If everyone in the world would encourage personal development and the growth of others in the same way in which Yaron Engler does, the world would be a much more positive place. On Being Men is not about spirituality, mental health, or becoming omnipotent, yet it has elements of these things. What Engler’s program is about is finding clarity in who you are, reconnecting with your truth, and becoming the best version of yourself to ultimately improve every sector of your life.
“It is a space for men to find more freedom and growth; confidence and clarity in the areas of relationships, purpose and leadership,” Engler introduces.
The journey for Engler began in 2014 when he went to an event and heard people talking about a men’s group.The men that he saw “were very healthy and clear on business, and had sharp qualities. But at the same time they were very compassionate and had a wide range of just what I see as a beautiful being.”
Curiosity led him to meet John Wineland who hosted a men’s workshop that Engler went along to in London. “That weekend blew my mind completely. I felt that I was challenged in so many ways to discover who I am, but also to connect with other men on that level.” Engler committed to the work and stayed connected to LA-based Wineland. Then, Engler became an assistant to Wineland in 2016, travelling across the states in doing so. Two years later, it all stopped as the peer group collapsed and the travel was not totally sustainable anymore.
The energy and level of work that Engler wanted was unmatched elsewhere, so he took it upon himself to create that space. From 2019, it has been growing consistently to become the On Being Men that exists today.
Encouraging men to join the group is possibly the hardest part: to motivate them to be vulnerable and discuss themselves and their values. “The guys that do join, they stay for a long run because they experience how much [On Being Men] gives them,” Engler asserts. It is “a safe space which is very challenging but also very loving, and we need more men to come on board with that.”
I ask to what extent the workshops are about mental health and to what extent they are about succeeding in business or finance, but Engler tells me On Being Men is about both and neither of these things.
“Of course it is mental health related because for people to open up and discover who they are, it will improve their mental health, but I am not focusing on that.” “For a lot of guys it is just a space to speak freely about what they are thinking. They can discover ‘what do I want.’”
The framework for On Being Men’s program is structured around the CROP Method, designed by Engler. “I never chased certificates,” Engler explains on constructing this framework, “and I had depression for many years which led me to personal exploration. I found a lot of methods but never really looked at a structure or a certificate, I was more interested in connection. But a lot of people asked me ‘what do you do?’ and I realised there is a system in my work and I call it the CROP.”
CROP relates to the idea of putting a seed in Earth and planting something in order to nourish ourselves. The other meaning is in relation to photo editing; how can we crop work, mortgages, health and the rest of life’s noise down to what truly matters to us?
P stands for play/potential. “This is where life feels exciting and has purpose. This is what we are aiming for but in order to get there we need a strong ‘O’. The O stands for Observation. You need to be able to notice your patterns to develop a strong self awareness.” “The more I develop my self awareness, the more I can play with life because I can see what is going on in the world.”
Engler continues, “in order for me to Observe the right things, I need to do the R. The R is Reconnecting. This can be intuition, truth – we all have a deep purpose in us.” In order to understand who you are, the first part of the process – Cleansing and Clearing – needs to begin. “This means starting to let go of everything and everyone that is pushing you down, and preventing you from progressing from where you want to be.” The ‘C’ is broken down even further into parts: What type of information do you consume? What food and substances do you consume? Is the environment around you clean and organised? Are there people in your life that are holding you back?
Listen to music instead of watching the news. Be conscious of what you eat and drink. Unsubscribe to those pointless emails. Create space for welcoming positive people into your life.
With this process of cleansing, you have more capacity to connect with yourself and uniting things which are true to you. “From there you have a different perspective,” Engler summarises, allowing you to think about what you can contribute to the world, rather than trying to fit in.
One man who has participated in the ideas of the group for seven years shared with Engler that life becomes more challenging as you go on with the cycle. This is because he feels he is playing a higher level of life’s game. Engler says, “CROP is a constant cycle which you can go deeper with, allowing you to find another layer of yourself.” The results show an ability to stay grounded and hold attention, so there is more joy and fulfilment in life. It is proof that with sacrifice and challenge comes rewards.
On this note, I ask if there are different moments of struggle for men throughout the process. “The thing that makes it very difficult for men at the start is the fear of sharing,” implying that joining the group is the hardest part. However, as soon as other men share their thoughts and feelings, they suddenly realise that they are not alone. “The second fear I think that exists is facing the concept of investing in the self,” Engler continues. “But I say, is there anything better than investing in yourself?”
It has been summarised by the participants that connection is desired above all. Another value for the group is an ability to break personal barriers and habits. “In a group setting, the men can benefit from listening to others’ perspective,” Engler elaborates.
“You have constant support and a space to come and talk.” It allows you to be a King amongst other Kings; a space to be surrounded by other people who want to grow. “It is the same equivalent for wanting to be a Queen amongst Queens.”
Engler spends his career inspiring other men, so it is only natural I ask him who his biggest influence in his life is. “The person who introduced me to this whole work, the person I referenced earlier, John Wineland. He helped me to save my marriage back in 2015. Another person is Hofesh Schecter, who is a great friend of mine and a great choreographer. We have been friends for more than twenty five years, since we were back in Israel together.” Engler worked with Hofesh’s dance company as a drummer on huge works like Political Mother. “He is an incredible artist and opened my mind to always think more openly.”
“My depression also inspired me,” continues Engler. “My depression was vicious, but that led me to do this work so I am grateful for that. The amount of failing relationships and toxic relationships, including my parents unfortunately – seeing that has also been a big drive for me as well.”
To round things up, I ask what someone can do immediately in order to better themselves today. After a considerable pause, Engler says “take a deep breath.” “If we just stop for a second and take a deep breath and slow down, it makes a huge difference. Set an alarm on your phone for every hour of the day as a reminder to take a deep breath.”
Learn more about On Being Men and join the program at www.onbeingmen.com
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