Do early experiences matter? Development of an Early Meditation Hindrances Scale linked to novice meditators' intention to persist.

Suzanne L. Russ, Geoffrey Maruyama, Thomas B. Sease, Sarah Jellema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent media reports about health benefits of meditation have led previously naïve populations to seek meditation opportunities in highly variable settings, creating potential for difficult or frustrating experiences and abandonment of further meditation efforts. Unpleasant experiences may exacerbate attrition challenges already present in meditation research, creating negative associations that prevent persistence. This article explores early meditation experiences through the development and preliminary validation of the Early Meditation Hindrances instrument. Items based on the 5 meditation hindrances described in Theravadic texts were generated and statistically reduced by testing for dimensionality. Analyses across Sample 1 (n = 508) and Sample 2 (n = 367) identified 3 consistent factors based on 12 items. The resulting model fits the data well; these factors explained more than half of the variance in intention to persist. Limitations are the retrospective single-survey design and the self-report dependent measure. Consistent results across samples, strong fit of the model with the data, and its relationship with intentions to continue to meditate support strength of the instrument. The Early Meditation Hindrances may be useful for: guiding approaches that reduce attrition in meditation studies, measuring individuals' subjective meditation experience during sessions in which physiological data are gathered, and helping meditation teachers wishing to tailor instruction for individuals and classes. Implications about the setting in which the meditation takes place are examined, and future research needs are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-287
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory Research, and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • meditation attrition
  • novice meditators
  • self-compassion
  • subjective experience scale
  • validation


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