The Mediating Role of Shared Flow and Perceived Emotional Synchrony on Compassion for Others in a Mindful-Dancing Program

  • 199 Accesses

  • 1 Citations



While there is a growing understanding of the relationship between mindfulness and compassion, this largely relates to the form of mindfulness employed in first-generation mindfulness-based interventions such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Consequently, there is limited knowledge of the relationship between mindfulness and compassion in respect of the type of mindfulness employed in second-generation mindfulness-based interventions (SG-MBIs), including those that employ the principle of working harmoniously as a “secular sangha.” Understanding this relationship is important because research indicates that perceived emotional synchrony (PES) and shared flow—that often arise during participation in harmonized group contemplative activities—can enhance outcomes relating to compassion, subjective well-being, and group identity fusion. This pilot study analyzed the effects of participation in a mindful-dancing SG-MBI on compassion and investigated the mediating role of shared flow and PES.


A total of 130 participants were enrolled into the study that followed a quasi-experimental design with an intervention and control group.


Results confirmed the salutary effect of participating in a collective mindful-dancing program, and demonstrated that shared flow and PES fully meditated the effects of collective mindfulness on the kindness and common humanity dimensions of compassion.


Further research is warranted to explore whether collective mindfulness approaches, such as mindful dancing, may be a means of enhancing compassion and subjective well-being outcomes due to the mediating role of PES and shared flow.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Amutio, A., Pizarro, J. J., Basabe, N., Telletxea, S., & Harizmendi, M. (2018). Propiedades psicométricas de la Escala de Compasión hacia los Demás (Psychometric properties of the Scale of Compassion for Others). Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología Positiva, 4, 24–37.

  2. Aron, A., Aron, E., & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of Other in the Self Scale and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(4), 596–612.

  3. Basabe, N., Pizarro, J. J., de Rivera, J., Alfaro, L., González-Burboa, A., & Vera-Calzaretta, A. (2018). Celebrations of global community and global identity: values, beliefs and transcendence emotions in Hispanic American Cultures. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología Positiva, 4, 109–124.

  4. Bräuninger, I. (2014). Specific dance movement therapy interventions—Which are successful? An intervention and correlation study. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(5), 445–457.

  5. Brito-Pons, G., Campos, D., & Cebolla, A. (2018). Implicit or explicit compassion ? Effects of compassion cultivation training and comparison with mindfulness-based stress reduction. Mindfulness.

  6. Caldwell, K., Harrison, M., Adams, M., Quin, R., & Greeson, J. (2010). Developing mindfulness in college students 1hrough movement·based courses: effects on self·regularory self·efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality. Journal of American College Health, 58(5), 433–442.

  7. Carmody, J., & Baer, R. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psyehologieal symproms and well being in a mindfulness·based stress reduetion program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31, 23–33.

  8. Chad-Friedman, E., Talaei-Khoei, M., Ring, D., & Vranceanu, A. M. (2017). First use of a brief 60-second mindfulness exercise in an orthopedic surgical practice: results from a pilot study. Archives of Bone and Joint Surgery, 5(6), 400–405.

  9. Cho, P. S., Escoffier, N., Mao, Y., Ching, A., Green, C., Jong, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Groups and emotional arousal mediate neural synchrony and perceived ritual efficacy. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2071.

  10. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155–159.

  11. Collins, R. (2004). Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

  12. Coquoz, M. (2017). Integrating Mindfulness Meditation in a Creative Process in Dance (Doctoral dissertation, Université du Québec à Montréal).

  13. Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1996). Fluir: una psicología de la felicidad [Flow: The psychology of optimal experience]. Madrid: Círculo de Lectores.

  14. Davis, A., Taylor, J., & Cohen, E. (2015). Social bonds and exercise: evidence for a reciprocal relationship. PLoS ONE, 10(8), e0136705.

  15. de Rivera, J., & Carson, H. A. (2015). Cultivating a global identity. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3(2), 310–330.

  16. de Sousa, S., & Shapiro, S. (2018). The dance of presence: mindfulness and movement. In B. I. Kirkcaldy (Ed.), Psychotherapy, literature and the visual and performing arts (pp. 113–129). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

  17. Dundas, I., Binder, P. E., Hansen, T. G., & Stige, S. H. (2017). Does a short self-compassion intervention for students increase healthy self-regulation? A randomized control trial. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58(5), 443–450.

