In the mid-1990s, my business Paul and I were building the Scottsdale Institute for Health and Medicine in Arizona. John Rattenbury, the lead teacher at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s school in Scottdale, was our architect for the project. I remember John explaining to me how acoustic resonance works.
Wright designed the beautiful Gammage Theater at ASU with a large cantilever balcony. It turns out that a rock concert would have the balcony raise and lower to the beat of the music. John explained how, at a specific frequency that matched the balcony’s inherent design, the balcony would respond by moving. An old friend Jim Oschman, Ph.D., explained how all objects have a resonant frequency. I remember him telling me that if you create a telephone pole’s resonant frequency, you could knock it down.
Jim, an old friend of Dr. Rolf, talked about how a body would have a resonant frequency. Just as when one tuning fork is struck and a matching tuning fork will vibrate, so can bodies resonate.
Sitting in a group, Jose speaks about how his father’s death tore him apart and suddenly had Henry crying. For years Henry couldn’t cry about his father dying. Then, without any warning, he cried, remembering his father.
Another man’s somatic and emotional experience matches yours; your body and emotions will respond. Last week we spoke about the metaphors of our life story. Here we are exploring the metaphor of one’s man’s experience and your experience.
Again, we are dealing with non-conscious responses. Thousands of times in groups, other men and I were surprised by our response to another man’s experience. Our ability to have another’s experience catalyzes us, maybe the superpower of EVRYMAN.
When in an emotionally safe place with men opening up, we open. Our usual coping mechanisms for survival are down-regulated. It’s as if the sheath around the tuning fork is removed so the sound from the other tuning fork can touch the second tuning fork.
The research around co-regulation and mirror neurons explains how we feel another person’s experience. It’s not imagery; it’s biological.
So often, we are going for more understanding to solve our emotional challenges – then suddenly, a man speaks his truth in the present moment; your mirror neurons light up.
More intentionally today in your group or your friend’s circle, focus on experiencing where your response matches another man’s. As a man speaks, see your body as a big tuning fork. Notice when a particular somatic and emotional feel is expressed and your response.
It is possible that you could have an opposite response. For example, a man speaks about his love for his wife, and you get madder. You may feel a reaction for a second. That’s OK. Use that short response to first take you deeper into your experience. Feel more of it. Surrender so that even for an instant, it is more intense. Once you feel more, open up to experiencing the man from that place of feeling.
The prompt to take you all deeper is: What about your childhood are you ashamed of? For example, when you were bullied, what did you do?
In other words, wherein your childhood, did you freeze and still feel shame about not taking action even knowing today, as a kid, you realize you had no agency? Maybe you were bullied, and not doing anything was the best you could do.
Go slow, go deep. Here it’s letting the man speak – and it’s about opening up to feel where you emotionally, physically, and unconsciously resonate.
The time is, so each man gets a few minutes to speak, and the rest of the group can debrief where the found themselves responding. Maybe you choose not to have every man speak – that is OK. Perhaps a few charged men speak, and the work is how everyone responds to these men.
Take what you learn here home. As your partner shares, where are you in tune, and where are you not resonating? What does either experience do for your partner?