At last, WWE study results are out, and we are very excited to share them with you below!!!
In this study, an online loving-kindness meditation course was compared against an online light physical exercise course. Both one-month courses led to stress reduction and greater wellbeing in the 143 participants who completed the study.
However, the experiences were very different. Light exercise training led to regular increases in relaxation and physical wellbeing which were expe...cted and generated a sense of achievement. Loving-kindness meditation training was an emotionally intense experience, generating turmoil but also calmness, deep reflections and an increased connectedness with self and others.
Loving-kindness meditation reduced anxiety slightly more, and made a bigger impact on at least some dimensions of empathy, like perspective taking and valuing empathic attitudes. To measure altruism £10/$10 were offered to participants with a choice of donating all or half to charity. The meditation group gave slightly more £5 donations than the physical exercise group.
Some participants had difficulties with loving-kindness meditation practice. It is suggested that successful initial engagement with this type of meditation requires some degree of emotional stability and flexibility.
As it usually happens with free online courses, only half of those who signed up did more than one course session, and only half of these finished the course. This happened in both courses in a similar fashion.
In sum, this study shows that online loving-kindness meditation training improves wellbeing as much as online light physical exercise training, and that it specifically stimulates empathy and altruism. Courses like this may help to build resilient and empathic communities in a cost-effective way. More research is needed to confirm this initial evidence, and more development work is needed to make this training easier for those who are interested but find it too difficult.
We would like to thank the participants for their time, patience, and insights. We are also grateful to the people who were involved in the design and production of the courses. This research was supported by a scholarship from Cardiff University School of Medicine.
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