Lodge Meetings & Wellbeing

Attending a men’s support group for mental health one evening, chatting to one of the facilitators he gave me some excellent advice; ‘When struggling, stressed or emotionally drained there are four things you should avoid; anger, hunger, isolation and exhaustion.’

This simple advice seemed very relevant to me at the time. It would not fix all worries and woes, but I could see how, when my well-being was challenged, some of my behaviours could be negatively impacted by these things. This would lead to it taking longer to get through these periods.
It was the week of our regular lodge meeting, so this linked together with the meeting itself, allowing time to ponder during the evening. It had me reflecting on how Lodge meetings can help these areas and well-being in general.

Anger

Getting angry can be a learned response we feel stuck with. It’s one which can give the opinion we have no control over ourselves, feeding back to make us more frustrated and angrier! The effect of anger lowers our ability to think rationally and leads us to be emotional, often defensive in our view of a situation.

In looking at triggers we find feelings of being wronged/mistreated, unsafe, uncertainty, being blamed by others and perceived attacks on our views, can all give rise to feelings of anger.

Lodges are as prone to things happening as anywhere, with no man perfect, yet the general approach at a lodge meeting, in my opinion, helps fend off the chance of an angry response.

We meet on a level and are mostly supportive and welcoming to all. Politics and religion are removed from the mix; subjects traditionally encouraging to excited discussion! There is a routine to a lodge meeting, being familiar, across the globe.

Familiar routine allows for removal of the uncertainty which arises in everyday life. Although brethren may fall out, personally I have found, the environment to be supportive and accepting in nature.

The last time a man was truly angry in our lodge was either well-hidden or before my time.

Exhaustion

It can seem counter intuitive to say a lodge can help with exhaustion, yet it can be true. Of course, when someone has been up for two days and walked 100 miles, then this type of exhaustion may not be resolved by a bit of ritual and meal in good company.

However, there are other kinds of exhaustion resulting from mentally intensive tasks, emotional strain, physical work or even prolonged social interaction.

Many times I’ve asked myself if I have the energy for the lodge. In fact, our mind’s response to knowing there is something it perceives as taxing, is to make us feel we need to rest (even sleep!).

This should serve to have us well rested for what is to come, but in today’s world with little time for a hours sleep in the afternoon, this can lead to us feeling drained to the point of not attending. Making the effort to go regardless, by the end of the evening many of us often feel rejuvenated and refreshed.

Generally, meetings are a relaxed environment, with conversation rarely forced and friendly smiles all round. On an emotional level, usually, the lodge provides a chance to switch off from the world outside and breathe easy for a few hours. As the evening is planned and we know what to expect, mental strain is rarely evident.

The physical side is limited to standing and sitting (usually mid conversation!), sometimes multiple time in quick succession, which keeps the blood moving around our bodies, without breaking a sweat.

We may leave tired, yet I see most brothers heading into the night with a relaxed smile upon their faces.

Isolation

There is much reporting on the effects of loneliness and isolation to individuals and society. A lack of connection in a local area can have a profound impact on how the community functions. Many people do not even know their own neighbours’.

The impact of loneliness on individuals can lead to early death, cognitive decline, poor sleep, and depression to highlight few of the challenges.

This is often seen as something effecting the older generation, yet recent research in the United States brought attention to the fact young people reporting feelings of isolation had overtaken the elderly population in number, for the first time since recording began.
To bring this back to the start, if we already feel low, then feeling isolated can exacerbate this and possibly add further monkeys to your back!

Many of us are terrible at making an effort to socialise with friends and family, even though it’s usually enjoyable when the effort is made. Likewise, there are others who love to socialise, yet in today’s world struggle to find a group and place which suits their needs.

Those who have attended Lodge’s know what a warm welcome they receive. Even if once a month is all they attend, it can be a true island of social engagement, good for the individual and a person’s well-being and that of the wider community.

Being part of any organisation with regular meeting’s can provide solace from everyday life taking over, and whether by internal factors or external events, offer comfort and connectedness which otherwise would not be there.

Hunger

Food is one of my true loves, not only for the sustenance it provides, but the pleasure in anticipation, consumption, and memory.

When lacking in food our bodies and minds are impaired. This can show in tiredness, lethargy, a slowness in mental faculties and often grumpiness.

If our mood or wellbeing is in a poor situation to start with, a lack of food and drink will certainly leave us with less energy to deal well what life throws our way.

Step forward the Festive Board…

A Freemason mostly leaves a meeting a little calmer and a lot fuller than when he arrived! The traditional approach to Festive Board gives us a chance to socialise and be merry over a satisfying multi course meal.

It could be a traditional pie and chips, a Saturday cooked breakfast social, a curry and quiz night, or summer ham salad.

Which ever it is, there is always plenty to go around. You can usually spot those who visit regularly by the length of their apron strings!

To Conclude: When you look at the foundations of your wellbeing, seeing cracks in stone and crumbling mortar, causing you to stand unsteadily and off the plumb-line, then it is my firm belief Lodge Meeting’s can provide at least some filling of cracks and replacing of stonework, to let you stand a little firmer and closer to upright, able to weather a little firmer what life throws your way.

So head to a meeting, fill your empty stomach, refresh your body and mind, calm the spirit and enjoy good company.

Article by: Daniel Ling

Daniel is a Fellow Craft from Vindelis 7873, Portland, Dorset, under UGLE.

link to the Lodge FB page: Vindelis Lodge 7873 | Portland | Facebook

Email for the lodge 7873@dorsetfreemasonry.info

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