The good news with being hardwired to connect is that with the proper guidance, a man can quickly develop the necessary skills he was not able to create as a kid. Research over the last 50 years tells us that we need authentic connections as humans. Without real connection, our nervous system becomes stressed. We’ve become so accustomed to it, we don’t realize we are in some form of our survival response. When we have authentic connections, our bodies relax and heal.
The first step in down-regulating the stress response that we have accepted as the norm is to train our bodies to be as good at being present as they have become at being stressed. So often we are told to relax only to feel we have failed at another skill.
Over many years of study and working with thousands of men, MELD discovered how to weave science and simple practices to create a powerful approach to developing sustainable connections. The support and feedback from other men become key in achieving what was not possible as a child or an adult.
Embarking on this journey wasn’t a choice I made lightly. It was the overwhelming weight of my own struggles that propelled me, somewhat reluctantly, into my first men’s group back in 1995. In Scottsdale, AZ, I found myself unable to find a group that resonated with me, leading me to establish one within my own clinic.
The conventional approach to men’s groups felt inadequate for the deep, transformative work I envisioned. After completing my straw bale home in 2005 in the forests of North Idaho, I found clarity. I decided to integrate the effective strategies from my professional practice into developing a new, more effective model for men’s work. It was a leap of faith, and to my surprise, when I reached out to eleven men, they joined.
What began as the Sandpoint Men’s Group (SMG) grew beyond my wildest expectations. Nineteen years later, it boasts over 400 alumni and more than 50 active members. This journey led to the birth of EVRYMAN and now MELD, each step an evolution of my initial vision.
Throughout the years with SMG, EVRYMAN, and now MELD, I’ve encountered challenges that have shaped me in unforeseen ways, fostering immense personal growth. Like many of our members, reflecting on this path fills me with a profound sense of fulfillment. Embracing authenticity and compassion has not only transformed me but has also been instrumental in guiding other men through their own transformative journeys. This work has become a cherished gift that I am passionate about sharing.
There’s an ongoing sense of wonderment in witnessing the eagerness of other men to grow and the joy discovered in our collective journey. This experience affirms the power and beauty what is possible when men are given the tools they never had, a safe place to practice, and a community to share forgotten brotherhood.