Director's Message - April, 2017

MCLA Colorado River Retreat co-leader Scott Ewing with Adam Zawadzki and his son Sky

April 2017

Greetings Sacred Path Community,

This newsletter will offer you an opportunity to read about and view photos from the Colorado River Kayak trip that was attended by 21 adventurous souls.  The adventure was comprised of several vigorous Men’s Center Wisdom Council members accompanied by a number of stalwart participants who also registered for the retreat and seized the day.  Carpe Diem, gents!

A deep bow to the leaders, MCLA Associate Directors Rob Bruce and Dr. Michael Lewis and MCLA veteran guides Dan Stanton and Scott Ewing.  A special thank you to Scott for originally introducing us to his Sacred get-away spot on the Colorado River.  Great share, Scott!  There’s already talk about the next river trip one year from now.  So, if you wanted to attend and missed this one, put a note in your date book for next March.

As a reminder, our next big Sacred Path Men’s Conference Retreat will take place at our Hilltop Camp North of Malibu commencing Thursday, October 19 through Sunday, October 22.  Save the dates.  You won’t want to miss this one, it’s going to be amazing.

Emotional Transformation Therapy Training instructor Lolita Domingue, LMFT

On another note, I just returned from a 3-day Level I Emotional Transformation Therapy Training (ETT) in Upland taught by Master Level Trainer, Lolita Domingue, LMFT.  I was initially introduced to the neuroscientifically-based therapeutic power of color and light by one of our men, Mitchell Roth, while at our last October retreat.  He had just completed his Level I (out of 5 levels) training and was quite jazzed by what he had learned.  He offered to work on a few retreat participants.  You may have been one of the lucky ones who was gifted a brief session with him. If you reside in Florida, or are travelling to there, Mitch has just completed his Level III Training.  Look him up to experience a remarkable session under his guidance. He resides in the Boynton Beach area.

A group of us gathered around the table to listen to Mitch rave about the wonders of this newfound technology.  As a result, I got excited and invited four other therapists to have an introductory experience at my office.  Lolita was kind enough to travel in from Upland to offer a demonstration.  As a further result, three of us (Anthony DiMaggio, Jeffrey Young and myself) registered for the Level I Training.  It was a rock-my-world kind of experience.

Dr. Pierre Grimes, age 94, considered "A true Jnani Yogi" for his brilliant work using Plato and Philosophy as a means for healing

At this point in my life, after having practiced as a licensed psychotherapist for over 45 years, I had to ask myself why I would be taking on a lot more work to learn and incorporate a whole new therapeutic paradigm into my busy life.  After all, many of my peers are retired, in pre-tirement or at least slowing down their pace, certainly not adding more.  Maybe it’s the influence of 94-year-old Dr. Pierre Grimes whose presence at the last retreat shattered any delimited thinking around aging.  And undoubtedly, one of my mentors, Dr. Len Olinger, who was still practicing (seeing 15 patients a week) until his passing at age 92. And famed Psychoanalyst, Dr. Hedda Bolgar, who kept at it until her passing at 102.  Being of service keeps you young, especially at heart.

I’m reminded of the African Proverb:  “When death comes to take you home, let it find you living your life to the fullest!”

13th-century Sufi poet Rumi

Over the years, I’ve added several skill sets to my arsenal.  I have been mentored by some of the best-of-the-best, having trained at the knee of many luminaries.  One after the other has given me another facet of the diamond that allows for the light to reflect more brightly.  For example, I knew that I had found the keys to the Kingdom when I got trained and certified as a Rebirthing Breathworker.  As you know, Sacred Breathing is one of the cornerstones of our retreat format and has tremendous value as one of the most useful tools for the journey through life.

The 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi wrote that our wounds are where the light comes in…  His words offer the heartening solace of meaning when so many people are suffering and struggling with what appears to be pointless violence, loss and tragedy. However, as the inner light dawns, it delivers the outer life from bondage.

I’ve always aspired to be of service to others.  My passion resides in my being able to go into the darkness and assist people in finding their way into the light.  Ergo, my attraction to the therapy of color and light.  Along the way, I’ve managed to be rather successful in helping people transform their lives.  There are those however, suffering from complex trauma, who have a difficult time completely resolving the underlying causality of their symptoms. It’s frustrating for providers who wish to make a more complete difference in one’s life when we can’t achieve that final level of perfection, total healing.

One of the things on my wish list has been the desire to help people at a deeper level of recovery from complex traumas. When one of our men, Captain Mike Henry of the LA County Fire Department, asked me if I would head up the therapy program for his Fire Fighter’s Down Organization I decided it was time to step up my skills to be able to reach that more inveterate wounding sustained by victims of trauma and PTSD. That invitation presented the perfect conjunction of possibilities coinciding when Mitch introduced me to ETT.  Mike asked me to respond to some questions for the FFD April newsletter regarding Firefighters and PTSD.  I’ve included my responses and you don’t have to be a wounded warrior or a Firefighter to suffer from PTSD. 

ETT is the brilliant work of Steven Vasquez, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist in Texas who has taught his approach in nine different countries and throughout the U.S.  Essentially, he has employed the universal constant of color and light to human experience through the healing power inherent in natural light.  In his book, Emotional Transformation Therapy, An Interactive Ecological Psychotherapy,” he states, “The implications for counseling and psychotherapy are enormous.  This process has the potential to revolutionize the way therapists work.  Symptoms are changed so rapidly and so permanently that the use of psychotropic medications might become largely obsolete.  However, its use for physical symptoms may offer an even greater breakthrough, particularly in treating physical pain syndromes.”

In addition to the array of diagnostic categories from neurosis to more severe mood disorders and addictive tendencies, the list of traumas that ETT can attend to include, but are not limited to crime victims, survivors of automobile accidents, rape survivors, survivors of natural disaster, war trauma and other acute stress disorders and PTSD.

Anthony DiMaggio delivering Sacred Path Tibetan prayer flags on the Colorado River (with a broken foot)

If you would like to know more about this revolutionary therapeutic breakthrough technology please let me know.  I, and my Intern, Anthony, and Jeffrey (in San Diego) are commencing our integration of this process into our therapeutic practices.  That’s why it’s called a “practice” because we need to practice it.  As they say, practice makes for perfection.  We will meet again at the end of April with our cohort to have a day of consultation with Lolita to go over what we have learned between now and then. 

Jeffrey Young & Eric Ramirez on the Colorado River with 19 other MCLA adventurous men on a mission.

If you are a licensed therapist, or budding counselor in training, and would like to equip yourself with a revolutionary new treatment modality, I highly recommend that you consider doing the Level I training that Lolita will offer again within the next couple of months.  If you do, you’ll be able to join the three of us for our Level II training that will follow by summer.  Check out her website at

It’s helpful to remember when times seem dark, that The Light is always shining, and that Light and Love go hand in hand.  And, it is said that the Light of God is Love.   Love is abundant in the Light and is always supporting, guiding and caring for each of us, at all times.  While we do not deny or suppress the pain we feel, we can endeavor to know that painful experiences do not destroy nor diminish our inherent wholeness, nor do they disprove Love’s sustaining presence.  Rather, we can be opened up by these experiences. This is the mission of Light Workers.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”  -- Romans 12:2




Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director




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CLICK HERE for more memories of the 2017 Sacred Path Colorado River Retreat




Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director
of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower
of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years.
He is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for
men who want to become better men . . . AND
for the women who care about them.



The MCLA Wisdom Council honored Dr. Johnson's amazing 30 years of mindful men leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative film that debuted on
the mountain at the recent 30th
Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat.
Click here to view "The Sacred Path."