Emotions & Meditation
A recent study that focused on compassion found that meditation can actually boost a person’s ability to read other people’s facial expressions.
Lead author Jennifer Mascaro of Emory University in the US state of Georgia stated, “It’s an intriguing result, suggesting that a behavioral intervention could enhance a key aspect of empathy.”
The New York Daily News goes on to report that the meditation program called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, developed by Lobsang Tenzin Negi, was directly taken from Tibetan Buddhist practices. This training has been shown to activate regions in the brain that help us be more empathetic.
The results were based off fMRI brain scans of participants while completing a version of a facial expression test called the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), which consists of black-and-white photographs that feature only the eyes of people making various expressions.
The meditation group showed much improvement on their Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) over the control group after their mediation practice sessions.
“The idea is that the feelings we have about people can be trained in optimal ways. CBCT aims to condition one’s mind to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, and that everybody desires to be happy and free from suffering at a deep level,” Negi purported.
In a similar article by Science Daily meditation improved emotional behaviors in teachers. The findings suggest that schoolteachers who underwent a short but intensive program of meditation were less depressed, anxious or stressed — and more compassionate and aware of others’ feelings,.
“The findings suggest that increased awareness of mental processes can influence emotional behavior…The study is particularly important because opportunities for reflection and contemplation seem to be fading in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture,” said lead author Margaret Kemeny, PhD, director of the Health Psychology Program in UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry.
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