HSY for Men is the first online destination designed for men interested in spiritual yoga. We provide an environment for men to journey through self-discovery and spiritual growth without judgement.
Our goal is to demystify spirituality and explore the unique issues that men face in the journey to self-growth, and achieving balance of heart, mind and action.
Please join us in this journey.
– Mario Canki, HSY for Men Editor
Previously I discussed how meditation and spirituality helped me in a search for greater meaning and purpose in my life. To be clear, I had great motivation to make a change and undertake these pursuits – I was not happy with my work and I was lacking any meaningful sense of direction or purpose in my life. Being unhappy is always a good motivation to seek change. If you are unhappy with your work, your coworkers, or the work environment, then this may be a good indication and opportunity to look within yourself and discover your true life’s calling. Everyone...Continue Reading
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I was present at the start of the Higher Self Yoga teaching some thirty years ago, so it is fair to say that it’s been a long time. I credit HSY teachings and guidance of my teacher, Nanette Hucknall for major transitions in my life, which came out of a process of self-discovery and spiritual awakings.
This has been a most fascinating and challenging process as it continues to demand my willingness to change by confronting my own fears and beliefs. To me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of the teaching as it certainly makes my life more comprehensible, interesting, and a lot less boring.
I started in Wall Street banking, commercial photography, transitioned to currently doing biomedical research on HIV drug discovery, and now again I am starting a new venture in writing.
It’s been challenging, exciting, rewarding, never ending, and in the end, I am grateful and would not have it any other way.
I am 75 years of age and am retired from my business in commercial development and construction.
I found my way to the Higher Self Yoga path approximately twenty years ago through my wife who had been searching to fulfill the yearning in her heart. I was too caught up in the stresses of business to get involved in a spiritual journey. However, I was curious, but being too macho to ask questions I peaked into the books she was reading and so conveniently left lying around the house.
After a while I realized that for me there seemed to be some valid issues in the material and I started asking questions. The next time my wife arranged to attend a Higher Self Yoga Retreat I telephoned her Teacher, Nanette Hucknall, and asked permission to also take part. After several days at the Retreat I asked and was accepted as her student. I have been practicing Higher Self Yoga ever since.
The Teaching has helped me ease my stresses, It has made me look at myself, my patterns and challenges, and It has given me the strength and fortitude to work on them. It has enhanced the quality of my daily life by becoming more compassionate, tolerant and open to all of life and the world around me. It has taught me to appreciate nature and our interdependence with it, and to be grateful for what life has to offer.
I extend my deepest gratitude to my Teacher, Nanette Hucknall, the Teaching, and my wife for opening my heart and my mind to an expanded understanding of life.
My family originated in Europe and my parents have always been devout Catholics. My first nine years of education were spent at a Catholic school, which stood adjacent to our parish church. The parish priests would spend time with the students on a regular basis answering their questions regarding life’s mysteries.
It was during these question periods that I noticed the answers given by the priests were either too vague or evasive and, in many cases, contradictory to the day-to-day activities of the clergy. As I matured, I became more and more disillusioned and, in my late teens, I left the church and its practices.
My evolution into spirituality began when I met my wife in 1982, and my striving has never stopped. In 1993, I was introduced to Higher Self Yoga and to my teacher, Nanette Hucknall.
Over the last 21 years, I have learned acceptanceto accept others for who they truly are, to accept their positive and not so positive qualities, and to accept the challenges that others need to go through as part of their evolution. As a result, I have learned to develop more compassion for others as they move along their own path.
In addition, I continue to learn about other religions, about other cultures, and about other beliefs ultimately realizing that most of the participants share the same aspirations.
Coming from a technical and scientific education, I have embraced HSY because it encourages me to use my heart and not just my mind in my day-to-day interaction with life and humanity. For me, HSY is a “teaching of living ethics,” as described by Ralph Houston, Nanette’s spiritual teacher. It facilitates the broadening of my consciousness while at the same time showing me the way to plausible answers to the many questions I have about life, answers the church continues to deny, or is unable to give to its parishioners.
