How Compassion Meditation Reduces Mind Wandering

A new study from Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) demonstrates how compassion meditation may reduce mind wandering and increase caring behaviour.

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The mind wanders 50 percent of the time. Compassion meditation might help reduce that, according to a new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

“This is the first report that demonstrates that formal compassion training decreases the tendency for the mind to wander, while increasing caring behavior not only towards others but towards oneself,” said James Doty, a co-author on the study, Stanford neurosurgeon and the founder and director of Stanford’s CCARE.

Although mind wandering is not inherently a bad thing, researchers pinpointed a particular dynamic: after compassion meditation training, participants showed a reduction in mind wandering toward unpleasant topics and an increase in mind wandering toward pleasant topics. Researchers linked this change to increases in caring behavior.

Read the full study details from Stanford University.

Interested in trying compassion meditation? Here’s the latest mindfulness practice from the June 2015 issue of Mindful magazine, “Be Kind to Yourself—Right Now.”