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

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Julia Healey

1. My experience with the Breath Counting exercise reminded me of my early practice as a tool to learn meditation and presence. It was reminiscent of group exercises where one focused on counting or a mantra which served as an anchor to bring awareness back when the mind wandered. I find it’s a helpful tool to teach patients who have no experience or practice in mindfulness as it is concrete, easily learned, and accessible. At this point in my life, I find it less helpful for me personally. Rather than facilitate an opening, I feel less aware of the environment inside and outside self as it is blocked by my single focus on a single cue word. The benefit is learning to bring awareness to breath and hold focus there
2. I find basic meditation most helpful – I practice it in movement verses being stationary. When running, I am fully present with the sights and sounds around me, how the air temperature feels, tensions in my body, feet hitting the ground and thoughts flow – letting them move by as I stride – soon no longer aware of thought and just present with sights and sound
3, They are similar in drawing awareness to the present, not attaching to thoughts, bringing the focus back continuously when the mind wanders away from the present moment. Differences are largely that counting meditation creates a structure and basic lends for one to be more attuned and able to keep bringing back focus on own. In early practice with patients, I would use the counting format as the ability to be present is so foreign and avoided to substance users, trauma survivors, and others who have learned to cope by escaping emotions and thoughts