  18. Emmons, K. (2005). Emotion and religion. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 235–252). New York: The Guilford Press.

  19. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A.-G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 1149–1160.

  20. Fiske, A. P. (1991). Structures of social life: The four elementary forms of human relations. New York: The Free Press.

  21. Fiske, A. P. (1992). The four elementary forms of sociality: framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychological Review, 99(4), 689–723.

  22. Fiske, A. P., Schubert, T. W., & Seibt, B. (2017). “Kama muta” or ‘being moved by love’: A bootstrapping approach to the ontology and epistemology of an emotion. In J. Cassaniti & U. Menon (Eds.), Universalism without uniformity: Explorations in mind and culture (pp. 79–100). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

  23. Gómez, A., Vázquez, A., Brooks, M. L., Buhrmester, M. D., Jetten, J., & Swan, W. B. (2011). On the nature of identity fusion: insights into the construct and a new measure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(5), 918–933.

  24. Hacker, T. (2008). The relational compassion scale: development and validation of a new self-rated scale for the assessment of self-other compassion (Doctoral dissertation, University of Glasgow).

  25. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis. New York and Oxford: The Guilford Press.

  26. Hervás, G., & Vázquez, C. (2013). Construction and validation of a measure of integrative well-being in seven languages: the Pemberton Happiness Index. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 11(1), 66.

  27. Hobson, N. M., Schroeder, J., Risen, J., Xygalatas, D., & Inzlicht, M. (2017). The psychology of rituals: an integrative review and process-based framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review.

  28. Hove, M. J., & Risen, J. L. (2009). It’s all in the timing: interpersonal synchrony increases affiliation. Social Cognition, 27(6), 949–960.

  29. IBM Corp. (2017). IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows (Version 25.0). Armonk: IBM Corp.

  30. Jackson, S., & Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1999). Flow in sports. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

  31. Jorgensen, T. D., Pornprasertmanit, S., Schoemann, A. M., & Rosseel, Y. (2018). semTools: Useful tools for structural equation modeling. R package version 0.5-1. Retrieved from

  32. Kiser, L., Bennett, L., Heston, J., & Paavola, M. (2005). Family ritual and routine: comparison of clinical and non-clinical families. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 14(3), 357–372.

  33. Lim, D., Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2015). Mindfulness and compassion: an examination of mechanism and scalability. PLoS ONE, 10(2), e0118221.

  34. Lindahl, J. R., Fisher, N. E., Cooper, D. J., Rosen, R. K., & Britton, W. B. (2017). The varieties of contemplative experience: a mixed-methods study of meditation-related challenges in Western Buddhists. PLoS ONE, 12(5), e0176239.

  35. Magyaródi, T., & Oláh, A. (2015). A cross-sectional survey study about the most common solitary and social flow activities to extend the concept of optimal experience. European Journal of Psychology, 11(4), 632–650.

  36. Marich, J., & Howell, T. (2015). Dancing mindfulness: a phenomenological investigation of the emerging practice. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 11(5), 346–356.

  37. Mauss, I., Shallcross, A., Troy, A., Johln, O., Ferrer, E., Wilhelm, E., & Gross, J. (2011). Don’t hide your happiness! Positive emotion dissociation, social connectedness, and psychological functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(4), 738–748.

  38. Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.

  39. Neff, K. D., & Pommier, E. (2013). The relationship between self-compassion and other-focused concern among college undergraduates, community adults, and practicing meditators. Self and Identity, 12(2), 160–176.

  40. Nhat Hanh, T. (1999). The heart of the Buddha’s teaching: Transforming suffering into peace, joy and liberation. New York: Broadway Books.

  41. Páez, D., Rimé, B., Basabe, N., Wlodarczyk, A., & Zumeta, L. N. (2015). Psychosocial effects of perceived emotional synchrony in collective gatherings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(5), 711–729.

  42. Páez, D., Martínez-Zelaya, G., Bilbao, M., García, F. E., Torres-Vallejos, J., Vargas, S., Sierralta, E., & da Costa, S. (2018). Religiosity, psychosocial factors, and well-being: an examination among a national sample of Chileans. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 10(2), 138–145.

