Over 2 and a half years of practicing meditation regularly, in its various forms, I have moved from the initial excitement about this practice to a moderately experienced practitioner that can talk from experience. First let me clarify that I practiced a few different types of meditation in this duration — vipassana (mindfulness style meditation), yoga, chanting, journalling. But the core aspect of every meditation practice is to connect with the present moment, with kindness and love.
Also I would like to point that my experience may not directly relate to yours. It is a constantly evolving process. In fact, it is nearly impossible to write in words what meditation is about. It is intuitive.
So why meditate?
First and foremost, to connect with the present moment with loving-kindness. This is not the motivation for practicing meditation for many people in the beginning, but as you do it over a period of time you will see the value of each — present moment, kindness and loving intention. This helps navigate every aspect of life, once you get a hang of it. It will become your guidance in everything you experience and do.
Second, to manage stress. You will feel on an average less stressed. More calm and peaceful. But be aware that life will happen, and you won’t be calm and peaceful all the time. But you will be able to find calm and peace more often, regardless of external situation.
Third, to get in touch with your true nature. Growing up as kids, we transitioned from our true nature to being conditioned by society to think, believe and behave a certain way. This in my experience takes some time to get to. Just openness to present moment and intention of being loving and kind, starts a process within you that will help you gradually separate the conditioning from who you really are. And who you really are will also surprise you. You are not even the authentic emotions you always thought you were. There is even more underneath those emotions. But don’t obsess over this. It will reveal naturally in time and experience, as you continue your practice.
Fourth, to appreciate life. Not just your own, but life in general. You will find that you are compassionate to people, to animals. Again this will come with practice.
Fifth, to learn how life functions. Not in a dissecting, science class way. But from an intuitive perspective. Life evolved by itself. It didn’t need dissecting and understanding organs/tissues/cells. You might also get more in touch with your intuition and get an inkling of what it is, how significant it is. It is the most underestimated aspect about life in our modern society. As I remember Jon Kabat-Zinn saying in a presentation “the wisdom does not lie out there, in the east, in the Dalai Lama. It lies in our DNA”.
There might be more. I would love to hear from you.