I have struggled over the years to find a definition of mindfulness that accurately illustrates its true meaning. If you read the literature, you will find basic definitions similar to "living in the moment", or "peaceful awareness". While these are true, it doesn't go far enough.
Mindfulness is not properly understood or practiced without acceptance. Acceptance involves the active skills that can help you to respond with compassion, less engagement, kindness, gentleness and without judgement, when feeling anxious, fearful, worried or panic. This will diffuse the "struggle" that you can find yourself in, with disturbing thoughts and feelings. As you learn to let go of the struggle to control your thoughts, your anxious suffering will go away too. Acceptance is our ability to accept change as it evolves around us.
Mindfulness is your awareness of present experiences with full acceptance. Mindfulness can help us to see and accept things as they are, not as they're not, It allows us to experience the value, worthiness and richness of the moment in which we are in. We can come to peace with the realities of change.
Based on studies, we now know mindfulness can change brain function and structure. Those who practice mindfulness have thicker cerebral cortexes, anterior insula, sensory cortex and prefrontal cortex. All these areas of the brain are involved in paying attention to breath and other sensory stimuli. The prefrontal cortex is also involved in working memory, such as holding thoughts in our head long enough to make decisions and solve problems. Other studies have found that mindfulness create changes in the brain stem involved in the creation of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood.
These changes in the brain offer evidence and support for what mindfulness can do to dramatically change our minds. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be helpful to calm feelings of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, anger and relationship difficulties.
The Mindfulness Solution: Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD
The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: John P. Forsyth, Ph.D and George H Eifert, Ph.D