Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM)—a form of Buddhist meditation designed to increase unconditional kindness toward others and oneself—could reduce racism, according to a small study published in Motivation and Emotion.
LKM encourages greater kindness and acceptance through a combination of visualization and repetitive phrases. For instance, a practitioner might envision a specific person or group of people while repeating positive thoughts about the person.
Can Meditation Combat Racism?
Researchers recruited 71 white adults who did not meditate. Each participant received a photo of a same-gender black person. Researchers told one group to look at the photo and notice the person’s facial features. They gave the other group instructions for LKM along with the photo. Both groups had just seven minutes with the photo.
Next, researchers administered an Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT asks test-takers to match images of people of different races with specific words. The tests shows people are generally quicker to match more positive words with their own ethnic group and more negative words with someone who is part of a different ethnic group. In this way, the IAT is a common tool for assessing bias.
How to Meditate
If you are interested in trying LKM, this approach to meditation requires no special skill. Simply go to a quiet place, breathe deeply and slowly, and repeat loving mantras about yourself and others. The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society recommends some of the following mantras, which you can apply to yourself, other people, or both:
- May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
- May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.
- May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
- May I be healthy and strong.
- May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
- May I be happy.
- Loving-Kindness Meditation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness
- Meditation can combat racism. (2015, November 22). Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/meditation-can-combat-racism/story-fn3dxix6-1227618540875
- Project Implicit. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/education.html
- Seven minutes of meditation can reduce racial prejudice, study finds. (2015, November 19). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119122244.htm
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