We aimed to examine how a standardized compassion meditation program would induce changes in the patterns of interactions among psychological variables.
We conducted network analyses on psychological variables before and after 96 participants completed an 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program.
After the CCT program, self-compassion variables increased their importance and influence in the network (i.e., centrality), whereas psychopathology and negative functioning variables (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression, and rumination) decreased their centrality. More importantly, self-compassion increased its associations with other adaptive variables (e.g., emotional reappraisal and mindfulness) after the program. Also, self-compassion, non-attachment, and decentering were the nodes connecting different sub-networks (i.e., bridge nodes), decoupling psychopathological variables (i.e., psychological distress and rumination) from the rest of the network. The variance of compassion, mindfulness, and well-being was mostly explained by other nodes in the network (i.e., predictability), whereas psychopathology-related constructs diminished in their predictability after the program.
These results highlight the role of self-compassion and other adaptive variables as the key mechanisms through which compassion meditation may produce its effects.