Research has shown that Metta meditation increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions.
In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008) found that practicing 7 weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased:
These positive emotions then produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.
In addition, Metta has also been shown to help us bond and connect to others. A study by Kok et al (2013) found that individuals in a Loving Kindness Meditation intervention, compared to a control group, had increased in positive emotions – an effect moderated by baseline vagal tone (a physiological marker of well-being). This increase in vagal tone creates increases positive emotions & feelings of social connection.
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In a study by Hutcherson, Seppala and Gross (2008) Metta was found to have an effect in a small dose: practiced in a single short session lasting less than 10 minutes. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of lovingkindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward strangers.