Mindfulness and Masculinity: Can the Two Coexist?

Benjamin Bonetti Therapy Online Coaching

The contemporary dialogue around mental health has witnessed a burgeoning interest in mindfulness as a credible avenue for psychological well-being. The practice, often associated with meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and holistic Eastern philosophies, has permeated mainstream thought as a method for stress management, enhanced focus, and emotional balance.

However, as the concept gains traction, a pertinent question emerges: Can mindfulness be comfortably integrated into the conventional narratives of masculinity, often characterised by stoicism, rugged individualism, and emotional restraint? This blog will engage with this query, taking into account the science of mindfulness, its apparent contrast with societal notions of masculinity, and how the two can not only coexist but potentially enrich each other.

The Foundations of Mindfulness: A Brief Overview

Mindfulness can be succinctly described as the deliberate act of focusing one's attention on the present moment, in a non-judgmental manner. Rooted in Buddhist traditions but secular in modern adaptations, mindfulness has been subject to numerous scientific studies that point to its efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. In essence, mindfulness shifts our 'autonomic' psychological operations, often tinged with cognitive biases and conditioned emotional responses, towards a conscious 'manual mode,' thereby affording us greater control over our actions and emotional states.

Traditional Masculinity: The Stoic Facade

Contrastingly, traditional masculinity, at least in the Western cultural narrative, extols attributes of stoicism, fortitude, and rationality. Men are encouraged to exert control over their environment and emotional landscape, often translating into a suppression of feelings deemed inconsistent with masculinity. This approach, though culturally applauded, has long-term ramifications. Studies have repeatedly shown that emotional suppression is linked to a range of mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression.

The Apparent Dichotomy

On the surface, mindfulness and masculinity appear to be situated on opposite poles. Mindfulness encourages openness, vulnerability, and a willingness to engage with one's emotional inner life. Traditional masculinity, meanwhile, discourages these very attributes, promoting emotional restraint as a virtue. This seemingly intractable tension has led many to question whether mindfulness and masculinity can genuinely coexist.

The Harmonious Intersection

Contrary to conventional wisdom, mindfulness does not advocate an abandonment of control or an indulgence in emotionalism. Rather, it provides the tools to exercise 'discerning control,' where one gains the clarity to differentiate between circumstances that can be influenced and those that cannot. This principle resonates with the stoic philosophy that has traditionally informed Western concepts of masculinity. Stoicism and mindfulness both advocate a tempered approach to life, guided by wisdom and rational thought. Furthermore, the stoic ideal of 'virtuous action' can be significantly enhanced through mindful practice that facilitates greater self-awareness and, therefore, more informed decision-making.

Practical Steps for Integration

  1. Identify Emotional Triggers: Both stoicism and mindfulness emphasise the identification of emotional triggers. The former urges rational control over them, while the latter advises non-judgmental awareness.

  2. Mindful Breathing: Practising mindful breathing techniques can serve as an entry point for men skeptical about mindfulness. The exercise aligns well with masculine values of focus and discipline.

  3. Community Support: Men often thrive in community settings that encourage collective well-being. Incorporating mindfulness exercises in group settings can make the practice more acceptable.

  4. Professional Guidance: If you're having difficulty navigating the complexities of mindfulness and masculinity, consider seeking professional advice.


Mindfulness and masculinity are not the incompatible entities they may appear to be. When one delves beyond superficial perceptions, it becomes evident that the two can indeed coexist and mutually enhance each other's value. By understanding the underlying principles of each and taking actionable steps towards integration, men can reap the psychological benefits of mindfulness without compromising their masculine identities.