Interview with Barbara Alexander, MA, MDiv
Veronika Tracy-Smith,PhD (VTS): Tell us about who you love to work with and what people could expect in working with you.
Barbara Alexander, PCC (BA):I call myself an Integral Practitioner because I am trained as a psychotherapist, energy worker, spiritual director and coach and use Integral Theory as my major framework. The term Integral Practitioner helps describe how I’ve combined my 35 years of education and experience in psychology and spirituality into a unique way of working with individuals and groups.
Because of my rather eclectic skill set, I work with people of all kinds. Their commonality is a desire to change and grow. Sometimes that means they are wrestling with an issue that they’ve been unable to make headway with despite their best efforts. The Integral Framework provides a methodology that gets to the heart of an issue and offers specific practices designed to build the muscles, or competencies, needed to facilitate change. Other people I work with have a spiritual focus and are interested in exploring beliefs and/or learning practices such as meditation to deepen their connection with Ultimate Reality and live with greater wisdom and compassion in the world.
People can expect that I will thoughtfully assess where they are and where they want to go so we can decide if we are a fit for each other. I offer a free hour conversation to start that process. In the Integral world it is said that humans need to both “wake up” and “grow up.” My work is aimed at both aspects: waking up to the realization that you are more than you think you are and growing into your own unique expression of that Ultimate Reality. In this way you free yourself from the beliefs and assumptions that keep from being your Unique Self. Ultimately I think development of this kind is for the purpose of offering your gifts to the world.
(VTS): How you bring consciousness into your life?
(BA): In my interview I spoke of the different aspects of consciousness. The absolute realm of consciousness, Ultimate Reality, is understood as that “in which we live and move and have our being” or as “suchness” or “Being” or “the Divine.” I bring this realm of consciousness into my life primarily through meditation. I find that a regular period of stillness helps me remember that I am not simply a separate, individual self who motors through life on my own. I also love the practice of chanting as it deepens me into that connection as well.
In the relative world of day-to-day life I bring consciousness in two related ways. First is to stay as present as possible to whatever is happening moment to moment. That is much trickier than it sounds! And second is a gratitude practice that keeps me open to the present as I look to appreciate my experiences. Having done this practice over time, I find my focus has shifted away from “what’s wrong.” That makes others in my life happier as well.
(VTS): If you had a Super power, what would that be and how would you use it?
(BA): If I had a super power I would move a significant number of people from an ethnocentric perspective/worldview to a worldcentric perspective/worldview. Another way to put that is raising people’s consciousness! What we know about adult development is that our circle of care and concern widens as we grow. Holding an ethnocentric perspective means our circle of care includes what we call “me and mine.” For example our boundary for those we are concerned about is drawn at our family, ethnic group, religious group or nation.
I read an article recently on views about climate change. A father was interviewed who said he didn’t think climate change was real and the idea that we should consider what kind of car to drive relative to this issue was ridiculous. He went on to say that his family had five SUV’s because his primary concern was his four children’s safety on the road. From his perspective he couldn’t be concerned about the environment because he simply couldn’t believe it was an issue.
Even closer to home I heard a member of my community ask an economist who had been lecturing about the widening gap between the rich and the poor this question: we live in a bubble here in Marin County. Shouldn’t we just enjoy it? From her perspective she couldn’t see how the widening of the financial gap affected her and therefore why it should concern her.
This is a really important point because once we’re through that stage (and everyone goes through it), we tend to judge those who have not shifted consciousness, as if they have a choice. It really helps to understand that from an ethnocentric perspective the world looks different, information is disregarded because it cannot be taken in. One of my teachers, Ken Wilber, describes how we see the world as stops along a mountain trail. At the lower stops, you can see only so much. As you go higher your view widens. At the top the view is even wider but those still climbing cannot see it. No matter what they do, they cannot see that wider view until they’ve reached the top. It is simply not there for them to see/experience.
So clearly those of us who hold a worldcentric perspective have a wider view of issues and problems. We care about how our actions affect others even though they may be on the other side of the world. And the solutions to these problems have to come from this perspective. Einstein is reported to have said we can’t solve problems on the level at which they were created. So with my super power I’d move a significant number, creating a tipping point if you will, to that wider perceptive in order address the problems rampant in our world.
(VTS): What are you most passionate about and why?
(BA): After the last question, I guess it’s clear that I am passionate about change for the good of the world. I am convinced that we humans have a huge potential to develop through adulthood and this has been my driving force for 30+ years. For me raising consciousness is all about development because as we do, our minds can hold the complexity of today’s world and in conjunction with our open hearts, solutions can be created to end suffering.
(VTS): Who have been some of your mentors, what did you learn from them?
(BA): I have been blessed with a number of wonderful teachers/mentors. At the top of my list is American philosopher, Ken Wilber. I have been in Ken’s presence rarely but his 25+ books and taped teachings have had a huge impact on my life. As a master synthesizer his early work helped through the morass of differing therapeutic modalities taught in my graduate program. His later work helped me through the morass of differing theological perspectives in my second graduate program! But those are just examples of how Integral Theory, which is my major framework, has helped me understand how the vast array of the world’s wisdom and knowledge fits together into a coherent whole. Most importantly it has solidified my belief that humanity has amazing potential to change and grow. Over the years I’ve developed a great deal more understanding for how difficult it is. My hope is that I guide others through the process of change with great compassion, fearlessness and humility.
About the Author
Veronika is a therapist, coach and Amazon best selling author. She and has been in private practice for over 25 years and is certified as a Spiritual Intelligence Coach through Deep Change. Her focus is on making a positive impact in the world through education in emotional and spiritual development. She works internationally as a coach and an educator. Veronika helps entrepreneurs, authors, coaches and therapist develop their message and learn how to create products, programs and videos to grow their business. She loves doing Spiritual Intelligence and life coaching as well. She also is the creator and host of Consciousness NOW TV. Read more about Veronika.