Recommendations

The Viable Alternative is about finding your own unique way to greatness.  Below is a list of books, seminars, movies and organizations that represent my own unique path to greatness because they opened up new levels of understanding, and brought me to new levels of self-discovery, self-empowerment, peace and freedom on both a mental and spiritual level.  I also include a description of how each impacted me and the pivotal role they played on my journey.  There are many other books that I’ve read, seminars I’ve attended and organizations that I’ve visited or patronized, but they didn’t give me the clarity or breakthroughs that these ones listed below have.

The beauty of life is that we’re all uniquely great creatures with our own unique paths to greatness.  Thus, there are an infinite amount of resources unique to each of us that we can share with one another that had a huge impact in our lives, that’s the beauty of The Viable Alternative.  I put this list together to share with you what worked for me to inspire you to find your own unique path of self discovery and personal greatness.  I also hope that as you read how each of these resources helped me, you will resonate with at least one in a way that you can go and pick it up for yourself and it may help you in whatever way it was meant to.

If the lessons of my trials and tribulations I’ve been through can have some type of positive impact on your life, then, they were worth going through.

  1. Books
  2. Movies
  3. Organizations/Institutions
  4. Seminars


Books

1.  Think and Grow Rich By Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich

This is the classic self-improvement book that MANY a successful person attribute to getting them started down the path to success.  This book has been no different for me.  I ran into this book around two and half years after I graduated from college.  Around the time I ran into this book, I was totally disillusioned about life, totally uninspired, and just drifting along, going through the motions.  Forget about having the motivation to go after what I wanted, I had absolutely no clue of what I wanted in the first place.  This book, in conjunction with, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro, was the glimmer of light in the darkness of my soul.  This book re-kindled the fire of my youth and helped me to dream again.  It gave me an excitement towards life that up until that time, I hadn’t felt in a few years.  It made me see that my hopes and dreams were indeed possible.  This is a MUST-READ for anyone who is starting on the path of self-improvement.

2.  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

After “stumbling” upon the previous book, Think and Grow Rich, I basically remained in the “wilderness” for five years where I went around in circles and really, to be honest, experienced little to no growth whatsoever.  What I didn’t experience in growth I experienced in frustration.  I read book after book after book, all giving me knowledge but not translating to any type of growth on my part.  This was one of the books I had read during that time.  I have listed this book because it was the “manna from heaven” for me.  Though it didn’t give me any type of breakthrough that would enhance the quality of my life at that time, I feel it is relevant because it gave me tools and understanding that I was able to use  later on down the line.  This book gave me an understanding of how to become secure with yourself and in life by basing your self worth on the intangible and not the tangible things like your job, spouse, possessions, etc.  It made me aware of the traps that ALL of have fallen into, basing our self-worth on material possessions, popularity, etc.

3.  The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles

The Science of Getting Rich

This book, along with As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, like the previous item on this list, was more manna from heaven while I was in the wilderness.  I chose to list this book rather than As a Man Thinketh because  though both talked about the same thing, I felt this book was more thorough.  I went back and forth as to whether to include this book on this list because what I learned from it didn’t directly enhance the quality of my life, however in the longer term, it did make a difference.  Beyond teaching me that thoughts are things, it taught me about shedding a victim mentality and that no matter what happened to me in the past, I can use my thoughts to shape my future.  It also shifted my view on poverty around the world, by showing me a man is not poor because of what he has, but rather, how he thinks.  The teachings from this books helped inspire a few of the principles of The Viable alternative.  I also understand that the teaching from this book helped inspire the movie, “The Secret”, though I believe that this book is a lot more concrete than the movie, and less hokey and airy-fairy (not to knock the movie, it did make it’s point).

4.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now

This was the first book after five years of “self-improvement” from when I first discovered Think and Grow Rich, that really made a difference in my life.  Funny enough, a friend of mine who was on his own path of self-improvement had read this book a year and a half before I did and was ranting about it, but I pooh-poohed it.  The book sounded like a bunch of nonsense and what I heard about it didn’t appeal to me.  It was after I attended a seminar that I describe below that intuitively I was led to read this book, and the both of them together shifted my perception of reality.  This was a clearing that allowed me to begin to make my way out of the “wilderness”.  Up until this point, I kid you not when I tell you that life was a vacillation between a living hell and purgatory, where I identified with the constant barrage of negative thoughts that flowed in my head because I thought that was me.  This book showed me that I wasn’t my mind nor my negative thoughts, but the consciousness behind it.  It showed me that the “me” I thought I was wasn’t ME.  All this time, I was identifying with a false self known as Ego.  It would take quite some more time for me to actually learn to not get caught up in these thoughts, but this was definitely a breath of fresh air because now when these horrible negative emotions and thoughts came up, I didn’t have to freak out because now I was aware that they weren’t me.  Though life was still hell for me, it became less “hellish”, and I gained a clarity that I didn’t have before that I sorely needed.

