Meditation is a vast subject with many varied beliefs and methods, the purpose however seems to remain mostly consistent - to transcend thoughts to form a greater connection to everything within us and everything surrounding us.
A simple dictionary definition of meditation is “to focus one's mind for a period of time” but, like physical exercise meditation is available in so many different forms it’s difficult to know where to start. There is a lot of philosophy behind the roots of meditation and in some cases religions too, meaning it can all become a little overwhelming and off putting at first.
A practical approach to meditation is to think of it as similar to exercise - if we start with huge expectations of a ‘quick fix’, we will likely not achieve satisfactory and long lasting results; however, if we accept it is going to be a progressive lifestyle change starting with very small steps, it will hopefully become a beautiful and rewarding lifelong journey. Although it may begin as such, we must always remember that meditation it is not simply a means to help ourselves - we're all in it together!
Mindfulness is a state of moment to moment awareness, calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement. Through meditation techniques we can train ourselves to become more mindful as a trait, allowing us that little bit of space between an action and a reaction. Day to day life will always test us and even the devout mindfulness practitioners among us will no doubt react in ways that are not very beneficial for anyone. However, each time this happens, all we need to do is bring the awareness back to the moment without judgement and get back to living from moment to moment!