From the first link:
"Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain," Luders said. "We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners."
From the second link:
Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification ("folding" of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain's neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes.
It seems to me that meditation could help with many modern health issues which are often stress-related. It's no wonder that many religions use meditation in a form or another. However, meditation doesn't really have to include any magical thinking, and the non-religious version is often called mindfulness.
Regarding magical thinking, I'd say that it's more important to recognize your biases than to totally eliminate them, as the latter is pretty much impossible.