Scientists from Stanford University, publishing in the journal, ‘Emotion’ , showed that meditation that focused on loving kindness increased people’s feelings of social connectedness. The Tibetan Buddhist ‘Loving-Kindness’ meditation invites practitioners to cultivate a sense of loving kindness, wellness, peace, happiness, and compassion for ourselves, our loved ones, neutral people, and even aggressors in our lives.
It is very common in today’s society for some people to feel disconnected, whether that is spiritually disconnected or even disconnected from people. Many people find that it is difficult to build strong relationships, whether those are friendships or intimate relationships.
The Stanford scientists taught 45 volunteers the meditation. It involved imagining two loved ones standing on either side of them and sending their love. Then they imagined sending those feelings towards a neutral stranger, wishing them health, happiness and love.
Compared with a control group of 48 volunteers, they found that those who did the meditation, even for only a few minutes a day, felt more connected and felt more positive feelings towards others. They also felt much happier.
I have practiced this meditation on numerous occasions and I can say from person experience that it softens you towards others. Relationships of all kinds strengthen because you change, not because another person changes. That is a great secret in life – that rather than trying to change others, when we change ourselves, others often change around us.
Don’t you feel better inside when you wish the best for people? Doing so actually makes us feel happier. This is what it means when people say that happiness is within us. It’s within our ability to choose how we think about things.
This study shows that not only do we feel happier when we wish the best for people, but we actually change our personal relationships for the better.
Here a link if you want to read a PDF of the article http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~psyphy/pdfs/Hutcherson_08_2.pdf
Copyright 2021 David R. Hamilton PhD.