My name is Barclay Braden. As a clinical psychologist and devoted journal keeper, I have long puzzled over those factors optimizing human potential. I trace my ongoing curiosity about moments of heightened awareness to undergraduate explorations at Stanford University, which persisted through graduate work at New York University and later at the Derner Institute. My dissertation interview research looked at the influence of holding a future Dream, during young adulthood, as a configuring variable in who we’ve become at midlife.
Making my home in New York City for seventeen years, and finding my way through intermittent periods of profound uncertainty and discouragement, I sought understanding through a variety of experiences in psychotherapy. Eventually, I decided to become a psychologist. Eight years later, upon completion of my academic education, I began the deeper work of learning on the job.
Next, living for twenty years in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, my primary clinical interest focused on the creative process of adult growth and development. During this time, my operating framework began to break open and change.
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To my surprise, in navigating the challenges of various mid-life transitions, my worldview shifted to expand and incorporate dimensions of spirituality and belief system. Unexpectedly, my most compelling personal questions started to point toward the unexplored direction of transpersonal and metaphysical wondering. Despite the lure of these new investigations, I could never have imagined, then, that within just a few years my defining interest as a therapist would dwell in the zone of convergence between psychological and spiritual awareness.
During the many years of my extended education, I had become comfortable chalking off religious belief to a form of magical thinking. I saw it, potentially, as even a delusional need for refuge in the protection of something more powerful. Through the span of my younger adulthood, spent living in New York City, during my twenties and thirties, I can remember no interest in spiritual questions, no conversation with others about metaphysical beliefs, and no turning to prayer for help, comfort, or guidance. At a time when I could definitely have used deeper wisdom, beyond that offered in psychotherapy, I had no idea how to find it.
Approaching the age of forty, I began to recognize recurring surges of spiritual longing. Gradually I started to accept a growing desire for larger meaning. Aware that mid-life can bring to us a sense of imperative to seek after those life aspects which have been overlooked, neglected, or lost, I slowly allowed myself to open to this awakening realm of soul and spirit.
It was not a direct path…nor a sudden conversion. A series of learning experiences, each accomplishing a small, significant shift of perception, began to unfold for me. This intriguing process of transformation, from nonbeliever to believer, is delineated in my book Faith at Hand, to be published 2017.
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As of the twenty-first century, with my husband, Richard Henry Blair, we ventured from our farmhouse in New England into a new life chapter in the warmth and light of rural Florida. We are grateful to be living within a 53-acre nature reserve, protecting oak hammock habitat for gopher tortoises and other precious species.
We call our home Rancho Sacramento as a tribute to my roots and family ties in northern California. This name demonstrates one dictionary definition of the word ‘sacrament’ ~ A visible form of invisible grace.