OK. Until some of my friends offer better answers I’ll fill in I guess.
When I meditated I was calmer and I imagine my family would say ‘nicer’ to get on with. Less prone to getting irritated.
Immediately afterwards I often felt quite energetic, particularly when I went to a group as I sometimes did. We ‘sat’ for a couple of hours (including walking meditation and talking).
Basically I benefitted in the areas of relaxation, concentration and maintenance of self-observing attitude. I never experienced any altered state of awareness, nor am I aware of any ‘suspension of logical thought processes’ whatever that means!
I no longer call myself a Buddhist and no longer ‘sit’ in that way. But I feel that my outlook on life has benefited from those days.
I’ve practiced meditation regularly for nearly two decades but I’m not a monk and, in my case, 20 years hardly counts as “life-long.”
People who have known me for a long time say that I seem more generous, more stable, less reactive, calmer, more helpful, and easier to be around.
I’m amazed when I hear this because my subjective experience is that my mind is just as chaotic as ever — the “back-seat driver” never shuts up.
At the same time, I’m often quite aware of this constant monologue and, as a result of this awareness, I suspect I’m much less caught up in my mind’s story-telling. I don’t have any objective measurement of this, of course.
Finally, I have the distinct impression that I produce much less daily suffering than I did 20 years ago — for myself and for those around me. I also have the impression that my life benefits others in important ways; I couldn’t have said that 20 years ago.
From the meditation I learned under the globally recognized Chan (Zen) Master Hsuan Hua,… these are the experiences I have experienced…
if you meditate daily, your nature changes because you practice the essence of all Buddhas. By practicing serious full-lotus meditation everyday, and increasing your time in meditation and stillness and concentration, it means you are practicing and cultivating your vigor and ability to withstand suffering. So that’s the first thing, cultivating your ability to be patient and withstand pain/suffering.
The 2nd benefit, is that when you meditate daily and practice this stillness, the outside can be noisy, yet you can’t hear it. You tune your listening inward. By being able to listen to your heart and mind, you develop a greater understanding of your own faults, abilities, etc. By truly honing in on that “listening” skill, you suddenly have an easier perspective and stronger ability in “listening” to the world around you. You sense the nature of others more easily, which leads to the skill of judging a good or bad character.
When you practice such stillness daily, with patience, your nature becomes more still and clear. You’re not as angry. You’re not as hasty. Because you’re used to withstanding much of the pain that comes from full-lotus meditation, you’re not so pitiful and weak when conducting affairs in the outside world. You’re not so quick to complain. You’re not so easily moved. You can take a little dirt or trouble.
One other benefit I would like to share, is the practice of taming your false thoughts. False thoughts are nonsense thoughts that cause your mind to wander and waste time. It’s these thoughts that produce impatience, greed, ignorance, and actions to pursue the thought/desire. These thoughts are like, what’s tomorrow’s lunch, the pretty gal next door, the idiot on the bus, my tv show is almost coming on, etc. When we meditate, we practice taming these thoughts. The more skilled we get in taming these thoughts, then our skill in keeping focus and self-restraint in every waking moment in our lives is enhanced.
So far, everything that Venerable Master Hsuan Hua describes in-depth about meditation, is true. The stages he talks about, the progress, the mental stages, effects, pain, concentration, mind obstacles, etc, are very accurate. That’s why I study my meditation from his instructions. He’s been known and seen to meditate for weeks at a time in stillness, no flinching, no wavering, no tilting, no casual stretching out the back, etc. A real meditation guru, as I like to call him. People confirm their experiences with what he talks about, even those who can meditate for 8+ hours can confirm the Master’s knowledge; and the Master has spoken FURTHER than that too!
If you can enter samadhi, you are on the way.
Chan (zen) handbook by the Master Hua
Dharma Talks by Master Hua, includes many meditation topics/lectures. Just search the page for “CHAN” or “meditation”