How Does Motivation Help Meditation?

By Tergar Meditation Community • 4 min read


In everything we do, it’s crucial to have a sense of purpose and motivation.  Without it, it’s too easy to lose inspiration, or feel that our actions are meaningless. Meditation is no exception, so it’s  important to start each session of meditation with the correct motivation. What does that look like, though? And how can you find it within yourself?

Intention is Everything

Consider why you’re about to meditate. Is it for your own benefit? In some respects, your motivation is probably going to have something to do with taking care of yourself. Indeed, it is important to employ your meditation practice to become more calm and peaceful, and to grow your inner capacities, wisdom, and compassion. Moreover, the positive qualities that you develop through meditation will automatically be of benefit to all the beings who come into contact with you, from your partner to your puppy. However, it is key that when you sit down to meditate, the motivation to do so is not solely self-interest. The intention must also be to benefit others.


Who Exactly Are “Others?”

You can set your intention to help any and all sentient beings. That can be friends and family, students and teachers, supervisors and employees, colleagues, neighbors, your social group, society as a whole, and all the living creatures of the land, sea, and sky. How about world peace? That’s certainly a good motivation to meditate!


Helping Yourself to Help Others

Anyone who has flown on a commercial flight knows the drill: before takeoff, during the recitation of safety instructions, flight attendants demonstrate how to use the oxygen masks that drop down in case of an emergency. Part of this instruction is always, “Please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” A person hearing this for the first time might be surprised to hear this, or think it is counter-intuitive, assuming that it would be more important to assist someone helpless or dependent first. But it only takes a moment’s consideration for the oxygen- mask instructions to make sense: if we lose consciousness, how could we possibly come to anyone else’s aid? We have to stay awake in order to help others awaken. To bring peace to yourself is ultimately the same as bringing peace to your friends, family, and the planet.

“A compassionate mind is a diligent mind.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

From the Personal to the Global

When you look at the bigger picture, we are all part of this world. And, if we make a concerted effort to transform our own sphere of influence, the impact of that transformation becomes larger. Like ripples in a pond, radiating outward, your motivation to meditate for the benefit of all beings will have far-reaching effects.


Motivation Keeps Us Going/ Helps Build a Habit of Meditation

It’s a lot easier to build the habit of meditation if you have internalized the motivation to benefit yourself and others.You become aware that each time you do it, even if it’s just a few minutes, it has a positive effect on those around you, and a profound meaning for yourself. So it becomes less tempting to skip it.

You’ll also become less dependent on how your meditation practice goes. Especially if you’re new to practicing meditation, you’ll find that there are many ups and downs along the way. But if you have the correct motivation, you won’t be as swayed by them.

Indeed, if you understand that you are practicing to benefit others as well as yourself, even if you’re having a “down” meditation experience such as feeling bored or agitated, you won’t be as inclined to give up. Instead, you’ll be inspired to carry on. And because awareness is always right there, having the wish to continue is in itself continuing.


Opening aspiration for meditation session

In the Tergar Meditation Community, we start our practice with an aspiration. We use the following opening aspiration, but you are free to find the words that work for you!


With boundless compassion and wisdom,

I will work for the welfare of all.

May we be free from hunger and discord.

And have joy and a world at peace.

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Here are a few guided meditation sessions to help you get started:

Key Points of Meditation: Intention and Motivation

Watch this video by Mingyur Rinpoche in which he talks about the importance of developing the right motivation in meditation.

Intro to Meditation

Free course for beginners.

Do you want to try meditation, but don’t know how to start? This free course is specially designed for beginners, and takes only a week to complete.

About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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