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

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#33884
Mark Allen
Participant

What did you notice about your physical experience during the Urge Surfing exercise? What was it like for you to focus on an impulse and refrain from acting on it? What did you notice about how the sensation in your body associated with your impulse change over the course of the exercise? How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this mindfulness practice to “ride out” addictive cravings or impulses to engage in other risk behaviors like binging, self-harming, gambling, smoking, etc.? How would you envision adapting and integrating Urge Surfing into your clinical work with people with addictive behaviors? Be specific.

The more attention the urge gets, the longer it lasts and the stronger. This is a common distraction during meditation time. I have asked clients to think about triggers and then use this skill to work thru it in a small group or individual setting. Some find it more difficult than others. Coping with urges is such a basic skill but needs to be practiced like any other skill. I have muscles twinges, itchy, etc at times and have to ignore them for the meditation time. It is also a good review topic getting ready for the weekend when there may be less client support.

Question 2
Describe which of the mindfulness practices you picked and why? What did you notice about your physical experience and feelings, and your relationship to your thoughts during the mindfulness practice? How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this mindfulness exercise to meet your physical, emotional and mental experience in the moment with a sense of compassion and/or expand your sense of connection to something greater than the self? How would you envision adapting and integrating this mindfulness exercise into your clinical work with people with behavioral health issues? Be specific.

I used the emotions without judgement and have used that in the past. I remind clients that emotions are the sail of the sailboat that push the boat, the rudder is logical/mindfulness. Emotions are neutral, what is done with them is key. That unconditional acceptance of the feeling/emotion can be helpful to let it go. Part of 12 step work is hopefully learning to accept the past, and leave it there. Own what is yours, accountability is important but so is being realistic about what is yours and what is not. The analogy of leaves/logs in the stream is useful. I often use a clouds in the sky analogy as well, which I borrowed from Illusions by Richard Bach. I think all are useful.

Question 3
Take a moment to reflect on your experiences with mindfulness over the past four weeks. How would you evaluate your experience with mindfulness as a way to alleviate suffering in your own life and help you enhance your connection to a felt sense of spirituality and meaning? How do you envision bringing this mindful self into your work with people who suffer from substance use, addictive, or mental disorders?

I think mindfulness and meditation are very useful for me personally and for many clients, per their reports. The skill set has been around for thousands of years because it works. It has no side affects other than maybe falling asleep at times, if you have not been sleeping well. I encourage other staff to explore the skill as well. I prefer walking meditation when I can but use what is possible in each setting. Meditation can help yourself and others return to a more sane, balanced mind set and get that sense of responsible fun and joy back from past substance use. I am reminded of a quote I found years ago, ‘you cannot have a life without pain, but suffering is optional’, Dali Lama. Meditation can help open up a better sense of energy flow to higher power beliefs.