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

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Susan Salomon

1. During the Breath Counting Meditation, I became more aware of my heartbeat, a general “heaviness” in my body, and the slow release of muscle tension. The overall physical experience was very relaxing and left me feeling sleepy. My mind most definitely wandered, but I found focusing on counting very helpful and it allowed me to easily return my attention to the meditation. Something about giving my mind a job, and a concrete one at that, seemed to work well for me. All in all, I found this type of meditation quite effective at calming my mind and soothing my body.
2. I tried the Basic Mindfulness Meditation on a different day so that may have impacted my experience somewhat. Maybe I started off more distracted and restless? Physically, I initially found it calming to focus on my breathing, but then I started to feel like my breathing was out of its normal rhythm, and then I started thinking about that…and well, then my mind was off and wandering. I tried repeatedly to refocus my mind on my breathing not my thoughts, but it felt like a job, and it was not relaxing. This meditation was very effective at highlighting just how chaotic and distracted my thinking was in that moment.
3. I think the biggest difference between these two types of meditation exercises is the way in which you bring your wandering mind back to meditating – counting vs. focus on breath. Similarities include working to focus and calm the mind and to increase awareness of physical sensation. Many of my clients struggle with “being in their bodies” and being able to relax. Ruminative thinking and obsessive thoughts are also distressing. Teaching a meditation practice to willing clients may offer them a tool, something to “do,” when they feel overwhelmed and help to calm and promote overall relaxation.