Measuring loving kindness-compassion

To what extent can loving kindness and compassion be reliably measured?

Title: The development and validation of the Loving kindness-Compassion Scale (LCS)

Authors: Hyunju Cho, Seunghye Noh, Sunghyun Park, Seokjin Ryu, Ven Misan and Jong-Sun Lee 

Year: 2017 (online), 2018 (print)

Summary: The thorny issue of effective trait and state scales for both loving-kindness and compassion is far from resolved in psychology. In fact if anything it is less clear now than it was a decade ago. One of the problems can be attributed to attempts to merge or unify concepts with subtle differences and specific cultural weighing factors. This paper explains some of the express differences between compassion and loving-kindness from a classical perspective. And the justification for drawing them together is found in the ‘boundless state of mind’. However, it is reasonable to ask in what way can the unlimited nature of mind be evaluated using limited psychometric measures? To what extent the LCS can align two distinct concepts in one scale will emerge over time.

The three reported highlights of the paper were

  • The LCS reflects the Buddhist concept of lovingkindness-compassion.
  • The LCS consists of three-factor with fifteen items.
  • The reliability and validity of LCS were adequate within our study.

This study was based on the definitions of compassion within a branch(es) of the Theravada tradition. So it should be stated at the outset the precise meanings established as a starting point may not reflect the whole family of Buddhism. This is not to say that other Buddhist schools (Zen, Mahayana or Vajrayana) might not wholly or partially share the definitions used. Simply that the definitions may not be representative of the wider Buddhist community. It should also be noted that the measures, therefore, may not reflect the explicit, not dual and absolute compassionate approaches found elsewhere in the Buddha Dharma.

Nevertheless, this paper established fifteen items within three factors through the use of exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The results suggest that LCS was significantly correlated with self-compassion, compassionate love, social connectedness, empathy and satisfaction with life. This study used 469 university students as participants and the data supports the reliability and validity of the LCS to measure lovingkindness-compassion.

An extremely useful investigation into compassion and loving-kindness raises several important questions.

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019188691730733X

Putting the Meditator at the Centre of the Research

Meditators know the most about meditation, if science ignores them they miss a trick.

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(The research is now complete, thanks to all who participated)

Do you meditate or practice mindfulness?

I am currently undertaking an academic survey into meditation and wellbeing. I would like to ask meditators over the age of 18 to complete a short anonymous questionnaire about their practice (it should take around ten minutes). The research has been ethically approved and conforms to all the usual academic norms.

This important research seeks to capture the meditation and mindfulness experience of practitioners of different levels of experience and backgrounds. Based on meditators self reported insights, this projects follows recent signposts in contemplative science putting greater emphasis on the experiential nature of mindfulness and meditation.

Regards

SGM

Loving-kindness Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study

What is the effect of loving kindness meditation for post traumatic stress disorder

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Authors: Kearney DJ, Malte CA, McManus C, Martinez ME, Felleman B, Simpson TL.

Year: 2013

Title: Loving-kindness Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study

Summary: A trial of loving kindness meditation was undertaken with veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants were given 12 weeks training in loving-kindness meditation and measured for PTSD, depression, self-compassion, and mindfulness at different stages. The effects of this pilot demonstrated a range of benefits for participants from the meditation and concluded that the practice was both “safe” and “acceptable”. A pilot study but really strong participant attendance (74% involved in 9 to 12 classes) and fascinating results:

  • self-compassion increased with large effect
  • mindfulness increased with medium to large effect
  • PSTD symptoms subject to a large effect at 3-month follow-up (d = -0.89)
  • depression  subject to a medium effect at 3 months

Perspective: Health psychology, positive psychology, clinical psychology

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23893519

Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Authors: Antoine Lutz, Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, Tom Johnstone, Richard J. Davidson

Year: 2008

Title: Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Summary: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigation of the insula and anterior cingulate cortices in empathic response during loving-kindness, compassionate meditation. The contrast between rest and meditation states indicated increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). The findings when taken in their entirety suggests the cultivation of positive emotional states through meditation creates changes to the activation of circuitries  linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001897

Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources

Authors: Barbara L. Fredrickson,  Michael A. Cohn, Kimberly A. Coffe, Jolynn Pek and Sandra M. Finkel.

Year: 2008

Title: Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources

Summary: Does meditation practice produce a cumulative effect? Is there a relationship between meditation and positive emotions, which, in turn produce increased personal resources connected to life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.

Perspective: Social Psychology, Positive Psychology

Link: http://www.unc.edu/peplab/publications/Fredrickson%20et%20al%202008.pdf

Loving-Kindness Meditation for Chronic Low Back Pain

Authors: James W. Carson, Francis J. Keefe, Thomas R. Lynch, Kimberly M. Carson, eeraindar Goli, Anne Marie Fras and Steven R. Thorp

Year: 2005

Title: Loving-Kindness Meditation for Chronic Low Back Pain

Summary: A pilot study on the effects of an eight week loving-kindness meditation program for patients suffering with chronic low back pain. Participants measured for pain, anger, and psychological distress. Analyses of data suggested a relationship between loving-kindness meditation and  lower pain on the day of meditation and a lower experience of anger the following day.

Perspective: Social Cognitive, Health Psychology

Link: http://jhn.sagepub.com/content/23/3/287.abstract

Loving-kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness

Loving kindness meditation

Authors: Hutcherson CA, Seppala EM, Gross JJ.

Year: 2008

Title: Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness

Summary: This research examines the relationship between social connectedness and meditation. It discusses whether social connectedness could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. The findings imply that even brief exposure to loving kindness meditation (LKM) may offer some relief from the experience from social isolation.

Perspective: Social cognitive, neuroscience

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18837623