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Are meditators more liberal minded?

Meditation promotes a greater sense of liberal egalitarianism.

Research shows that frequent meditation can result in a calmer, more grounded demeanor, as well as provide therapeutic effects on various medical conditions. Is there also a correlation between meditation and political and social perspectives? Recent research seems to indicate so.

Researchers at the University of Toronto's psychology department found that religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people more liberal. However, when individuals of either political persuasion experienced a guided meditation, both liberals and conservatives endorsed more liberal political attitudes.Their work was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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Lead author Jacob Hirsh of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management contends "While religiousness is characterized by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is assocaited with the direct experience of self-transcendeence and the feeling that we're all connnected." 

In all three studies by Jordon Peterson, Jacob Hirsh and Megan Walberg, they asked 590 American partiacipatns whether they identified as Democrat or Republican, and confirmed that religiousness was associated with poltiical conserrvatisim, while spirituality was associated with political liberalism. In the third study, over 300 American participants took part in an exercise where 50% completed a spiritual exericse consisting of a guided meditation video. They were asked about their political orientation and to rate how spiritual they felt after taking part in the exercise. The researchers reported that compaared to those who didn't take part in the guided meditation, the participants who did, felt significantly higher levels of spirituality and expressed more liberal political attitudes.

Hirsh argues that "Spiritual experiences seem to make people feel more of a connection with others," and "these feelings of self-transcendence make it easier to recognize that we are all part of the same system, promoting an inclusive and egalitarian mindset."  He goes on to contend "We suspect that meditation lowers the rigid boundaries between self and other people normally experience in their lives, promoting a more egalitarian mindset."


Ray Williams is the author of Breaking Bad Habits and The Leadership Edge.


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