Firefighters Down 9/11 Benefit Concert

(Photo courtesy Alex Martinez)

MCLA Executive Director Dr. Stephen Johnson (center) with LA County Fire Captains and Firefighters Down co-founders Mike Henry (left) and Rick Brandelli (right) . . . (Photo courtesy Alex Martinez)

Firefighters Down Benefit Concert Memorializes Late Firefighters, More

by Barbara Burke
Malibu Surfside News


On the evening of Sept. 11, a crowd gathered at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theater to pause and reflect on three principles: remembrance, awareness and action.

The Firefighters Down 9/11 benefit concert offered an evening of music, as well as an opportunity to support injured firefighters across the nation.

Members of UCLA’s Operation Mend program (L to R) with Lou Gossett, Jr (center), Melanie Gideon, Operation Mend program director, Captain Mike Henry, FireFighters Down co-founder, and Rob Bruce, MCLA associate director . . . (Photo courtesy Alex Martinez)

Firefighters Down was created by LA County fire captains Mike Henry and Rick Brandelli after their friend, who was a fire captain, reportedly committed suicide. 

Attendee Louise Fontana donates to Firefighters Down on Sept. 11 during the nonprofit’s premiere benefit concert at Smothers Theater in Malibu . . . (Photo by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media)

Henry and Brandelli created the organization to provide support to firefighters dealing with the effects of rescuing victims from everything from terrorism to accidents to horrendous, out-of-control fires. 

“Our firefighters do their jobs so well and we take them for granted,” said Malibu resident and famed actor Lou Gossett Jr., a special guest speaker at the event. “We are unaware of the atrocities that they see. They only ask us to get out of the way so they can do their jobs. Every single person in America is protected by them.”

The event featured a touching and beautifully shot film depicting the horrors that firefighters encounter each day, as well as the unique challenges firefighters encountered on Sept. 11.

A Flock of Seagulls drummer Kevin Rankin dons firefighter gear at the event . . . (Photo by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media)

“We always have to remember,” attendee Caitlyn Jenner said as she provided support to the cause.

In the film, Henry converses with everyday citizens eliciting their thoughts on the emotional challenges that firefighters encounter and the ripple effects their sometimes haunting, stressful experiences have on those they love as well as their colleagues.

“When there is a collapse, a crush, an injury, a death or an illness, Firefighters Down wants to be able to respond and support the firefighters and their families,” Henry explained. “We want to bring them to Malibu and provide them support consisting of multiple therapies for them and their family members.” 

LA County Fire captains and Firefighters Down co-founders Rick Brandelli (left) and Mike Henry (right) gather for a photo with Malibu resident and actor Lou Gossett Jr., who spoke at the organization’s Sept. 11 event . . . (Photo by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media)

The program offers a four-day intensive therapeutic and rehabilitation program for firefighters. 

The film revealed that most Americans do not realize that more than 30,000 firefighters are injured each year on the job and that the rates of PTSD, suicide, divorce, depression and addiction – consequences of firefighters dealing with the stressors inherent in their job – take serious tolls on firefighters, those who love and work with them, and in turn, on the greater community. Dr. Stephen Johnson, psychotherapist for the organization, discussed the effect of stress on first responders, explaining the lengthy process of healing. 

“Acute trauma can take three to four months to heal,” he said. “PTSD can take months or years.”

Henry emphasized that one of the most healing things for those affected by these challenging conditions and emotions is so very simple: showing appreciation to the firefighters for what they have done for all of us. 

“We want to take the firefighters down to the Pier, to dinner, to help them relax and know that we are all thankful for all that they have done,” he said. 

Of course, the stressors are an institutional hazard.

“When there is an event, as all the people are running away, we’re running in,” Brandelli said. “Someone has to take care of the problem. That’s what we do.”

Synthpop band A Flock of Seagulls performs at the Sept. 11 concert in Malibu which memorialized and supported firefighters . . . (Photo by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media)

The benefit concert featured A Flock of Seagulls, a British ’80s pop band. Attendees appreciated the entertainment as they paused and reflected on the presentation and how fitting it was on 9/11 to focus on supporting first responders and fallen firefighters’ unique needs.

“This was enlightening, informative, sincere and heartfelt,” attendee Regina Grundy said. “It’s imperative for people to know about the mental stability needs of our firefighters.”

Members of UCLA’s Operation Mend program . . . (Photo courtesy Alex Martinez)

Attendee Karin Lloy (Von Falckenberg) was very touched by the presentation.

