In this article, we cover the two most important resources of mindfulness. Together they will help us to be more flexible, to manage the attention and circumstances that arise.
Last update: June 02, 2020
In this article, we will discuss mindfulness resources and strategies in detail. The English word mindfulness is the translation of the Pali word sati. In Italian, the terms "mindfulness" or "full awareness" are also often used. The word sati means "awareness, attention and memory". Its origin comes from a meditation technique belonging to Vipassana meditation.
Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn is the pioneer of the application of mindfulness in the clinical setting in the West. He defines it as "the awareness that emerges from paying attention to the unfolding of experience intentionally, in the present moment and without judging".
The essential element of this practice therefore consists in the radical acceptance of the present experience without any judgment. This means being willing to experience and live with emotions, thoughts and circumstances, both negative and positive.
As for negative emotions, the idea is to experience them without taking any direct action on the experience (such as taking a drug, getting distracted, or trying to practice any form of control or avoidance). It holds Buddhist detachment in high regard, and for this reason instructs the patient to disconnect and separate from their experiences, thoughts and emotions. One of the most used phrases is: "I am not my thoughts, I am much more".
Among the main elements to implement mindfulness we find the lack of judgment, patience, cultivating "The beginner's mind", or not being influenced by past experiences, trust, not straining and acceptance or seeing things for what they are.
In the next few lines, we will go into detail on mindfulness resources and strategies. Take note!
Mindfulness resources and strategies
Bishop (2002) proposed a comprehensive model that contains the following components of mindfulness: self-regulation of attention and orientation to one's experiences in the present moment, characterized by curiosity, openness and acceptance.
Self-regulation of attention
This resource refers to maintaining attention on the immediate experience, without trying to take control of it, in order to allow greater recognition of mental events in the present moment.
For this purpose, the patient will have to engage in acquiring other skills, such as prolonged attention o the ability to maintain a high level of vigilance over a long period of time; the attention shifting that helps to focus on the breath when thoughts, feelings or sensations arise and not to get lost in them, but to observe them and redirect the attention.
This resource contains the concept of "beginner's mind". It presupposes learning to use attention so that we focus on direct and purified observation of the different objects in the surrounding environment, as if it were the first time we see them. Instead of looking at the object through the distorted filter of our experiences, beliefs or expectations, we focus our attention on eliminating this baggage.
Orientation to experience
This resource allows us to maintain a curious attitude, opening the mind to the detection of every thought, feeling and sensation rising. The person must be willing to think, feel, experiment without using avoidance strategies.
It therefore presupposes approaching the experience with an attitude of curiosity, regardless of its emotional value. This therefore implies a radical acceptance of experience.
Other mindfulness resources and strategies, in addition to those just mentioned, are: attention oriented to the present, radical acceptance without judgment and the free choice to be actively involved in something (breathing, activity, etc.)
Mindfulness resources and strategies: the advantages of this discipline
These mindfulness resources and strategies they help to increase the ability to maintain the chosen attention focus in a stable way. This contrasts with the automatism that usually characterizes negative automatic thoughts, which burst into the mind without us noticing.
It has been observed that mindfulness, being a practice that interrupts automatisms, helps to lower the levels of physiological activation and somatic symptoms. It produces the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the person to relax, even more than traditional relaxation techniques.
Some research in the field of neuroscience can also confirm that mindfulness changes brain activity, including perceptual processes, higher cognitive processes and emotion regulation processes (Cahn and Polich, 2006). Finally, another of the great benefits of this discipline is the improvement of emotional and physical health. Evidence suggests that mindfulness is associated with greater behavioral flexibility and that this has a positive impact on health.