Harvard scientists have come up with evidence that the mere act of clearing your mind for 15 minutes each day actually alters how your genes operate.

Research suggests that the benefits of meditation include a decrease in stress levels, anxiety, depression and insomnia, not to mention the physical benefits such as reduced blood pressure and improved heart variability — a metric that gauges how well your body handles stress.

With greater accessibility through technology, zen can now be achieved in the palm of your hand with a myriad of free iOS and Android apps aimed at mindfulness and meditation; however, choice overload can increase stress and feel overwhelming, especially for beginners.

Get started with these top five easy-to-use apps for novices to calm your mind amid the chaos:

1. Calm
If you’re like millions of Americans who suffer from insomnia, get back to a restful night’s sleep with Calm.

Each of Calm’s more than 100 sleep stories are strategically geared to help users hit the hay. It also offers unguided and open-ended meditation, as well as soothing sounds and scenes you can use to practice on your own, no guides necessary.

Calm is free to download, with in-app purchases optional.

2. Smiling Mind
Developed by psychologists and educators, this free app is a great introduction for novices who aren’t quite ready to reach for their wallet for a subscription fee.
These programs are geared toward 7 years olds and adults alike and users can track their progress by following up their free meditation session with a short questionnaire. It’s a fun and easy way to see how meditation is working in your life.

Best of all, it’s free to use with no pesky in-app purchases required.

3. Headspace
Wirecutter Magazine named Headspace its top meditation app of 2020.

According to the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and the UMass Center for Mindfulness, the publication notes that Headspace “offers the best experience, with excellent guided courses and great short meditations for people on the go.”

Structured courses, which simulate the experience of an in-person class, will get beginning meditators started and help them maintain the healthy habit.

It also offers short meditations for when you need a quick breather and its warm interface is easy to navigate, with a well-organized library of courses.

The cost is $7.99-$12.99 per month after a free trial.

4. Insight Timer
Many experts across the board agree that Insight Timer is top-notch when it comes to selecting a meditation app.

With experienced mindfulness teachers, it allows you the freedom to choose how long you’d like to practice, the style (for example, body scanning, loving kindness, anxiety or stress reducing, etc.) or just set a timer and sit without guidance.

Users can also track their progress and earn badges that keep users coming back to form healthy habits.

The cost is free, with in-app purchases.

5. Aura
Aura offers daily meditation, life coaching, nature sounds, stories and music, all personalized to your mood when you open the app.

There’s also an option to track your moods and review patterns, as well as reminders to take a minute to breathe or take a breather for mindfulness throughout the day.

It is free, with in-app purchases.

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