FARGO — He's worked with athletes in multiple sports, but Dom Vasquez is gearing up to bring his approach to mindfulness to a new team — the male gender.
Vasquez, a Fargo native who has training experience and a master's degree in sports psychology, is a mindfulness life coach and sport psychotherapist who has assisted with coaching and counseling athletes in various sports, including baseball and wrestling. His past work includes helping people with things like meditation and how to deal with anxiety and depression, as well as sports-centric things like mental toughness, imagery and breathing routines.
He's no stranger to helping out with groups, either — but his new support group, which he's calling Men's Purpose: Evolving the Male Spirit, is "a new adventure."
"This is going to be new and exciting to me to explore that," he says. "But I imagine very similar things will come up from those other groups."
Vasquez says he's open to letting the group go where participants want it to go, so he's keeping an open mind about what might come up during the first informational open house Thursday evening, March 18, at the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo.
Still, he has some ideas of the obstacles or issues of masculinity that attendees might have faced or still grapple with today — he grew up in the Midwest, and says he spent much of his life not expressing his feelings well.
"When I did express them, it was a bit more anger and frustration," he says. "That's what came out instead of being vulnerable and open to being hurt or exposed. Being able to share that isn't always easy, and especially for men, from my experience being a man and training as a therapist."
That's why he says it'll likely be important for the group to serve as a designated "space" where members can open up with others without the fear of judgment.
While issues such as toxic masculinity might come up in the discussions, Vasquez says they might not. He says he'd be just fine if the group became a place where men could shoot the breeze and help each other, if that's what happens.
His goal for now is to get the word out about Men's Purpose as much as possible and to see what interest there is based on this week's informational open house.
"This is what it's about, this is me and if you guys are willing and wanting to share the space, let's set up the time and go from there," he says.
Eventually, he says it's likely that it'll need to become a closed group, where members continue to meet regularly and get the chance to learn more about each other and open up without the fear of new people changing the dynamic.
If you go
What: Men's Purpose: Evolving the Male Spirit support group open house
When: 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18
Where: Spirit Room, 111 Broadway N., Fargo