Reply To: Week 4 Homework Assignment (Mindfulness in Behavioral Health)

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Margaret Zall

Question 1: I had a difficult time with this exercise, but I found it incredibly effective. I get pretty itchy in general (perhaps just a focus thing?) so, of course, as soon as I started this I had an itch on my back. For the first 30 seconds or so, it was all I could think about. As I let myself delve into the realization that it wasn’t going to seriously injure me to just let it be uncomfortable, I felt a specific type of release in my body – and poof, like that, it was gone! I can absolutely envision that while having a craving, this could be really effective. Discomfort doesn’t equal pain, and it’s difficult to help our clients see that discomfort is a natural thing that doesn’t require numbing. I personally wouldn’t utilize this until I had a long standing relationship with my client – I personally see this as a practice that requires trust. I certainly wouldn’t trust a stranger/new person to tell me “you’ll be fine”. Validation through out this process will lead to a higher success rate. Just like all of the work we’ve done in this class, it’s not meant to be done alone for the first time. I’d really like to utilize this in a group, where peers can see others identifying discomfort and regulating themselves within it.

Question 2: I chose “Being Mindful of Emotions Without Judgment”, particularly because it felt aligned with the Urge Surfing practice. Emotions, by and large, are uncomfortable when we aren’t familiar with them. I recognize that a huge part of our socialization is to identify feelings to “work on”, especially within counseling. It feels very freeing to simply identify feelings and thoughts, and let them go. I actually found myself crying during this. I fell into a pretty deep state of meditation during this practice, and I think it allowed me to just exist within the moment moreso than any other practice we’ve done during this course. I wouldn’t utilize this practice until far after the physical detox of substances; I think it’s simply too much for someone who’s attempting to get through their day without getting high. I appreciate the place this has in the work, and I’d like to put it closer to the discharge period. This may be the hardest one to identify effectiveness within, because it’s so personal. I think we, as providers, would just have to look at the way our clients take feedback and have conversations to identify it ourselves.

Question 3: I’ve had a lot of fun in this course over the last month! As someone who already has a personal meditation practice, it’s been informative and interesting to learn about the various opportunities to bring it to the work that we do. I’m hopeful that I can bring meditation into meetings with my clients, and even their families, in a way that doesn’t seem intimidating. It’s historically been difficult (for me) to mention mindfulness without people brushing it aside because it’s been seen as a little “whimsical” (and actual quote from a client!) I believe that having the clinical background to it will bring more openness to exploring. As a provider, I believe these practices can bring me more peace through the difficult days, which of course leads to a more productive time for both myself and my clients. I believe that as we passively introduce mindfulness, we’re allowing our clients with substance use disorders to find more of themselves outside of their bottle/pipe/etc. So frequently in SUD people feel trapped because of the physical compulsion. I’m looking forward to helping them loosen the grip.