The UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of relapse in chronic depression. Since Jon Kabat-Zinn first developed Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the 1980s, most research has focused on questions of efficacy, i.e. does mindfulness work? More recently, interest has emerged in how mindfulness-based interventions, such as MBSR and MBCT, are experienced by participants. To evaluate how participants experience the 8-week MBSR/MBCT process, we carried out a meta-ethnography of published qualitative papers since 2001, whose focus is the patient experience of MBCT and MBSR. A systematic search of six databases was carried out. Relevant papers were critically appraised using a modified version of the Critical Appraisal Skills programme tool. Fourteen papers, each representing a unique study, were included in the meta-ethnography. The synthesis describes patients’ experience of the mindfulness process. Linking patient experiences to existing theories of mindfulness and chronic illness, the synthesis conceptualises the way participants develop a new understanding of their illness over time, and the role mindfulness approaches have in helping them manage their difficulties better.