I've read several books and articles on mindfulness. I'm not really the type of person to jump right into things when I become interested in them. Rather, I prefer to gather as much information as possible before getting my feet wet. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the best approach to mindfulness. From what I've read, mindfulness is not something that can be adequately explained with words -- it has to be experienced in order to be understood.
Two books I've read recently -- "The Joy of Living" by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Venerable H. Gunaratana Mahathera -- suggest dramatically different approaches to mindfulness. "The Joy of Living" endorses integrating mindfulness into your life in any way possible. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche says that being mindful for periods of as little as 30 seconds is a worthwhile endeavor. He iterates that a person does not have to spend long periods of time meditating in order to make mindfulness a part of his or her life.
In "Mindfulness in Plain English" Ven. H. Gunaratana Mahathera supports a more formal approach to mindfulness. He states that there is only one correct way to practice mindfulness meditation and that this method must be used in order to experience the benefits of mindfulness.
I found this very discouraging, as the practice advocated involves meditating by focusing on the breath for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. I just don't see myself doing that. I strongly prefer Mingyur Rinpoche's less formal approach, as he suggests practices in which I am actually likely to engage.
I think mindfulness is helpful no matter how a person practices it. Even brief moments of mindfulness are beneficial. Anyone who has paused for 30 seconds to focus on their breath knows how calming and rejuvenating this can be.
I encourage people to adopt whatever kind of mindfulness practice works for them. Mindfulness in any form is a practice that enriches one's life and enables a person to be more fully present in each moment. After all, how you live each moment is how you live your life.