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

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Lauren Porter

Question 1
For my urge surfing exercise, the urge I felt was to shift in my chair and fidget. It was difficult to prolong that urge and became increasingly so as I was aware more and more of feeling uncomfortable in how I was sitting. I think this was particularly difficult because sitting in an uncomfortable position will not necessarily ease with time unless you do move, but I was able to sit with the feelings and be aware of how it felt in my mind. I think for things such as cravings and impulsive desires, those are proven to dissipate with time and having the skills to sit with them and trust that process to work out is important. I would utilize this in addiction counseling by combining it with the thought diffusion practices and visualization techniques such as the waves or balloons.
Question 2
I chose the being mindful of emotions without judgment exercise. I selected this because I have been quite stressed and anxious this week, and a lot of my thinking has been around how this is not pleasant, productive, or helpful and I want to overcome it as soon as possible. I wanted to see how it felt to just sit with that physical and mental experience in a more neutral way. I noticed physical sensations such as tension, nausea, headache, chest discomfort, and uneasy breathing. I started by passing judgments on this as bad and negative experiences but shifted some of my thinking towards more acceptance based. As I also returned my thoughts to the moment and thought less and less about the specific triggers for my stress, I noticed some of the physical symptoms dissipating. It is hard for me to distinguish between the emotional and mental experiences, but I did feel a greater sense of acceptance with my thoughts around the anxiety. I think this would be very effective to utilize in addiction counseling settings as people are learning to sit with thoughts, feelings, and experiences that they have often avoided because they feel they are bad or uncomfortable. I think for it to be most effective, it needs to be started with an easier to manage emotion before it is a stronger and more charged one.

Question 3
I really enjoyed content in week 3 where we talked about the importance of clinicians being involved in mindfulness both to help them in guiding clients through it and to help them be more present in the therapeutic relationship. I have had my own practice with mindfulness and meditation for a while, but I enjoyed trying out different exercises that I had not tried before. I also appreciated the chance to dedicate focus on how mindfulness can look when you are a clinician and how it helps you and the client. I anticipate myself utilizing skills here with people across the spectrum in their use and recovery journeys, whether it’s urge surfing for cravings, acceptance for the reality of their addiction, or meditation to ease the intensity of emotions that would have otherwise driven them to engage in behaviors.