What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the innate human ability to to fully present with where we are, and what we are doing. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s description continues, ‘It is cultivated by systematically exercising one’s capacity for paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally … It usually involves cultivating familiarity and intimacy with aspects of everyday experience that we often are unaware of, take for granted, or discount in terms of importance.’
Mindfulness allows us to be profoundly present in our lives, and to be aware of our habits, preconceptions and automatic reactions. In doing so, as we experience our lives, and treat ourselves and our experience with kindness, we reduce stress and gain insight and awareness.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Meditation is a way of saying 'technique'. So mindfulness meditations (formal and informal) are simply techniques which enhance our ability to pay attention to the present moment - to be mindful - in daily life.
Will it will work for me?
When we practice mindfulness it can be counter-productive to become attached to the benefits, but there are benefits. Many people find mindfulness training to a useful part of their lives, but it is your direct experience that will tell you whether this is for you or not: try it and see!
There is a lot of writing about mindfulness. The neuroscience research base is growing, and as a result there is inspiring evidence demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness meditation available online. In addition to what you will find with some web research, there are many excellent authors in your local library. Much of this is useful and may well support your practice, but none of this is mindfulness. As you live with the impacts of the techniques you employ, you will be able to evaluate how your mindfulness practice affects your life.