I don’t like to categorise people on an individual level including gender, as it tends to limit the potential of our exchange and the potential for them to connect with their inner resources during a Sophrology session. However, there are still some old patterns we can observe in our society and now we have the opportunity to change this. We need to change the conversation about self-development and how we present it.
Self-development or mindfulness classes are usually filled with more women than men, as if it was more natural for women to look inside themselves for solutions and that doing so was perhaps still perceived by some men like a sign of weakness or simply not an option they would consider. In Sophrology I can definitely notice a change, where more men are asking for support and that’s wonderful news. Men are definitely feeling as much under pressure as women do, even if the type and causes of the pressures they describe are often different. In the midst of the massive shift happening at the moment where women want to redefine the relationships between men and women, notably saying ‘stop’ to the many historical abuses of power they have often been submitted to, we need tools like Sophrology more than ever, so that everyone can tap into their inner resources and feel supported in this time of many transitions to rebalance power.
I feel that, in order for more balance to emerge, we need an ongoing conversation, we need to listen to the victims and we need to change and evolve our behaviours. Evolution can only happen through a change in the behaviour of all genders. For men, I feel that there is one vital resource that society needs to support so things can change, and that is connection.
Giving permission to men to connect with themselves
As human beings, we all aspire to be loved, heard and to contribute in some ways to the world. Being the mother of a little boy, I see it every day at the playground: when a boy cries after he falls, he is often told that everything is OK and that he should stop crying as if the simple thought of being fragile for a moment is not even an option. Culturally, boys are often told that they need to be strong and tough. In other words, from early on, we are teaching our boys to be strong in a way that doesn’t include connection to themselves and how they feel.
This is only an example of the many ways boys are told not to become “losers” so they are prepared for the outside world. Therefore, later in life, why would they want to spontaneously connect with how they feel and be at ease to turn up to a mindfulness class or talk to someone about their struggles? Not being heard, not having the time and space to connect from an early age have a massive impact in the way men contribute to the world and therefore it is urgent to acknowledge this when we look at men’s behaviours in the context of how they use power or how society has shaped them to use their power.
Letting men redefine themselves
In Sophrology, we look at change using a phenomenological approach. When we aspire to change a situation, manage stress, stimulate an inner resource such as resilience, we use the practice to show us the way, to open up to new possibilities and discover new solutions. Through our practice we observe our sensations or lack of them, our struggles or discoveries without judgement, being open to whatever manifests that day at that moment we practise Sophrology.
As we live our daily life having set our intention positively, new phenomena start to emerge, helping us to further define the direction we need to take. We have no model as to what men’s and women’s relationship should be and we shouldn’t have to have one because by doing so we already start to limit ourselves. Through practice, men and women will learn to connect more and realise that this is not only safe but gives them access to a new inner strength, something that expresses through their mind and body and makes them feel empowered.
Men and empowerment with Sophrology
Let’s look at examples of when mind and body reach an optimal balance and, more specifically, at sportspeople like Olympic swimmers, tennis players, golfers and skiers at their peak. They all practise some form of mindfulness to help them get better results in their chosen sport. For example, golfer Seve Ballesteros used Sophrology to empower him for his competitions. He even trained with my teacher, the founder of Sophrology, Alfonso Caycedo, for many years and attribute a lot of his success to his ability to connect with mind and body. Somehow in sport, learning to connect to feel empowered is already mainstream and it just shows us that maybe it is the way self-development is presented to men that isn’t attractive for a lot of them.
In my practice, I notice that men enjoy Sophrology because it is something they can do and practise to feel better. Also, they can choose how much they share about how they feel and won’t be asked to dig deep in their emotions through verbal exchanges. They are starting to share at the pace that suits them, whenever it is meaningful to them, and that is often when they have started to connect more.
The fact that Sophrology includes movement, as well as breathing and visualisation exercises, gives everyone different options to connect. Sometimes sitting and becoming mindful is just too hard! Sophrology is an easy way into mindfulness and once my male clients have felt that this works for them, they are usually the ones that are very good at implementing their 10 minutes of practice a day. They just go for it!
Discover what famous The Times journalist Harry Wallop says about Sophrology.