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07-04-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 6/2020 Open Access

Mindfulness 6/2020

Why Do People Begin to Meditate and Why Do They Continue?

Mindfulness > Uitgave 6/2020
Peter Sedlmeier, Jan Theumer
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-020-01367-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Studies that have examined why people begin to meditate and why they stay with it are few and inconclusive. We looked at these questions in two comprehensive exploratory studies.


In study 1, meditation teachers were asked why participants in their courses might begin to meditate and why they might continue to do so. A qualitative analysis of their responses, together with suggestions from the literature, yielded 77 distinct reasons that were applicable to both beginners and advanced meditators. In study 2, 245 meditators (49 who had practiced for less than 1 year) rated how strongly these reasons applied to themselves. Exploratory factor analyses of the reasons both to begin and to continue meditation were conducted.


We found a large number of different categories that go beyond those identified in previous research. Reasons changed with increasing meditation practice, although spiritual goals tended to become more important only for practitioners with a spiritual background.


Our results indicate that reasons for meditating are much more diverse than previously assumed and that they are influenced by practitioners’ spiritual background and their personality characteristics.

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