Last weekend, three University of Leeds students journeyed to Weetwood Hall Hotel to partake in a three-day retreat with Leeds Rhinos legend Stevie Ward to look into male mental health. The Mantality retreat aims to encourage men to be more open and honest with each other consequently helping them to achieve a greater sense of control over their lives and empowering them to achieve their best.
The participants on the retreat expressed a range of reasons for wanting to take this fantastic opportunity, seeing it as a way to push their own boundaries by doing something that they didn’t feel comfortable with. By attending with an open mind they were encouraged to look at their past, present and future experiences and how this has affected their ideas of masculinity.
So what was it all about?
The weekend was composed of a range of activities to increase self-awareness. From yoga to meditation workshops, each challenged ideas of manliness. This opportunity allowed everyone to be inspired to do things they wouldn’t normally do as men, and most importantly talk.
The group were encouraged to speak about their thoughts through a ‘men’s circle’. This offered the opportunity to share their feelings and allow themselves to be vulnerable in a safe and comforting environment. Feedback from our students told that all those taking part felt as though they were able to share their experiences. Working together to find ways of fulfilling their potential, they were able to remove limiting beliefs of what it means to be a man.
Andrew Marks, the Charity Secretary for Leeds University Rugby League, reflected on the weekend:
“I learnt that’s it is OK to be open about your feelings, to be vulnerable, and to have issues. I learnt a lot about myself, moving on from the past and how to be more present in today’s society. We discovered how to really focus on our lives moving forward and it helped me realise how to be the best version of myself. I discovered how to be myself and take off the mask we put on to society. Summed up by an Oscar Wilde quote, ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’”
A huge thanks to the footsteps fund for giving our students this fantastic opportunity. Also a special thank you to Stevie and the Mantality team for running this incredible programme.