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

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I apologize for my delayed response.

1. I learned meditation ten years ago via a mindfulness route, with mindfulness and insight as the “goal.” I am comfortable with this model as I can now use it in real-time in my day to day life, whether I am challenging by my children’s behaviors, enjoying the sound of a bird, or feeling the heat of the shower on me. So today, doing this very focused breath counting exercise, I found myself quickly resisting the instruction to count. I wanted to instead notice my entire body, or notice my thoughts, so then I began noticing how I was resisting and was able to label that, and then return to the counting practice. Eventually I was able to relax the resistance, which meant longer exhales, a softer face, less tense shoulders. At this point, it became an effective practice for calming my busy mind.

2. For exercise two I did the guided practice through the UVM website, which was very comfortable for me as this is what my early training was like. I was able to notice how the resistance I felt in the first exercise wasn’t present this time. My mind wandered to other places but I was able to notice it, label it as thinking and come back to the woman’s voice. I was reminded that the habits of my mind are to problem solve, plan, review, analyze, as it all happened in this exercise today specifically about an interaction I had with someone earlier where I remain a bit preoccupied about the content of the conversation. However, with effort and compassion, I was able to gently bring myself back to her voice.

3. Differences include both the amount and type of instruction, as well as the point of focus. Similarities include a goal to give mindful attention to some “thing.” My way of integrating these tools into practice is by asking permission to “try something new” with the client, and if they agree, giving them a sense of what I will guide them through, then guiding the practice, always offering that they end it if they feel unsafe (and how to do this), and then processing their observations after. Sometimes I use these tools in a smaller, less formal way, by saying “Could we take two focused breaths together right now? It seems like our bodies could use this. We’ve talked about some hard things.” There are some people, however, who I struggle to introduce these practices to, which is largely why I am here, to learn better ways of doing so with all people.