Not only can it reduce stress and improve productivity (among a multitude of other benefits) – mindfulness has now been proven to make you a nicer person.
Yep, a few moments of meditation can help you go from Miranda Priestly to Mary Poppins in minutes.
Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that mindfulness training prompted people to be kinder and more empathetic to a stranger who had been ostracised during a simulated online scenario.
The study was made up of four experiments, each with 100-150 participants. In each test, half of the group did an audio-recorded guided meditation while the others received no intervention. They then played a computer game in which four characters, one being themselves, tossed balls back and forth. One of the other characters was programmed to be excluded after a few tosses.
The researchers noticed that those who did mindfulness training were markedly more empathetic towards the ostracised character, compared to those who had no training. They showed more concern for the excluded person, were more likely to compensate for their exclusion with extra tosses during the next round, or with kind words in a post-game follow-up email.
“The folks who received mindfulness instruction seem to be better at regulating their emotions…allowing them to be present for the strangers they were witnessing being victimised,” said study author Daniel Berry.
“Most of the time, we operate on automatic pilot without much awareness of what we are doing, why we are doing it or how our thoughts, feelings and other external stimuli are influencing our behaviour,” Berry told Time. “I think training in mindfulness can break us from this automatic way of thinking about others and widen our circles for whom we show kindness.”
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.