Virtual reality meditation is showing signs of increasing popularity as a new form of meditation. This technique adds a new dimension to meditation by using technology to the approaches of visualization and guided imagery. What used to be a completely internal effort is now enhanced using machines, apps, and software. But does it work?
Before we answer that, let’s give you a little background info on the two major approaches to meditation: “top-down” and “bottom-up.” There are a lot of ways to explain this concept, but the simplest would be this:
- The top-down approach is where you connect deeply with the body and the present moment.
- The bottom-up approach is where you disconnect from your body and explore other ways of “being.”
Both of these are valid ways and embracing either will provide valuable experiences. However, there is a third option that combines these two, one that isn’t taught much and might have become a rarity in today’s approaches to ways of being.
Types Of Meditation Techniques
Visualization and guided imagery work whether they’re done the old-fashioned way or through virtual reality.1 There is some science that backs it up, but not nearly as much as that which supports the “top-down” approach. And most of the “bottom-up” science is in the field of stress reduction, relaxation, and even sports performance. This latter approach is also a little hard to define as the results are extremely subjective outside the mentioned fields.
Studies on bottom-up meditation techniques have mostly observed results that have been temporary.
Some old traditions have made detailed studies of these “altered states,” but they are inevitably limited to the flavor of that particular tradition. There are literally an infinite number of experiences to be had, but we’ve noticed that many positive results measured this way have been temporary. It’s as if they haven’t really sunk in.
How Effective Is Virtual Reality Meditation?
The virtual reality meditation bottom-up approach might be even more temporary than the other approaches as it by-passes the inner work and discipline required without the aids. But, if this is the kind of experience you want, it will definitely work for you.
Top-down meditation has been researched extensively over the past 30 years and is driving the phenomenal popularity of mindfulness meditation. It has been around for a long time and always existed alongside the bottom up approach. Research in the fields of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being suggest that there is a much broader way in which we can experience our lives in a positive way. As science develops more ways to measure such experiences that were unmeasurable until recently, we will continue to learn what our potential to experience really is.
How To Find The Right Form Of Meditation?
We recommend that if you want to explore the bottom-up approach, you first go through the top-down experience.
If you’re living a non-monastic life and/or without an experienced teacher, without the “grounding” of the present moment experience, the bottom-up experience tend to create some disorientation. This may not be noticeable at first but will eventually be a much stronger effect. The virtual reality meditation “bottom up” approach might be even more temporary than the other approaches as it by-passes the inner work and discipline required without the aids. But, if this is the kind of experience you want, it will definitely work for you.
So first, get entrenched firmly in the here and now and then go for visualization techniques. You can do this with or without virtual reality, as per your requirements and needs.
|↑1||Walker, L. G., M. B. Walker, K. Ogston, S. D. Heys, A. K. Ah-See, I. D. Miller, A. W. Hutcheon, T. K. Sarkar, and O. Eremin. “Psychological, clinical and pathological effects of relaxation training and guided imagery during primary chemotherapy.” British journal of cancer 80, no. 1-2 (1999): 262-268.|