Last month, BLK, the premier dating and lifestyle app, hosted a wellness retreat designed exclusively for Black men. The aptly titled Brotherhood Reimagined, took place from August 17 – 20 at the beautiful AutoCamp Resort in Joshua Tree, California, and welcomed a unique collection of journalists, influencers, and like-minded individuals for a “glamping” experience like none other.
The weekend began in Los Angeles on Thursday evening, as men from across the country gathered at the Embassy Suites before embarking on a transformative journey featuring several workshops that focused on emotional vulnerability, identity intersections, imposter syndrome, spirituality and much more. During the two-hour trip, we were able to converse, laugh, network, and explore things from societal issues to the importance of hip-hop in this generation.
Upon arrival at our serene oasis, we ate a health-conscious lunch that was filled with veggie wraps, vegan cuisine, and bottles of the premium water company, Essentia. Following our meal, attendees were taken to their individual trailers, which contained a bathroom, a cozy living area, and a bedroom that included a large screen television with the ability to connect to wireless devices and smartphones.
Friday’s list of activities featured ice breakers, table talks, and opportunities to write down our feelings, thoughts and ideas in our high-quality journals provided by BLK. That evening, a workshop discussion focused on love languages and secure attachment style was held, allowing the men to speak about the different ways we like to give and receive love, and how our specific experiences have affected our perception of love. After dinner, we were able to participate in tarot card readings, something that is oftentimes considered “taboo” in Black culture.
When the readings concluded, we enjoyed the rest of the evening at our leisure – whether it be fellowship, stargazing, rest, etc. What was perhaps the most underrated moment – or moments – of Brotherhood Reimagined, was the beauty of what we were surrounded by. The Autocamp community provided a perfect balance of intimacy, and a tight-knit community feel. Joshua Tree’s nighttime skies were also a sight to behold, and looking at it gave me a deep sense of gratitude, as well as the realization that I was part of something much bigger, whatever that may be.
Day two kicked off with breakfast, then an hour-long yoga session. While some yogi’s were more experienced than others, it was a well-needed exercise, and an opportunity to detach from the monotony of daily life. Our morning of relaxation continued with lessons on breathwork and a period of soundbathing that lasted until lunch. For the remainder of the afternoon we participated in two themed workshops – Imposter Syndrome and Bridging Masculinity – both of which created some provocative conversations between everyone involved.
For me, the two aforementioned discussions were the heartbeat of this retreat. Through these transparent workshops, we were able to display vulnerability, show emotion, and express ourselves in ways that haven’t been traditionally accepted in society. We spoke about sexuality, acceptance, the way the world perceives us as opposed to the way we perceive ourselves, among other thought-provoking topics. The night concluded with a bonfire talk about the age-old subject of dating, and of course, sex.
As with all good things, this wellness retreat had to come to an end. Unfortunately, it wrapped a bit early due to the incoming storm that headed in our direction. Outside of its abrupt end, Brotherhood Reimagined was life-changing, and I hope it’s something that everyone eventually has the opportunity, and the honor, of attending at least once in their lives. Until I visited Joshua Tree, the way I defined being a man was rigid, and even ignorant at times. What I came to realize was that masculinity has many shapes, sizes, sexual preferences, and emotions, and that it takes a real man to understand, and accept that.