Week 4 Homework Assignment (Mindfulness in Behavioral Health)

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  • #4825
    Patricia Burke
    Keymaster

    Homework Exercises

    Exercise 1

    Do the Urge Surfing 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.
    • Bring your attention to an area of the body where you are experiencing an urge or an impulse to move or shift in order to avoid a discomfort. It might be an urge to scratch an itch or an impulse to shift your weight in the chair to get more comfortable.
    • Just for this moment refrain from acting on the urge. Notice what it is like to refrain from acting on an impulse that may have appeared to be automatic.
    • Notice the sensation that is linked to the urge or impulse. This might be a tension, pressure, contraction, itch, etc.
    • Notice quality, position, boundaries & intensity of the sensation.
    • Notice how these change with the in-breath and out-breath.
    • Become curious about the sensation and how it changes over time.
    • When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath and then back to the sensation associated with the urge.

    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

    Pick one of the other mindfulness exercises (Thought Diffusion, Being Mindful of Emotions Without Judgment, Loving Kindness) from this lesson and practice it.


    Homework Questions

    Question 1

    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.

    Question 2

    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.

    Question 3

    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?

     

    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.

    #22400
    Melissa Gerrish
    Participant

    Question 1
    This has been by far the hardest one for me to adapt to … only because as soon as I saw ‘itch” I scratched! I do this with client’s (in a different scope) regularly. Just sitting with feelings or urges is sometimes all we need to do. The moment passes, the feeling passes and if it intensified I work with them to find out why they feel it has intensified. I ask “what is the harm in just having the feeling?” Riding out cravings and/or urges can be hard – it brings us back to the moment of distress tolerance and activations. I will work to shift the focus form long term recovery (for now) to a minutes, 5 minutes, one hour – even with support that is one hour you did not give into the urges/craving and then build off of that.

    Question 2
    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.

    Question 3
    What I found was the more focused I was on “doing it right” the harder it was. in doing each thing twice (for the 15-20 minutes) the first time was “learning” and the second “practicing.” This is something I can take back with me and remind client’s that we are all always learning and growing. In my own life it will be more about having the tools and not trying to “do them right” but use the framework and my way of doing it, will be my own and that is perfect. In the scope of learning, using this class as a teaching tool, I can say (and reference) my own struggles with learning new ways to think and be mindful and show that we can adapt tools given to us to meet our own needs and where we are at.

    #22418
    Elaine Kaneski
    Participant

    Question 1
    I have to agree, this meditation was a more difficult one for me, as I had a constant urge to shift my weight and move around on my cushion on the floor for some reason. I noticed that I felt rushed during most of my day, so taking time to “complete” this meditation felt like I wasn’t attending to other things that needed done. It’s comical to me that even throughout these 4 weeks, I sometimes struggled to find enough time to devote to my meditation practice. Working to resist the urge to shift my weight and allow my legs to relax is embarrassing for me to be honest, but once I shifted my attention to my breath, I was able to calm myself and get into my groove eventually. Personally, I think this would work well with clients because it is another way to show them that through a bit of brain power, they really can overcome the difficulties they’re being faced with.
    Question 2
    I love Sharon, so I picked her practice despite doing many of hers over the years. Her voice is calming and soothing to me, and I think that is something important to remember when encouraging clients to start a meditation or mindfulness practice – they have to feel comfortable with a guided meditation leader/or professional helping them with such sessions. Otherwise, they may lose interest or feel agitated for instance. I remember when I first started my meditation practice, I would focus on the smallest details of the guided meditation, such as the way the speaker would pronounce a certain word– it was only once I found sessions that worked for me that the light bulb went on for how relaxing the practice could truly be. If the client doesn’t like one, two, or even three sessions of meditation practices, ask the simple questions too – maybe they do or do not want a female voice; maybe they’d enjoy a shorter session, or maybe they need 40 minutes to truly settle into their practice.

    Question 3
    I really enjoyed taking this course and while some weeks I may have struggled to find the time to fit in the meditations, I enjoy that we were provided with so many different options of guided and written meditation practices. This allowed me to enhance my practice on some techniques that I was already familiar with, while re-visiting other techniques that I’ve hesitated to use, such as the urge surfing meditation.

    #22422
    Catherine VanDraska
    Participant

    I struggled a bit with the urge suffer exercise at first. It was hard to focus on an itch and not scratch it. I was able to eventually focus in. I was able to feel as the itch grow bigger, shifted, and became small. I was able to feel the hot sensation of the itch and accept it’s presence. I think that this could be very helpful to support my patients through cravings, especially new patients.

    The second strategy that I chose to practice was the Mind Through diffusion exercise. I enjoy the imagery and visualization and that this would work well with youth. Visualizing the sky and clouds felt very natural and calming. This exercise can also be used to connect with a higher power. I think that this exercise could be used when my youth receive difficult news from home and are powerless and unable to help because they are in treatment.

    I have been into practicing mindfulness over the past few years but this course has allowed me to find more ways to incorporate it into my clinical practice. I find that mindfulness can significantly reduce my suffering and I look forward to being able to pass this onto my patients.

