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Just seven minutes of meditation can cut racial prejudice

London: Not just making you calm and creating a feeling of kindness, a mere seven-minute of meditation daily can help reduce racial bias too, a new study shows.

The researchers found that just seven minutes of a meditation technique called Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) directed to a member of a specific racial group (in this case, a black person) was sufficient to reduce racial bias towards that group.

Meditation, racial prejudice
Representational picture

The Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a Buddhist practise that promotes unconditional kindness towards oneself and others.

"This indicates that some meditation techniques are about much more than feeling good and might be an important tool for enhancing inter-group harmony," said lead researcher Alexander Stell, doctoral student in psychology from University of Sussex.

LKM is known to engender happiness and kindness to oneself and others through repeating phrases such as "may you be happy and healthy" while visualising a particular person.

Some previous studies have shown that inducing happiness in people, for example by exposing them to upbeat music, can actually make them more likely to have prejudiced thoughts compared to those hearing sad music.

For the new study, 71 white, non-meditating adults were each given a photo of a gender-matched black person and either received taped LKM instructions or instructions to look at the photos and notice certain features of the face.

Both conditions lasted just seven minutes.

The researchers then scored the reaction times of the participants who were asked to match up positive and negative words (for example "happiness" or "wrong") with faces that belonged to either their own or another ethnic group.

The team found that just seven minutes of LKM directed to a member of a specific racial group was sufficient to reduce racial bias towards that group.

Additionally, the researchers measured levels of positive emotions and found that people doing LKM showed a significant enhancement in generating positive emotions.

The study was published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

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