5.  Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Wild At Heart

When I was a part of this business organization, quite a few of my associates had extolled the virtues of this book in their speeches, but I really didn’t see any reason to read this book until after another breakthrough I had that occurred during a conversation with my mom where I realized that my supposed quest for “self improvement” up until that point was really just a big farce, where I was doing it really out of guilt of not being “good enough”.  Hence the reason I’ve said earlier that I was spinning my wheels for five years.  I will address this subject in my blog because I feel many people have fallen under the same trap of “self improvement” and hopefully this can shed light so you can make some actual improvement in your life, instead of lying to yourselves like I was.  Also, from that conversation I also realized that I had a lot of guilt about being a man instilled in me by my mom and society.  This book helped deprogram a lot of the misconceptions that were fed to me since childhood  by the Church and society about what it is to be a man.  It helped clear up a lot of the guilt I had about my desires I had as a man (and I’m not only talking about sexual desires, that’s only a small part).  It gave me a clearer understanding of what a real man is and what I should be striving towards as a man: someone who’s on his mission and purpose in life, NOT a caveman who clubs woman over the head and drags her back to his cave (com’on, give me a break).  This book may be too “Christian” for some of you, but if you have an open mind and look at the underlying message you’ll definitely get something out of this.  This marked a bend in my path because now some of the lights were turned on, I was able to start dealing with actual issues of mine, not just chasing phantoms.  It was from this book on that I started to drastically reduce the amount of self improvement books I read.

6. No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin

No More Christian Nice Guy

When I picked up the previous book, Wild at Heart, at the bookstore, this book jumped out at me, so I intuitively decided to buy it as well.  If you were brought up in the Church or had some of it’s influence in your life, whether you currently find yourself “Christian” or not, if you dig deep you’ll probably find that you’ve been affected one way or another by the FALSE and negative images the Church projects about what it means to be a man.  The author helped to dispel many of those “myths’ that are falsely perpetuated by today’s Church about men with some very compelling arguments and examples.  You may not consider yourself Christian per sé,  but this book may help de-program a lot of false beliefs that have diffused into your mind the traditional religion and its false teachings. Though I disagreed with what I thought was his bizarre opposition to pro wrestling which he describes several times in the book, he did help steer me on the right path.

7.  The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

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After hearing this book recommended over and over again by several successful, well rounded men, and realizing that part of my growth resided with me growing in my understanding of myself as a man, I decided to pick this up.  If you’re getting your panties up in a bunch over the title, I personally assure you that this definitely isn’t one of those rah-rah, let’s bash women, flex our muscles  and spew testosterone type of books, so please relax.  The premise of this book is to teach men how to evolve  from a “boy-man” who may be physically a man but is emotionally, mentally and spiritually still a boy into a true, masculine man who lives from his core and is on his purpose in life.    I read it a few times but it had the biggest impact on me when I was going through a profound spiritual cleansing during the summer of ’09 where I was in isolation from most of my “world”.  Because I was going through a lot of changes, this book was instrumental in helping me relate to myself in a new way.  The main thing I got from this book was the PROPER way for me to deal with the negative emotions that would inevitably come up when I was stepping out of my comfort zone.  I had no idea that one could indeed be powerful in the face of his negative emotions.  Before I knew this, my emotions would drag me around and beat me up, but from the insight that I gained from this book, I no longer am held captive by my fears and other negative emotions the way I once was.  I realize now that my negative emotions can’t kill me if I deal with them properly, so I no longer feel the utter dread I once did when I was out of my comfort zone and I’d feel them coming.  Now, when faced with the limits of my comfort zone and the negative emotions that come with them, I see it as an opportunity to grow, and to master my myself to a greater degree.  This book has definitely made me feel more grounded and also gave me a greater sense of empowerment to become the person I desire to become and create the life I desire to create because I no longer see that huge chasm separating me from them.

