Reply To: Week 3 Homework Assignment (Mindfulness in Behavioral Health)

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Margaret Zall

Question 1: I noticed that during the soft belly meditation I felt incredibly vulnerable. It made me think about my cat and the way he “presents” his belly when he is feeling safe. My initial reaction was to think about anything except laying there and identifying a tender spot within myself. The longer I did it, however, was the more comfortable and accepting of my experience that I became. I was able to recognize the gratitude I felt with each inhale, the rising and falling of my body. I could physically envision all of these powerful phrases from our readings really “floating” within myself.

Question 2: I cried during this practice! I think words are the most powerful tool that we have, so verbally speaking to myself felt like a promise almost – a promise to be radically accepting of whatever experience I’m having in the moment. I believe this kind of thing is so desperately needed within the helping professions. I know I’m always pushing myself to be “better” than the last day, the last appointment, and that can leave a sense of hollowness (if we aren’t proud of ourselves, who will be?) Allowing myself to accept that whatever just occurred, is occurring, and may occur is done in perfect time within the universe let me loosen my grip on the doubt and fear (that I think is part of the human experience). If I was to evaluate the effectiveness of this, I think it would probably be in a more physical response – the loosening of the jaw, the slowing of the heart rate, the brightening of the skin. Within all meditation we have physical responses, of course, but the lasting effects of this seem to be much more likely.

Question 3: I’d really like to develop more of the Acceptance exercise into my work. I do a fair amount of motivational interviewing with my folks who use substances, and I think this practice could play really well within that context. I believe deeply in the reframing of a thought, not changing it. It’s simply not my place, clinically, to tell someone how they should feel. I believe that hearing my folks truth and saying it back in a way that is accepting of it, and also loving, can bring a lot of power. I’m always hopeful that my clients will leave feeling as though they have more tools for self love after our sessions, and I think that empowering them to feel totally at peace with where they are will allow more strength between the thought of drinking/using and the action of it. The soft belly meditation may take more time! I’m considering how that would play with my harm reduction folks and how I can bring that to them to encourage staying tender.