These are the big motivators, as I see them, in order of prevalence.
- Escape suffering. This is the classic Siddhartha motivation. From what I can tell, this the major motivation driving the current surge in mindfulness/meditation interest.
- Performance. Some people meditate because they want performance benefits. Happens a lot in sports and business.
- Achieve enlightenment. This is a more aspirational motivation.
Shinzen Young gives these five aspects of happiness that can be achieved through the application of mindful awareness.
- Reduce physical or emotional suffering.
- Elevate physical or emotional fulfillment.
- Achieve deep self knowledge.
- Make positive changes in objective behavior.
- Develop a spirit of love and service towards others.