individual and to society.
This article serves not as a critique of masculinity but rather as part of the greater conversation of how to create a world in which men feel more free, supported, and embraced in our world.
Masculinity, throughout history, has been shaped by societal expectations and cultural norms. The traditional view of masculinity often perpetuates an image of strength, stoicism, and emotional detachment.
As many of us know by now, men attempt and complete suicide at a higher rate—according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at a 3.9x higher rate—than women do.
Men’s suppression of their emotions leads to a wounded and disconnected state of being. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the transformative power of vulnerability.
We would like to point out that we are all wounded, and our wounds manifest uniquely according to our individual life-path. Being aware of social schema and patterns can help us better address our wounds.
“There are—kind of—three layers that we work with. There’s the mind layer where we tend to get stuck…really being a product of our discomfort with our emotions, and the bodily somatic layer which lies beyond the emotional layer.
Recognizing that the brain really doesn’t know how to solve our internal problems, emotional problems…We are constantly trying to escape our emotions, our brain is giving us these solutions or apparent solutions that really aren’t solutions.
It’s the source of, the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s the source of our constant consternation and search for something better…when really the solution has always been inside of us.” — Michael
When asked what tools have best helped him manage emotional reactivity, overwhelm, and the reflex to shut down feeling, Michael said, “Using really simple techniques to bring myself back toward parasympathetic.
You know slowing down the breath, extending the exhale, relaxing the shoulders, relaxing any tension. It seems so trivial, but honestly that’s probably been the most impactful thing for me.
It opens up this complete other side of myself that I really wasn’t aware of…generally through letting go and surrendering.”
Vulnerability, often perceived as weakness within the context of traditional masculinity, is being reframed as a courageous act of emotional honesty and authenticity.
It is the willingness to expose one’s true self, embracing both strengths and weaknesses. It is the willingness to soften in the face of what is frightening, unfamiliar, or unknown, and the willingness to break down in order to rebuild.
Through vulnerability, men can confront their emotional wounds and explore the deeper layers of their identities. We see this redefining of masculinity as an opportunity to emphasize emotional intelligence.
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Masculinity & Surrendering to The Psychedelic Experience
With a history of on and off psychedelic use, Michael expressed that his initial feeling toward mind-altering medicines is that they were a panacea, but he realized that, while these substances foster great transformation, they are no substitute for “doing the work.”
“I think one of the most valuable lessons I took away from the psychedelic experience is opening up this other side of myself, kind of getting in touch with my more authentic self and seeing that I’m not who I think I am.
I’m not who my mind has been telling me all along…The experience is always very moving, very valuable, and it involves going through a lot of pain to get there.
Pretty much every time, it’s kind of like going through hell honestly, but when I finally am able to surrender to everything, it just opens up to this more blissful experience.”
In a previous article, we spoke more deeply about this concept of surrender, which, for Michael, was a crucial part of not just the psychedelic experience but also for life in a larger sense.
“To tie it back to the psychedelic experience, surrender has been probably the most valuable tool that has kind of been forced upon me in the psychedelic experience…
For me, I get to a point where I feel like I’m gonna die. I’m like ok, I just have to give in and surrender to this to the best of my ability, and that’s when things change.
So I’ve finally been able to take that lesson and integrate it into my everyday life…I see almost everything as a trip these days.”
Unraveling Gender Through Psychedelics
When it comes to tapping into essences which are opposite to our overt gender, this is likely much easier to do for women than for men.
Because most of society upholds a stoic approach to emotionality and shys away from emotional expression, we get this skewing toward the masculine.
Not only are men pressured to be “manly,” but women also feel a pressure to simultaneously fit into gender roles while somehow being masculine themselves.
This sets up a dynamic in which no one is softening. There is almost this competition for who can be more emotionless, and men become more and more pigeonholed into a strict and repressive form of what it means to “be a man.”
Michael expressed that tapping into his feminine side was a real challenge for him, but has had profound positive implications for his life and his relationship.
We’d also like to point out that combining psychedelic therapy with talk therapy can really help unpack these deeper issues like gender, identity, and uncovering the authentic self, and we encourage you to explore different forms of therapy.
“Recognizing that we all have both, we all have masculine and feminine sides and encouraging men to explore that side, I feel, once they’ve gotten in touch with it, can really help women do the work as well,” he said.
“One thing that was very transformative was reading a Rama Krishna book, and one of his spiritual practices was cross dressing, and I was like, wow, this enlightened person is doing something that I would be very adverse to personally. So that started to break down some of those roles,” he shared.
“I think most importantly, we aren’t our genders. What we are transcends gender. What we are is gender less.
What we are is kind of the awareness behind all this, and the body is really the vehicle for our experience regardless of the masculine or feminine expression of the body.
Strengthening Relationships Through Vulnerability
We asked in what ways women could best support men during their journey toward wholeness, and Michael shared that “foremost is providing a safe container to express [ourselves] as well as having those emotions mirrored back to [us] and having insightful reflections that allow [us] to see things that [we’re] maybe not aware of in [ourselves].”
“A lot of this work has deepened my relationship with my wife…We will come to kind of a point of contention or something, and I’ll be able to look inward and recognize the ways that I’m resisting, the ways in which my own baggage is getting in the way of being able to support her the way that I really want to,” he said.
When it comes to psychedelics, he shared, “It’s a really wonderful opportunity for us to connect on a deep level…to see her in a different light, to see her true self as well.”
When it comes to intimate relationships, relationship dynamics, and power dynamics, psychedelics certainly have a profound potential to transform and heal deep resentment, uncover self-protective barriers, and see the person in a new light.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
As we foster greater empathy for one another, we are able to put out the fires of perceived separation and spark a new flame of mutual support and understanding.
Michael added, “All I can do for you is work on myself. All you can do for me is work on yourself.”
The Sacred Circle Men’s Group
As mentioned earlier, we were connected with Michael through Nicholas Levich, co-founder of Psychedelic Passage and leader of The Sacred Circle. This Men’s Group container is for men who are committed to themselves.
The inner work required to become a mature masculine man isn’t easy, and in order to step into that version of themselves, men need support & accountability. That’s why Levich felt called to assemble this group of men who are all striving to walk their highest path.
The Sacred Circle helps men connect to something bigger than themselves. This platform provides them with a safe outlet to express themselves without judgment—to heal, to be vulnerable, to support others, to feel supported, to cry, to laugh, to ask for what they need, and to connect to spirit.
Rather than turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, TV, or any other unhealthy outlet, Levich presents an alternative—the option to bring men’s frustrations to a group of brothers that has their back.
This circle is where men go to share the intimate parts of their life—both wins and losses—with a group of brothers who actually care.
For more information about The Sacred Circle or to inquire about joining a group led by Nicholas, we invite you to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Regardless of where these wounds originated, the responsibility to end this epigenetic influence falls on us. It’s time to take ownership of our life and make the necessary changes to wake up and step into the highest version of ourselves.”
Connect With a Local Psychedelic Guide
We at Psychedelic Passage connect psychedelic seekers with a network of pre-vetted, professional guides and facilitators located all over the United States.
Lastly, we hope this topic was insightful and inspiring, and we encourage you to check out our resources page for more psychedelic-related topics.