Meditation can have many potential benefits — but for those who are just starting out, it can seem challenging. Whether you are experienced with meditation or have yet to get started, here are some tips to get the most out of your meditation experience.

Check Your Expectations

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, and what works for you may be different from what works for your family or friends. Give yourself the time and grace to practice and grow on your own.

Start with the Breath

Breath is the center of life. If following a meditation doesn’t seem right to you yet, try breathing exercises. There are a few different ones to try. Give this one a shot: breath in for 3 counts, hold the breath for 3 counts, and then exhale for 6 counts. Typically you want the exhale longer than the inhale. Repeat that breathing exercise for 2 minutes. How do you feel?

Check Out Guided Meditations

Guided meditations are a great place to start or experiment with if you’ve been meditating already.

Mindset Check: Thoughts Are Okay

Some believe that meditation is about not thinking — which can make it intimidating. Meditation instead is about creating a safe space for your thoughts and creating harmony. Hopefully, that mindset shift makes taking on the practice less intimidating.

Start Small, and Increase Time

Meditation is a practice, and like any practice, it needs patience and time. You may find 5-minute practices 5 times a week works best for you to start with. See how that fits for you and adjust as needed.

Create a Meditation Space

A space for meditation can be your bed, your car, a favorite hiking spot, or a yoga mat. Try to keep a space that is free of distractions and a place that is safe for you to relax in.

Meditation Aides

You don’t need items to mediate, but if they help you give them a shot! Useful aides can be a weighted blanket/lap pillow to help calm your nervous system. Sometimes a salt lamp or candle can help to soften your gaze. Some people like singing bowls. Some people find it beneficial to work free of aides. It is your practice and your time, experiment and find what works best for you.

Get Comfortable

Make it easy on yourself and reduce distractions by finding comfort. This can mean wearing loose clothing, sitting on a cushion, or sitting in a warm sunny spot.

Set Aside Time

Meditation is wonderfully portable. It may be best for you to meditate for 5 minutes a day during your work lunch break. Or 10 minutes during your baby’s nap time. Or 20 minutes before bed. You don’t have to stay consistent on when you do practice, just that you do practice.

Keep a Meditation Diary or Log

Be honest with yourself. Did you feel better with guided app mediation, or just breathing exercises? How did you feel after the mediation? Did the weighted blanket feel better? What will you try next? Take notes so that you can reflect on how you feel.