I am grateful for the guidance, the wisdom, and the support that I receive on this, my chosen path.
I practiced law for 38 years and then transitioned into neutral work as a mediator, which I have been doing for the past fourteen years.
I am a father of a 41 year old son (and very proud of him), and have been in a post-marriage relationship with a wonderful woman for almost 25 years.
The highlight of my life is my meeting and working with the Canadian-born spiritual teacher, RHH, from 1974 until his passing in 1976. I have continued to practice the Agni Yoga Teaching through today, and now study with one of his disciples.
I have also been blessed to be part of the Higher Self Yoga community, led by its spiritual teacher, Nanette Hucknall, since 2000. Without any doubt whatsoever, the pursuit of spiritual fulfillment is the reason for my being on planet Earth at this time.
I was in my mid-twenties when it became apparent to me that leading a spiritually based life was the sine qua non to having a meaningful existence. Prior to making that decision, I had been a carefree lawyer with little interests besides working and having a good time.
That was nearly forty years ago, and the problem I faced was that I had been given only a vague destination and little guidance as to how to proceed. I still had to go about my life as my old self, with my old patterns of thinking, my old patterns of doing, my fears and my foibles.
During the next twenty years of stumbling, fumbling and blithering along, one memory of that transformative period stood out: a close friend advised me to “choose a path with a heart.”
In 1992, I met Nanette Hucknall, then a teacher of Agni Yoga. The only thing I really knew about Agni Yoga was that it was a path with a heart. Being a lawyer, of course, I had to conduct my due diligence; and it was only then that I asked to become her student.
Through the years, her teaching has evolved into Higher Self Yoga, which combines Western psychology with Eastern philosophy. This became the key to my spiritual growth, because I had always ignored the importance of self-discovery through therapy. I had realized that a spiritual life meant, first of all, improving my character, yet I had made little or no effort to change. In fact, I didn’t know that change was necessary, or even possible.
I have walked, sometime run, the Path of Higher Self Yoga for many years now, and as a result I have changed. I am living the dream promised to me in my twenties. In fact, I could not have imagined the life now given to me.
As a result of therapy, meditation, study and the gentle guidance of my teacher, I barely recognize the person I used to be. Besides the daily dedication to my spiritual practice, my role as a responsible, caring member of my family and my community has gradually evolved. I have come to appreciate and embrace the gift of life with all its ups and downs.
A discriminating yet accepting attitude towards my fellows has replaced harsh judgment and criticism. My ability to carry on loving relationships with family and friends, and even new acquaintances, has improved beyond my wildest dreams. And above all is an awareness that the sense of continually evolving personally and spiritually into a oneness with my Higher Self is the greatest gift.
Like many men, I had been taught from boyhood to be independent, to think for myself, to make my own decisions, etc. – all good qualities, without question. But as someone who also felt a desire for spiritual growth, these same ideas often came into conflict with the concepts of devotion, reverence, humility, trust and similar requirements of many teachings.
In a recent discussion with a group of men, all of whom had various spiritual or religious practices, we all remarked about how few men participated in their practice, compared to women. One reason given was that so many men are taught to “go it alone,” or “find your own way.” The thought of reaching out for help, admitting that one needed advice or guidance from others is very difficult for many men. The therapists in this group also noted that this was likely the same reason that most of their clients were women.
My path to Higher Self Yoga was a long and winding one, but it could have been short and direct had I not chosen to resist for many years. I was extremely blessed to have discovered Agni Yoga in 1970 at age 24, and to have been a student of Ralph Houston, the spiritual teacher of Nanette Hucknall, founder of Higher Self Yoga.
When Higher Self Yoga classes were first being formed over twenty years ago, I could have easily jumped right in and become part of the core group. But I didn’t. There were many reasons, mostly having to do with my own personal issues, but there were some aspects of Higher Self Yoga that put me off.
First, there was the emphasis on psychological work. This was a new element for a spiritual teaching. Besides, I had done years of therapy and didn’t need any more, thank you. I also didn’t think much of how the classes and lessons were structured, with group discussions, often about personal issues. And finally, you had to have a buddy! For me—the idea of getting on the phone—something I avoid whenever possible and talking about your issues and then listening to someone else talk about theirs, was unthinkable.
