3 Mindfulness Tips for Beginners (Read This Before Starting)

  • By: Ryan Kane
  • Updated: December 17, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

There are plenty of mindfulness tips for beginners, but the most important is this—what works for each person is different. Your job is to become an expert on your own mind. Learn how the tools of mindfulness interact with your own mental landscape. That can feel less intimidating than aiming to become an expert on mindfulness itself.

In an age where we’ve figured out everything in the physical realm, we still don’t have a way to understand the internal landscape of other people. 

We have no way to grasp what they’re going through that makes them act the way they do. We can’t know how similar their inner world is, or isn’t, to the one we experience in our own minds.

That means the mindfulness journal is an inherently personal one.

The journey of mindfulness is inherently personal

In some ways, this should be a relief. 

When it comes to mindfulness, your primary job is to become an expert on you, and learn how the tools of mindfulness interact with your own mental landscape.

That can feel less intimidating than aiming to become an expert on mindfulness itself.

But becoming an expert on yourself isn’t easy. We have limited insight into our own minds.

As Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Our internal world can be complicated, messy, and tough to navigate. Sometimes we don’t know why we think the things that we think, or do the things that we do.

It’s not as straightforward as a problem in the physical world.

Break your arm? A doctor can put it in a cast and let it heal. 

Looking for inner peace? Someone can point the way for you, but it’s a journey you have to take for yourself.

How to be more mindful

How to Be More Mindful
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The journey to becoming more mindful is different for everyone.

But one thing’s for sure: no one can tell you exactly what to do. You need to figure out the path for yourself.

1. Mindfulness advice can only get you so far

How to Become Mindful
Advice can point the way, but you need lived experience in order to make progress with mindfulness

Wherever you are on your journey, you’ve certainly heard advice intended to help you along the road. Here are a few that resonate with me:

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.”

– Rumi

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

– Carl Jung

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

– Buddha

These are some of the most celebrated minds in mindfulness, meditation, science and poetry. If Buddha can’t help us, who can?

But while quotes and teachings can remind you of your intention, they can only take you so far. They can only point the way.

To make real progress in becoming more mindful, you need lived experience. You need to try and fail. You need to experiment with different practices to see what works for you, and what keeps you motivated.

2. Treat your mind like a laboratory

Your Life Is An Experiment
Think of yourself as a mindfulness laboratory. Your job is to test mindfulness practices, and see what works for you.

It’s our job to take the practices of mindfulness and apply them to our own minds. 

Think of yourself as a mindfulness laboratory. Each technique in the mindfulness arsenal will fit differently into your habits, preferences and inner world. Like puzzle pieces, you can try each to see how they fit with you.

Consider testing mindfulness practices, then assessing the results:

  • 5 minutes of breathwork to reset the nervous system when stressed?
    Notable results.
  • Meditating for 15 minutes daily?
    Unclear results. Increase length of study.
  • Exercising when overwhelmed?
    Medium improvement.
  • Journaling your stream-of-consciousness to quiet your mind?
    Minimal results.
  • Gratitude each morning?
    Notable results.
  • Yoga for one hour each week?
    Minimal results.

These are some of my results above. What works best for you may be different.

When others explain how mindfulness or meditation or yoga or gratitude is changing their life, you can hear and process that, but to internalize it, you need to take those techniques into the laboratory of your own mind.

Understand that you won’t be a mindfulness machine, doing everything under the sun. There’s a mix of different practices that are going to be most suitable for your needs.

No one else can give you the recipe. 

3. Stick to the science

How to Be More Mindful 2
Different approaches work best for different people, but some mindfulness techniques are backed by dozens of studies

While mindfulness is inherently personal, that doesn’t discount the objective results from the mountains of research done on mindfulness techniques in recent decades.

Certain approaches to mindfulness are backed by strong evidence. Objectively, you’re likely to get a benefit in wellbeing out of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, similar to those often studied. 

With practice and dedication, you’re nearly guaranteed to see benefit from meditation, gratitude, exercise and other research-backed approaches.

But you also have to pay attention to what seems to be working for you.

If you’ve been journaling every day for a year and it’s not quieting your mind: you can stop.

If you’ve been meditating for six months and it’s feeling stale: mix it up. 

Your mind is a complex vehicle, and you’re the only one with the keys.

You get to decide what works for you

The science on mindfulness matters. Advice from others can be inspiring and invaluable. But at the end of the day, you get to decide what works for you.

It’s a lifelong challenge, but it’s also a relief. There’s no “right way” to be doing mindfulness. Your mind is a laboratory, and you’re in charge.

Here’s the good part: 

Do you hate waking up early, hate journaling, hate meditating, and hate jogging? 

Great! Don’t do those things. (Even though everyone says you should).

But you now have the challenge of finding out exactly what mix of positive, life-giving activities ARE right for you. Researchers and teachers can give you the fuel, but it’s up to you to build the fire.