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

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Kathryn Vandermast

Question 1: I believed that I would prefer the breath counting meditation because I thought that the counting would prevent my brain from wandering as easily but I found myself having a very difficult time relaxing into the meditation. I was very aware of the soreness of my body, my clothing on my skin, and couldn’t get comfortable with my breathing. The counting during inhales and exhales caused my breathing to be inconsistent and shallow. I found my brain wandering to when the exercise would be done. I did use the audio as well and that was better for me. I intend to continue trying this meditation to see if it may have alternative effects with practice, but this is the first time I have participated in this form of meditation. Typically, when I have done meditation, it has been centered around awareness of breath not counting of breath. I would not say that this meditation calmed or stabilized my mind but rather caused it agitation.
Question 2: I found the basic mindfulness meditation to be more enjoyable for me. I did utilize the audio because that is how I am used to meditating and once I could stop thinking about a number and just focus on pushing away my thoughts in my own organic way, I was more able to relax and enjoy the process. I found my body settling into my aches and pains more easily so that I wasn’t fidgeting and spending time getting comfortable as I was in the first exercise, and I was able to bring my brain back to center by focusing on my breaths. I think that my mind does require some structure in a soothing voice guiding me towards my breaths since I am a novice when it comes to meditation.
Question 3: Both meditations work towards preventing the mind from wandering to other thoughts and outside noise through a focus on breath however the second one, for me allows the brain more ways to return to center. It can be a voice in my mind telling me to come to back to my breath rather than a number that I am expected to return to. I would imagine that integrating either of these meditations into clinical work would require understanding the mind of the consumer that you are working with. Both meditations can allow the possibility of structure, but one creates a finite structure while the other allows different methods to bring the brain back to center. I think it depends on the personality of the individual in determining which meditation to utilize but when the right one is found then I think they would be useful in the de-escalation process provided the consumer isn’t so escalated that their frontal lobes have shut down. I have incorporated breathing with residents when I have been guiding them away from crisis but if I were to practice one of these forms of meditation with them when they are not escalated and they were already comfortable with what to do than it may be easier for them to participate in a meditation when they are escalating.