A Man
Overboard

 

 

 

An interview with Frederick Whitmeyer


Frederick Whitmeyer has done it all as an engineer, a teacher, a successful business man, and a Ritual Elder in the ManKind Project. He is also trained in Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Healing Touch, Reflexology, and Reiki. He is Chairman of A Man Overboard's advisory committee, a friend, a true brother, and my personal coach. So, this piece may be a tad biased for him because I think the world of him. He's a lot like Authentic Movement - you really have to experience him for yourself. He's a beautiful and talented man.

The day I spoke with Frederick for this interview, I had just visited a friend in the hospital who had "water on the brain" caused from too much stress, according to his doctors. He had viral meningitis because his immune system was worn down, they said. It made me wonder if taking care of ourselves as men is not simply a luxury - but a matter of life and death.

I've never known anyone who takes care of themselves as conscientiously as Frederick Whitmeyer. He is particularly aware of his body and how it reacts to food, sleep, and the energies of others. Authentic movement helped him attune himself to this kind of sensitivity, he said.

He first encountered the Jungian based work by accident at a workshop entitled "Men and Intimacy" a dozen years ago.

"At one of the break times, a man by the name of Dale English invited some of us to come move with him," Whitmeyer recounted. "He put on some music and got about 40 guys to move with him."

Whitmeyer said he stood back by the wall, "terrified" of walking the ten feet to where the group was assembled in a circle.

"I was just going to watch, and Dale said, 'c'mon, c'mon, get into the circle,' over and over again until the next thing I knew he had me closing my eyes and moving."

For 45 minutes the men interacted in a "contact improvisational" movement with music blaring and eyes wide open. Initiatially, the men did not touch, but mirrored each other's actions.

"It was very scary to have that much closeness to the energy of other men," Whitmeyer recalled. "It really scared me. I'd never been that close to my own body, let alone to another man's energy."

Unsure of what was happening to him emotionally, Whitmeyer said fear came up for him, and later he realized the feelings were about his homophobia.

"I was exposed to more feelings than I was used to feeling," he said. "I processed it for many days."

He said he knew there was "something important" in what he experienced at that session so he contacted Dale English and told him "I don't know what you're doing, but there's something very powerful here."

The result of the phone call was Whitmeyer's first movement workshop aptly called "Creative Movement for Men." The workshops continued for seven years.

Whitmeyer eventually co-led the trainings using the Jungian model of processing the movement afterwards with drawings.

"It became natural for us to do it," he explained. "We used pencils, oils, cloth and Touch Drawing."

Touch Drawing is like finger painting without the mess. A fiber board is covered in a thin layer of oil paint. A piece of tissue paper is then laid on top. When a finger draws on the paper, the paint is picked up on the other side.

"It's a way of creating art that's very spiritual," Whitmeyer said. "Spirit moves one to create some pretty fantastic pieces of art. The processing time following the art becomes more lengthy than the movement. I find it essential to do processing after any kind of movement, otherwise I become overwhelmed."

With all his own natural ability, Whitmeyer attributes his success in life to a close relationship with spirit.

"What I've learned is, I'm never doing anything alone," he stated. "Energy and spirit are always involved in what I'm doing. I either open that door and I let it in or I keep it closed. I view that everything I do I co-create with spirit. I use spirit as another way of saying 'when I'm in touch with my body I can feel things and when I'm not in touch with my body I'm not feeling anything and I'm not in touch with spirit.'"

Whitmeyer appears to have come full circle from the left-brain engineer to the right-brained empath. He studied petroleum engineering in Golden, Colorado at the Colorado School of Mines. He then studied at Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Afterward, he worked for Humble Oil and Refining, now Exxon Oil.

Forever the inquisitive student, he went back to Lousiana State University where he received an MBA. He then taught at the University of Southwestern Lousiana in Lafayette for two years. He matriculated at Harvard Business School and was a professor at Boston College and Wake Forrest University. He also ran his own computer software business. He's truly the Spiritual Renaissance man! My own coaching sessions are always filled with that ineffable quality of spirit. He works from my insides out. He's helping me learn that what I create in my internal world attracts what happens in the exterior world. It's created spiritually before it happens temporally.

"I trust spirit to guide me because I'm a highly sensitive person," he continued. "I'm very intuitive and clairsentient. I can feel the feelings of other people and other energies. I ask spirit to guide me and help me separate 'my stuff' from 'somebody else's stuff,' my feelings from their feelings, so I can respond to what I'm picking up from them."

Whitmeyer said he feels a sense of responsibility within the spiritual realm. If he gets "a hit" about a person from a feeling in his body, he uses that sense to help clarify what the other person is saying. Helping a person understand they are not alone is the most important part of his work.

"I tell them that everything they create is co-created with spirit," he said. "It's too much of a burden to create everything ourselves, in fact we don't. All we can do is manage our energy to attract to us what we want."