“We all know the importance of firefighters as individuals, their being there for children, the elderly, the animal kingdom, our city, to help with elderly people, to help with traffic and to help those who are ill,” she said. “They are always there and it takes a very special person to dedicate their whole life to doing this tremendous task. At 9/11, I realized that it was not just the loss of so many souls, but of our firefighters who could not run, but who had to go in and provide the victims help. In an age of so many catastrophes all over the world, we need to be especially grateful to them and support them.”



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Click here to read Barbara's original article in Malibu Surfside News
Click here to visit FireFighters



The Men's Center Los Angeles is proud to support and endorse our very own Captain Mike Henry and this excellent wounded warriors program designed to assist Firefighters and the people who love and care about them. Your support of this important work is greatly appreciated.
For more information, call (310) 770-0766
Web:; Facebook: FirefightersDown

Taming The Beasts That Are Killing Your Relationships

Monster Relationships: Taming the Beasts that are Killing Your Relationships

by Rod Louden, LMFT, BCPC

What does in really mean to become a "whole" person?

For me, it means to have full mastery of all the elements that exist in both the masculine and feminine elements of the universe. Relationships with our own problems/monsters interfere with our ability to master these elements. Our lack of understanding and skill open a doorway for false beliefs to be created leading to actions that create suffering. This leads to the creation of problem saturated stories; negative energy that keeps us from liberating ourselves from the weight of problems.

Monster's such as fear, low self-esteem, anger, addiction, and other's are given the mental landscape to run amuck. When we tame these beasts, we liberate ourselves from the tyranny of living under our Monster's demands of us. Once liberated, we are truly free to connect to the most valuable thing in the universe, deep intimacy/love.

Sacred Path Men's Retreat Learning Objectives:

·      To gain the ability to clearly identify the problem(s)/monster(s) wreaking havoc in one's life. It is the relationship with the problem(s) that is the problem.

·      To gain the ability to search one's own belief system for false and misleading information; to delete and do a rewrite. Evaluating the problem saturated story.

·      To learn about the process of changing the relationship with the problem(s) thereby liberating one's Self. Examining metaphors of empowerment.

·      To examine and learn about how to change one's relationship with common Monsters: low self esteem, fear, anxiety, and depression. Objectify the problematic relationship, not the person/your Self; entering into Externalizing conversations.

·      To learn how to create allies in the quest to run monsters out of town. Teaching your Self, family, and friends how to use empowering language of change.

·      To learn how to create a mental environment that attracts happiness and success. The ultimate tool-forgiveness; letting go with the expectation of change.

·      To understand that there is no great without hard. And, if you want to be great, the universe will supply the hard. Accepting the Zen Master Challenge.



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Rod Louden & MCLA Executive Director Dr. Stephen Johnson

ROD LOUDEN, Marriage & Family Therapist, MA, MFT, BCPC
While most therapists limit their interaction with clients solely to the therapeutic hour, Rod applies the Narrative Therapy ideal of post session letter writing. He has written thousands of post session letters to clients. These letters help to keep both the client and therapist focused on the work at hand and create bridges of thought between sessions.



In addition to Narrative Therapy, Rod utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Marriage Counseling, Couples Counseling, Addiction, Survivors of Childhood Abuse, Problem Solving, Self-Growth, Anxiety, Depression, working with Teens and Relationship Building. In addition, he works with Musicians, Actors, and Artists to break through creative blocks as well as Athletes at all levels for improved performance on and off the field. Rod is a performance coach for He is also the author of “Monster Relationships: Taming the Beasts that are Killing Your Relationships" and contributor to "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol 3."  Email him at or visit

  Rod will be a featured presenter at MCLA's Fall Men's Retreat on the mountain above Malibu, October 19-22.   Click here to register for the Fall Sacred Path Men's Retreat   .

Rod will be a featured presenter at MCLA's Fall Men's Retreat on the mountain above Malibu, October 19-22. Click here to register for the Fall Sacred Path Men's Retreat.

Embracing Our Humanity Through Movement


Embracing Our Humanity
Through Movement

by David Carico
Continuum Movement Teacher

When we get out of our heads and into our bodies, we can experience our own vitality and the connection we have with each other and all life on the planet.  By tracking our sensations and allowing those sensations to move us rather than our minds, we come alive in new and unexpected ways. This is a path that allows for freedom from old patterns of movement and thinking.

