I find it curious when people talk about meditation in a general sense. To me, it’s inaccurate and easily misleading since the word can refer to innumerable types of practices with a wide range of intentions and effects. That’s why I rarely, if ever, use the word without specifying what I am referring to.
innumerable practices, with a wide range of intentions, can fall under the general heading of meditation.
Some are aimed at relaxation. (This is a kind of Russian roulette since they, in some cases, can take the lid off old traumas and lead to challenges that are anything but relaxing.)
Some are aimed at opening the heart. (Tonglen, ho’oponopno, metta, and so on.)
Some are aimed at exploration of aspects of how the mind works. (Traditional or new forms of inquiry.)
Some are aimed at training more stable attention. (Bringing attention to an object within experience. This can be helpful for just about anything in life.)
Some are aimed at devotion and opening the mind for something apparently beyond itself. (Christ meditation.)
Some are aimed at allowing the mind to settle and may have different ideas about what that may open us up for.
Some are aimed at discovering what we already are. What we more fundamentally are in our first-person experience when we look. (Shikantaza, Basic Meditation, Headless experiments, Big Mind process, etc.)
And I assume there are many meditation practices with other aims and effects that I am not familiar with, or forgot to include here.
What happens as a result of these practices is a combination of many things, including the technique, the intention of the instructor and the student, the deeper motivation of the student, how wholeheartedly and sincerely the student engage in the practice, what their mind is ready and ripe for, and so on.