  43. Piedmont, R. L. (2012). Overview and development of a trait-based measure of numinous constructs: the assessment of spirituality and religious sentiments (ASPIRES) Scale. In L. Miller (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of psychology and spirituality (pp. 104–122). Oxford: University Press.

  44. Pommier, E. A. (2010). The compassion scale. (Doctoral Thesis). University of Texas. Retrieved from

  45. R Development Core Team. (2012). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing ISBN 3-900051-07-0,

  46. Reddish, P., Fischer, R., & Bulbulia, J. (2013). Let’s dance together: synchrony, shared intentionality and cooperation. PLoS One, 8(8), e71182.

  47. Reddish, P., Tong, E. M., Jong, J., Lanman, J. A., & Whitehouse, H. (2016). Collective synchrony increases prosociality towards non-performers and outgroup members. British Journal of Social Psychology, 55(4), 722–738.

  48. Rimé, B. (2011). La compartición social de las emociones [The social sharing of emotions]. Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer.

  49. Rosseel, Y. (2012). lavaan: an R package for structural equation modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48(2), 1–36.

  50. RStudio Team. (2015). RStudio: integrated development for R (p. 42). Boston: RStudio, Inc.

  51. Rufi, S., Wlodarczyk, A., Páez, D., & Javaloy, F. (2015). Flow and emotional experience in spirituality. Differences in Interactive and Coactive Collective Rituals. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 56(4), 373–393.

  52. Salanova, M., Rodríguez-Sánchez, A. M., Schaufeli, W. B., & Cifre, E. (2014). Flowing together: a longitudinal study of collective efficacy and collective flow among workgroups. The Journal of Psychology, 148(4), 435–455.

  53. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (2010). Ensuring positiveness of the scaled difference chi-square test statistic. Psychometrika, 75(2), 243–248.

  54. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). The emerging role of Buddhism in clinical psychology: toward effective integration. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6, 123–137.

  55. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., Compare, A., Zangeneh, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015). Buddhist-derived loving-kindness and compassion meditation for the treatment of psychopathology: a systematic review. Mindfulness, 6, 1161–1180.

  56. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., Garcia-Campayo, J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). Can compassion cure health-related disorders? British Journal of General Practice, 67, 178–179.

  57. Simkin, H., & Piedmont, R. L. (2018). Adaptation and validation of the assessment of spirituality and religious sentiments (ASPIRES) scale short form into Spanish. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología Positiva, 4, 97–107.

  58. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Karazsia, B. T., & Singh, J. (2014). Mindfulness-based positive behavior support (MBPBS) for mothers of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: effects on adolescents’ behavior and parental stress. Mindfulness, 5, 646–657.

  59. Stellar, J. E., Gordon, A. M., Piff, P. K., Cordaro, D., Anderson, C. L., Bai, Y., et al. (2017). Self-transcendent emotions and their social functions: compassion, gratitude, and awe bind us to others through prosociality. Emotion Review, 9(3), 200–207.

  60. Sprecher, S., & Fehr, B. (2005). Compassionate love for close others and humanity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22(5), 629–651.

  61. Swann, W. B., Gómez, A., Seyle, D. C., Morales, J. F., & Huici, C. (2009). Identity fusion: the interplay of personal and social identities in extreme group behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(5), 995–1011.

  62. Swann, W. B., Jetten, J., Gomez, A., Whitehouse, H., & Bastian, B. (2012). When group membership gets personal: a theory of identity fusion. Psychological Review, 119, 441–456.

  63. Sze, J., Gyurak, A., Yuan, J., & Levenson, R. (2010). Coherence between emotional experience and physiology: does body awareness training have an impact? Emotion, 10(6), 803–814.

  64. Thomas, E. F., MgGarthy, C., & Mavor, K. I. (2009). Aligning identities, emotions and beliefs to create commitment to sustainable social and political action. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13(3), 194–218.

  65. Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (2011). Synchrony and the social tuning of compassion. Emotion, 11(2), 262–266.

  66. Van Cappellen, P. (2017). Rethinking self-transcendent positive emotions and religion: insights from psychological and biblical research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9(3), 254–263.

