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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.
I started with the urge to push my glasses up higher on my nose as they were slipping down. I was able to notice without judgment how it felt, where each part of my glasses was touching my face and move on to a subtle itch on my chin. I noticed that it felt very small and while focusing on that I was distracted by an itch on my toe which twitched a little (semi-involuntarily) before I briefly focused on it and moved on. I then noticed places of tension – one in my neck that seemed brown, square, and dull, and I felt an urge to stretch it, but it eventually didn’t seem necessary. The most significant observation I had was that I was getting cold and had an urge to turn the space heater on and check how much longer before the exercise would be over. I decided to befriend the cold and noticed the tingly sensation of it in my shoulders, chest, and legs. It seemed sparkly, red and white, and kind of interesting. I had never noticed that about cold before. I often recommend urge surfing to my clients with addictions and some have reported that it helps them. I usually talk to them about the wave, and how cravings pass like an itch. After this exercise, I would be likely to give them the instructions that I used here as they are detailed and specific and I don’t think it would need much adaptation unless a different visual other than a wave might work better for some people. When I first learned about “urge surfing”, it meant something more like playing out a craving to its logical end to see that it would not work out well. It was also said to be counter indicated for people whose addiction was to methamphetamines. The exercise we did for this course was completely different and for me, led to relaxation and self-compassion. I feel that it would be effective for a wide variety of problems besides addictions but that it is well suited for managing triggers and cravings.
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 tried all of the exercises but the one I liked the most was Thought Diffusion. I felt physically relaxed throughout the experience and found it helpful for observing and letting go of both thoughts and subsequent emotions. I noticed various thoughts related to time and my next client that I am scheduled to meet with. Sometimes, I put the words associated with my thoughts on clouds and other times I put the images on them. Either way, I watched them float away, and some of the time I was able to visualize the meadow scene without labeling anything or judging, enhancing my connection to myself and my sense of meaning. I was even more relaxed by the end of the exercise and 10 minutes felt more like 5 somehow. One adaptation I thought of was using a painting or other piece of art for the meadow. I used one that it on my wall in my bedroom that I love, and I might suggest to clients that they do this if they prefer. I feel that it helped ground me and gave me something specific to visualize. I would also recommend any place that clients find peaceful and calming. I always emphasize to clients the importance of practicing mindfulness meditation while they are not in acute distress (panic attack, flash back, etc.) so that they will be better able to do so when they are. Otherwise, as I tell them, it’s like learning to swim while you’re drowning.
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 am grateful for the opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness in this intentional way as it is just what I need right now. I have been working on letting go of my attachments to my thoughts, emotions and beliefs and through this course I have found that mindfulness in all of its forms is essential for my inner peace. I have already begun to integrate what I have learned into my work with clients and have been teaching them some of the exercises and concepts. Often, I find that some motivational enhancement and patience are needed as many clients are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the idea of meditation and mindfulness. Encouragement and support have been helpful to me as I have gone through a similar process of learning, practicing, and increasing my motivation to practice. This is a good use of self since I can relate to my clients who are ambivalent and help them work through it.