The body shares its ancient wisdom with us when we listen. We can improve our health and vitality by simply listening to and following the movement that is naturally occurring every moment in our bodies.    

Together, we will re-discover the childhood fascination with our own bodies through movement. During the workshop, we will slow down the pace of our busy lives and connect with our breath. We will make sounds that create space in our tissues, awaken sensation, and move freely at our own pace and rhythm. We will connect with each other in a supportive and safe environment.  I hope you will join us at the Sacred Path Men's Retreat in Malibu beginning October 19, 2017.



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DAVID CARICO, certified in seated massage and social ministry, will be a special guest presenter at the 31st Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat in October. He is an authorized Continuum Movement Teacher. Continuum Movement is a practice that uses breath, sound, and non-patterned movement to foster a direct experience of the body.  David has also participated in workshops in movement, dance, expressive arts, and performance led by Anna Halprin and G. Hoffman Soto of the Tamalpa Institute.  He currently studies with Fred Sugerman who founded Medicine Dance and leads dance workshops and trainings in Los Angeles. David has been a facilitator and small group leader within the Breaththrough Men’s Community for many years helping men to examine issues of childhood trauma, gender conditioning, and social oppression. Email David at


Director's Message: September, 2017




Greetings Sacred Path Community,

“This is about what kind of people we want to be, what we represent. This is bigger than us"

Those words, spoken by Western Michigan’s coach Tim Lester, sums up what it means to be a mindful man as well as a mindful team. I’m going to share with you why Coach Lester expressed those sentiments which highlighted for me and undoubtedly for many who attended the USC/Western Michigan football game on Saturday a magic moment.

Before doing so, I want to remind you that we are a little more than 6 weeks from the kick off of our 31st Annual Fall Sacred Path Men’s Retreat. The early discount registration was to end this Thursday the 7th. However, due to the Fund Raising Concert for Firefighter’s Down on Monday, September 11th, we have decided to extend the discounted fee through Monday, September 18th, to give those who learn about the retreat at the concert a chance to benefit from the fee reduction.  We’re also offering an additional reduction for Veterans and First Responders.  You will read about the concert and our amazing retreat program in this newsletter. If you haven’t already signed up, please register soon and spread the word about the concert and the retreat.

Another word about the retreat.  In addition to a vast array of experiences to choose from we will offer three separate yet integrated breakout sessions on relationships. Anyone and everyone can gain something from the information that will be conveyed by our relationship experts. Among the multitude of gifts that you will walk away with, not least among them, will be what you take home to apply to your own relationships.

Now back to the magic moment on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that lifted the spirits of those of us who endured as long as possible the blistering 105 degree heat that caused at least half of the 60,000 in attendance to head for air conditioned shelter somewhere other than in the stadium by the third quarter.

You may have read about a young man who had lost his eyesight due to retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. His dream was to become a Trojan and play on the USC football team. As a young boy he was taken under Coach Pete Carrol’s wing during his last coaching year at SC and then later adopted by the team as a walk on. 

This Saturday, Jake Olson, the 20-year-old junior from Huntington Beach who is a long distance center, snapped the ball in his first official game and nailed it. “Certain things are bigger than the game,” USC special teams coach John Baxter said. L.A. Times sportswriter, Bill Plaschke, wrote, “This was one of those things, a moment during which all the statistics and expectations and hype around this Trojans football team was whittled into one small play for one giant of a kid.”

Plaschke stated that “USC coach Clay Helton saw how hard Olson had worked, knew how much he was loved, and figured he deserved the chance. He considered that perhaps the final moments against a big underdog like Western Michigan in the first game of the season would afford him that chance.” 


Plaschke revealed the behind the scenes story that first Helton had to call Western Michigan Coach Tim Lester and ask for his help. The Broncos needed to know that they might be facing a blind center so that they could respond with the appropriate sensitivity. Helton called Lester and offered to make a most unique deal. The Trojans would not rush the Broncos’ first extra-point attempt if the Broncos would not rush an extra-point attempt involving Olson.

“Coach Helton told me what the kid meant to the team, I told him we’d be happy to be a part of it,” Lester said. So, indeed after W. Michigan scored its first touchdown and even though the extra point would tie the score the Trojans backed off.

Plaschke detailed that, “About three hours later . . . even though the score was a dagger in his team’s upset chances, good-guy Lester kept his part of the bargain. Before the Trojans’ extra point try, he called his defensive players together and gave them an impromptu speech that could serve as a manual for sportsmanship.”

