Written by Lynn E. O’Connor Ph.D.
I’m about to take off for a meeting organized by the Stanford University-based CCare, The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, in Telluride Colorado. We’re presenting results from our current research on contemplative practices (the more heady expression for meditation) and various psychological variables, such as depression, anxiety, empathy-based guilt and compassionate altruism.
We’ve gathered data from major schools of contemplative practices, including over 2000 subjects thus far. Most of our participants identified their kind of practice: Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Centering Prayer and secular meditation well-known as “Mindfulness Meditation” We’re comparing these practitioners to a non-Buddhist, non-meditating population we gathered some years ago.
Big picture –meditators across all groups are less prone to feeling guilty for imaginary crimes (thinking erroneously that they’re responsible for someone else’s misery), less prone to depression and anxiety and higher in openness, general agreeableness, and altruism towards strangers. The personal benefits are obvious.
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