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The COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest have increased individuals’ stress, anxiety, and social isolation. In response, a resounding call has gone out for more resources to buffer the effects of this psychological burden. One free and accessible resource is meditation; lovingkindness meditation is particularly beneficial and increases positive emotionality, psychological well-being, prosocial behavior, and social connectedness. Meditation is theorized to confer these benefits through fostering an allocentric spatial frame of reference. An allocentric spatial frame of reference is a view of the self that extends beyond the boundary of the body and is accompanied by a heightened sense of connection to the world as a whole. While other meditations have been found to foster more allocentric spatial frames of reference, lovingkindness meditation is absent from the literature on this topic. The current study examined if a short lovingkindness meditation increases allocentric frames of reference in a sample of non-meditators. One hundred and ninety-four non-meditators took the Spatial Frame of Reference Continuum – 7 points to measure their spatial frames of reference before and after a 13-minute lovingkindness meditation. Data analysis revealed that the lovingkindness meditation had a moderate positive effect (d = 0.54) on individuals’ allocentric spatial frame of reference. Future researchers should compare the effectiveness of lovingkindness meditation with other types of meditation. A regular lovingkindness meditation practice may help individuals expand their sense of self and access positive benefits that will help them deal with the stress and anxiety of current events.

Publication Date

Spring 2021




Meditation; Sense of self; Spatial frame of reference; Lovingkindness


Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology

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Faculty Mentor: Kimberly A. Barchard, Ph.D.

Lovingkindness Meditation Alters Sense of Self in Non-Meditators