“I told them the entire situation and said, ‘You can’t touch him, you can’t yell at him, everybody get down so it looks like a football play but nobody move,’” Lester recalled. “I told them, ’What we’re about to do is bigger than the game. This is about what kind of people we want to be, what we represent, this is bigger than us.’”

“And what did they say? They said, ‘Yes sir.’” 

Plaschke summed it up, “And, yes sir, it was an amazing moment, everything great about sports emerging from this afternoon of pain and sweat, Helton and Lester shining like true leaders, the Trojans and Broncos acting like real men.”

“I commend and thank coach Lester and the entire Western Michigan family for giving us this honor,” Helton said. “That’s a first-class organization.”

And in the brotherly spirit of our good-natured cross town rivalry . . . a soulfull congratulations to Josh Rosen and UCLA for a truly remarkable "magic moment" comeback victory over Texas A&M yesterday!

So, the magic moment in any situation can stand out in the midst of any adversity that we are facing. There have been many examples of it during the tragic and horrific weather conditions that pummeled parts of Texas over the past several days. Mindful men and women are everywhere to be found.  There will be many mindful men who will gather on “the mountain” for our 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat, I trust that you will be one them

In the spirit of brotherhood,


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






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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 a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit






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



Firefighters Down Benefit Concert 9/11

Lou Gossett, Jr.

16th Annual

9/11 Benefit Concert

MCLA is proud to be part of a fantastic benefit concert starring A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS at the 16th Annual FireFighters Down 9/11 Benefit Concert to be held at Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, on Monday, September 11, 2017.

Dr. Stephen Johnson

This evening of great music will also include our very own Dr. Stephen Johnson discussing the FireFighters Down therapeutic processes and the amazing Lou Gossett Jr sharing his life’s work to unite all Americans.

HONORED GUESTS include injured soldiers from UCLA Operation Mend and Firefighters from the New York City Fire Department.


SHOW YOUR SUPPORT __ Tickets to this fantastic benefit concert can be ordered by clicking here: FireFighters Down 9/11 Benefit Concert or by calling the Pepperdine box office (310) 506-4522. Invite your friends. Come join us. This is an incredible tribute to America's firefighters and first responders.


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Firefighter’s Down is a “Wounded Warriors” style program for Firefighters. 

Injured Firefighters are transported (all expenses paid) to Malibu, California, where our 4-day intensive therapeutic program begins the process of mental and emotional healing for them and their families.

This concert will be live streamed, recorded and delivered to Fire Stations across the country. This special 9/11 presentation will uplift the spirits of Firefighters everywhere and remind all of us to celebrate our common bonds as Americans. 

We look forward to a fantastic concert on September 11th by A FLOCK SEAGULLS and wonderful presentations by our special guest speakers. Invite your friends. It will be a marvelous evening for a great cause.

                             Captain Mike Henry                       Captain Rick Brandelli
                             Co-founder                                      Co-founder
                             310-770-0766                                  949-939-9929



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The Men's Center Los Angeles is proud to support and endorse our very own Captain Mike Henry and this excellent wounded warriors program designed to assist Firefighters and the people who love and care about them. Your support of this important work is greatly appreciated.

Click here to visit and support





7 Ways to Develop Daily Discipline

7 Ways to Develop Daily Discipline

by Inga Stasiulionyte

Many people wonder how I manage to stay so disciplined. They think my life must be very hard because I’ve always followed a strict schedule, from when I was training to be an Olympic athlete to now, since I’ve co-founded Onbotraining, an online coaching service that helps people achieve their goals.

But I don’t see it that way because I love what I do. My journey to the Olympics showed me what it takes to become skilled at something, and I don’t mind replicating that journey in my professional life. I have never minded the struggle because I know it offers me the opportunity to reach my goals.

I worked full time while I trained full time for the Beijing Olympics. I am not an exception in the world of elite athletes—many support themselves with dual high-level careers and live their dreams by achieving their Olympic goals. They push their capabilities to their limits and enjoy lives of purpose.

These athletes know how discipline works, how it shows you are in control of your life. It’s the path to get anything you want.

So how do you maintain a discipline? By combining an automated brain program—doing whatever needs to be done—with an incredible commitment to your goal.

It becomes increasingly harder to be disciplined in a society that prizes instant gratification. We are more concerned about feeling good all the time, so we seek immediate pleasures, whether it’s a new car, an exotic trip or a new partner. Our long-term goals are not so important anymore. We get comfortable and wait for a special event to give our lives meaning, happiness and success.

