Is Meditation the Key to Reducing Racial Bias?


With all that’s happening in our country and around the world, the need to strengthen our capacity for empathy is more essential than ever. A recent study from the University of Sussex in the UK found that a simple loving-kindness meditation, also called metta meditation, could have a profound impact on perception and racial bias, while increasing one’s overall sense of well-being and positivity.

The research from Sussex shows that the act of loving-kindness meditation not only benefits our physical or mental health, but could also permeate society as a whole. In the study, a non-meditating group of white individuals were taught loving-kindness meditation and were asked to direct their practice toward a gender-matched black individual. Post-practice, test subjects were assessed and scored based on the Implicit Association Test, which measures positive and negative association. Typically, individuals project positive association more strongly to their own ethnicity, but following the seven-minute loving-kindness meditation, positive associations and “other-regarding” emotions were more prevalent, signifying the reduction of racial bias. “This indicates that some meditation techniques are about much more than feeling good,” explained Alexander Stell, lead researcher in the study, “and might be an important tool for enhancing inter-group harmony.”

The practice of loving-kindness meditation consists of consciou…

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