8.  Walking with God:  Talk to Him.  Hear from Him.  Really. by John Eldredge

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OH MY GOODNESS!!!  NOT ANOTHER CHRISTIAN BOOK!!!  Haha…Yep, this book has a Christian theme in the sense that the author makes no bones about him being a Christian.  If you’re not “Christian”, and are able to get over that, you’ll actually find this book has a very deep spiritual message.  This book really taught me about having an everyday relationship with God, not just on Sundays or at night when you pray before you go to sleep.  This book helped empower me to the fact that rather than depending on some Pastor, Imam, spiritual guru, Priest, Rabbi, etc, we ourselves can have a DIRECT personal relationship with our Creator  where he instructs us, guides us, warns us, comforts us, and speaks to our hearts.  What I really got from this book above all else which represented another turning point in my personal development path was for the first time, it dawned on me that I was doing okay in my path for growth.  My personal development path up until that point was about beating myself  for not having become that “stellar person”.  I was angry at myself for not having become confident enough yet, not being charismatic enough, still pissing people off, etc.  I got out of this book that how God perceives me and how I perceive myself are two different things, so the things that I felt I needed to change about myself may not be what God felt I needed to change.  Thus, being that God is infinitely more wise than I am, I needed to shut up and let Him do His work (someone had told me this years before, but I didn’t get it until after reading this book).  Now, I’d be lying if I said that I completely incorporated this lesson after reading that book, however, this book got the wheels turning that I was fine where I was at.

9.  F*ck it:  The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John. C. Parkin

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Pretty racy and unsavoury title huh?  I first heard about this book from a self-improvement forum where I was trying desperately to find out how to “let go”, and I read a post where this book was recommended.  This book has that title that kind of hits your right between the eyes like a 2×4, so I figured, “why not?” and bought the book.  When I first tried to read this book, I thought the author was a clown and a crackpot.  His laid back, “flippant” style of writing didn’t appeal to me so I put it down, resigning myself to having wasted my money.  As I was leaving for my “spiritual retreat”of sorts several months later in late spring, for some reason or another, this was one of the three books that I decided to take with me.  I think it was because at the time I was getting ready to leave, I experienced several breakthroughs that made me more grounded than I ever was, so seeing the world more different, I decided that I may want to give this book a second glance.  So, when I did go away and read this book, it dawned on me that the author,actually wasn’t a flippant, crackpot, although I did find him a bit quirky.  All in all, he actually is on point.  This book, through real world examples, did teach me the bare essence of letting go, going with the flow, and being where you’re at.  I had resisted these concepts for YEARS, so life had to literally beat it into me through many harsh lessons.  Completing this book marked my acceptance of these concepts.  Through its honest and straightforward manner, the book helped me finally get that surrendering is NOT giving up on the desires of your heart, but rather, letting go of all attachment to them, and realizing that there is a greater power at work that will bring them to you at the right time.  Understanding this has actually helped me do a better job at manifesting the things I desire in my life.

Movies

1.  What the Bleep Do We Know?

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What’s interesting about this movie is that I have a spiritual mentor who recommended this movie to me at one point, and told me that she would not be answering any more questions from me until I’ve seen it.  The thing was, I had already seen it several times and it already had a major impact on my life, so it felt good throwing it back in her face , “Haha..been there, done that.  Already seen it.  It impacted me in a major way, so there!”    She’ll probably read this at some point and shake her head thinking to herself about me, “What an idiot,” but either way, I just felt the need to share this.  What’s actually sad is that I was such a mess that it wasn’t evident that I saw this movie.  But seriously, it did impact me in a major way.  I can’t remember whether it was recommended to me by a friend, but in one way or another, I decided to buy it.  I saw it after I had my first two major breakthroughs that I already somewhat describe above after five years of complete frustration and non-development.  The movie, in a very simplified manner, used quantum physics to prove how our thoughts form our reality.  In one particular section, it talked about how our brain forms memories by connecting nerves together (i.e. neural pathways), e.g. a certain song may remind you about a particular time in your life, a certain smell reminds you of someone, etc.  The thing is, we’re most of the time completely unaware of when these associations are made, so rather than living in ACTUAL reality, we live in a simulated world where we’re on autopilot, reacting and not living.  It woke me up to the fact that the way my brain was wired wasn’t serving me and the success I wanted.  This was the aha moment for why whenever I’d think of my goals or dreams, I’d feel depression, anxiety, or a lack of motivation, or my mind will take me to a whole other place, the end result being I’d be no closer to my goals.  It gave me a sharper grasp of The Illusion and allowed me to take greater control of the reality in which I lived, because now, I was able to catch myself when my mind was slipping into The Illusion and going on useless thought tangents, whereas before, I didn’t know that I didn’t know.   Though I still had a long way to go, the movie gave me tools that got me closer to presence.

