Although the benefits of meditation for physical and psychological well-being are well-known, little is known about factors that contribute to the successful completion of a meditation program and establishment of a regular meditation practice. Beginning meditators are often frustrated by the difficulties that they have meditating. Self-compassion, or treating oneself kindly in the face of failure, may be an important ingredient when learning to meditate. If so, self-compassion (whether measured as a trait or induced as a state) may lead to more frequent meditation practice, fewer absences during a meditation course, greater enjoyment of meditation, and a greater likelihood of maintaining a meditation practice after the course ends. Participants (n=200) will complete the Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003) before beginning the meditation class and after the course ends. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) self-compassion training, 2) an information condition, and 3) a control group. All participants will receive the same 8-week meditation course. Participants in the self-compassion condition will receive instructions before each class on approaching the course and any difficulties they experience in self-compassionate manner, while participants in the information condition will receive information about the effects of meditation, but no self-compassion instructions. Participants in the control condition will receive no self-compassion or information manipulations. Participants will complete questionnaires regarding the progress of their meditation practice before and after each class, as well as 2 weeks and 2 months following the end of the course.

Meredith Terry

Duke University