Reply To: Week 1 Homework Assignment (Mindfulness in Behavioral Health)

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Margaret Zall

I have a personal meditation practice, so doing “Returning to One” was a really comfortable and safe place for me. The ability to practice non-judgment and commit to be totally aware of my experience in the current moment brought me a lot of peace in the midst of a very busy work day. I found that my bod immediately relaxed – my shoulders dropped, my face stopped tensing, my body felt more at ease. My heartrate also came to a more even place, which increased that feeling of calmness. I think because I already practice meditation, my mind had an easier time really leaning into the counting portion of this. However, I do remember when I first began practicing meditation how difficult even 2-3 minutes was. We’re socialized to be thinking of the next steps, preparing for what comes, that it feels almost unnatural to take a space where it is only about this moment. I felt guilty, and it took me months of doing daily practice to get to an understanding that this was bringing me peace I could bring to other people in my life.

Moving onto the Mindfulness exercise, I feel like the “Returning to One” exercise really prepped me for that sense of peace I would find with this. Even now, though, my thoughts have a tendency to race and wonder how much longer this exercise will take, what could I be doing with my time that would be more productive, etc. I have to constantly remind myself that my productivity doesn’t connect to my worth… which of course, leads me to feeling guilty that I’m not being totally present. I decided to do this exercise lying down (as opposed to sitting in a chair for the previous exercise) and I got slightly more anxious in this laying position… perhaps because it felt like rest, which is difficult to wrestle with during a work day. I decided to step away and try this exercise an hour later, which felt a little better.

I believe that while these are both very similar and could fall under the “meditation” category, it was slightly more difficult to engage in the mindfulness exercise. There was more structure around the “Returning to One” exercise. I allowed myself to truly lean into focusing on the counting, whereas the Mindfulness exercise felt more self guided, which of course takes time. I’m looking forward to utilizing the “Returning to One” exercise with my clients, specifically my folks with anxiety concerns. I think purposefully slowing down could help them reset, or at least give them a break from feeling so responsible for any negative feelings they are having. I’d like to run a meditation group at some point, where clients can share their own experiences with mindfulness to their peers. I think this could be a really powerful coping mechanism that eventually can be done independently in any situation.