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How Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Our Generosity

The new trend in mental health – Mindful Mediation can cause you to have a reduced amount of generosity towards others

Mindfulness Meditation is the new trend in the mental wellness area. Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. However, too much of any good thing can be harmful to you. Likewise, new studies have shown that mindfulness meditation sometimes can have a negative effect and reduce your generosity towards others.

This happens because Mindfulness Meditation gets rid of the guilt that one feels after doing something bad towards another person. “Meditating can reduce feelings of guilt, thus limiting reactions like generosity that are important to human relationships,” said lead author Andrew Hafenbrack, from the University of Washington, who studies mindfulness.

We as human beings, need some amount of guilty feeling to live in a society with others so that we do not do anything ill towards other people. But Mindful Meditation teaches one to get rid of every negative emotion and be peaceful with oneself. Along with all the negative emotions, guilt also gets removed from one’s consciousness through mindfulness meditation.

Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. A series of eight experiments were conducted and more than 1,400 participants from the US and Portugal were included in these experiments. Throughout these experiments, researchers found that those who reported guilt over something they had done to harm a friend, exhibited less guilt after meditating.

“This research serves as a caution to people who might be tempted to use mindfulness meditation to reduce emotions that are unpleasant, but necessary to support moral thoughts and behaviour,” said co-author Isabelle Solal, from ESSEC Business School in Cergy-Pointoise, France.

This is not the first study to note how too much mindfulness may not be a good thing for our overall personalities. A 2021 study suggested that mindfulness can cause “heightened egotism” and make us more selfish. The more we turn inward and focus on ourselves, the less inclined we are to help others. “With the rise of apps and the use of mindfulness within corporations to increase productivity, for example, sometimes the moral dimension of mindfulness is lacking,” Michael Poulin, an associate professor in psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo and author of the study, told BBC News.

In his findings, Poulin discovered a cultural link between mindfulness meditation and the lack of interest in others. People from more interdependent-minded cultures — such as India and China, where people perceive themselves in relation to someone else — showed more lack of interest in others after mindfulness meditation than those from independent-minded cultures — such as the US and the UK.

The rising popularity of mindfulness meditation can be a cause of alarm. We need to accept the fact that some negative emotions like guilt are necessary for us to live with a good moral compass.

-Staff Reporter