Positive Emotion Correlates of Meditation Practice: A Comparison of Mindfulness Meditation and Loving-kindness Meditation

Mindfulness (N Y). 2017 Dec;8(6):1623-1633. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0735-9. Epub 2017 May 29.


The purpose of this study was to uncover the day-to-day emotional profiles and dose-response relations, both within-persons and between-persons, associated with initiating one of two meditation practices, either mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness meditation. Data were pooled across two studies of midlife adults (N = 339) who were randomized to learn either mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness meditation in a six-week workshop. The duration and frequency of meditation practice was measured daily for nine weeks, commencing with the first workshop session. Likewise, positive and negative emotions were also measured daily, using the modified Differential Emotions Scale (Fredrickson, 2013). Analysis of daily emotion reports over the targeted nine-week period showed significant gains in positive emotions and no change in negative emotions, regardless of meditation type. Multilevel models also revealed significant dose-response relations between duration of meditation practice and positive emotions, both within-persons and between-persons. Moreover, the within-person dose-response relation was stronger for loving-kindness meditation than for mindfulness meditation. Similar dose-response relations were observed for the frequency of meditation practice. In the context of prior research on the mental and physical health benefits produced by subtle increases in day-to-day experiences of positive emotions, the present research points to evidence-based practices - both mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation - that can improve emotional wellbeing.

Keywords: affect; contemplative science; mental health; midlife; positive psychology.