I would like to raise money to send men on a week-long life-changing experience that enables them to feel into their emotions, heal and start to thrive in this world. This is not just about men who are on their knees, this is about men who exist, survive, overachieve, can’t sit still, are stuck in endless thought, whatever, but they cannot feel (or are afraid to feel) their feelings deeply and therefore, cannot experience a fulfilling life. The cost of one of these experiences is between €3,000 and €3,500. My aim is to raise enough for one man to attend and any additional men will be a bonus. I will explain how and why below. Please give what you can.
On the 2nd of July I will set off on Ireland’s largest marked trail, the Kerry Way, with nothing only my back pack and a tent. I will wild camp wherever I can find a spot. I will be alone and completely disconnected from technology. I hope to get home in around a week. There will be a lot of darkness but there will also be a lot of magic, for without one there cannot be the other.
There was a time when I might have taken on an extreme physical challenge to prove a point or show I was good enough, attaching my self-worth to a distance I could complete in a certain time.
This is different. Voluntary suffering with nothing only my own thoughts is a personal development exercise. I get to watch my thoughts and feel my emotions as they rise and fall. It is an exercise in disconnecting from the modern world to remind myself who I am, what’s important, how lucky I am to have all I do and to appreciate those I love more by being separated from them.
It is also different to my previous list of physical and mental achievements because it is the first time in my life, I am truly comfortable with the idea of 7-days with nothing only my own thoughts and feelings.
How does a former competitive athlete and academic junkie come to be wandering around Kerry? My story began in tears in a Montpellier train station in 2018. As an athlete, I was running faster than ever and as an academic I was overseeing a research group that was producing output not seen in the history of that department. I was physically and mentally fit. But between body and mind are emotions. And without all 3 working in harmony, humans cannot thrive.
I had a niggle in my stomach and I didn’t know what it was, but I wasn’t content or fulfilled. My reactions to what would have ordinarily been minor disappointments were growing larger and I didn’t know why. I wasn’t depressed or suffering with anxiety but who wants to live like there is a piece of themselves missing? No one should have to but unfortunately, I think many people do. In September of that year, I plucked up the courage to go and speak to someone and so began my journey from darkness into magic.
The things that helped me the most on this journey were counselling, retreats and belonging to a community of men who speak openly and honestly without their masks. The single biggest shot in the arm to kick start this process, I believe, is the 5-day immersive experience in a retreat, which is why all the money raised will go toward funding a man/men to attend.
Why does the world need this?
Every man that transforms and develops a strong set of values has backbone and communities desperately need men with backbone who are willing to lead. In the absence of archaic forms of leadership such as the church or tribal elders, there is a vacuum where people have endless freedoms and no direction. In the absence of leadership people look to money, materialism, empty achievement, substance abuse, technological addiction and short-term wins to feel as though they are enough. Deep in our heart and soul we know this will never bring fulfillment. (There is nothing wrong with these things in the right context, but they will never be enough alone).
In short some of the things that will bring us fulfillment are:
- Deep and meaningful connections (especially in an increasingly disconnected and lonely world)
- Belonging to a group with a common purpose
- Activities that move us away from the overactive monkey mind (exercise, meditation, nature etc.)
- Adequate rest
- An attention and options diet (limiting negative/sensationalist input from the media and limiting the number of things we do / are involved in)
What have the benefits of moving from darkness into magic been for me?
The benefits of moving from darkness into magic for me are listed below (please donate as much as you can and follow updates on peterfrancis.ie and social media). Instagram. Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter.
- I no longer have a compulsive need for non-purpose driven achievement
- I can be vulnerable
- I say no a lot more
- I have clarity on what I am really good at which means I can relax more in the work arena
- I have felt anger and sadness properly
- I can communicate boundaries
- I can start to ask for what I need and accept help
- I can manage my emotions when exploring intimate relationships
- During difficult emotions or periods of difficult emotions, I know what is causing them and therefore, I am less distressed
- Any time I am having a hard time I know that magic, breakthrough or clarity is only around the corner because I am open to sitting in the emotion rather than distracting myself from it
- I can lean into difficult conversations which help to maintain and repair relationships
- I no longer have a compulsive need to exercise to maintain my body image
- My self-respect is soaring due to consistency in living in alignment with head, gut and heart
- I have backbone and can provide authentic leadership to others
All these new skills are still very much a work in progress. I fail and start again regularly on all of the above. The aim is progress not perfection. Donate here.
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