People have said a great deal about meditation, and people use it for a variety of reasons. It is a few millenia old, and therefore it is very hard to say anything that hasn't already been said before about it. I will make this brief.
I've started meditating recently, partly for experimentation, partly for some peace of mind; not so much spiritual reasons. But, my god, its done an incredible job already. I've been meditating for a few weeks now, about 10-20 minutes a day (sometimes 30). Not only does it allow me to clear my mind, I've noticed the following positive changes:
-I now have a greater ability to find the root cause of various problems I have (analytical followed by contemplative meditation).
-I can more easily seperate myself from fear, even if I am not meditating. Sometimes just putting myself in that same breathing rhythm works.
-My overall anxiety has gone down incredibly. I'm still stressed all the time. However, I have suffered from crippling anxiety all my life (I am afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety). Both are more manageable now. My social anxiety is almost gone, and I am so relieved, yet also shocked that it has dissipated so quickly. My shell, which was before so crippling, has now broken down.
-I also have sleep problems. Meditation helps me sleep before bedtime, probably by getting my heart and breathing rates in a nice, slow, steady rhythm.
As much as I like it so far, I have two concerns with it. I do not necessarily believe the following, but I am afraid they may be true:
-I am afraid that meditation can become a form of escapism in the same vein as religious belief, or even activities such as addictive drug use. I want alleviation so that I am more apt to do what I please, not to escape things. So far it seems my purpose is being fulfilled.
-Apparently, meditation, if not done correctly or done by the wrong individual, can cause serious problems. Or so says this writer: Can Meditation Be Bad for You?
Finally, I've had one bizarre experience so far that other people may dub "spiritual" or religious. I'm not exactly one to believe in such things, and as of now I just attribute it to psychology, but I'm not closed to other ideas. Think what you will.
Upon meditating one night, I got so into it so quickly - more so than ever before - and I began to lose contact with my body, and I had what I believe to be the beginning of an out of body experience. Any minor sound or movement seemed like a cataclysm. I began to feel like I had just "fallen out" of my body, as if I'd been shot, and was staring up from the floor. This happened a few times. It wasn't necessarily scary, but I stopped nonetheless. It could have been anything.
It isn't something exactly profound; other "spiritual" experiences can be much more intense. However, it's still unusual...
The effect of Gysin's dreamachine is very similar, and I want to start experimenting with that again.