Discipline is the difference between being in control of your future and letting your environment dictate your destiny.

Discipline means freedom and happiness. It gives you the ability to do what you want because you know you can learn how to achieve any dream you set your mind to. Discipline teaches you how to control your thoughts—and how to be happy in any situation, to visualize positive emotions and trigger an optimistic mood. Discipline builds self-confidence, mental and physical strength, and inspires you to grow as a human being. With growth comes the ability to enjoy life in deeper, more meaningful ways.

Anyone can develop discipline. It’s a skill and it’s not complicated—you just have to train yourself for it.

Here’s how:

1. Set big goals.

When you challenge yourself to achieve bigger goals, you really dedicate yourself to the craft. The more time you spend on it, the harder it becomes to quit. Once you have spent so much sweat, time and effort on it, if you quit, it will be for nothing. The bigger the goal, the more invested you become.

2. Set clear goals.

Clearly define what your goal means to you and what you will specifically do to achieve it. If you set a goal to live healthier, for example, will you go running every day? At what time and for how long? Will you eat healthy? If there is no clear goal, there is no opportunity to create the specific steps you’d need to do to accomplish it.

3. Know that every day matters.

When you wake up in the morning, do you know what’s most important for you to accomplish that day? Every goal, every priority, you have set for yourself has to be done—it will determine whether your dream lives or dies. Athletes know if they skip even one training session, they are already behind; they know they will lose a competition that is still three months away if they don’t do what they said they would, if they don’t follow through with their plan—if they aren’t disciplined.

4. Don’t argue with the plan.

If you want to go to the Olympics, each training session matters; there isn’t one that’s less important than another. It’s the same with everything else in your life. When you start the process, you cannot question it, you cannot hesitate, you cannot back down—you have to work hard every single day to reach your dream, full force.

5. Build a no-matter-what mindset.

Build the mindset that no matter what, you will accomplish things when you said you would. No matter what. You have to create pressure for yourself, otherwise nothing will get done. There is good stress and bad stress, and you have to make sure you are operating under good stress—butterflies in the stomach, a manageable adrenaline that stimulates you.

6. Plan a routine.

Create a routine that becomes second nature, automatic, normal. Athletes, for example, know what hours they train, when to break for lunchtime and dinnertime, and when to rest. In training, they know they have to do a warm-up, main training, and cool-down and recovery. By following the same routine, it becomes second nature—the discipline preps them to win. Planning your own routine—and sticking to it until it becomes automatic—can prep you for success, too.

7. Commit.

Discipline was instilled in me by my mom. When I would ask her if I could start art, dancing or volleyball classes, she would say, “Be careful in choosing where you will spend your time, because you won’t be able to quit. You will have to follow through with it until the end, and do it well.” So I really considered whether I would be able to commit to something for a long time. And when I knew, when I chose the one thing I wanted to do, it made me want to figure out how to keep getting better at it—it made me want to commit.

8. Understand the transformation process.

Your body and brain will do everything it can to resist change and growth. You need to know that it’s natural to feel lazy and undisciplined—but you also need to know that you have all the power to fight it. Start with your thoughts.

9. Go above feelings.

The hardest part about discipline is maintaining the actions needed to achieve your dream or state of happiness. It requires constant hard work and fighting against comfort and instant pleasures. To do so, you have to separate yourself from the feelings that stop you, like fatigue, laziness or self-pity. You have to go above them, even if your feelings tell you that you are tired, stressed and alone in this struggle. Discipline is the direct training of a fighter.

10. Resist the brain.

All people are lazy, even the most successful business people, the most accomplished athletes and the most talented actors. But it’s not simply laziness—it’s your brain saving energy for you. Any movement takes energy, and the brain is doing everything to stop you from moving by sending body signals about how hard it is to move and thoughts about how scary it would be if you fail. But you can trick your brain: Imagine your body is a beautiful machine and you are operating it as a higher force from above. Separate yourself from your body. Play it as a computer game. You are the one who commands your body to accomplish tasks.

11. Find pleasure in the hard work.

Shift your focus to the process and concentrate on getting the work done faster and better every time. Speed is important; you have to move quickly in order to achieve perfection in a set amount of time.

So many people quit too early. Success is all about persistence, and discipline is what gets you to your final destination—the realization of your dream. The more you learn about your craft and your capabilities, when you start seeing yourself improve, the results will make you hungry for more. Self-improvement is an amazing drug.

