Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category

Recap of Chapter 7 – Finding Who You Truly Are: What it Means to Me

In Book Club on November 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Our spiritual journey is never ending as we traverse throughout life.  During the course of this journey, it is important to acknowledge people and let them know how much they are appreciated and valued.  This appreciation goes to all the guys who have joined the No Ego Book Club.  One of these gentlemen is owed a special thanks, Lamonte Bourgeois, the owner of Image Kafe and host of this extraordinary gathering each Tuesday night.

Lamonte Bourgeois and Lafayette Howell

So, chapter 7, was and remains especially pertinent to me and I think, perhaps for others as well.  When Lamonte and I would discuss his vision for the shop before moving to his current location, it was more externally focused (e.g. having social gatherings, watching sporting events, and the like).  At the time, there was never discussion of having a book club.  I must confess, when I first brought up the idea to Lamonte earlier this year, I had my doubts internally, but after seven chapters and a devastating hurricane (Ike), we continue our spiritual journey together.  

What we’ve recognized is that this book club of all men and in particular all African-American men discussing the same book as did Oprah for 10 weeks is a testament that we are aligning with who we truly are and want to be and not necessarily who we THINK we want to be.  

The point of this chapter is best summed up by Ben Miller, one of our members and a customer of Lamonte in which he describes our state of people today: “everybody is friendly, but nobody are friends”.  So just imagine, if you put together creative ideas, passion for who you truly are and not what you think you are combined with the courage to put yourself out there as we did with the No Ego Book Club, special things will happen. 

This is, in many respects, what we are experiencing across the globe with the Presidential election.  We all hope and pray that Barack Obama gets elected without controversy.  Our small book club consisting of over 20 or so African-American men from all professions, with their own stories, represents the dreams and aspirations of Obama.  And just like Senator Obama, we have received inquiries from people who have watched our broadcast from New Jersey and some regular viewers as far away as Ohio and who knows where else.  So, we must believe in ourselves and be in the Present at all times.  Doing so provides no guarantees, but it puts us on a path that is positive and sustainable for children, our communities and the collective humanity.  So, thanks to Lamonte for having the vision to do what he does and the courage to bring us together.  


Chapter 5: The Pain Body – Recorded 9-9-08

In Book Club on September 10, 2008 at 4:32 am

For those of you who join us in person, you missed the most moving and uplifting conversation to date. Wow!  I just got home from the book club, and talked to Lamonte for about 45 minutes after our session, we would probably still be talking if we did not have to be at work in the morning.  So, for our loyal viewers and the casual viewer, we want you to have immediate access to this session on the The Pain Body.

It’s late right now, but you can expect a much more thorough post in the next day or so as I process and digest the conversation.  There was so much, and much of it is so personal and painful to talk about.  I will however, leave you with some exercises that I shared with the guys to help manage and in some cases rid yourself of the “pain body” as it happens to you.

The pain-body doesn’t want you to observe it directly.  The moment you observe the pain-body, feel its energy field within you and take your attention into it, the identification is broken. A higher dimension of consciousness comes in. It is called Presence. You are now the witness or the watcher of the pain-body.

Here are three ways to observe and dissolve the pain-body:

  • Watch out for any sign of unhappiness in yourself in whatever form—it may be the awakening pain-body. This can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have some drama in your relationship and so on. Catch the pain-body the moment it awakens from its dormant stage.
  • Observe the resistance within yourself. Observe the attachment to your pain. Be very alert. Observe the peculiar pleasure you derive from being unhappy. Observe the compulsion to talk or think about it. The resistance will cease if you make it conscious.
  • Focus attention on the negative feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it—don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.

Chapter 5 Preview – The Pain Body this Tuesday

In Book Club on September 6, 2008 at 1:39 am

It seems like it’s been months since the guys met–I guess that what happens when you look so forward to discussing topics that are truly important.  We changed our weekly session now to Tuesdays, starting this coming week on September 9 at 7:30.  I am excited because we will get everyone’s focused attention, because I could not imagine trying to compete with Monday Night Football.  

