Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a Buddhist practice that promotes unconditional kindness towards oneself and others. A new study has revealed that just seven minutes of LKM is effective for reducing racial bias. The technique helps create feelings of kindness and can also reduce prejudice.
Lead researcher Alexander Stell said, "This indicates that some meditation techniques are about much more than feeling good, and might be an important tool for enhancing inter-group harmony."
‘Loving-kindness meditation engenders happiness and kindness to oneself and others through repeating phrases such as 'may you be happy and healthy' while visualizing a particular person. Researchers observed that this technique was effective for reducing racial bias.’
LKM is known to engender happiness and kindness to oneself and others through repeating phrases such as 'may you be happy and healthy' while visualizing a particular person. The researchers found that just seven minutes of LKM directed to a member of a specific racial group (in this case, a black person) was sufficient to reduce racial bias towards that group. However, there was no marked reduction in racial bias towards other groups.
Additionally the researchers measured levels of positive emotions that were either 'other-regarding' (e.g. love, gratitude, awe, elevation) and those that were more self-directed (e.g. contentment, joy, pride) and found that people doing LKM showed large increases specifically in other-regarding emotions. These other-regarding emotions were found to be what drives the reduction of bias.
The study is appears online in Motivation and Emotion.