For most of us, meditation does not come easy at first. This is why it is called a practice.

Building a mediation practice requires persistence and commitment, and it is helpful to know some tricks that can make meditation accessible. Or at least keep you coming back to try again.

If you’re ready to try meditation or if you’ve tried in the past and struggled, these four tricks are for you.

A few moments a day is all it takes to improve your focus and concentration

1. Start with 2-3 Minutes

When starting out, trying to do ten minutes of meditation can feel like getting up off the couch and attempting to run a marathon. Learning how to find stillness and quiet takes practice, sometimes a lot.

Keep your goal small in the beginning. Set a timer for 3 minutes and notice how it feels to sit with your eyes closed for that length of time. Observe what goes on in your mind. Pay attention to your body and notice any urges to fidget or move.

It can be helpful to think of these early sessions as exploration. You are exploring what a meditation practice is like. Let go of any expectations other than to pay attention to what you experience.

Start meditating just a few minutes a day. You'll be a pro in no time.

2. Add Additional Time Gradually

Have a goal in mind for how long you can devote to meditation each day and work your way up minute by minute.

A meditation practice’s recommended length can vary anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or more each day. Research has shown 10 minutes to be as effective as 20 minutes in reducing stress and increasing mindfulness. (1) It has also been shown that there are additional benefits of improved self-compassion that can come with 20-minute meditation sessions. (1)

While 20 minutes might be a great goal, it is more important to build up your practice to a reasonable length for you. A consistent 10 minutes a day practice will be more beneficial over time than irregular 20-minute sessions. If you find five minutes is all you can successfully achieve regularly, then that is the ideal amount of time for you.

It is better to be successful on a small scale than to aim too high and get discouraged.

Reaching your Zen state takes practice and time.

3. Experiment with Different times of the Day

There is no rule about when you have to meditate; however, some times of the day are more conducive to settling into a meditative state.

In general, first thing in the morning or early in the evening is considered ideal times to practice. (2) These are times when you are hopefully not in maximum busyness mode and will be able to concentrate.

The reality is that the time of day when concentration is accessible will vary by person. So, the best time to meditate is the time in the day that works for you. For some, it might be with headphones on while commuting on public transportation. For others, it might be a walking meditation on their lunch break.

Don’t be afraid to try different times of day until you find what works for you.

Try meditating at different times of the day.

4. Let Go of Any Expectations

Show up to your meditation practice with the goal to be present for however many minutes you have set aside. Your mind is going to wander. You will likely get an itch on your shoulder that you will need to scratch, and your foot might fall asleep a few minutes in.

Don’t expect to sit down to meditate and turn into the perfect picture of a Zen master. You are human, and it’s natural for your mind to get busy and your body to become restless.

Accept whatever comes without judgment.

The only thing you have to “do” during your meditation practice is be in the moment as much as you can. This skill will get more comfortable with time if you keep showing up.

Keep an open mind about meditation.

Meditation Is for the Long Haul

The many benefits of meditation come when you practice regularly. It is essential to take the big picture view of what you want to achieve through the practice. From there, you can set reasonable goals and invest effort into being successful and improving your wellness.

In the end, meditation will connect you more deeply with your inner self and create a place of peace and contentment. Don’t be discouraged when things are difficult. The first time your mind drops into a state of meditation, you’ll find the work has been worth it.