Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.
Mindfulness allows us to come back to ourselves, to our emotions, and to those around us so we can recognize our habitual behaviour, discover new options and make better choices. We can truly get in touch with ourselves, other people, and with life, thus greatly benefitting our relationships. Compassion arises quite naturally, as does a sense of inner peace, joy and vitality.
Obtaining the benefits of mindfulness requires more than just an intellectual understanding. Just as learning to swim requires getting into the water, our ability to be mindful requires training and practice.
Here’s an article from Psychology Today titled “20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today” that provides a good overview of the benefits of mindfulness.
Here are two explanations of mindfulness, one by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, and one by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh: