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

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Kayla Hamel

1. I felt as though my experience with the Urge Surfing exercise was both unique and helpful. This is certainly a new version of exercise/meditation for me, so I can imagine that more practice would make it feel more successful or perhaps trying to use it in the moment of a craving would be helpful too. I recognized that my body remained a bit more tense and “tight” in general with this exercise than in the previous ones we have used. However, I found it profoundly amazing being able to visualize myself almost conquering and intentionally navigating a “craving” or difficult emotional/bodily sensation. It was an exercise that certainly helped me build confidence in and reassurance in both the temporary state of all cravings/urges and how they present in my body and my capacity to learn how to let them take their course mindfully without so much judgment. I would evaluate this exercise as a wonderful way to remove and distant such sensations from feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I can understand how continued practice with this exercise could help myself and others detach the “hard” emotions and judgments that are clung onto such urges and help feel them and work through them simply as they are within the body. As mentioned many times now, I work with a lot of younger clients right now. My immediate thought in regards to use of this practice with my clients went to impulse control. I imagine myself adapting this exercise to support some of my children with ADHD and impulse control difficulties to focus and learn more about the arousal of energy in their body and the need to immediately act upon it. I also imagine being able to successfully utilize this exercise to support with anxiety reduction; helping children safely surf the bodily sensations/urges related to anxiety.

2. I chose the Being Mindful of Emotions without Judgement exercise. I would have gladly engaged in any one of the exercises, however I chose this one given some reflection on how much my cognitive patterns of thought contribute to the intensity of emotions experienced. I chose this exercise because I have an awareness that often times it’s the stories or thoughts within my mind that I attach to an emotion (judgement) that end up making me feel worse or perhaps put me into a place where they are almost hidden or “unfelt.” Engagement in this exercise was very helpful in multiple ways. I quickly found that my physical experience with the emotion I chose to focus on (anxiety/fear) intensified for a moment; not my thoughts around anxiety and fear but what it physically felt like in my body. However, as the exercise continued, I noticed that simply observing and tuning into these sensations alone helped me begin to detach some of my thoughts associated with my fear and anxiety. As this happened, and I could begin to fully accept such feelings as righteous and “okay” as they were, my body became more relaxed as did my mind and my thoughts. I could envision incorporating this exercise into my work, specifically with clients who struggle with anxiety and depression and the intense emotions felt by such individuals. As I recognized with myself; that it’s frequently that cognitive narrative in the mind (the judgment) that makes emotions intense and overwhelming, I could understand that engagement in this exercise could help others learn that too. I am hopeful that I could integrate this exercise or something alike into my work, supporting clients in valuing their emotions as they are and attaining a greater capacity to feel them freely, without any critical thoughts about what they mean.

3. I was specifically drawn to this course as a result of my personal experiences with mindfulness practice in my own life. Engagement in daily meditation and mindfulness practice has proven to be the most wonderful thing for my emotional, behavioral, relational and spiritual health. I chose to take this course as a way to gain greater insight, knowledge and strategies about how I could begin to truly incorporate something that I would so significant in my life into my work with others. This course certainly supported my belief and understanding of how mindfulness can present as a highly effective and powerful tool for alleviating suffering, both in myself and others. Each and every exercise/meditation was helpful and eye-opening. In the past year or so that I have been actively engaging in mindful work, I have gotten comfortable with certain “go-to” exercises. Taking this course re-opened my eyes to the true power of simply being mindful in day to day, conscious life. It also brought me some new tools that truly felt powerful to me and have become part of my personal practice. Taking this course also began to provide me with increased confidence in being able to incorporate more mindfulness work into sessions with my clients. I envision being able to take the information, insight and tools learned in this course with me into my practice in an effort to make it an integral part of all sessions. I can imagine incorporating basic awareness exercises into sessions with all clients and also utilizing the meditations/exercises provided throughout the course for specific clients who may benefit from them.