But about eight years ago something changed. After knocking on many doors, reading many books, searching but still feeling something missing, I had a series of dreams in which it became clear that in order to really grow spiritually, I needed a loving teacher and a supportive community. And, it turned out, they had been right in front of me the whole time.
I now find the Higher Self Yoga techniques, which I had so strongly dismissed, to be immensely powerful. I have experienced tremendous personal and spiritual growth and feel that I am constantly moving forward, striving towards greater consciousness, feeling more connected to the world, opening my heart and becoming a better person all the time.
In the mid-80s a friend introduced me to a book about Agni Yoga, Talk Does Not Cook The Rice. Immediately four of us were enthralled to read and discuss this practical-yet-esoterically-based text for about eight hours straight. I was hooked. I wanted more. I attended two Agni Yoga classes a week in Toronto and continued to experience amazing insights in the class and in the class readings.
Not long after this, a group of powerful women came to Canada to unveil a “transformative art” show at a major international conference. The leader of the group, Nanette Hucknall, was the most powerful spiritual woman I had ever encountered. And that is still true some 30 years later.
Nanette was incredibly tuned in to the inner worlds and personally gave me insights that were absolutely stunning. She challenged me in many ways and opened doors to great understandings and vision that transcended time. She encouraged direct connect with those who represented the Hierarchy of Light.
The lessons Nanette has shared over the years continue to provoke thought and stimulate answers that have guided and sustained me as I work towards contributing to the betterment of this world.
I feel calmer and happier, knowing that I have a home for my soul in an otherwise turbulent world.
As a gay man of 77 who has been an active participant in various forms of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism and who has done differing types of psychotherapy, numerous approaches to body work and a number of kinds of spiritual practices, nothing is quite like Higher Self Yoga.
While all of the work I have done has been quite helpful for my lifelong yearning and striving for increased consciousness and awareness, the approaches mostly had me focus on the negative aspects of my being, my deficiencies.
Higher Self Yoga indeed does continue to aid me to become more conscious of my incompleteness but at the same time it gently and unceasingly keeps nudging and guiding me into an ever increasing awareness of my goodness and wonderfulness. For me it is a way of complete balancing of the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.
I am most grateful and thankful for being able to participate and grow in awareness and consciousness with others who are on their own journey of life.
Loooong story, short.
In the early 1980s I was working with a theater company in New York City that was creatively challenging and filled with experience for a young artist. I had also been smoking pot pretty much every day since 1975. I was slowly becoming aware of a deep need yet vague notion of having a spiritual life and that the marijuana was an attempt to fill that vacuum.
One evening, sometime in 1982 or 3, I went to see/hear the Tibetan Buddhist Monks Overtone chanting at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine in New York City. The vibration reached deeply into my heart. I closed my eyes and quietly chanted along with them and was immediately taken on a dream journey that included the skull of an Eagle, Eagle wings, and a Shambhala-like destination with long soft grass, glaciers, and my ancestors over thousands of years. The journey ended with the words, “Come Passion,” chanted over and over in my mind, finally melding into, “Compassion.”
I was telling a guy I knew from a bar I was working at in the West Village—a cocaine and Pre-Colombian Art dealer— about the evening. He looked at the program, and before I told him about the dream, he explained to me that the chant I was concerned with was a chant for the incarnation of the God Of Compassion who often appeared as an Eagle.
Soon thereafter I came across the book, Halfway Through The Door by Alan Arkin, an actor whose work I have long admired. It is his story of his devotional practice and his journey to Agni Yoga. At the time, for him it was a life-saving practice and his words resonated with me like the evening of chanting with the Tibetan Monks.
I then met a beautiful woman. How many spiritual journeys start with that sentence? Laura Gates. Laura was a dancer at the time, a dear collaborative friend who I worked on several shows with. I mentioned the Arkin book to her and she said she was periodically going to Agni Yoga meetings in New York! Being in the market for a good mediation class, I begged her to tag along, along with a few other friends.
