Meditative Psychotherapy is a unique synthesis of Eastern and Western thought that illuminates each discipline’s strengths and weaknesses in ways that show us how they can enrich each other.
The three elements of Meditative Psychotherapy include “stereophonic listening, understanding and meaning and liberated intimacy.” It involves the centering of self and quieting of the mind to reach greater levels of Self-Connection and deeper experiences of connection with others. And we know that deeper connection with others is the pathway to creating Transformative Relationships ~ another element of the Conscious Service Approach.
Jeffery Rubin, Ph.D., is the creator of meditative psychotherapy, a practice he developed through insights gained from decades of study, teaching, and helping thousands of people flourish.
The author of the critically acclaimed books Psychotherapy and Buddhism, The Good Life, and A Psychoanalysis for Our Time, Dr. Rubin is a practicing psychotherapist in New York City and Bedford Hills, NY, and has taught at various universities, psychoanalytic institutes, and Buddhist and yoga centers.
He lectures around the country and has given workshops at the United Nations, the Esalen Institute, the Open Center, the 92nd Street Y, and Yoga Sutra. His pioneering approach to Buddhism and psychotherapy has been featured in The New York Times Magazine.
I am intrigued by paradox. I love the grey area and I am curious to explore the opposite ends of the spectrum. When we talk about Meditation and Psychotherapy, we are doing just that.
Many years ago when I decided to return to university to finish my degree, I made a choice that gave me the opportunity to actively focus my learning in this way. I had previously completed a number of credits towards a degree in Psychology before putting my academic career on hold to have babies. During that time, life changed immensely and when I would think about finishing my degree, I experienced a range of emotions. Sometimes, I would think, “Oh who cares if I ever finish it?” and other times, I felt compelled to complete it simply because I didn’t like the feeling of leaving things undone.
Here is a great example of the power of informal learning ~ the wisdom we gain through simply living our lives that is often disregarded in our society. As a side note, I am convinced when it comes to being of Service in the world, we must begin to honor more deeply the wisdom gained through the school of life in ways that integrate what we innately know as human beings with the theoretical and foundational philosophies associated with helping professions.
Anyway, one day, I decided it was time to go back and finish that degree. As a result of the soul-searching I’d been doing, I couldn’t bring myself to simply return for 3 credits and complete the Psychology degree; it just wasn’t the crux of what most interested me anymore. So, I enrolled in a program that would have me graduate with a double major in Psychology and Religious Studies. I didn’t realize at the time I would be embarking on a journey that would challenge me in paradoxical ways and pull me in opposite directions at times. And I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
Opposite Ends of The Spectrum
Psychology is considered a science. There is research and studies and numbers and stats to consider. The emphasis is on proving something and generating data in order to understand human experience.
Religious Studies, depending on where you focus, is much more abstract, without much physical evidence, and has very little to do with numbers and data. Well, at least this was true for me as I chose courses more focused on Spirituality as opposed to the history of Religion or the state of the Church in our society.
People used to ask me “What are you going to do with that degree?” In other words, how would this benefit me vocationally? I could never answer that question. And I still don’t have a solid response. What I can say is it was important to me to follow my curiosity and to follow the path which held the most passion and interest for me. I knew somehow this combination of learning was a way of honoring what I already knew and what I wanted to learn. And I knew it was related to my desire to be of Service in the world.
And you know what? I have drawn on the learning I gained through my studies in Psychology and Religious Studies, coupled with my background in Developmental Services to create the foundation of what is now the Conscious Service Approach.
It All Works Together for Good
There is no one right way or one path to go down. One thing does not have to become wrong in order to make something else right. We can combine various approaches in order to come up with a new perspective.
And that is what Meditative Psychotherapy is all about. A blend of Eastern traditions associated with the Buddhist practice of meditation and the Western philosophies of psychotherapy, meditative psychotherapy holds the tension between analyzing the human experience and letting go of the story all at once.