I started meditation a year and a half ago and I try to meditate for about 30 minutes at least a few times a week. Meditation (as I see it) is being still, allowing your mind to be at peace, and maintaining focus.
I am not a person who believes in any spiritual or religious nonsense - my background is in science and I consider myself to be a rational person. I do not meditate because I believe it is a mystical or spiritual endeavour. Nevertheless, I have found it directly beneficial to my personal wellbeing.
You will find any number of lists of the health benefits of meditation on the internet. For the most part, I tend to take these with a pinch of salt - I think it is hard to prove a causal link in this case. I find it hard to believe, however, that it can be bad for you. The worst it can be is a waste of time, and you might feel a bit foolish spending time sitting still doing nothing.
The main benefits of meditation that I have noticed are:
1) It allows you to develop the skill of taking control of your mind. When you meditate, you are aware of what your mind is doing. It is as if you observe your thoughts without engaging with them - you practise stopping thinking about things. With this skill you are better equipped to stop problems preying on your mind.
2) It improves your ability to focus.
3) It gives you perspective on your life and any problems you may be having.
4) By allowing your mind to be at peace, it helps you get to sleep, and improves the quality of your sleep.
5) It gives you the chance to be still and forget about your problems for a while.
I recommend the following books on meditation:
The Wooden Bowl, Clark Strand
Teach Yourself to Meditate, Eric Harrison
There is certainly an element to painting and carving that has a meditative quality - focussing on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. I find, however, that painting is often emotional and intense, and carving is physically challenging; both can be quite draining, which meditation is not. Also, with each, there is the risk of making a mistake, which is not an issue with meditation.