This is what I mailed to Naropa University today as my entrance essay into their grad program in transpersonal psychology with a concentration in ecopsychology. Thought I’d share it with you. You can find out more about them at http://www.naropa.edu.
Update 09/28/07: I was accepted by Naropa and will begin there May of 2008.
Laurie R. Nelson Alexander
January 7, 2007
Being a 47 year-old mother of six, the journey to this place has taken some time. It has been vitally important to me to spend the formative year’s home-schooling my beloved children. With all but one of them having flown the nest, now is the time when I can devote myself to part-time graduate studies, and am supported by my family in pursuing this vision.
Farming has been my forte…sowing seeds of change, of love, and of a passion for the utter, awe-inspiring beauty of the unity that cradles diversity in our world. My deep personal desire is to reflect even a tiny fraction of the magnificence of Creation. The majesty and wonder of this planet takes my breath away, leaving me humbled and with a heart connection that is unspeakable.
My work so far has been primarily a mixture of love for our planet, living in real-ationship with Her…and opening to the indwelling compassion inherent in our human Brothers and Sisters. Manifold experience and opportunity for creative expression has graced my personal and professional life-paths, relating to a deep soul-love of Earth and to uplifting Her myriad forms of sacred people: the fourlegged, standing, crawling, swimming, sitting, flying and walking. The combination of spirituality, psychology and our Mother Earth, have played a tremendous role in the teachings that have presented themselves to me in this life…from writing and recording 22 songs for kids on environmental action and awareness, to an apprenticeship with a Celtic shaman, to learning about plants as medicine with a Lakota M.D., to creating family television specials on issues of multi-cultural awareness and environmental response-ability, to just simply spending time in the Forest sharing nature with my children. A couple of work highlights follow.
In 1987, my family and I collaborated to create Pure Planet Productions, a media-based entertainment education company. We worked with children in the Washington State public schools, educating them to care for our planet through traveling musical-theatrical productions that taught them about their power to make a difference by conscious consumerism and recycling. Our shows titled “T.R.A.S.H.” toured for seven years within the Tacoma school district. We also consulted with the city of Spokane, helping them write and produce their own theatrical productions to educate their children, and ultimately the adults in their region. The children’s enthusiasm would go home with them and inspire their parents to recycle. These programs were successful in kicking-off recycling programs in both communities.
Warrior Spirit & the Leap of Faith
Volunteering as Executive Director and Volunteer Coordinator of a small non-profit alongside my husband Jeff for twelve years in Seattle, I learned not only how to run a 501c3 organization, but more importantly, grew significantly richer in the depths of my soul in real-ationship to working with over 60 volunteers and hundreds of participants in our programs. We came together with our volunteer staff only four times per year to pull off miracles, as we offered free transpersonal initiatory programs for the public called the Leap of Faith. This class was a journey of confrontation, healing, transformation, and opening for the participants who registered every quarter. It was also a healing/wholing experience for all who volunteered to serve at these events. Each volunteer staff member had at one time been a participant. They volunteered year after year for the sheer joy of being in service to the students.
It was one of the most amazing journeys of my life. Being asked again and again by students (and volunteers) for follow-up counseling opportunities, my heart began yearning to create a private practice where participants could turn for further experiences of unfoldment in their journey of discovery after the Leap weekends were over. Working with all of these beautiful people was my stimulus to apply for graduate studies in transpersonal psychology.
Many participants came to the Leap of Faith because they had been through horrific experiences in their lives. Some would share their stories, exposing the wounds and rawness of all they carried within, and crying out for help. Over and over again we witnessed the beauty of the human soul and its drive to open the heart through finding light in the dark places of life. The strength of humanity’s desire to love and be loved is immense, and the natural ability to see “God” in each other breath-taking.
We assisted hundreds on their path of opening, providing opportunities for tremendous transformation and perception shifts, leading to an understanding that all are One. We witnessed monumental change in people’s lives after they took our programs. All walks of life, all religious backgrounds, came to see each other in the spirit of Love and compassion. It was profound work and I look forward to returning to heart-offerings like this in the future, and to considering the Warrior Spirit community for a transpersonal service learning project in the second year of the MATP program.
Interest in Naropa, the MATP Program, and Contemplative Learning…
Mahatma Gandhi, M. L. King, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Buddha; the great Masters of the world shared something in common. They were willing to experience life at its depths to further their teaching. This often came in dark experiences and difficult circumstances. Beyond simple intellectualization or observation, those we admire knew the full spectrum of life through their personal familiarity with it. Meeting life directly by participation and often, direct confrontation, all the while holding a space of compassion, is what made them great leaders and teachers.