I love discipline because it is a source of power. It is an engine that helps us understand and explore our capabilities and life’s opportunities. Discipline is not boring; it’s the freedom to put all our energy into creating something meaningful and beautiful.

It’s up to us to choose the life with discipline or without, with a goal or without, with a dream or without.




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Click here to read Inga's original article on


INGA STASIULIONYE is an Olympic athlete and javelin thrower who competed at the Beijing Olympic Games during her 20-year career. Besides developing her career in sports, Inga simultaneously pursued a career in business, working with executives as a life coach. Inga’s dream is to provide access to everyone to the knowledge, tools and training that she received in sports that helped her win. She cooperated with a motivational writer to create, a motivational online coaching program that inspires people to reach their goals in life. Inga is a University of Southern California graduate with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and minor in communication design. She also completed International Business and Global Affairs Master’s studies in the International University of Monaco. Learn more about Inga at




"Orchestrating Success in Your Life

Ray Bunch, Phillip Jennings, Dr. Bill Flaxman and Dr. Pierre Grimes



Dr. Bill Flaxman



Orchestrating Success in Your Life

Self-managing difficult or uncomfortable emotions and problem behaviors that arise from challenging health-related, work-related, or personal relationship situations that men face

by William Flaxman, PhD, MFT




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William Flaxman, PhD, MFT, has for more than 40 years been guiding individuals, families, and couples in conflict or crisis learn as quickly as possible how to transition from instability to security by their learning how to self-manage the various challenges that life throws at us.  When in distress at facing personal difficulties, people may sometimes behave reactively in ways that worsen the situation, or they may self-medicate the feeling of distress with drugs or alcohol, which adds an additional addictive component without resolving the real underlying problems.  Successfully solving life-crises requires integrated thinking & behavior to achieve the desirable satisfying shift in emotional feeling.  Bill is the author of "Substance Use as a Function of Mood-Related Consciousness Alteration" which integrates the work of more than 50 "addiction" and "consciousness" researchers, demonstrating the differences between "normal" or "benign substance use" vs misuse, abuse, and addiction.  Bill is a past president of the Group Psychotherapy Association of Southern California and a member of the MCLA Wisdom Council.

Director's Message: August, 2017

AUGUST, 2017

Greetings Sacred Path Community,

If you find your spirits sagging some due to the waning days of summer, remind yourself that the start of football season is just around the corner. I often hear people make that comment with a tone of enthusiasm and excitement. And, as an avid USC fan, I’m up on my toes about our season ahead. It is important to have something to look forward to; but, even if football isn't your thing, I’ll offer something else to get you into anticipation mode.

It is that our 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat is just two and a half months away and we’re putting the finishing touches on a program that is going to be fantastic. Whether you’re a football fan or not, this retreat will be a touchdown in more ways than one.

First of all, it’s another opportunity for you to be with the great men that you’ve come to know over the years, if you’ve been attending for years. If you’re new to this and contemplating whether to attend for the first time, I can assure you that you’ll be in the company of some of the most remarkable men that you’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know. Participants will fly and drive in from all parts of the country. For somewhere upwards of 100 times we will once again create a village, where we will do our work to plumb the depths of our Psyches, search our Souls, and share with each other what it means to explore conscious masculinity in the service of Mindful Manhood.

The theme of the upcoming retreat is The World We Live in Today:  From Surviving to Thriving. I frequently hear people express that they feel overwhelmed with the challenges that they face on a day to day basis. I hear people express dismay about the many issues that they are confronted with and that the one word that they wish they had more of is RELIEF. 


We all know something about SURVIVAL.  Perhaps our lives were actually on the line at one time or another in which we weren’t sure if we would actually survive or perish.  Maybe we feel that we’re in constant survival just from trying to hang on and not go down and out financially, or health wise, or due to a relationship that’s not doing well, or our lagging career issues. 

How much do we know about what it means to THRIVE?  During the upcoming October 19-22 retreat you will have the opportunity to hear from presenters who will share their experience on a variety of topics central to the theme of the retreat. For example, we will have three separate Breakout Sessions on three pertinent areas of relationships. As those of you know, who have been with us before, our retreats are grounded in experiential processes.

We believe that true knowledge is gained through having experiences that are primary teaching tools that educate us about life and living. More than acquiring a set of external beliefs, we encourage people to put themselves in safe experiences that allow for internal awarenesses to arise that foster the incorporation of reality based knowledge. We further encourage you to use what you know with purposeful intention to uplevel your lifestyle.