Organizations/Institutions

1. Landmark Education

Landmark Education is a transformational, self-development program designed to bring about a fundamental shift in people’s lives.  It’s flagship seminar is The Landmark Forum, and its followup is the Advanced Seminar, both of which I took, hence why they’re mentioned.  I’ve seen and heard countless lives transformed from this seminars.  Some of the stories of what people were empowered to overcome due to these programs will simply astound you.  Many celebrities were known to have taken this program including Oprah, and Leonardo DiCaprio.  I was actually upset because I didn’t get the profound transformation that I saw others receive, but, this organization and its programs are worth mentioning because 1) It did inspire me to come up with the name, “The Viable Alternative”, and actually flesh out the concept (though I had an idea of the concept years before).  2) One of the distinctions (a word they use for insights) I received from the Forum, though not of help immediately, was crucial to me getting the breakthrough I did after the conversation I had with my mom.  It was one of the two breakthroughs I had around the same period that broke five years of stagnation that I mentioned before.  3)  They had a separate seminar for people that took the Landmark Forum called, “Living a Created Life.”  I’ll talk about this seminar more below, in the seminar section, but I’ll share here that it worked with the book, The Power of Now that I listed above to change my life.

My word of caution is that you may disagree with some of the tactics they use to get you to take more of their courses or “register” or recruit others to take their program  because I certainly did, as well as others I’ve talked to.  It makes an organization with otherwise great material come off as kind of “cultish.”  If you ever decide to do yourself a favour and take their program, do what you feel is right and don’t allow yourself to feel forced to tell others about the program or to take more of their courses.  If you feel you’re being guilted into doing something, tell them to back off.  This is not say that WITHIN the programs themselves, you shouldn’t listen to the coaches and listen to the coaching they offer, after all, there’s a reason why they’re up on the stage speaking to dozens of people while you’re sitting in the audience listening.  If you want to get the FULL benefit, you must participate fully.  I’m just saying to know the difference.  My particular bone of contention is with the way they get you to sign up, take more courses, or “register” others.  If one of them were reading this, they might have their own opinion of what I’m saying, but I don’t care.

2. Conduit of Healing

This is a website that was created by a great friend, and spiritual mentor/life coach/Yoda (whatever you want to call it), Monica P. Hall. She was one of the people that were sent into my life to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again (not that I really ever was “together”, but you get my drift). I first met her through a friend of mine back in the spring of the tumultuous year of 2007. Brutally honest, sometimes abrasive, but always authentic and caring, with her great intuitive gifts she was able to see the issues that I was facing on my journey that I had no clue about and showed me how to address them. Namely she was EXTREMELY helpful in getting me to see that the SELF that I had identified myself was completely false because it was based on factors such as my looks and intellect. She guided me through the painstaking process of overcoming my addiction to this false self, and helped me unravel and connect with who I really was to the core.

The website features Monica’s blogs and a description of the services she offers as an intuitive counselor.

3.  The Interdependence Project

This is a not-for-profit organization located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan that offers weekly meditation classes.  This place, in essence, taught me how to meditate, the results of which have been invaluable to say the least.  I really didn’t start taking meditation more serious until two years after I stopped going there, but this place certainly gave me the foundation.  Because of meditation, I’m more connected to my core, I’ve learned to breathe fuller,  it’s easier for me to separate from that inner negative voice rather than being sucked into it, I’ve learned more to go with the flow, and finally, I have more peace.

4.  The Zion Mission Church of Christ

I am laughing to myself because I know that some of you, due to the six words above (especially the last one in particular) are freaking the hell out and are vowing to never visit this site ever again.  “THIS GUY IS TRYING TO CONVERT US TO HIS RELIGION!!!” or, “I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO BE SOME BIZARRE RELIGIOUS SITE!”  To this, I first of all say relax, and remind you to look at the big picture.  The Viable Alternative is about your own unique way and I am talking here about the unique path that I was led to follow.  Some of you may have been helped immeasurably in your path of self-discovery through spending time at a Buddhist monastery,  or a mosque, or synagogue, or a temple, etc all which  have “religious” connotations but actually benefited you on a spiritual level.  I speak about how I was helped in spiritual terms, and not religious.  I will not now, nor ever, be religious.

