Mindfulness is a way of being in wise and purposeful relationship with one’s experience, both inwardly and outwardly. It is cultivated by systematically exercising one’s capacity for paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, and by learning to inhabit and make use of the clarity, discernment, ethical understanding, and awareness that arise from tapping into one’s own deep and innate interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and transformation, available to us across the lifespan by virtue of being human. 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.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn, Foreword to Mindful Nation UK report
 

What is mindfulness?

In trying to live into Jon Kabat-Zinn’s description of mindfulness (above) our challenge is to opt in to paying attention to the detail and depth of our lives, as we are living them, and each time we are aware of our inattention or autopilot, to reconnect to what is really in this moment: this breath, this ache, this urge, this thought. 

Mindfulness invites us to be aware of our habits, preconceptions and automatic reactions, and as we experience the depth and breadth of our lives, to treat ourselves and our experience with kindness. 

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.

How do I know it will work for me?

You don't.  But you can try it and see... be a scientist of your own experience.

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.