You can explore three ways for the answer.
One is, you can simply observe contemporary enlightened people keenly, and discern/see the difference with your own inner and outer senses. 4 examples I can immediately count are: Lincoln Gergar, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Osho, Eckart Tolle. You can examine Lincoln Gergar’s thousands of YouTube videos spanning more than a decade and see his transformation with respect to time. His focus on Divine Love is very rare in its depth and continuity, which is also focused on basic meditation practices. Sadhguru is known to have sat many days in meditation in his youth (I think at one time it was 13 days but he experienced it as a much shorter duration and was surprised to find people doing various things around him astonished by his unplanned feat). He is a huge transformative force on the planet currently. Eckart Tolle teaches basic meditations in his books and his fame organically took of as he gradually collected what he was sharing with people following his sudden enlightenment experience as published teachings. Osho’s YouTube videos clearly show a remarkable man centered in Awareness and Love. His books contain huge amount of supportive material on possible contemporary questions on the topic and sub topics of spiritual enlightenment. 4 remarkable people whose enhanced capabilities and influence cannot be denied and there are countless more, not to forget Gautama Buddha, who is also a very scientific in his approach.
Second is, you can examine scientific studies about meditation. What immediately comes to me is: Akahi Salas (Breatharian teacher) and Wim Hof are well known people who also were studied by scientists. Both are teaching versions of breath meditation. There are actual measurements by scientific instruments which show the changes in people practicing their methods. You can check google and YouTube for finding these. There are of course other studies but which one will you choose to examine? The next paragraph can help you better understand the definition of basic meditation so that you can better decide.
Thirdly, you can start practicing and observe your own self. This is the path I most recommend. For this, I recommend the following article that accurately and concisely defines the basic meditation practice, containing all the important aspects for a beginner, written by a living enlightened teacher (Lincoln Gergar). Start by understanding the instructions and optionally finding a guided meditation by the same person and starting to practice:
When one practices, one clearly is going beyond conceptual understanding and seeing for themselves.
My understanding is, basic meditation works, because the goal is to experience the basis of our reality. We don’t need to do complicated stuff to experience that. We just need the simple directing of our attention back to this basic aspect of life. Simple focal points such as the breath and the energy of love are connected or one with this basic aspect of life and focusing on them (refer to the article for the complete instructions) starts to bring to our experience an awareness of these aspects. As these aspects I am referring to Awareness, Intelligence and the Energy of Life, all of which are who we are at the deepest level. The words aspect and aspects were used in this paragraph, to clarify, aspect refers to the combination of the three aspects mentioned, to the experience of our Higher Self.