The Introduction of Meditation Into Reality Attunement Therapy

Individuals seek out psychotherapy often presenting with concerns that commonly include anxiety, depression, and/or a general lack of clarity in the past unfolding and future direction of their lives. In addition to the forging of the essential therapeutic alliance between client and therapist, the initial phase of reality Attunement Therapy strives to unearth layers of conditioned thinking and habitual ways of relating to one’s experience that may be producing experiential disconnect. This disconnect is often identified as a precursor of client’s presenting concerns.

Mindfulness exercises and/or formal meditation practice is introduced in the second phase of Reality Attunement Therapy as an integral means of uncovering and acknowledging layers of conditioned thought and recurrent, habitual reactions to historical experience. It is often only through a deepened connection with our underlying somatic experience that one begins to more clearly identify the roots of long-term suffering. Meditation facilitates this connection by creating essential space between one’s experience and cerebral interpretations or judgments about this experience. Until one is able to create this space, his or her “reality” will remain dictated by these thoughts and judgments; we essentially mistake what we think for reality.

Thus the second phase of Reality Attunement Therapy often includes in-session guided meditation. I work with clients to address common misperceptions about meditation practice. For example, while it is true that meditation can reduce somatic reactions to stress, the aim of meditation within the context of Reality Attunement goes further in cultivating the aforementioned space between thought and experiential reality. In this phase, we work collaboratively to create a commitment plan for meditation practice between sessions. Execution of this plan will help the client reverse the tide of conditioned thinking and judgment. In the absence of regular practice, clients are soon likely to gravitate back toward the familiarity of thought-driven reality, and remain mired in suffering occasioned by experiential disconnect.

Reality Attunement Therapy in One’s Twenties and Thirties

The ultimate aim of Reality Attunement Therapy is the reduction or elimination of obstacles that disrupt one’s felt moment-to-moment experience as it unfolds. These obstacles often result from early childhood experiences with one’s primary caretaker(s). These obstacles may become increasingly complex and entrenched depending on the extent to which our ideas of “happiness” come to depend on the successful manipulation of external experience.

“Ideal” childhood development would do little more than instill a felt sense that the world is a safe place for exploration and experiential learning. To the extent that this ideal is realized, natural human curiosity will seek out growth-enhancing experiential opportunities.

Many – if not most – of us, however, enter early adulthood with largely subconscious, thought-driven notions of external conditions that must manifest in order for one to “be happy.” These notions often relate to a need for parental approval, career success, social status, material acquisition, etc. To the extent that this becomes the case, it is not long into our twenties that we begin to feel some nagging sense of ennui – a persistent sense that things are seldom as they “should be.” This malaise results from the fact that external conditions that we thought would lead to “happiness” are inherently unreliable and unsatisfactory.

At this point we may begin experimenting with certain life variables, seeking through trial and error to realize that right formula as an antidote to this malaise. We may experiment with drugs or alcohol, change partners, change jobs, change geographical locations, etc. Each of these changes, however, include important “transactional costs” in the form of mounting losses and disappointments.

At some point, if we are fortunate, we realize on some level that what needs realignment is not our external circumstances, but rather the fundamental ways in which we relate to these circumstances.

Reality Attunement Therapy is uniquely geared toward facilitating this vital realignment in early adulthood. The therapeutic work is aimed at heightening awareness of the thought-driven notions that have shaped one’s misguided notions of happiness through one’s formative years. In becoming increasingly aware of this conditioning, one is positioned to question the validity and utility of many of one’s most basic orientations to life within a supportive, open environment. Perhaps for the first time one becomes able to realize freedom that results from direct connection to experience as it unfolds.

To learn more about how Reality Attunement Therapy can assist in successfully navigating early adulthood, contact psychotherapist Mike Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263 or visit www.lexthera.com.

Reality Attunement Therapy Explained

If you have spent time either studying psychology and/or researching therapists, it has probably become apparent that there are many therapeutic approaches adopted by therapists for decades. These theories include cognitive-behavioral, existential, Gestalt, dialectical behavior therapy, etc. At the core of each theory is a goal of heightening one’s alignment with the momentary, experiential unfolding of life or the “true” nature of things. When I refer to “truth” I refer not to an objective, scientifically verifiable truth, but rather to a reality found in a felt, experiential sense beyond thought-driven notions about this experience.

The “truth” that each of us strives to realize equates to what is commonly referred to as “reality.” Most psychological or existential suffering follows from an internalized, usually unconscious, rejection or denial of the true nature of things. This “rejection” often manifests in the form of delusional thinking such as if only certain external outcomes would materialize, then I will reach a state that I conceive of as “happiness.”

Such thinking gives rise to strategies and defenses often resulting from early childhood interactions with primary caretaker(s) that led to an internalized notion that the world is unsafe/threatening to one’s survival. This underlying fear then leads one to reject or distort his or her experience, avoid situations that he or she might consider potentially threatening, or seek artificial means of mood elevation that chemically approximate the illusion that everything is good.

As one proceeds into and through adulthood relying on these increasingly entrenched strategies and defenses, life becomes increasingly narrow, limited, isolated and precarious. Many people then try to find happiness or contentment by changing partners, employment, geographical location, etc. Ultimately such changes lead to disappointment as they are inherently unsatisfying. As these disappointments grow, unhappiness mounts.

It is at this point that many adults will initially seek out psychotherapy. My Reality Attunement Therapy works to help clients heighten their awareness of such outmoded strategies and defenses. It is this awareness that facilitates conscious processing, and it is such processing that can ultimately allow one to transcend their maladaptive approaches to experience. Clients become increasingly attuned to reality.

Reality Attunement Therapy may draw on other more “classic” theories of therapeutic change. For example, a cognitive approach is often instrumental in helping clients effectively challenge entrenched beliefs about the ways in which external circumstances must manifest in order to become “happy.” An existential approach may be employed to help clients effectively face basic questions surrounding existence and death ultimately heightening a client’s realization that these fundamental realities of life need not be experientially crippling.

For a free initial consultation to learn more about Reality Attunement Therapy, contact Mike Lubofsky, J.D., M.A. at (415) 508-6263 or visit www.lexthera.com. Mike is a psychotherapist based in Oakland, California and also offers psychotherapy online at www.psychotherapyonline.net.