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

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Hilary Pelletier

1. I found the Urge Surfing exercise to be somewhat difficult for myself, partly because I was not feeling any sort of “urges” in beginning the exercise. Eventually I was able to focus on an Impulse that I struggle with, bring it up and try to “surf” through it. Physically I felt some anxiety when envisioning the impulse, a tightness in the chest, fluttering in the belly and tension in the muscles. After a few minutes of practice, I was able to “ride the wave” and find some relief from the feelings and sensations I was experiencing. The more I practiced this, the easier it became and the more relief and acceptance I felt. I do think that urge surfing could be particularly helpful for those struggling with a substance use disorder. Allowing oneself to experience the craving, to breathe through it and to realize that it will ebb and flow and you will feel relief could be a very helpful experience. Urge surfing might be best suited for individuals that have some experience in mindfulness and feel ready to deal with urges specifically. In my practice, with individuals who struggle with urges, I may introduce to them the concept and then proceed if they feel comfortable and ready to do so.

2. For the second mindfulness exercise I chose Loving Kindness. I chose this exercise because I often find that I can be very hard on myself, my thoughts, and my emotions. I felt this exercise was a good choice as well, because although I initially struggled with the acceptance exercise, I did find it helpful and wanted to build on that. I found this mindfulness exercise to be a beneficial one for me. Overall my physical experience was on of calm. Perhaps because of my caregiver role I found a sense of warmth and compassion when focusing on loving kindness to others. I do think that it helped me feel a connection to something greater then myself, particularly when at times, I can get stuck in my own thoughts and the way I feel. I think that I would continue to like to practice loving kindness to myself, learning from the way I provide loving kindness for others. Many of the individuals that I work with struggle with self-compassion and I think this exercise could be one that I could begin to teach with them. As I do work with individuals for a short period of time, I may introduce this concept of self-compassion through mindfulness as something they can consider building on as they work with their outpatient clinician.

3. I have found integrating increased mindfulness in my life over the past several weeks to be very beneficial, it is clear that it is helped me begin to alleviate some suffering in my own life. I have been practicing some mindfulness for myself and occasionally bringing it up with patients that I work with, but this has brought such a larger awareness for me of the helpfulness and benefits. I personally plan on continuing my mindfulness practice and building on what I have learned while participating in this training. I also plan to be more aware of patients that are ready and might particularly benefit from beginning to think about and learn mindfulness techniques and work on developing an outpatient plan with them where they could have support to build and expand on this.