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Loving-kindness meditation increases positive emotions and happiness

Loving-kindness meditation helps to eliminate negative emotions and increase happiness, according to a study from the National Research University. The team found that loving-kindness meditation is more effective than compassion meditation in evoking positive feelings among those who are new to both practices.

“Despite being often overlapped and used interchangeably in academic literature, loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM) are also seen to have their distinct features,” wrote the researchers.

“As a differential approach towards LKM and CM can promote a more accurate integration of these practices into the clinical field, it is worth studying their differential effects.”

In Buddhism, there are “four immeasurable meditations,” including loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity meditation. While these are different practices, they share the common goal of sharing positive messages.

“LKM and CM represent two theoretically different practices. However, as they belong to the same tradition of meditation, they are similar in their intention of forming positive wishes towards self and others, and this appeared to have a positive effect on practitioners’ emotional experience. At the same time, LKM was found to be more effective in evoking positive emotions in first-time practitioners, compared with CM,” wrote the study authors.

Meditation is used to restore energy, decrease stress, and find inspiration, and different types of meditation produce different results. Experts are increasingly interested in finding ways to measure these differences as well as the impact they have on people’s emotional state.

In the current study, the researchers wanted to compare the outcomes of loving-kindness and compassion meditation, including the various emotions they evoke.

The investigation was focused on 201 American students who had never practiced meditation before. Compared to a control group, the participants who practiced one of the meditations for 15 minutes noticed a significant increase in happiness, as well as love and care for other people. The study revealed that the loving-kindness intervention was more effective in increasing positive emotions and happiness.

“The higher effectiveness of loving-kindness meditation may be a sign that this type of meditation is more suitable to newcomers – those who have never tried meditation before,” said study co-author Ulyana Sirotina. “Compassion meditation is traditionally practiced after one has already mastered LKM.”

The study is published in the journal Mindfulness.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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