5 Science-Backed Reasons Why You Should Start a Loving Kindness Meditation Practice
Last week, Carla Taddeo taught us how to do a Loving Kindness meditation at home. We explored how this meditation works. Now she's here to share with us the WHY: Why we should all start a Loving Kindness meditation practice and how a regular LKM practice can benefits us physically, mentally and emotionally.
There are so many types of meditation, from Transcendental Meditation (TM), to Vipassana. Why we practice any one form is a matter of personal choice. One of the great things about advances in neuroscience, is that the amount of solid research and information out there regarding meditation and our mental and physical health is growing, and easy to find. There has been research recently regarding the practice of Loving Kindness, or Metta meditation that shows that in only minutes a day, it increases compassion and our sense of well being. This may not be surprising, but the brain research out there is quite eye opening. See for yourself...
5 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Start a Loving Kindness Meditation Practice
1. It increases positive emotions & decreases negative emotions.
Abstract studies collected in the US National Library of Medicine show that LKM activates areas of the brain associated with positive emotions, such as joy, and feelings of connectedness.
An LKM practice has been shown to strengthen the vagus nerve in the brain. Increased vagal tone is associated with everything from social connection to alleviating inflammation, to decreasing egocentrism, and even lowering heart rate. (Barbara Fredrickson)
2. It improves symptoms of depression and anxiety and increases empathy.
The Clinical Psychology Review reported that LKM practice showed significant impact on improving symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as activating the empathy centers in the brain. On a neurological, physical level, neuroendocrine studies were cited noting a positive increase in immune response to stress.
3. It decreases chronic pain and inflammation.
Science Daily (as well as other journals) reported decreased inflammation as a result of practicing LKM. It has also been shown to decrease migraines and other inflammation-related conditions.
4. It encourages feelings of self-love.
We tend to be our worst critic. A study by Shahar et al (2014) found that Loving Kindness Meditation was effective for self-critical individuals in reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, and improving self-compassion and positive emotions and the effects can last as long as three months.
5. A little goes a long way!
An LKM practice is effective, even in small doses! According to a study by Hutcherson, Seppala and Gross (2008), there is an effect of a small dose of LKM (practiced in a single short session lasting less than 10 minutes). Even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increases feelings of social connection and positivity toward strangers.
All you need to do is Google "Loving-Kindness meditation", and "science" together, and you’ll be amazed at what you will find. Give it a try today. Commit to two weeks and see what difference you notice in your own life.
Carla Taddeo is a Life Coach, with a rich background in Mindfulness and meditation. She recently brought Mindfulness to the Huntington Beach Union School District, where the strategies are used district wide. Carla has a passion for helping people to navigate their lives in ways that bring peace, joy, and a sense of purpose. carlataddeohealingarts.com
Yoga Wake Up offers a Loving Kindness guided meditation by Maeve McCaffrey. Find it on the app and if you try it with us or on your own, please comment below and tell us about your experience.