    #22426
    Jennifer Marx
    Participant

    Question 1
    I listened to the guided meditation for this. I enjoyed the opening about the breath awareness, and I appreciated how the guide used the actions of moving the breath and the urge in and out of the forefront. I immediately felt more at ease in my head and body physically when listening and following the prompts. I thought this was an interesting way to allow me to control where my focus was. When it got into the visualization of urge surfing, the urge I was feeling was to stop the meditation and go to sleep. It did become interesting to watch the characteristics of the urge in an objective way. I would rate it as effective because I felt more energized after the exercise. If the client and the session allowed it, I would play this meditation for them. Otherwise, I would guide them using the outline you gave us.
    Question 2
    I listened to the guided meditation of thoughts as leaves in the stream. I thought the intro to this meditation was helpful: thoughts are in the past or the future; stay in the moment and not get wrapped up in thoughts. Physically I felt very relaxed, tired, to the extent that I will try it again later so I can be more alert. It helped a lot with compassion for myself. I felt a sense of curiosity about thoughts, and a subtle sense of being honored to have the ability to be alive and experience any of this. For this one with clients, I would ask about metaphors that work for them and guide them.
    Question 3
    My experience was that it did very much alleviate suffering: the moment/experience is challenging, but it does end. I also felt a sense of impermanence as meaning: all experiences are impermanent (so neither craving nor aversion are helpful to hold on to)
    For myself I think this will manifest in a subtle way; additional calm with client and compassion for myself about not being able to change people’s behaviors or control outcomes to challenges situations.

    #22428
    Ryan Crouse
    Participant

    Question 1

    I struggled with being able to focus on one urge. At first it was the urge to scratch my head. I focused on my breath and visualized waves in the ocean. I it felt like I was on a boat going up and down on the waves at times. I then got the desire for a nicotine pouch I have been using to quit chewing tobacco. The thought came and went. I had the desire to stop the exercise and just went back to my breathing and that desire came and went. I did not notice anything different in my body during the exercise. I was not having cravings and I do know what those feel like in my own recovery. I work in an Opioid health home and I would envision teaching this skill to individuals with Substance use disorders to use when they are having cravings to use opiates or any other drug they are having a craving to use. I believe it would be helpful for people with any kids of strong urge or impulsive desires.

    Question 2

    I picked the thought diffusion meditation using the helping stressful thoughts video. I was visualizing that I was sitting on a bank watching a stream with leaves floating by and I was putting each thought on a leaf. My body felt warm and an occasional thought of discomfort in my lower back distracted me at first. The more time went by and I was guided to put my thoughts that came up on a leaf I did not notice my body as much. I had a thought of my motorcycle at first , then a thought of paperwork, f my guitar and I put them on the leaf and they drifted away. I think this exercise would help me when I am having distressful thoughts of the present, past or negative projections of the future. To allow myself to have the thought and let it go and not get caught up and dwell on the thought. I would like to try this exercise with clients with ADHD, anxiety disorder that have rapid cycling of thoughts that lead to distress. I believe it could be a good grounding tool and let them see that they are just thoughts and to let them go and not get caught up in them.

    Question 3

    I believe that using the mindfulness base practices and medications in my own life would be helpful for me. I want to continue using meditations to help me with distressing memories and regrets that pop up form my past. To allow my self to accept them for what they were and help myself let them go so I can be a better version of myself and not get caught up in negative emotions and regret. I can use the urge surfing to help me with cravings I have for nicotine and urges to over eat. I want to incorporate some of the technics in with prayer and see if it enhances it and gets me a better connection to my higher power. I have already had discussion with my colleagues at work about incorporating more mindfulness practices into our Opioid Health home and Substance Use disorder programs. I would like to practice more before implementing them into my individual or group sessions.

    #22431
    Cherie Duggan
    Participant

    I too found this meditation more difficult, just trying to not focus on the urge to shift or scratch or adjust made it feel even more urgent of a need, but I liked that it would be so relatable to an urge to use. No matter the intensity, give it a moment to see if it will pass. as I had a constant urge to shift my weight and move around on my cushion on the floor for some reason.
    The second strategy that I chose was the Mind Through diffusion exercise. I enjoy the visualization and that this would work well with all patients. Visualizing the sky and clouds felt very peaceful, the thought of how warm the sun would feel on the body also came over me a few times. Really enjoyed this one and and feel this would be something my patients would engage in during session or group as the idea of allowing thoughts and then letting them go can be so empowering.
    When I signed up and began the course it was at a time when I thought I had the time to fit it into my schedule, and of course life happened and things got stressful and overly busy but finding the time to fit in the course and meditations actually helped me get through the last 4 weeks and helped me connect to and manage the suffering. I found myself looking forward to disconnecting from work and gaining the info and experience, which then would further benefit me in managing the heavy workload in the weeks that followed. The class allowed me to enhance my practice and techniques and I find myself interjecting mindfulness into nearly every conversation or task I am having/completing. I have had discussion with my staff about incorporating more mindfulness practices into our programs as well as into our lives.

    #22666

    Question 1
    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 found that focusing initially on the urge increased it but then with more focus and exploration, it decreased. It think this is definitely a good one for addiction and eating, etc. I think teaching the skills and some psychoeducation it would be very useful.

    Question 2
    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.

    The guided imagery was very easy to absorb into and feel like I was more than just myself.

    Question 3
    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?
    Yes, getting out of your own way, and seeing something greater helps to enhance connections and peace.

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