Dr. Cara Barker is a dynamic keynote speaker, an author, artist, Jungian Analyst and Nurse Practitioner. She’s served as an adjunct professor at Seattle University Psychology department, and has lectured professionally on numerous topics, whose themes have included: transforming loss and disappointment, navigating Life’s Edges, and creative spiritual development since 1968. A limited list of engagements include the: Universities of Washington, Oregon, California, Maryland, Colorado, Arizona, as well as Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, the C.G. Jung Institute, the New York Training Institute, and American University, as well as public and private forums such as the Institute for Noetic Sciences. Barker has been not only a popular keynote speaker here and abroad, but has also coached more than 100,000 individuals and leaders through her private practice, international retreats, seminars, workshops, and in-service programs. Cara also served in a special U.S. Army nursing program during Viet Nam, where her devotion to mind-body-spirit transformation was catalyzed. She is the originator of the ‘Life’s Transforming Edges Process’, which she teaches here and abroad, along with engaged meditation, and the spiritual benefits of process painting, coupled with proactive service.
Dr. Cara Barker holds academic degrees from the University of California, San Francisco, and Union, in the areas of Health Education and Speech, Nursing, (including Advanced Practice as Nurse Practitioner), Clinical Psychology, and the Expressive Arts. Further, her Post-doctoral work was at the C.G. Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland, where she became a Diplomat. She has studied and practiced extensively in Body-Centered psychotherapy with Ron Kurtz/Hakomi, as well as expressive arts interpretation through a Jungian frame.
As a child, I was very curious and aware of my surroundings. My mother always said that I had a joy about me. This was a joy that I, like so many of us, struggled to hold on to as life’s painful realities began to surface. The world seemed both a precious and precarious place. My own father had a series of near fatal heart attacks, my mother and sister also coming close to death from various health crises, the stress and strain of which began to leave its mark. The candle could go out at any moment. What to do in the meantime? Studio life was a most welcome friend.
Years later, as a young Army nurse in training, well before I became a Nurse Practitioner, I was reminded by seriously injured, returning soldiers, of the many curve balls life can throw us. We are left so ill-prepared. It became clear to me that I needed to explore how to be most useful. I began to carry a little sketchpad in my uniform pocket. During long periods of sitting with patients, when they had few words to describe their trauma, I began to sketch the imagery they described. We discovered that the images that arose from their depths carried a healing power. Although I knew nothing of Carl Jung at the time, I was impressed at the healing ‘medicine’ that arises from our own psyche. Some years later, while working in the E.R., I went to a class on meditation. That practice, 38 years ago, turned out to be the perfect accompaniment for healing imagery. Through the integration of East and West, I discovered that we can use the emergent creative power that arrives from explored suffering in ways that promote healing contribution. The choice is ours to use it in the right direction. (At the time, little did I realize that this would be ground I would need when my own son in college was killed. You never know the importance of the seeds you are planting until it is time for harvest.)
I have come to learn that regardless where the path has led, nothing is wasted. Every single footstep is necessary to where you and I stand right now. Every thread is necessary for what is coming. Every doorway is important if we are to honor the calling of our own heart, it’s what makes us who we are. Turmoil examined is the very compost from which gratitude and peace flower. Thich Nhat Hahn puts it this way:
“In the garden of my heart, may the flowers of peace bloom beautifully.”
My focus has always been on cultivating the inner life’s vitality, so that it might be translated beautifully into full-hearted expressions which help our relationship to the world, beginning with those most dear.