Next for us is Chapter 5, “The Pain Body“.  There is a quote from the book that sums up what this chapter is all about.  

"Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you 
from being present now..." p. 141

This is important for all of us, because we all have pain in some form.  For many of us, it is the dissappointment of one’s father not being available when you really needed him or losing a friend over some bull… that you can’t remember why they are not your friend anymore.  The pain-body is not just about forgiveness, it is BIGGER than that to be sure.  By knowing how the pain-body affects your thinking and approach to situations you can “free yourself” and take off the shackles that keep you from saying to yourself, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”.  By understanding this, you can be Present and conscious in your dealings.  Here is a sneak preview of Chapter 5 with the author, Eckhart Tolle.

This is a BIG DEAL!  Here’s why: if you go into a job interview or dating someone or handling a family crisis, you will get the result you are looking for by NOT carrying the baggage of the past with you ALL THE TIME.  This is what is called, “the angry Black man” or “the militant brotha”.  How we manage the pain-body is the difference between achieving your personal objectives and goals and falling short.  We will have real-life examples to share and discuss, so don’t miss our session this coming Tuesday.  If you can’t make it, you can always tune in and send in your comments online during the broadcast.

Chapter 4: Role Playing and the Ego – Recorded 8-25-08

In Book Club on August 26, 2008 at 5:10 am

For those of you who could not watch the live broadcast on Monday evening, August 25, you can watch the recorded version below.  We are taking off next week because of the holiday.  We will resume our broadcast starting Tuesday at 7:30 PM, live from the Image Kafe barber shop.  Enjoy Chapter 4.

Live Broadcast at 7:30 of Relevant and Real Conversation with Black Men

In Book Club on August 25, 2008 at 10:45 am

Watch Live at 7:30 PM tonight (August 25). CLICK HERE.  We experienced some broadcast challenges last week that prevented us from streaming the video portion of the show live.  The problem is now resolved and you will be able to watch live.  Thanks for your patience and understanding. Check out scenes from last weeks session, by scrolling down below.

Chapter 4 – Live August 25 at 7:30 PM – Sneak Peek

In Book Club on August 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm

From our session last week, there was compelling energy and insights to make sure we are more powerful in how we handle difficult situations.  What you will see is the transformation process in action of raising our consciousness to becoming fully “awake”.  Enjoy this video segment to get a taste of what everyone is talking about, all from the Image Kafe barber shop.  These are real men, discussing real issues in a real way.  Damn!  What more can you ask?

Video Recap from Chapter 3: Core of Ego

In Book Club on August 21, 2008 at 6:38 am

We just concluded Week 3 of our book club and if I was more excited, some people might think I had won the lottery.  In some ways all the guys who are part of this experience have won the lottery.  This week was the real deal!  If people want to see what real men are about, and in particular Black men, this was the week to hear our stories, our feelings, our belief systems and our passions.

We talked about the far reaching implications of how one’s ego influences how they interact in relationships to handling racially charged situations at work.  What’s eye opening is how we all help each other in a way that you typically don’t see with men who are, in some cases strangers, but yet, we all share eerily similar experiences regardless of what we do for a living, our marital status or where we are from.  We are all the same.  This is why I believe everyone was so eager to share because the “ego” breaks you down to your core; and our core, while powerful and passionate, is also fragile and weak if we let our ego rule rather than being Present and awake as we go about our daily lives.

More clips from August 18 will be uploaded, so check back soon

One of the guys drives for METRO, and encountered a passenger who calls him the “N” word as she steps onto the bus.  We counseled our good man, on how to handle this situation so that his “ego” does not respond with words or actions he would regret.  What we discovered is that the real pain was “no other passengers, in particular other African-American passengers” came to his defense when hearing such harsh words.  The “ego” makes you think people should feel the same level of injury or insult as you do; it (the ego) makes you delusional in this sense, which is why the excitement in the room was absolutely electric on this Monday evening.

