Meditation has been used as a way to focus the mind, body, and soul for thousands of years. One particular meditation technique that’s intended to create feelings of kindness is now believed to be a way to reduce racial prejudice as well, according to the University Herald.
Researchers from the University of Sussex say that just seven minutes of the popular Buddhist Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) can effectively reduce one’s racial biases.
“This indicates that some meditation techniques are about much more than feeling good, and might be an important tool for enhancing inter-group harmony,” said Alexander Stell, lead researcher of the study, in a statement. “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 benefits of meditation have been touted in a variety of aspects, including insomniacs. In one study 75% of those who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. This is one of the first to look exclusively at the effects it can have on specific racial biases though.
The study followed 71 white, non-meditating adults. They were each given a picture of a gender-matching black person and given one of two instructions. One group received taped LKM instructions they were told to follow. The others were told to just look at the photos and take notice of certain features. In both cases they were required to do so for seven minutes.
Afterwards all participants took part in an Implicit Association Test, used to measure racial bias. Basically, the test does this through a word association-type task matching faces with positive or negative words.
The results showed that those who underwent the seven minutes of LKM meditation had a reduced level of prejudice compared to the ones who only looked at the pictures. Naturally, words like “love” “gratitude” and “joy” were much more prevalent in the LKM sample as well.