Darren Mahesh Hayward explains how he came to set up a new meditation group, All Us Men (or AUM), aimed at helping men manage difficult emotional times.
A group of men from all walks of life, different ages and lifestyle, all with one common goal. What is this goal? The answer is not as straightforward as you think (and I always thought of us guys as very black and white!).
The real answer is that we are a very complex animal and carry a lot of emotion around not really knowing what to do with it and, most of all, where or who to show it to.
And so I formed All Us Men, a meditation group that has proved a wonderful success; it shows why we need to help men to be more open and to express themselves in a positive and productive manner.
The number one cause of death in the UK for men between the ages of 20 and 49 is suicide: this was the statistic that made me realise that, as a sex, we need help. As I have used meditation for over 20 years I thought this might be a good start. Along with yogic philosophy and breathing techniques I thought I could maybe help someone.
Yoga is part of who I am as a person, and I would say, along with the meditation, it has helped me through some difficult chapters in my life, and continues to do so. With all this in mind, I felt an overwhelming drive to help my fellow brothers. My first port of call was the workplace, a cool barbershop just for guys… and when they are in the barber’s seat they open up to me. So, I started to talk to them about the stresses of life and how do they cope. To my surprise, most of them didn’t really know they dealt with the challenges modern life throws at them.
It was now time to put together another little plan. So, my wife Bhavani and I hosted a few sessions at home with a few friends to see how a guided meditation evening would work. And the feedback was very positive, so I started to talk to guys at work about the men’s group. All Us Men – or AUM – was born.
Using the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda I started to talk to the men about how we see the world and more importantly how we impact those around us. Starting each class with three Oms and then using breath control to centre ourselves, the hour-long classes seem to flow very well. Talking about expectations, love, wellness, and attachment, the class seemed to grow in numbers and energy, and went from fortnightly meetings to weekly.
Guided meditation in the Yoga Nidra posture seems to be the most beneficial and powerful way to connect with the men, and for each of them to connect with themselves, which is the whole point.
My goal is for these men to learn to live in their heart space and connect with their true self, and in turn, become turned in to the needs of other people around them, whether that’s family, friends, or work colleagues.
The powerful mind can be a tool for such amazing things, but it can also be the most destructive. Therefore we all need a safe space. AUM is that space, where a man can give himself one hour to clear his thoughts, reboot and wipe the slate clean ready to start a new week. And so, each Sunday, we now meet at 7.30pm, so it won’t impact on family time and guys can start the week with a fresh approach.
The goal is simple: learn to sit, breathe and allow your heart to take control of you.
The men in my group all say a similar thing, that’s it’s nice to sit with other men and just be yourself, your ‘real’ self. And, after all, that’s what we all really want, isn’t it?