By the way, our book club has is about to encounter a problem and we need ideas on how to resolve. Since we hold our gatherings on Monday’s at 7:30, we will now conflict with Monday Night Football.  Post your response on what we should do.  Remember, Lamonte is the host and he operates his business till 7:00PM on most days and the shop is closed on Mondays.  What is the solution?

Video Recap from Chapter 2 – Ego: Current State of Black Men

In Book Club on August 13, 2008 at 1:06 am

Week 2, we provide you with a series of video clips for you to see the energy, the transformation and connection that is taking place with Black men to being in the Present and awake, all taking place in the safest environment.  The barber shop.  Spread the word by adding these videos to your blog or website.

Clip 1 – Ego Defined

Clip 2 – Ego Explored

Clip 3 – Personal Conflict with the Ego

Clip 4 – Getting the Ego Under Control

Clip 5 – Inner Struggle with the Ego – Ego Loses

Clip 6 – Raising Your Consciousness to Manage the Ego

Clip 7 – Conclusion for Week 2


Chapter 2 Recap – Ego: The Current State of Humanity

In Book Club on August 12, 2008 at 4:16 pm

What can I say, Chapter 2 was gripping. This is the chapter where we start the journey to examining and understanding the “ego” in a different way.  To be sure, we all struggle with our egos, but for the first time, I experienced a sincere and honest conversation about what this actually means for Black men.  Some of us refer to it as “ego-trippin” which is what it is, and you can see when we yearn for that attention that yells, “look at me” or “check out my new ride”. Check out our introduction to the conversation.  Expect more later.

For me, and many of the guys present, the conversation was raw, meaningful and relevant; there was substance behind every comment as each person was Present, clear and in the moment. There was “no ego” as we shared intimately but with great respect for each other.

For those not able to join us or watch us live (we had some technical difficulties and now resolved the problem) you missed one of the most intriguing conversations you will ever hear about the human ego from the perspective of Black men in this country. This session could be the follow-up to CNN’s Black in America series for its richness and to dispel stereotypes and misinformation about us.

To set the stage, we played a segment of the conversation between Eckhart Tolle and Oprah to help explain what is the ego? Simply put, the ego of a person is when we identify ourselves with things, content or thoughts and in our minds believe that is who we are.

More, More, More…

This is what marketers want you to believe. The guys talked about giving more of themselves and how you get tapped out. Is it wrong to say “no” to someone you care about? Is it wrong to be selfish? People will take from you as long as you give it and therein lies the struggle for many of us who are not only doing the right thing for our families but for others. Are you being selfish when you say no?

The conversation shifted to how marketers brainwash us into thinking that we need more stuff; bigger, more expensive cars, shinier jewelry, larger house. What they are doing is systematically making us feel bad about ourselves. That is the ego talking. There was a struggle taking place as we discussed the subject of wanting more. As Tolle writes, on page 37, “we cannot really honor things if we use them as a means to self-enhancement…if we try to find ourselves through them”. Further, he goes on to say, “A large part of many people’s lives is consumed with an obsessive preoccupation with things.”

The Journey to Being Ego Free

If we spend time with our children at home, going to a park, having a cookout at a neighbor or friend’s house instead of going to the mall for an entire month, what would be the impact to the U.S. economy? Yet, as the poorest group in the country (in financial terms) we consume the most. The answer is having this insatiable appetite to feed our ego to make us think in our delusional state that we are better because of things that are impermanent and do not last. We don’t need stimulus checks to buy more stuff we do not need. Rather, we need to free ourselves of unconscious thinking, attitudes and behaviors all driven by “ego”.

Video Recap from Chapter 1 – Human Consciousness

In Book Club on August 10, 2008 at 2:23 pm

We provide you with a series of short video clips for you to see the energy, the transformation and connection that is taking place with Black men to being in the Present and awake, all taking place in the safest environment.  The barber shop.  Enjoy!

Clip 1 – August 4, 2008: Introduction

Clip 2 – August 4, 2008: Awareness

Clip 3 – August 4, 2008: Black Men Unconscious

Clip 4 – August 4, 2008: Living Skillfully

Clip 5 – August 4, 2008: Conclusion