Week 3 Homework Assignment (Mindfulness in Behavioral Health)

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  • #4829
    Patricia Burke
    Keymaster

    Homework Exercises

    Exercise 1

    Do the Soft Belly Meditation from this lesson (see below, or watch a guided video).

    • Find a comfortable place to sit, either on a cushion on the floor or in a straight-backed chair, with both feet flat on the floor.
    • Close your eyes or soften your gaze and find a point of focus on the floor or the wall.
    • Let your breathing relax. Become still.
    • Follow your breath through the body down into the belly.
    • Allow the muscles of the belly to soften. Let go of whatever tension is there. Let it float in the soft belly.
    • With each inhale allow the breath to gently expand and soften the belly. Let the belly be full and round.
    • With each exhale allow the belly to fall and relax into itself.
    • If the mind wanders return your attention to the soft belly.
    • Notice how the soft belly receives each moment, is open, and tender.
    • Notice how in the soft belly there is room for pain and pleasure, fear and joy, doubt and confidence.
    • Allow whatever arises in awareness to float in the soft belly. (Levine, 1987, pp. 180–181)

    Please practice this exercise for 10–20 minutes. You may want to start with a shorter time period if you are new to meditation.


    Exercise 2

    Do the Mindful Acceptance Exercise from this lesson (see below, or listen to a guided version).

    • Find a comfortable place to sit, either on a cushion on the floor or in a straight-backed chair, with both feet flat on the floor.
    • Close your eyes or soften your gaze and find a point of focus on the floor or the wall.
    • Let your breathing relax. Become still.
    • Slowly repeat this phrase to yourself over and over again: “May I accept myself completely as I am right now.”
    • When your mind wanders simply and gently bring yourself back to this phrase and repeat it slowly to yourself.
    • If you become aware of thoughts, feelings, or sensations simply notice them, then bring your attention gently back to the phrase.

    Please practice this exercise for 10–20 minutes. You may want to start with a shorter time period if you are new to meditation.


    Homework Questions

    Question 1

    What did you notice about your physical experience during the Soft Belly Meditation? What was it like for you to have a point of focus be the soft belly? How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this meditation to enhance acceptance of feelings and sensations in the moment?

    Question 2

    What did you notice about your physical experience during the Acceptance Exercise? What was it like for you to have the point of focus be the phrase, “May I accept myself completely as I am right now?” How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this mindfulness exercise to enhance acceptance of self in the moment?

    Question 3

    How would you envision adapting and integrating the Soft Belly Meditation and/or the Acceptance Exercise into your clinical work with others, particularly people with addictions? Be specific.

     

    Please Note

    While answering the homework questions please only share personal information or specific responses to the homework exercises you feel comfortable sharing. It is up to you to decide how much or how little to disclose. Please respect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers/clients and other class participants in your sharing.

    To post your assignment, please reply to this topic below.

    Click here to go back to the course.

    #22308
    Jennifer Marx
    Participant

    Question 1
    I listened to the guided meditation for the soft belly exercise. First I was just concentrating on my breathing and general body sensations, but after a little while I was able to feel my belly. I hold a lot of tension there, and I definitely was aware of those sensations. With the conscious awareness of it, I found that my belly did soften. I felt that this was an effective way to get right to the place where I often hold intense physical sensations.
    Question 2
    I listened to the guided meditation for the acceptance exercise. I felt calmer in general just listening to the prompts. When we got to the phrase about accepting myself completely, I noticed judgmental thoughts and fears coming up and a lot of physical sensations (heart racing, feeling hot in my face). After breathing in to it, I felt a distance from these physical reactions and some compassion for myself. I would rate this as effective in the moment to enhance acceptance.
    Question 3
    I would offer either of these mediations in the moment, with the client’s permission, to help them during a time when they are feeling especially judgmental about themselves.

    #22323
    Elaine Kaneski
    Participant

    Question 1
    I completed the Soft Belly Meditation a long day at work, so it did take me a bit longer than normal (for me) to feel the relief and or relaxation, but once I took a few full breaths, I did start to let the rest of my day slip out of my mind and focus on the general soothing feeling in my chest more than my belly. Switching my focus towards my relaxed belly feeling allowed me to surrender a bit more to the seated position I was in as well.
    Question 2
    I really enjoyed the general sense of relaxation I felt during this exercise when I listened to the guided audio. It was soothing to me as many meditations thankfully are and I felt this is an extremely effective way for an individual to get into a positive acceptance or “flow”…. Repeating the acceptance statements really served me well in this exercise and didn’t allow my brain to wander.

    #22326
    Catherine VanDraska
    Participant

    I enjoyed both exercises this week. I utilize the soft belly mediations for personal use often. I find it more useful to have a focus point during these activities. I like the portion of the medication that invited participates to notice how the soft belly has room for all emotions. Both experiences allowed me to fully relax but I find it easier to stay focused for longer amounts of time in the Soft Belly mediation. I have not utilized something like the acceptance exercise but I see the possible benefits this could have for my patients. Many of the youth that I serve are not only struggling with substance use, but also a lack of motivation for change, lack of control over their lives, and low self-esteem and self-worth. This phrase of “May I accept myself completely as I am right now” could be extremely helpful.

