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.