  67. Van Cappellen, P., & Rimé, B. (2014). Positive emotions and self-transcendence. In V. Saroglou (Ed.), Religion, personality, and social behavior (pp. 123–145). London: Psychology Press.

  68. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Sumich, A., Sundin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for psychological wellbeing in a sub-clinical sample of university students: a controlled pilot study. Mindfulness, 5, 381–391.

  69. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015a). Towards a second-generation of mindfulness-based interventions. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49, 591–591.

  70. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Griffiths, M. D., & Singh, N. N. (2015b). There is only one mindfulness: why science and Buddhism need to work together. Mindfulness, 6, 49–56.

  71. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). Buddhist emptiness theory: Implications for psychology. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9, 309–318.

  72. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & Garcia-Campayo, J. (2018a). El Guerrero Atento: Mindfulness para la vida cotidiana. Barcelona: Editorial Kairós.

  73. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Diouri, S., Garcia-Campayo, J., Kotera, Y., & Griffiths, M. D. (2018b). Ontological addiction theory: attachment to me, mine, and I. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7, 892–896.

  74. Walker, C. (2010). Experiencing flow: is doing it together better than doing it alone? Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(1), 3–11.

  75. Wiltermuth, S. S., & Heath, C. (2009). Synchrony and cooperation. Psychological Science, 20, 1–5.

  76. Wlodarczyk, A., Basabe, N., Páez, D., Reyes, C., Villagran, L., Madariaga, C., Palacio, J., & Martínez, F. (2016). Communal coping and posttraumatic growth in a context of natural disasters in Spain, Chile and Colombia. Cross-Cultural Research, 50(4), 325–355.

  77. Woolhouse, M., Tidhar, D., Demorest, S., Morrison, S., & Campbell, P. (2010). Group dancing leads to increased person-perception. In S. M. Demorest, S. J. Morrison, & P. S. Campbell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (pp. 605–608). Seattle: University of Washington.

  78. Xygalatas, D., Mitkidis, P., Fischer, R., Reddish, P., Skewes, J., Geertz, A. W., et al. (2013). Extreme rituals promote prosociality. Psychological Science, 24(8), 1602–1605.

  79. Yaden, D. B., Haidt, J., Hood, R. W., Jr., Vago, D. R., & Newberg, A. B. (2017). The varieties of self-transcendent experience. Review of General Psychology, 21(2), 143–160.

  80. Zinbarg, R., Yovel, I., Revelle, W., & McDonald, R. (2006). Estimating generalizability to a universe of indicators that all have one attribute in common: a comparison of estimators for omega. Applied Psychological Measurement, 30, 121–144.

  81. Zumeta, L. N. (2017). Shared flow in collective gatherings and social rituals. Doctoral dissertation, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain.

  82. Zumeta, L., Basabe, N., Wlodarczyk, A., Bobowik, M., & Páez, D. (2016a). Shared flow and positive collective gatherings. Anales de Psicología, 32(2), 717–727.

  83. Zumeta, L. N., Oriol, X., Telletxea, S., Amutio, A., & Basabe, N. (2016b). Collective efficacy in sports and physical activities: perceived emotional synchrony and shared flow. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1960.

Download references


We wish to express our deepest appreciation to the individuals who voluntarily participated in the project as well as the university employees for their support with the study.


This research was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (under grant PSI2017-84145-P) and the University of the Basque Country (under grant IT-666-13, grant US13/11).

Author information

JP, NB, and AA conceived and designed the study, conducted data analysis, and participated in the writing and editing of the different versions of the manuscript. ST participated in designing, participant recruitment, intervention delivery, and revising and editing the final manuscript. MH was responsible for conducting the mindfulness intervention. WVG contributed to the writing and final editing of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Alberto Amutio.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pizarro, J.J., Basabe, N., Amutio, A. et al. The Mediating Role of Shared Flow and Perceived Emotional Synchrony on Compassion for Others in a Mindful-Dancing Program. Mindfulness 11, 125–139 (2020).

Download citation


  • Mindful dancing
  • Second-generation mindfulness-based interventions
  • Compassion
  • Shared flow
  • Perceived emotional synchrony
  • Well-being