Meditation is for the mind what exercise is for the body. You should think of meditation as exercise, not magic or religion. Strip away the spiritual side of things — the bells, the incense, and meditation is just training for your mind instead of your quads.
Our minds were invented thousands of years ago and since then we have had the introduction of so much stimuli that effects our nervous system, on top of the day to day stress of work, family life we have traffic, alarms, technology and the working day is never over. We have forgone the day of Sabbath and we are expected to be on call all the time with smart phones allowing for 24hr working day. There is no time for rest, for our minds to recharge in order to be operating at their optimum. Just like our phones need recharging our minds do too. Meditation is the process of removing stress, tension and fatigue from our nervous system. Meditation relaxes the mind and therefore the body and releases unwanted stresses that effect our nervous system and hence our well being. By releasing the stresses in the body, research has shown, we improve the quality of many components of our lives. It reduces stress, reduces anxiety and clears the mind for better sleep. It improves athletic and boardroom performance by refining your ability to focus on a goal or situation, it increases clarity of thinking, increases productivity and improves concentration. It accesses parts of the brain, the grey matter and allows for more creative thinking and better access to intuition. It slows your respiration for longer deeper breaths and boosts your immune system by slowing the production of the stress hormone cortisol, it gives you greater happiness, calmness and more self awareness. It gives you the ability to connect better with people and form better relationships. 'Meditation is not creating a particular state of mind, it is becoming more aware of a particular state of mind. With awareness you gain greater wisdom. With greater wisdom it allows you to make better decisions for yourself and be more self aware so you don't burn out.' You do not need years of practice to achieve this. A study by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital showed detectable neural changes after eight weeks in subjects who meditated an average of 27 minutes a day. There were increases in gray-matter density in the hippocampus, which helps with learning and memory, and decreases in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear, stress, and anxiety. Meditate regularly and, research suggests, you can even increase brain volume in areas that usually get thinner with age. You don't need 27 minutes. As little as 10 minutes of deep meditation (15 - 20 minutes is most ideal for best results) and you’ll stoke your parasympathetic nervous system — the opposite of your fight-or-flight reflexes. The key is consistency. An everyday practice is going to see results.