SAC, defusion, and acceptance are the tools that allow people to be in the present moment and be aware of, and open to, the (even difficult) internal and external events that they are currently experiencing. In so doing, people can better attend to broad or narrow ranges of the current moment, as the context demands. At times, it will be beneficial for people to attend to a broad range of the present moment (e.g., when driving a car through a busy intersection); at other times, it is more useful for people to focus on a narrow range of a particular situation (e.g., when having an uncomfortable conversation with one’s partner). Being in the present moment helps people to establish which degree of focus is most advantageous to them (in relation to their values and goals) in a given situation; the other three mindfulness processes—SAC, defusion, and acceptance—give them the ability to realize that advantage (e.g., by listening to criticism from one’s partner in order to promote intimacy), despite any emotional difficulties experienced in that situation.
As may be seen, ACT largely conceptualizes mindfulness as a means to an end: Living a valued, or meaningful, life. It is the tool that allows people to overcome the internal events that can prevent one from doing so. As noted earlier, the connecting lines inside the hexagon in Figure 11.1 indicate that mindfulness not only promotes valued living, but identifying one’s values and committing to values-based goals gives people the impetus to engage in the (at times effortful) processes that, for ACT, constitute mindfulness. Thus, the mindfulness and values-based action skills come together in ACT to produce a mutually beneficial and virtuous cycle that can promote a meaningful life.