Marcello Spinella, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Richard Stockton. He kindly agreed to share his research about The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness. Below, we provide his introduction to the topic, while the whole article “The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness” is available in pdf format.
Few people think of kindness and compassion as something that can be exercised and developed like a muscle. More often, we think of it as something that is triggered in knee-jerk fashion by an external situation. However, if we look closely, we can see that in any given situation, whether or not we react with kindness and compassion involves making choices. It may be easier to react this way in some situations (e.g. a helpless infant) and harder in others (.e.g. during an argument with an adult), but the aspect of choice nonetheless exists.
Fortunately, there are exercises to develop these characteristics and anyone can reap the benefits of doing so. Many people are familiar with mindfulness meditation, which involves observing one’s own internal experiences (e.g. thoughts, emotions, memories, sensations). But there are also meditation exercises to develop loving-kindness and related characteristics. Rather than just observing experience, this kind of meditation involves actively evoking thoughts of kindness and allowing them to naturally develop and flourish.
The whole article “The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness” is available here.