There are many styles of meditation. Every major religious tradition has some sort of procedure which they call meditation, and the word is often very loosely used. I am familiar only with the Vipassana style of meditation as taught and practiced in South and Southeast Asian Buddhism. It is often translated as Insight meditation, since the purpose of this system is to give the meditator insight into the nature of reality and accurate understanding of how everything works.
Buddhism as a whole is quite different from the theological religions with which Westerners are most familiar. It is a direct entrance to a spiritual realm without addressing deities or other 'agents'. Its flavor is intensely clinical, much more akin to psychology than to what we would usually call religion. It is an ever-ongoing investigation of reality, a microscopic examination of the very process of perception. Its intention is to pick apart the screen of lies and delusions through which we normally view the world, and thus to reveal the face of ultimate reality. Vipassana meditation is an ancient and elegant technique for doing just that.
Scientifically speaking, Buddhist monks who have spent many years practicing this meditation technique have had their brain waves recorded and their brains scanned using MRI machines while they meditate. The scans reveal that those adept at this kind of meditation can control, voluntarily, that which is normally involuntary in the human brain. These adepts were able to determine what kind of brain waves their brains used at any given time while they were meditating.
This fall, reportedly, technology in the form of toys will be introduced into the market place the use of which can train people to do something quite similar.
Using a "Star Wars" theme, one company will sell a toy consisting of a headset that is a sensor sensitive enough to receive the electrical "frequency" of the users' brain waves, and then transmit that signal to a remote device that pushes air through a pump into a plastic tube containing a ping pong ball. The more one is able to focus one's mind to produce just the kind of brain wave signal required, the higher the ping pong ball will rise in the tube.
They will call this a "Force Trainer." Their pop culture reference is Yoda raising a spacecraft from its submerged location and parking it on dry land.
The young Luke Skywalker says to Yoda, "I can't do that..." and Yoda says, famously, "That is why you fail."
Yoda might be Michael Jordan, for all that, for their philosophy is the same and it is correct.
People can master their own minds. Soon, perhaps an entire generation of children will learn through a variety of "toys" just how to do that. The results may well be staggering and the implications significant.
In my own case, my ability to meditate using the Insight technique has allowed me to do without narcotic pain medicine at times. I got through a 6-hour gall bladder attack using just meditation, no pain meds. I also controlled significant post-surgical pain as well. It is not a mystery or a power beyond that of any normal human. Your mind is like a muscle -- train it and it will get stronger. Let it lie on the couch and simply believe what you are told, and it turns to jelly and is weaker each day until it atrophies altogether.
Use it, or lose it.