Meditation is more than sitting alone in an awkward position as you chant a single word or sound. It’s a process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. Mediation helps you connect with your inner self and become more aware of how you interact with the external world.

Although it seems as easy as finding a quiet place to sit and breathe and focus your mind, it’s a skill that takes practice. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate but you will likely find that it takes some time until you feel comfortable doing it.

It doesn’t matter how long you spend meditating, but by taking at least a few minutes each day to meditate, you may enjoy these benefits:

It can make you more mindful. During meditation, you can become more aware of your thoughts and more focused on the present. This improves concentration and can increase your attention span.

It can make you more self-aware. You may develop a greater understanding of yourself and your thought habits. This can help you recognize thoughts that may be harmful and may make you better at problem solving.

It can make you more purposeful. As you learn to better understand your thoughts and emotions, you’ll be able to make more purposeful decisions rather than simply reacting to whatever comes your way. This mental discipline has even been shown to help people fight addiction, lose weight and stop unwanted habits.

It can improve your emotional health. By paying attention to the thoughts that trigger certain emotions, you’ll have more power to control your emotions rather than letting them control you. Several studies have shown that some forms of meditation can even decrease depression.

It can reduce stress and improve physical health. As you concentrate on your breathing and your thoughts, it can help reduce stress and anxiety. This not only makes you feel better emotionally but is good for your physical health. Research has shown that mediation can help lower blood pressure and has been shown to improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia. Meditating may even improve your immune system.

It may help you sleep better. Many people struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives. Meditation may help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. This is due to an increased ability to control racing thoughts that may keep you awake, as well as the fact that mediation can help you relax.

It may help you handle pain. One study of 3,500 people found that people who meditate reported fewer complaints of pain, anxiety and depression.

It doesn’t require much commitment. You can meditate just about anywhere and at any time. All you need is a comfortable and quiet place, although you can even meditate in your car while you’re sitting in a parking lot. Another great benefit is that it doesn’t cost anything to meditate – it’s an absolutely free way to live more mindfully.