Ep3 Conor Cregg on Soulful Masculinity and Sex Club

13th Jun 2024 Gemini 1.5 Pro

The Importance of Embodied Experience

In this episode of the Dandelion podcast, host Stephen Reid engages in a thought-provoking discussion with Conor Cregg, a coach, counsellor, and group facilitator. Conor's work centers around men's work and sexuality, offering workshops and retreats that delve into the depths of human experience. One of the key takeaways from this conversation is Conor's emphasis on the significance of embodied experience in personal growth and healing.

Having a background in psychology, Conor acknowledges the importance of understanding the mind's role in our experiences. However, he highlights the limitations of solely intellectualizing our emotions and challenges. He believes that true transformation occurs when we move beyond the confines of our minds and delve into the realm of the somatic, allowing ourselves to fully feel and process our emotions physically.

"We are embodied beings," Conor asserts, advocating for a holistic approach that integrates both mind and body. He criticizes the societal conditioning, particularly prevalent among men, that encourages emotional suppression and intellectualization. This disconnect from our bodies, he argues, hinders our ability to truly connect with ourselves and others.

"So often our society teaches us, conditions us to focus on the abstract, on the intellectual, particularly in the case of men, but definitely for men and women. There's this reliance on abstraction from our experience, more analysis than experience."

Conor's approach involves guiding individuals to access and process past traumas and emotional blockages through a combination of therapeutic techniques and mindfulness practices. This process allows for the release of pent-up emotions and facilitates a deeper understanding of oneself. He emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for this work, acknowledging the potential for intense emotional experiences to arise.

Answering the Call to Meaning and Purpose

Another central theme explored in this conversation is the concept of "the call" and its significance in men's lives. Drawing upon Joseph Campbell's work on the hero's journey, Conor describes "the call" as an invitation to step into a more authentic and meaningful existence. He observes that many men refuse this call, choosing instead to remain within their comfort zones, often leading to a sense of stagnation and a disconnect from their true potential.

"And actually, I really believe that there's a connection with some of the mental health crises that are going on, that if we are repeatedly refusing the call of life, something inside gets depressed, gets kind of shut down," Conor reflects, highlighting the potential consequences of ignoring these inner promptings.

This refusal, he explains, can manifest as a reluctance to confront difficult emotions, a fear of vulnerability, or an inability to pursue one's passions. He stresses that answering the call is not about a singular grand gesture, but rather a continuous process of showing up for life's opportunities, both big and small.

"And so often what we do is we refuse them, we say no, not now, not ready, it's inconvenient, I don't want to, for whatever reason."

Conor encourages men to cultivate an attitude of curiosity and openness towards life's invitations, embracing the discomfort that often accompanies growth and transformation. He believes that by stepping outside of their comfort zones and confronting their fears, men can unlock a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Creating Safe and Brave Spaces for Men

A significant portion of Conor's work involves facilitating men's retreats, creating a space where men can connect with themselves and each other in a safe and supportive environment. He acknowledges the challenges men often face when it comes to vulnerability and emotional expression due to societal conditioning. He aims to dismantle these limiting beliefs and create a space where men feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly.

Conor emphasizes that these retreats are not about "fixing" men or imposing a specific model of masculinity. Instead, they provide a space for men to explore their own experiences, challenge societal norms, and redefine what it means to be a man in the 21st century.

"And for men, that's, you know, wildly different often from how their interactions with men have been in the past."

He incorporates a variety of practices into his retreats, including rituals, sharing circles, embodiment exercises, and explorations of mythology. These activities are carefully curated to facilitate self-reflection, emotional release, and deeper connection with oneself and others. Conor highlights the importance of creating a non-judgemental and supportive atmosphere where men feel safe enough to be vulnerable and authentically themselves.

Demystifying Intimacy and Sexuality with Sex Club

In addition to his work with men, Conor co-founded Sex Club with his business partner, Jules Muller. This organization offers workshops and retreats that encourage open and honest conversations about sex and intimacy. Conor recognizes that these topics are often shrouded in shame and taboo, leading to misunderstandings and a lack of healthy communication.

Sex Club aims to create a safe and inclusive environment where individuals can explore their own sexuality, challenge societal norms, and develop a more fulfilling and empowered relationship with themselves and their partners.

"And so often when people share about sex with their friends, it’s either not with a lot of detail or maybe with a little bit of bravado or, but rarely in the really open, honest, detailed minutia of what’s going on."

These workshops, conducted in a clothes-on setting, incorporate a blend of verbal and non-verbal exercises, guided meditations, and group discussions. By creating a space where vulnerability is encouraged and judgment is suspended, Sex Club provides a platform for individuals to confront their fears, challenge their limiting beliefs, and cultivate a more authentic and fulfilling experience of intimacy.

The Transformative Power of Presence

When asked about the most significant lesson he has learned through his work, Conor emphasizes the transformative power of presence. He highlights the importance of showing up fully for oneself and others, cultivating an attitude of openness, acceptance, and non-judgment.

"I would say that piece around presence is probably the thing that I’ve incorporated most into my life and feels like one of the really key ingredients in intimacy and sexuality is the capacity to really be present, really present with what’s going on for me."

This sense of presence, he believes, is essential for both personal growth and creating meaningful connections. Whether in the context of men's work, exploring sexuality, or navigating everyday life, Conor stresses that the ability to be fully present with ourselves and others is paramount for fostering intimacy, healing old wounds, and embracing life's full potential.