When the dissolution of perceived body boundaries elicits happiness: The effect of selflessness induced by a body scan meditation

Conscious Cogn. 2016 Nov;46:89-98. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2016.09.013. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Drawing on the Self-centeredness/Selflessness Happiness Model (SSHM), we hypothesized that a reduction in the salience of perceived body boundaries would lead to increase optimal emotional experience. These constructs were assessed by means of self-report measures. Participants (n=53) were randomly assigned to either the selflessness (induced by a body scan meditation) condition or the control condition. As expected, the reduction in perceived body salience was greater in the body scan meditation condition than in the control condition. The change in perceived body salience was accompanied by a change in happiness and anxiety. Participants in the body-scan meditation condition reported greater happiness and less anxiety than participants in the control condition. Happiness increased when the salience of body boundaries decreased. Mediation analyses reveal that the change in happiness was mediated by the change in perceived body boundaries, which suggests that selflessness elicits happiness via dissolution of perceived body boundaries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ego*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult