In recognition of this Father’s Day month, our community feature honours and celebrates our dear friends and colleagues at one of Canada’s most long-standing and renowned personal, organizational, leadership development and counselling training organizations, Clearmind International. Since its inception in the early 90’s, the emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of men has been a core element of Clearmind founders, Duane & Catherine O’Kane’s vision to create an: “Inspirational heart-centred community that stands for evolution through relationship, and supports each individual to actualize their unique life purpose and live in a state of interdependence.”
The central themes of Clearmind’s approach in helping men to heal have their roots in Duane’s determination to understand and emancipate himself from the deep wounds of growing up with a violent alcoholic father. When the impact of this early life experience led to a personal crisis in relationship, numerous major losses including his father to suicide, and the onset of a deep clinical depression in 1990, Duane’s journey of coming to a place of understanding, forgiveness, and love for his father, and ultimately himself, began in earnest.
From Duane’s perspective, “most men carry a collective guilt for the perceived wrongs of their fathers and all other men, who were also responsible for most historical atrocities. Men avoid this deep suspicion of who they intrinsically are and become only a facsimile of themselves… yet another man contributing to an already defended and hostile world. This burden of guilt requires attention and remedy.”
While this might sound like a heavy and daunting responsibility to take on, over the last 3 decades, Duane, Catherine and the teaching and assistant teams at Clearmind have helped thousands of men transform the hurts and wounds of the past, providing them with an unprecedented opportunity to redefine what it means to be a man in today’s world. According to Duane, the healing of a man’s relationship with his father is often the springboard for healing in all aspects of their life.
The key to Clearmind International’s approach is the focus on experiential and process work within a transpersonal framework, which affords men the ability to understand and feel at the level of their being what they had only understood at an intellectual before, and often not even that.
Clearmind International’s commitment to men’s healing and transformation also extends to hosting a Men’s Support Group that runs each spring and fall. Matthew and Ross, the current co-facilitator’s of the group both graduated from the Clearmind counselling training program and are Registered Therapeutic Counsellors with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists. Matthew describes the purpose of the group as “providing support for members to be able to share current struggles and celebrations, and to have an opportunity to experience empathic witnessing in the presence of a community of men that share the values of honesty, connection, and emotional responsibility.” Participants of the group have described it as “sacred to them” and Matthew and Ross have both witnessed remarkable empathy, wisdom, respect and deep-caring shared among the men in the group.
Exploring their relationships with their fathers and how it has influenced their identity as men is a common theme among the participants. There is a great longing among the men to have a more heartfelt and authentic connection with their fathers. Sometimes this entails mourning that it was not this way while their fathers were alive and then deepening one’s own commitment to living and expressing oneself with an open heart and authenticity now. At other times, connecting to this longing has led to literally reaching-out to initiate courageous conversations with their fathers while both father and son are still living. Rituals to honor the gifts received from their fathers, regardless of particular history and past behaviours, have also contributed to a sense of reconciliation and solidity for the participants going forward.
To learn more about the group and prerequisites for membership please contact Matthew Ramsay at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ross Dixon at email@example.com. And click here to learn more about the Clearmind International community in general, as well as the events, programs, and services they offer.