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Question 1 – I struggled at the beginning of meditation with internal critic imposing judgement “not doing it right” – “belly not softening” “you’re not going to be able to get this” The effort to find the Good experience and push back the Bad led to discomfort and the addictive cycle – I wanted to stop the meditation to avoid the feelings and just escape the whole situation. I persisted on by trying just to acknowledge and accept the distressing thoughts while imagining my belly getting wider and more open with each breath. The thoughts always remained but I wasn’t as distressed by them when I stopped giving them meaning and power.
Question 2 – this exercise was hard but a good practice towards acceptance. The refrain like a mantra “may I accept myself completely as I am right now” became a focal point to help neutralize any thoughts of judgement. As in exercise 1, the thoughts and resulting feelings didn’t lessen but were more tolerable and less believable. Asking myself for acceptance just at this singular MOMENT was also helpful as not being asked to always accept – but just for right now. More achievable and a like a loving voice giving permission
Question 3 – I meet individually and facilitate groups in hospitals where I can bring these exercises. Patients are widely varied in experience, acuity, and insights but these exercises as seem ones able to be applied universally. Self judgement, shame, guilt and strong emotions are intensified by the act of being psychiatrically hospitalized- and reflection on the events leading them there. Avoidance is played out in efforts to isolate in room, decline groups or taking with others, and sleeping. These exercises offer a framework lacking judgement and simple instructions – our groups focus on building awareness, distress tolerance and coping skills. CBT. Interpersonal skills but mindfulness practices can further benefit connection versus avoidance. Avoidant response so prevalent in behaviors of addiction, denial is mental health needs, and escapism – a cycle which perpetuates suffering and repetitive return to crisis