» You Don’t Have to be Buddhist to Experience the Benefits of Meditation – Adventures in Positive Psychology

There is growing interest in the use of meditation and other contemplative practices to promote mental and physical health.


A recent study published in the Journal of Emotions (2012) examined the emotional changes that can result from meditation practice and emotional intelligence training, by delivering a program to 82 female participants over 8 weeks


The program covered 42 hours of meditation and emotion regulation training and included educational presentations, discussions related to emotions and life philosophies, and different secular meditations and contemplative skills. The participants were randomly assigned to either a training group or wait-list control group.


The study aimed to see how contemplative practice could reduce “destructive enactment of emotions,” and enhance pro-social responses through the development of emotional states such as compassion.


The study revealed that combining different meditation traditions was effective on many of the measures. The content of the program combined techniques from concentration mediation, mindfulness meditation, as well mettā meditation.

The training group reported reduced negative affect, rumination, depression, anxiety, and increased positive affect and mindfulness compared to the control group.


The training revealed a reduction in destructive emotions and coinciding behaviors such as hostility and other reactive behavioral responses.


As well, the meditation group demonstrated greater reduction in physiological arousal and had quicker recovery of their sympathetic nervous system when presented with tasks to induce stress.


Participants of the training group also showed increases in positive affect, such as compassion, when responding to images of suffering individuals, and showed greater ability to recognize facial expressions of emotions in others.