People meditate (and people have been meditating for thousands of years) because of the myriad benefits associated with the practice. It can promote calmness and relaxation. It can increase your ability to cope with illness or adversity. It can help you connect with yourself and process emotions. It has been linked to numerous physical health benefits, too, like improving blood pressure, helping with insomnia, and fewer flare-ups for some chronic conditions, like ulcerative colitis, for people with those problems.

“To summarize the benefits would be a little futile,” says Jill Emanuele, PhD, senior director of the Mood Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York City — because they are so numerous.

Traditionally, meditation is a spiritual practice that helps people better understand and connect with themselves and the world’s spiritual forces around them — and the purpose remains the same today, she explains.