In addition to the gathering of men who have been the life force of our community, we are inviting Veterans and First Responders to join us. We are tailoring some elements of our program to be well-suited to support these men who have put their lives on the line for us. Some may carry the scar tissue of the wounds that they have incurred in the line of service. We offer a safe harbor for them to be able to work through whatever needs attention and healing. 

Some of the First Responders who will join us are the valiant LA County firefighters who serve and have served so selflessly. Captain Michael Henry, CEO of Firefighters Down Organization will be with us along with some of his men. There will be a fundraising concert to be held on the auspicious date of September 11th at Pepperdine University. I have been invited to offer a brief presentation on PTSD and what can be done to make a positive difference to give back to someone who has suffered in the line of duty. I invite you to attend the concert in support of the cause and as a great way to build the momentum for our upcoming retreat.

Bill Arena is putting together the information about our program. You can read in this newsletter initial elements of the framework (click here) that will serve as the scaffolding structure for what will be created on The Mountain. I encourage you to take advantage of the early enrollment discounts.  If you know that you’re participating, please sign up early.  Help us build the momentum. It puts wind in our sails when we experience the registration process commencing early and building from there. Consider bringing a family member and/or a friend with you.  Share the event with someone you love.

In the spirit of thriving, enjoy the remaining weeks of summer,


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





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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 a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit




Dr. Johnson 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. J'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."  

"THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY" on the Mountain October 19-22

Philosopher and teacher Pierre Grimes has been hailed as "A true Jnana Yogi" and "The only living Platonist on Earth" among many other descriptive superlatives.

The True Nature of Reality

Our very own Pierre Grimes will be returning as a distinguished special guest presenter at the 31st Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat on the mountain overlooking Malibu and the Pacific Ocean on October 19-22. 

Retreat participants will have the incredibly rare and profoundly unique opportunity to work within intimate group settings with Pierre as he explores the True Nature of Reality using Individual Dreams, Dialectic Conversation and Group Discourse. This is indeed a rare and deeply engaging experience for all who attend.

Pierre will be exploring a revolutionary new area of his life's work, dealing with the original and lost meaning of the concept of “Self" in Plato. PIerre is calling this - The Betrayal of the Self:

1.  The “recovery" from the betrayal of the Self, in all translations of Platonic philosophy, now ends the view of philosophy as being void of any personal and meaningful message for us.  This new “revival” of understanding Self, is capable of turning about our culture to a path that, while ancient, is most necessary and essential to our contemporary life.

2.  The exploration of the Self in Plato’s Parmenides is a journey into the spiritual significance of the logos.  What was once thought of as too obscure and difficult will be shown to be obvious yet profound.  

3.  Plotinus will be presented as a doorway into the personal side of Platonic philosophy, and will be explored in terms of the idea of the Self. 

4.  The quest for personal excellence necessarily leads to the discovery of hidden false views of the Self that block all attempts at securing one’s goals.

5.  The exploration of Philosophical Midwifery and its implications as a new paradigm for understanding human problems.


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A Little in Love With Death:
My Healing Encounter with Pierre Grimes

By Jed Diamond
MCLA News October 29, 2016

I attended the 4-Day Sacred Path Men’s Retreat to recognize and support Dr. Stephen Johnson’s life and work and pay tribute to the men who have made possible these retreats over the last 30 years. I had never heard of Pierre Grimes, knew little about philosophy, and next to nothing about the Greek philosophers. Yet I know when I’m in the presence of a master and took Pierre up on his offer to work through a dream and a daydream I had. I had no idea it would change my life.

Click here to read Jed's personal healing encounter with Pierre Grimes

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Pierre Grimes, Ph.D, is one of a kind. Enlisting in the Army as a teenager in World War II, he volunteered for service as a paratrooper but ended up being sent as a replacement to the 36th Texas Infantry Division. He was sent to Europe and landed on D-Day in Southern France for the Anzio invasion. Pierre quickly was chosen to be a scout and then led troops from Italy, through France and all the way into Germany where he saw the liberation of two concentration camps. He was awarded a Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster and a Purple Heart in recognition of his bravery in battle and his unit received two Presidential Citations for heroism.

Pierre's leadership and gifts in the area of Transformative Consciousness work are legend. He was a friend of Joseph Campbell who directed the young Pierre, having returned from WWII to "Go west and start working with this brilliant man in San Francisco named Alan Watts.