The meetings were at an apartment on the Upper East Side, and I remember walking into a room with a white baby grand piano covered with portraits of Mahatmas and Masters. It was there I met my irreplaceable teacher, Nanette Hucknall, and so many others I have since come to love as brothers and sisters.
I began to easily shed my habitual behavior and the Teaching has since brought me deep challenges, family, protection, life-saving understanding and a sophisticated interaction with my heart and mind, my creativity and the Universe.
My formative years were spent in the Province of British Columbia in the Kootenay Lake district where mountains, rivers, lakes and streams made my relationship with Mother Nature my way of life. On reflection, these were idyllic days about which poets write.
Inspired by my high-school music teacher, I began studying instrumental music by developing performance skills on the clarinet and saxophone and, early on, set my goal to become a teacher of instrumental music. I eventually made my way east, graduated from the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and taught high-school music for nine years. My first and only job interview was for that first teaching position. From then on I was in the right place at the right time and for the next thirty-two years taught at my alma mater and retired from it as Associate Dean overseeing the very active divisions of music education, performance and opera.
Life can present challenges that threaten our very existence. I count five of these occurrences where situations arose that could easily have lead to my demise. In each case help came from somewhere beyond the normal events and cures. It is my opinion that these were divine interventions, two of which presented visual evidence of spiritual nature and it seemed to me that I was being saved for some future purpose.
The reality is that I am eighty years of age, suffering from chronic COPD and everything in my life moves at a snail’s pace. I reflect on a successful teaching career, a family life that was interesting and productive, leisure time that was invested in fishing, golf, skiing and examining and adjudicating music performance in Canada and the United States, plus some art works and poetry.
On New Year’s Eve 2014, an event occurred which would change direction in my life. The phone rang. It was a friend phoning to wish me well but all she got from me was a sputtering and gasping for air. She called 911 and I spent the next six days recovering from a poisonous substance that I had used to clean my CPAP machine.
She visited me often and we talked of many things, among them Higher Self Yoga, a spiritual discipline which had virtually saved her life. I felt that this might be the answer to my questions about the divine interventions and from then on I have been an eager and dedicated follower of the principles of Higher Self Yoga.
I am inspired by those in HSY who have twenty to forty years of spiritual work and have reached a peak-level of high achievement. I, on the other hand, have only been to a handful of classes and a week-long retreat where I witnessed participants who were able to see deep into the souls of others at a similar level. I am nowhere near this but hope that, in pursuit of this wonderful teaching, I will prepare myself for a meaningful existence in a future life.
My attitude has become optimistic since working with the meditation, writing and exercises in HYS and I have a new way of living with a new lease on life. I wait for the solutions to the mysteries of those five divine interventions that happened early in my life.
Higher Self Yoga has helped keep me grounded through the ups and downs of a freelance career. It gives me access to a source of creativity and inner wisdom for which I am deeply grateful and consistently surprised. To walk this active, experiential path to spiritual life may not be for everyone, but it certainly works for me.
I feel calmer and happier, knowing that I have a home for my soul in an otherwise turbulent world.
I’ve been studying Higher Self Yoga since 2000. I came to it after studying the parent teaching Agni Yoga for a number of years.
Not long before I had gone into education with more or less conscious aims to be of service to the world somehow, and to face down a fear of public involvement. HSY fit this move perfectly, by emphasizing psychological growth and acting from the heart as a position of great strength. The guidance it has provided and richness of life it has made possible are nothing I can express; I will forever be in gratitude for these gifts.
It is fair to say my life moved in a different direction upon devoting myself to daily practice of Higher Self Yoga-striving ever upward by moving further into life, and its many challenges, both on an individual level and also those facing humanity. It guided, and guides still, a path of fulfillment that includes marriage, parenting, community and career. The treasures it puts in one’s path-opportunities for service in each moment-cannot be measured.
To quote one of the Agni Yoga Books, Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, “Blessed be the obstacles, through them we grow.”