There are plenty of distractions in day to day living as one drives through the city or walks through a mall, he said, and Authentic Movement is a powerful way of being in touch with one's body. It can help a person concentrate like a form of meditation.

Paraphrasing one of his mentors, author Wayne Dyer (The Awakened Life, There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Choosing Your Own Greatness), Whitmeyer said we are taught to believe after we "see it."

"It's like 'I'll believe I got the money when I see it.'"

The personal coach encourages people to use the philosophy that "when you believe it, you'll see it. Create it first spiritually, then it will happen in reality."

"When I believe that my energy is connected to spirit then I have the emotion - the energy in motion - to move into the world of form. When I believe I'm responsiblie for my own life, I create my own reality. I'm not a victim anymore. Victim is an important word. I grew up believing I was a victim. Having experienced childhood abuse, one can be a survivor and then a thriver."

As a man, Whitmeyer said he was taught not to feel his emotions. That block made his connection with Archetypal energies difficult.

"It's been a lifelong endeavor to get in touch with the Archetyptal," he said. "Anytime I'm feeling my feelings, I'm opening the door to spirit and Archetypal Energy. Spirit and Archetypal Energy are one and the same."

Whitmeyer described that Archetypal Energy as "life energy, desire, passion, and clarity."

Prior to his work with Authentic Movement, he said he was unable to have a successful relationship with a woman.

"Once I began to get in touch with my own inner feminine in a relationship with myself, I could then have a relationship with a real female person without being overcome by fear."

Whitmeyer holds out a hope that someday men and women will do their personal work together.

"That's what I like about Authentic Movement, we process by owning our own stuff," he said. "The greatest value for me was learning to witness by focusing on owning my judgments and projections and really going down to what I was witnessing. It requires the most powerful container I've ever been a part of ... and then it turns out to be a very clean process. Creating this container of safety for people provides a place where they can step in and do their work."

As a Ritual Elder in the ManKind Project (MKP), Whitmeyer said he discovered a "freeing environment" working separately with men.

"MKP has created a place for me to find my masculine essence inside me," he said. "It's the kind of thing I would hope that fathers would create for their sons or at least older men around younger men. We need to be able to create an initiatory way to bring this masculine essence into life."

Interestingly, Whitmeyer said he has found that being authentic about anger has been more welcomed by women than men.

"They [women] are so welcoming to a man being honest about his feelings," he explained. "However, in order for a man to feel safe with a woman, he has to be himself with men. Men need to touch their own edge to know how to create a safe container."

Whitmeyer said his feeling of emotional safety with Authentic Movement co-facilitator Sydney Hughes-McGee helped him know that he could "be himself at all times and not be judged or rejected."

"If I can honor my archteyptal energies, my anima, then I can honor her energies," he said. "I'm able to even honor the sexual energy I feel from her and I speak those feelings to her. I will say to a woman 'I love your sexual energy' and that's not a dangerous thing to say."

Me, personally, I don't know how he gets away with it. I envy him. I'm still worried about getting slapped.

"It's more natural for a woman to be in her body," he continued. "She is required to be in touch with her body every day, in touch with her feminine sexuality, her menstrual periods, and giving birth to children. It's natural for her to be in touch with her body. It's very unnatural for me. I was trained not to."

So, what keeps motivating this man who can do it all?

"It seems like I've always wanted something difrerent than I had," he recalled. "From the dysfuctions of family life or even the work I did, I was drawn to things like teaching Sunday School."

His course curriculum at church came from author Scott Peck's "The Road Less Traveled."

"I didn't even know what spiritual growth was 15 years ago," he said. "I was drawn to it without knowing why. I also love teaching and coaching."

Doing something he really loved took the fear out of the unknown.

"I was in a place I really loved so it didn't feel so scary," he explained. "I'd say, 'oh, this feels interesting, let's try this.'"

Whitmeyer said he wasn't sure he could go back to teaching Sunday School again because they might "throw him out."

" ... because my concept has gone way beyond what the church taught. I've included spiritual concepts like meditation, Budhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual practices in my life."

Whitmeyer has a wide range of skills at his disposal. His experience and training in Authentic Movement is just one of many arrows in this man's quiver.

"Something touched me with Authentic Movement when I knew I had a choice," he said. "That's what is so wonderful about choice - it's when you recognize you have power. When we think we don't have choice, we give up our power. Authentic Movement taught me I had the choice to move in or to move away. It's the same in life and everything. That's what's so empowering."

Whitmeyer concluded our conversation by inviting men to experience Authentic Movement.

"You don't need to force yourself in any way," he said, in his powerful yet gentle tone. "Let yourself swim in it ... and it's going to be beautiful. You'll love it." Contact Frederick Whitmeyer at 336.427.2562 or whitmeyer@mindspring.com

© 2005 Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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