14 Jun Meet Angela Melzer, Addiction Treatment Mindfulness Counselor
We are very fortunate to have Angela Melzer as The Foundry Treatment Center’s mindfulness counselor. A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and registered occupational therapist (OTR), Angela helps participants apply mindfulness techniques and tools to their daily lives. We recently asked Angela to tell us more about how she got into mindfulness counseling, what she likes about her work, and what makes her happiest.
When did you know that mindfulness counseling was for you?
I was in graduate school driving back and forth to Carbondale for my internship and noticed I felt stressed driving weekly for my internship, and monthly for my school, in addition to working full time at the hospital. I noticed I was sleepy while driving and wanted to stay awake. I practiced really paying attention to my surroundings as I drove. Most nights I drove back up to Steamboat at 10:00pm, so I would notice the moonlight hitting the snow, the smell of the sagebrush, or the landscape in general. Being more in my senses helped me stay more awake while driving and I felt way less stressed overall. I became curious and started researching mindfulness and its benefits. We started doing more mindfulness at the addiction treatment center I was interning at, and fell in love with how it changed my life. I started meditating daily in 2008 and started teaching mindfulness in 2010.
What does daily mindfulness look like for you?
Being in my body, noticing when I trigger with discomfort, or joyfully celebrate something that feels good. I try to notice how my emotions play into my actions, and not let them have too much power over me. Letting an emotion be part of my moment without it ruling my thinking or actions. This is harder with my kids, but more rewarding. I try to eat slower, notice my sensations as much as possible and always be aware of where my attention is. Am I thinking? Am I in my body? Am I noticing my surroundings? Where am I and can I be there without judgment or distraction? It brings a sense of non-reactivity, or calm in my day that I never had before.
What advice do you have for someone just starting a mindfulness practice?
Mindfulness doesn’t happen without meditation. The definition of mindfulness is to truly show up in your moment without judgment. Our minds judge endlessly, and many times we are already in judgment before we are consciously aware of it. Meditation is the practice of gaining control in your thoughts so you can actually be more mindful. Meditating even five minutes a day can help you start to learn the discipline that is required for mindful living. If you can’t sit still, do walking meditation or use what I call “cheaters”. Cheaters are ways to engage the mind a little to make meditation more approachable for you: counting breath, using a mantra, body scan, noticing a sensation to focus on. These are all little things that we can use to start feeling in more control of the thinking mind.
What do you enjoy most about working with The Foundry participants?
If/when the participants meditate daily (they are asked to do 20 minutes per day) I really notice a difference in their thinking. They notice a difference and they get really excited about it. They want to share how things start shifting for them, and how they handle things differently. It is really humbling to see how hard they work and how that hard work pays off for them.
What are you most proud of about your work?
People have to be very motivated to make mindfulness a living and active way of life. It’s not just a tool, or something we try on, but rather hard, consistent work that becomes a different mindset. Seeing individuals work through this process is beautiful, and they capture so much more joy!
Favorite spot in Steamboat?
Last book you couldn’t put down?
Trauma and Memory by Peter Levine
What makes you happiest?
Showing up in my moment when I’m with people I feel connected to. If I can stop the busy judging mind and just be with the people around me, it’s amazing! My kids, husband, friends, family, clients!