Meditation, Motivation and the 5% Success Rate

Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 4, Part 12 of 19 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

Student: What comes to mind is motivation: what brings people to meditation, and the extent to which someone understands the suffering that they’re experiencing, whether it be psychological or physical. I think that plays a lot into how successful they are and how much they keep up with the practice.

One thing popped out to me when you said that 5% figure. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has really crazy high numbers of people who are still doing it a year and two years later, but they’re also motivated by being in excruciating pain or having their life falling around their feet if they don’t keep up the practice.

So that’s interesting because I think there’s a lot of people who, if they were to realize the impact of the psychological and spiritual suffering that’s going on in their lives, and how it’s rippling around them, would probably be just as motivated. Physical pain is empirically a greater motivator to stay focused.

CTT: They need to hire assistants who watch them and beat the crap out of them every darn day that they don’t sit for at least an hour. 😉


Student: That sounds like a great business plan.


CTT: Actually there are advanced forms of martial arts training, kind of like Peter Sellers in his Inspector Clouseau movies, and in Aikido, where at some point you do hire somebody to try to ambush you. It’s very good training.


We were thinking of introducing that here at ITP.


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