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

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Kathryn Vandermast

1. I found myself moving away from the soft belly and just focusing on my breathing. I understand that the soft belly suggests that you are opening up your breathing but I did not like returning my focus to the soft belly. When I just allowed myself to focus on my breathing and not return focus to that I became much more relaxed.
2. I did not have a good experience with this mindfulness exercise. I felt that it opened my mind up to negative thoughts which I hadn’t been thinking about prior. To force my brain back in to saying “May I accept myself completely as I am right now” suggested to my thoughts that I hadn’t been accepting myself as I am going into this exercise. It was triggering for me, and I couldn’t overcome going to the dark side of my brain when my thoughts did wander. I went to suffering when I hadn’t been having and I couldn’t ease my body into accepting my suffering. I’m realizing as we try all these different exercises that for myself, as someone who has not practiced mindfulness as extensively as I should that simplicity is best for me initially which is what leads me into question 3 in that I think there needs to be steps in mindfulness for both myself and the people that I serve. As the lesson discussed when we as clinicians practice mindfulness within ourselves then it makes us far more capable of remaining present and connecting to our clients. Until I have practiced these and found my own comfort in them and my own comfort in “alleviating the suffering associated with pain” as Patricia commented then I should not attempt to use them with a client. I need to start simply with myself just as I will need to start simply with my clients and over time the benefits will be more apparent.
3. So yes, I could see both these exercises benefiting someone struggling with addiction because they both have the capacity to center the brain and with the second one the potential to pull someone’s brain away from self-deprecating thoughts but until I am comfortable with them myself, as a clinician they will benefit nobody. If I were to try the 2nd one with a client today it would not be authentic. I appreciate this lesson because as we’ve gone through this course I’ve thought “sure I could try any of these and see the benefit” but this was a reminder of whether I should until I’ve done more practice within myself with each exercise and leaning into my own acceptance of suffering and pain.