Mindfulness Strategies and Techniques

September 29, 2019
Resorting to mindfulness techniques can help you be more flexible, control your attention, and face any situations that come your way.

Mindfulness is the English translation of the Pali word “sati“, which basically means something along the lines of “consciousness, attention, and memory”. In today’s article, we’re going to show you two important mindfulness strategies and techniques. 

Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn is a pioneer in bringing mindfulness to the West, especially in a clinical sense. He says that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.

In other words, you need to radically accept the present moment, without making judgments. That means being open to experiencing and living with your feelings, mental occurrences, and circumstances, whether they’re positive or negative. As for the negative side of things, the goal is to expose yourself to them without taking any direct action on the experience.

This is very similar to the Buddhist idea of detachment. Buddhists believe you’re supposed to disconnect yourself and observe your experiences, thoughts, and emotions from afar.

Some of the most important things you can do attitude-wise regarding mindfulness are not to judge, be patient, have a “beginner’s mind”, not let past experiences influence you, be confident, not over-exert yourself, and accept or see things the way they really are.

A woman meditating in a grassy field.

Mindfulness strategies and techniques

Bishop (2002) put forth a detailed list of some components of mindfulness that includes things such as self-regulating your attention, orienting yourself towards your experiences in the present moment, curiosity, openness, and acceptance.

Self-regulating your attention

This strategy involves keeping your attention on your immediate experiences. It means not trying to take control. If you do that, you can reach a better understanding of the things going on in your mind in the present moment.

To do that, you’ll also need to work on some techniques and skills such as sustained attention, or the ability to stay focused for a long period of time. Also, you need to train yourself to change your attention and focus on breathing once you’ve picked out your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

In this regard, you also need to learn not to follow or develop thoughts, feelings, or sensations. In other words, you have to avoid getting caught up in them. You simply should observe them and redirect your attention back to your breathing. 

This is one of the mindfulness strategies that really involves the concept of the “beginner’s mind“. This is a way of thinking that means focusing on direct, pure attention. You have to take in the things you see in your environment as if it was the first time you were seeing them.

It means not looking at things through the filter of your experiences, beliefs, or expectations. Instead, you have to focus your attention on getting rid of that baggage.

Orienting yourself towards experience 

The key here is to keep yourself curious. You have to open your mind so you can detect every thought, sensation, and feeling that arises. You have to be willing to let yourself think, feel, and experience things without trying to avoid them.

In other words, you need to approach your experiences with a curious attitude, no matter if they’re emotionally positive or negative. You have to radically accept experiences for what they are.

Other mindfulness strategies include focusing your attention on the present, radically accepting things without judgment, and freely choosing to actively engage in something (breathing or an activity, among other things).

A woman sitting on a pier practicing mindfulness.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness

These mindfulness strategies can help you get better at focusing your attention on whatever you want. It’s a great way to fight the robotic mindset we get into that’s characterized by automatic negative thoughts, which pop up in your mind without you even realizing it.

Since mindfulness helps people break out of that robotic cycle, it can help reduce physiological and somatic symptoms of various health problems. What it does is activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Thus, it can help you relax even more than traditional relaxation practices.

Some neuroscience studies say that it can also modify brain functions such as perception, superior cognitive processes, and emotional regulation (Cahn and Polich, 2006).

Last but not least, another amazing benefit of mindfulness is that it improves both emotional and physical health. All the evidence points to the fact that mindfulness is related to greater behavioral flexibility, which has a clear positive impact on your health. So what are you waiting for? Give mindfulness a try!

  • Ruiz, M.A., Díaz, M. I., Villalobos, A. (2012). Manual de Técnicas de Intervención Cognitivo Conductuales. Desclée De Brouwer, S.A