Washington: School teachers who went through an intensive meditation programme were less edgy or stressed, and more compassionate towards others, according to a new finding.
Previous research has linked meditation to positive changes in blood pressure, metabolism and pain, but less is known about the specific emotional changes that result from the practice.
The new study by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), was tasked with creating new techniques to minimise destructive emotions while improving social and emotional behaviour, the journal Emotion reports.
“The findings suggest that increased awareness of mental processes can influence emotional behaviour,” said Margaret Kemeny, director of the Health Psychology Program at California, who led the study.
“The study is particularly important because opportunities for reflection and contemplation seem to be fading in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture,” added Kemeny, according to an UCSF statement.
Altogether, 82 female schoolteachers aged between 25 and 60 years participated. Teachers were chosen because their work is stressful and meditation skills they learned could be immediately useful to their daily lives.
The study arose from a meeting 2,000 between Buddhist scholars, behavioural scientists and emotion experts at the home of the Dalai Lama.
There, the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, emeritus professor at the UCSF and world expert in emotions, pondered the topic of emotions, leading the Dalai Lama to pose a question: “In the modern world, would a secular version of Buddhist contemplation reduce harmful emotions?”
From that, Ekman and Buddhist scholar Alan Wallace developed a 42-hour, eight-week training programme, integrating secular meditation practices with techniques learned from the scientific study of emotion.