Time spent in deep consideration of the myriad approaches to a doctoral degree in transpersonal psychology led me to look at masters programs from many universities. The same question continued to arise within my heart, “What will provide the greatest foundation for me to be the most present and available to those I may serve in the future as counselor/guide/facilitator?” Researching APA standards, pre-requisite courses, and state licensure requirements, I found clear-cut pathways at other institutions that would satisfy the state board, but inner promptings urged me to set aside all the legitimacy concerns and choose the program that would best prepare me as a human being. This would build the strongest foundation for future doctoral work and eventual private practice.
Naropa stood out as a beacon of light in the storm of requirements and standards. There is no greater foundation for me as a future counselor than to become my own first client. I come to Naropa to give myself fully to this mission. My expectations include not only intellectualizing information, but most importantly, time and space to experience what is learned along the way…to meet life directly through participation (and sometimes confrontation) with it. Planted from those experiences, will be seeds of wealth in understanding, which I pray will someday grow into true wisdom. I look to this education time and my new community for help in creating personal sustainability…daily ritual connection with that heart space, the inner voice of impartiality that is one’s true Counsel. Meditation and yoga are the freeways I know of to that connection. At times in my life I’ve been disciplined in showing up for that work, and at times I’ve not. Ego’s darkness tempts me terribly when I am not showing up for daily meditation. The Gita’s first stanza teaches that I must bring my blind self to a practice of becoming present for the voice of “Sanjaya”…impartial introspection…staying aware of the effect of my daily actions, and in turn, changing the next day’s path by choice. I look forward to this as part of a foundation of my studies.
The opportunity to study from a distance is a gift and one very large reason I have chosen Naropa. One year of my undergraduate work was done online, and I loved being able to make the time in the wee hours of the morning for my studies, and still be able to school my kids during the day. Since transpersonal psychology was what I originally looked for, Naropa came up over and over again on the list of possibilities. The union of meditation and nature-based mindfulness as the foundation of this work was the seal on my heart as I compared programs; the combination of experience and intellectual knowledge, of observation and participation became paramount in my choice of schools. This foundation existed nowhere else in a distance program. What made me especially giggle with glee was finding the ecopsychology concentration along with it. I was pleased to find a combination like this, reflecting my past pursuits and passions, along with my visions for the future. It hit me as a big “Of Course” as I read your website with delight. I look forward to more time in Nature, and to finding ways to better express the connection and communication experiences I have had there.
Creating a community of learners diverse in locale as well as experience and life-path is also important to me. Being able to come together in Boulder (one of my very favorite places on Earth!) on a regular basis to learn and share, offers a chance at creating synergy in motion, exponentially increasing growth for all. I look forward to meeting this community, growing along with it, and contributing in every way I can to its flowering.
My vision for the future includes a counseling practice incorporating nature as one aspect of health and compassion, as well as teaching and workshop facilitation, ultimately offering opportunity for my Brothers and Sisters to experience the possibility and potential for compassion and grace, leading to a collective understanding and someday, peace within and without. First, it begins with me as I enter this time period of reflection, contemplation, and preparation for the next phase of life, all the while staying open to the paths Spirit presents as processional effects of taking this educational journey.
My trajectory is moving toward a potential Masters/PhD in psychology, particularly family/relationship systems and drawing on our relationship with God (in whatever form we love That) as the ultimate healing/wholing worldwide. It is in relationship with others, and in living with compassion (or the lack thereof) that dictates whether we live in war or peace on this planet. When we are filled with compassion, we attempt to understand each other, stepping out of our own agenda-space and judgments. We take a real step toward becoming a planet of family. I can’t help but feel I have some seeds to sow that might contribute in this arena.
I’m in Love with living and all people. I am so grateful to be here, with a deep passion to serve humanity, and to contribute to opening the heart of the world through sharing the sacred, and living in service.
My nine year old daughter Trikaya asked me what I wanted to go to school for and what I would “be” when I got out. “A mom,” I replied. “I’ll be the same thing I am now, only more…a big mom to lots of people, just like I have been with you. I will love them, and hold their hands while they learn to open their hearts to loving each other and our world.” She liked that. I do too.
Laurie Nelson Alexander
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