Many have asked me to answer this long time ago. But since I was new to meditation and had not dived much into its depths, it was wrong to answer it with half-baked knowledge.
Now, it has been almost two years since I have been practicing a form of meditation called Vipassana. With enough practice, I could preach the benefits of meditation with utter sincerity.
What is meditation: Unlike the narrow view of it being a breathing technique or some method to improve concentration/ focus, etc., let me briefly describe meditation.
Meditation, in a real sense, is a radical form of being in the absolute present. It is a state where one tries to dispel anything and everything about the past and future. Being in the entire presentation is a daunting task given the dynamics of our brain, our long-life experiences, and our preoccupations with our priorities in life. Thus, meditation is an attempt to direct your conscious mind towards just being in the exact nanosecond of the present happenings.
Now, what are your mind dynamics?
Well, our mind never stays in the present. Just try to stop for a moment and think, everything that you are thinking or doing is either driven by something that has happened in the past or is perpetuated by some future aspiration. Any task you perform in your ordinary course of life has almost zero percentage of being in absolute present ( except for when you sleep).
Why is it important to be in an absolute present?
Well, the state of absolute present it the state of bliss. Let me give you the extreme case of what I mean by the entire presentation. It is like the state of a baby in a mother's womb. With no preoccupation with the baby with the past or present, the baby is in the form of absolute bliss. No pain and no delight. Have you heard a baby crying inside? But, as the baby is out, as she starts mapping and modeling the world, the sensation of pain and happiness is imbibed in her. Now, indeed, we cannot and should not aim to reach that state, but it is vital to declutter your mind, at least for a short period, to experience that state—that state of utmost bliss, where your experience no pain or no delight. You share the truth, and that is the state of being in the absolute present.
How do you achieve that state of meditation? There are various means to do it. Some effective, some not that effective. Some long-lasting, some just superficial, but every method tries to reach that state of directing your mind towards being only in the present, to some degree.
Meditation by focusing on an object: This was a standard method taught in my school. You pick up a point object and concentration on that point. As you do the attention, try to see that point. With this, you try to engage your visual senses in the present truth in front of your eyes, which is the point object. Well, This technique was ineffective for me since here, only one sense organ was involved, while the rest were free to wander.
Meditation by recitation/beads/mantras: This is a prevalent method. This often comes with religious undertones, but at the core, it tries to direct your speech, your hearing organ towards that state. But for me, even this failed to trick the brain into being in the absolute present since my other sensory organs were free to wander. Now I won't go much into the details of different techniques, Let me jump right to Vipassana.
It is a form of mindful meditation. It tries to trick the brain into coming to terms with the absolute reality. Your mind is concentrated on what is the ultimate truth of every animal life on earth, and that is your breath. When you are in sync with the breath at the scale of every nanosecond, you cannot be any more in that "absolute present" time-space. You are not visualizing a light reflected off an object ( which a certain amount delays itself). Neither is your ear engaged in catching a signal traveling at the speed of sound ( which is slower than that of light). Your breath is, "THE reality." The most underrated, yet the most divine thing.
The sensory experience on your body, every small sensation, is again a form of reality that is, at times, neglected in our regular course of life. But when your mind tries to seek and experience every small sensation ( good/bad) on your body, you again come syn with the absolute truth at the scale of every nanosecond.
Thus, Vipassana meditation has provided means to detox the mind of my past and future. You dispel every superficial layer that has buried your feeling of calmness. Now, I am not saying you will achieve this state eternally (indeed, one does that after long dedicated years of this practice, also known as the state of "Nirvana"). However, given my experience with vipassana, Even a few seconds of such condition in your hour-long span of meditation can make you desire that state.
What does one experience in and after Meditation (Vipassana)
Well, a few things cannot be explained given the limitations of the human language and expression. Yes, we as humans are constrained and under-developed to describe everything in this cosmos. So, I won't do any injustice by reducing the description of the experience to the limited capacity of our language.
The best way to know of the benefit and experience is to practice it by yourself. I have done it and have been doing it for a long time. Indeed there are a few visible changes in your perception, your outlook, and your way of dealing with your life. But that's a topic for some other day.