    #22328
    Cherie Duggan
    Participant

    I enjoyed the exercises, both were effective in what I was expecting, and I actually felt energized after completion. I practiced the soft belly meditation during a stressful zoom meeting I was a part of this week, and it helped get me in a better place and let the tension I was feeling go. It is empowering to be able to engage in an exercise like this, and have no one else know that you are practicing it. Recovery is geared and centered around accepting; accepting in order to change, changing in order to move forward, and moving forward in order to heal. We often forget they must just “be” first, before they can be something else. We don’t always acknowledge how difficult it must be for our patients to accept themselves as something worthy of change, as we see them as so worthy, that is why we do what we do. The patients I serve are dealing with SUD as well as a lack of awareness of the need for change, or the focus gets stuck on the pain one thinks they must feel in order to be fully ready for change. The concept of accepting oneself completely, as one is right now, is so in line with taking things a day at a time, only it can be scaled down to accepting things each moment in time. Accepting oneself completely, and releasing the judgmental thoughts and fears that one may feel can be very empowering to patients. Offering either of these mediations to patients could help them during a time when they are feeling disconnected, distraught, or even during a time of peace.

    I just want to say Hello Catherine-I am so glad to see you in the posts!! I loved your insight into the youth you serve and the benefits of this for them during their journey in treatment.

    #22331
    Melissa Gerrish
    Participant

    Question 1
    For myself, as someone with chronic pain issues, the regulated and focused soft belly mediation was relaxing. When my attention is able to move to a specific focus I can concentrate on the focal point. With belly breathing (inhale/fill/expand and exhale/contract/tighten) it works almost like at metronome. My sensations were more collected and regulated.

    Question 2
    The acceptance exercise was very much like the use of tapping mantras. I did find it a little awkward to say “may I accept” as it felt like I was asking it in a question. I did reframe by dropping the “may” and just stated, and restated “I accept myself …” I often ask my clients to rephrase any negative statements with an “I feel” vs. “I am” (worthless, ugly, horrible). From there we can move from the level of attacking oneself, to simply making a statements. I stress that there (in that moment) it does not have to be believed – it is just a feeling. I also use “for today, I am enough” or “I am where I need to be in my journey.”

    Question 3
    I am always working on breathing with client’s. So many times they are doing the (back in grade school) deep, deep breath in (holding air) by constraining and contracting and then blowing out and filling belly. The exact opposite of what we should be doing. I discuss that anyone can rhythmically breathe anywhere, anytime. It is one of the most effective, but also least noticeable methods of decreasing anxiety. When working with those with SUD’s it is often (in early recovery when I am most often seeing them) helping them learn a way to regulate the feelings and emotions as an alternative to SU. With the current pandemic my group sessions are limited (no zoom option do to the nature of work do), thus in sessions I have been providing extra time to do some breath work and ask them to practice at night so we can discuss and process the next day.

    #22341
    Ryan Crouse
    Participant

    Question 1
    At first I felt tension in my neck and shoulders. I could feel my shoulders relax as I focused on my breathing saying ” soft’ when I inhaled and ” belly” when I exhaled. My body felt warmer and more at peace with less tension in my body. I believe the exercise good for accepting thoughts that come in and letting them go. To not fight the intruding thoughts. It reminds me of a martial arts lesson I had on being like the Willow tree. not fighting the tension and pain and relaxing through the pain and tension and redirecting the energy. Learning to accept tension and pain in the body and relaxing the muscles in the tense and painful areas.

    Question 2
    At first I felt uncomfortable in my body and began to relax as I focused more on my breathing and let my thoughts come and go. “May I accept myself completely as I am right now? This was very hard for my to do. I learned I am not very accepting of myself the way I am right now. I started to judge my constant need to diet an d uncomfortableness I have with my body image and desire to get back into better physical and cardiovascular condition. I had to focus harder on my breathing but my thoughts were pretty strong. I am going to continue to use this meditation on myself before I try it in a session. I believe that it will be a good tool for me to learn to accept myself more.

    Question 3
    I think that every day stress and life is hard for people to deal with. In session daily life stress comes up often. The exercises can help the person learn distress tolerance while practicing the mindfulness meditation. The person can learn self acceptance of their physical, emotional or mental health state at the time of the meditation. Reducing a persons negative reaction to stress in their environment can be a very good tool to help the person remain in recovery and not relapse. The acceptance meditation can help the person deal with negative tapes that are playing about themselves and the world around them and their perception of how they fit into their environments.

    #22664

    Question 1
    What did you notice about your physical experience during the Soft Belly Meditation? What was it like for you to have a point of focus be the soft belly? How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this meditation to enhance acceptance of feelings and sensations in the moment?
    I initially was hesitant as I have grown older, my belly fat as increased but it was interesting to explore it, certainly helped with acceptance.
    Question 2
    What did you notice about your physical experience during the Acceptance Exercise? What was it like for you to have the point of focus be the phrase, “May I accept myself completely as I am right now?” How would you evaluate the effectiveness of this mindfulness exercise to enhance acceptance of self in the moment?
    As above.

    Question 3
    How would you envision adapting and integrating the Soft Belly Meditation and/or the Acceptance Exercise into your clinical work with others, particularly people with addictions? Be specific.
    I think self acceptance is a significant area for people who have various challenges and this would be very helpful for recovery efforts and to get them out of their own beliefs and negative thoughts.

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