Pierre listened to Campbell's wise advice and became a right hand co-creator with Alan Watts in his work in the fields of emerging Consciousness Studies on the west coast.


In his famous autobiography, “In My Own Way," Watts wrote that Pierre is, "A true Jnana Yogi” for his brilliant work using Plato and Philosophy as a means for healing. Pierre’s friend, Huston Smith, calls Pierre, “The only living Platonist on Earth.”


Pierre is a deeply engaging speaker and his group work with Dreams is legend. He is playful and a bit of a cartoonist with a white board or chalk board, drawing all that he is discoursing about or the complete scenes from someone’s dreams. 



Pierre is the author of many influential books and publications including

Philosophical Midwifery: A New Paradigm for Understanding Human Problems With Its Validation






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Master Musicians Christo Pellani & Tommy Holmes Return to Malibu


Multimedia Soundformation Sacred Journey Comes to the Mountain


MCLA is proud and pleased to welcome back our very own Christo Karam Pellani to facilitate his amazing style of Mindfulness Meditation for Sacred Path Men’s Retreat participants on the mountain this October.

Christo facilitates human potential through experiences blending rhythm, sound, and movement therapies for personal expression, growth and well being. He is recognized internationally as an expressive therapist, master drummer, rhythm awareness drum circle facilitator, healing arts educator and practitioner, teaching artist, and seminar facilitator.

He is the creator of SOUNDFORMATION MUSIC™, specializing in quality expressive and healing arts services for schools, retreats, and conferences through unique experiential classes, seminars, ceremonies, and play-shops. 

Christo is also the author of “LIVING ADVENTURES THROUGH SOUND™", a unique interactive sound healing curriculum, and he holds a residency as a certified Qi Gong and Sound and Vibration healing instructor for the Tama-Do Academy, California Academy for the Healing Arts and LIVE Yoga/ Wellness. 

As a recording artist, he produced four critically acclaimed “Soundscape Pyramids” world/ambient, therapeutic sound meditation recordings on his SOUNDFORMATION label. His collaboration with Stevin McNamara has resulted in several World Ambient recordings for the White Swan and Putumayo labels. 

Christo has performed Internationally with many top artists in the Pop, Sacred Music, and Kirtan arenas, including Air Supply, Mary Wells, Fabien Maman, & The Breath of Life Tribe, among many others.

He is a featured performer at Disneyland, various Consciousness festivals Including The World Festival of Sacred Music, Bhakti Fest, Esalen, and with “UDAYA LIVE, “ a streaming series of Yoga Classes and live Concerts based in Sofia Bulgaria.

He has also performed with the esteemed LUNA NEGRA ballet, and many dance companies internationally, and  with "The BEATLES YOGA", a multi media concert based on the book American Veda.

Christo has been traveling the world in the past year conducting seminars in Hawaii, Tahiti, India, Bali, Mexico, Costa Rica, China, Brazil, Europe and North America, emphasizing principles of Mindfulness Meditation. He has been a principle Sound Healing associate and consultant with the New Century Foundation in various locations throughout China, and with the RYTHMIA Life Enhancement Center in Costa Rica.

Christo also serves at risk and orphaned youth, adults with disabilities and a variety of people as an expressive therapist, through many counseling and therapeutic recreation programs and non-profit organizations besides MCLA including The Rhythmic Arts Project, Mi Star, Hearts Giving Hope, Camp to Belong and others.


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The 31st Annual Sacred Path Men’s Retreat will be an excellent opportunity for good men to withdraw from the typical pressure and constant challenges and unrelenting drive for success in the modern world.

Go ahead. Be bold. Take a few days for yourself to relax and regroup and go inward and connect with your higher self. When you join us on the mountain you'll experience the profound peacefulness and energetic bliss of a guided meditation facilitated by our very own Christo Pellani and Tommy Holmes. These meditations have been called "life-changing" and "extremely positive" especially by some "type A" macho man personalities who constantly work and never take a break.

Life is short. Go ahead. Reserve some time for yourself in the presence of other great men. You deserve a break. Come join us on the mountain. Click here to register today.



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Click here to register for the 2017 MCLA Sacred Path Men's Retreat

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MCLA's 31st Annual Autumn Sacred Path Men's Retreat will be held high up on the mountain overlooking Malibu October 19-22. This will be an incredible event with some amazing men. Don't miss it. Click here to register now.