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Research Shows Just 7 Minutes of Meditation Can Reduce Racial Prejudice

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29th November 2015

By Christina Lavers

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

“Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness.” ~ from the Dhammapada (Buddhist scripture)

Science has just confirmed the Buddha’s teachings in a recent study published in the online journal ‘Motivation and Emotion’. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex (UK) was designed to measure the effects of practicing a Buddhist meditation called Loving-Kindness-Meditation (LKM) for seven minutes, on levels of racial prejudice.

Lead researcher Alexander Stell, a Doctoral student in Psychology, said: “We wanted to see whether doing LKM towards a member of another ethnic group would reduce the automatic preference people tend to show for their own ethnic group.” The meditation used in the study, seven minutes of love and kindness, is a Buddhist one that aims to promote feelings of empathy and compassion.

According to the Buddhistcentre.com, “the original name of this practice ismetta bhavana, which comes from the Pali language. Metta means ‘love’ (in a non-romantic sense), friendliness, or kindness: hence ‘loving-kindness’ for short. It is an emotion, something you feel in your heart. Bhavana means development or cultivation.”

During the short meditation the subject projects feelings of love and kindness, first on themselves and then onto another person. Proponents of LKM, who are now supported by the findings of this study, claim that the meditation promotes attitudinal changes by cultivating feelings love and acceptance that start with the self and then spill out to ‘other’.

The study used a sample group that was comprised of 71 Caucasian non-meditating adults. Each of the participants was given a photo of a person of colour of the same sex. One group was then asked to practice LKM while focusing on the subject in the picture. The other group, were also given a photo, but were not provided with a meditation assignment. Instead they were told to study the image and look at certain facial features. Both groups were told to engage in their tasks for seven minutes.

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