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

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Kelly West

Urge Surfing Practice:
I found this practice to be just what I needed today. I am going through some difficult and exciting transitions in my life which is creating a fair amount of anxiety for me. Although this is not maybe the typical “craving” that someone may be experiencing who is in this midst of an addiction I was able to use this feeling during this practice today and experience a shift in my physical state. It helped me identify some feeling states that I am avoiding because they are difficult and rather than pushing them away I just tried to notice and get curious about them. The focus on breathing also helped me to bring awareness to a probable lack of breathing as a result of my anxiety. I really liked how the facilitator at one point made the statement to “experiment” with how much focus the practitioner (me) was placing on breath vs the craving. I was already having that experience of going from on to the other and him bringing attention to that experience made it plain that my focus is in large part a choice that I have some control over.

Mind: Thought Diffusion:
The main benefit of this exercise for me today in my current situation was that it allowed me to increase compassion for myself with what I am going through. It allowed the space between myself and my thoughts and physical sensations to generate a feeling of empathy for myself. It helped me realize that the anxious way my body feels makes sense and to stop judging as wrong; it allowed me to soften a bit towards my physical state because I was able to see that the thoughts I was having were a part in creating the state. That feeling of self-compassion allowed me to stop putting so much pressure on myself and to relax, take a step back and try to find the moments of joy. Don’t push so hard that you forget to enjoy along the way.

Mindfulness of Emotions:
I found the direction of finding the emotion in your body and then “breathing it out” to be pretty powerful and effective for me today. Just the awareness that emotions do live in and effect your physical body state is helpful because sometimes when you are in the midst of a powerful emotion it is hard to slow down enough to notice where you are feeling it physically. This is empowering as it gives a concrete way to shift an emotion and/or physical feeling state.

Loving Kindness:
I liked the circles of connection in this exercise; ie going from self, to people you know well or not to beings around the world. Highlighted the many connections that we have has human beings not just to our immediate supports but to all and the struggles that all humans have at one point or another. It created loving feelings a sense of stability and connection and calm that I am not alone in my struggles.

Somehow, I missed the part where we were supposed to choose two exercises to do today 😊. However, I will count that as a happy accident because I benefitted from all four in a real way today. When I started today’s lesson, I was in a state of anxiety about some things going on in my life and the time I spent trying these practices today really helped me shift and feel better; calmer mind and body and a bit more of a healthy perspective. My belly has less burning, my mind is not so racy and I am more present.
In reflecting back over the four weeks I want to deepen this practice in a real way. I am currently taking a professional break and I don’t really know what I will do next. I know that I want to make the practice a regular part of my life personally and depending on what I do next professionally, I know it will be a part of that as well. I think I really need more confidence in my personal practice and possibly further training and experience in order to effectively bring this into a professional practice. I want to experience the full benefit myself to help inform and fully bring the benefit to others. I have experiences first hand of the benefits of mindfulness both in this training and in the brief encounters I have had with it before this training. There are so many forces in the world today pulling us away from being present, grateful, loving, empowered, compassionate and this is a practice to bringing us back that I think is essential for everyone.