This place can be termed as a “deliverance ministry”, led by a man from Cote D”Ivoire by the name of Paul Awoleke who became somewhat of a “Yoda” to me.  I first came to this place in ’07, a year which can be termed as one of the most traumatic years of my life.  The particular experiences I had here are beyond the scope of this site, so I won’t get into them.  I will say that from day one of stepping into this added a new dimension to my journey so interesting, yet so bizarre that I will one day pen them in a book because it’s the stuff that movies are made of.   All the breakthroughs I had before that I described earlier were on a mental level, and involved moving mental blocks that gave me more clarity.  This place started a whole different type of change that involved cleansing that was on a spiritual level.  It got to the core of my issues and it was through here that a different type of hold that I felt that was hindering and making life hell for me began to release its grip.  It was from what I got from here that I started to FEEL better, and the episodes of attacks of negative thoughts that I used to get on a regular basis that sometimes made me wonder whether life was worth living began to lessen in their intensity.

This place definitely was not the last of its kind that was of tremendous help to me.  In fact there were other deliverance ministries that were more powerful and helped me in more profound ways than this one.  However, I mention this one  here because this was the first place that opened my mind and journey up on a different dimension that I was previously closed to accepting into my reality.  It opened the door that allowed me to receive the breakthroughs I got on this level from other ministries of this kind a couple of years later.  Breakthroughs I might add, that I could never have received from reading a book or attending a seminar because they were at another level and served as an underlying foundation to consolidate everything else I received up until this point and the ones I will receive in the future.  Breakthroughs that have given me a level of confidence and well-being that I haven’t felt before as I sit here writing this.  This ministry, by opening the door, is indirectly responsible.

5.  The Institute of Sophianic Healing

I was led to this place after reading a book on energy healing called, Light Emerging: The Journey of Personal Healing, by Barbara Brennan, on the recommendation of a spiritual mentor.  The founder and head of the institute is a man by the name of Jorge Barrieu.  After looking up and talking to quite a few energy healers in my local area, I was led to go see him.  I had reached a plateau with the Zion Mission Church of Christ and realized I had to move on because there were things I was dealing with that they couldn’t help me out with.  Though not as intense like I mentioned in the previous section, I was still dealing with these incredible lows, and still felt off center and disconnected from my core self, the ME I never had been able to connect with.  I was desperate for answers and tired of the emotional roller coasters I would go on, and tired of being this “person” who I knew really wasn’t me.

The session consisted of two parts, the first part was the communication part, where I explained to him the issues I was dealing with.  What I noted was Jorge’s very calm, reassuring demeanour.  He was very calm, non-judgmental and present.  I told him about all the negative thoughts that would come up in my head that would undermine my confidence and sabotage my efforts towards whatever I wanted to do.  Now, I was hoping that he would analyze everything for me and help me get to the core of my issues.  Not the case.  He actually offered to me a new concept: not resisting my thoughts, but rather letting them be without judging them and seeing what comes up.  Neat concept, but needless to say, I was insulted.  It totally wasn’t the answer I expected so I just dismissed it in my head.

The second part of the session consisted of the energy work.  I lay down on a table and went into a trance-like state where I was half-awake/half-asleep.  He then, from what I was told because I wasn’t conscious, felt the energy field around my body, and sent light to the areas of my body that were blocked.  From what he told me, everything from my heart and below were completely blocked and in this session part of it was cleared up.  As I was leaving, he told me not to expect changes right away, but rather, over the next few days to a couple of weeks.

The benefits of my session were felt a week after I went. I reached another entirely new level of peace that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  Most important, I finally started to understand the concept of letting go, and surrender, the way Jorge explained it to me.  This solidified my new sense of peace because I was able to practice letting my thoughts be rather than fighting with them the way I used to.  I started to let them wash through me.  In addition, I also had a sense of grounding that I had never felt before, this gave me the ability to not get sucked into my negative thoughts the way I used to and to do as Jorge said, which was to surrender to what is, and enjoy or at least get curious to what emerges.  The new found spiritual strength I received definitely prepared me for the next part of my journey I was to soon undergo…..

Seminars

1.  Living a Created Life – Landmark Education

This was the seminar, coupled with the book, The Power of Now, that I read soon after I attended the seminar in November ’05, that allowed me to have my first real breakthrough in like five years.  It opened my mind to reading The Power of Now, whereas before, I was completely closed to it because i felt it couldn’t do anything for me.  This seminar made me realize the REAL me was a separate being from that constant, negative internal chatter.