Virtual reality (VR) meditation is a hot commodity in some circles today, with big names like Deepak Chopra backing the move to usher in a new wave of meditation. VR meditation apps, immersive deep meditation VR experiences, and a flurry of new gadgets are set to change the way you meditate. But is all this stripping away the purity of a once simple method of relaxation and focus? Or can VR take your meditation experience to a deeper, more meaningful place and deliver better results?
What Can You Expect?
During a VR meditation session, you will need to use VR hardware (usually a VR headset) and plug and play your downloaded/purchased app or software. Most will involve some form of soothing imagery, specially selected for its spiritual significance, symbolism, or relevance to the theme of that particular meditation. For instance, in the “Finding Your True Self” product jointly produced by VR specialists Wevr and celebrated alternative medicine advocate and author Deepak Chopra, MD, you experience a 20-minute long session of guided meditation. You can draw inspiration from the visuals of the
Can VR Meditation Relax You?
Studies have found that using a combination of VR and actual exercise together can give better psychological benefits than either method alone.2 VR exposure therapy (VRET) has also been found to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder.3 Now, VR meditation combines both experiences to try and give you a chance to destress, relax, and distract yourself from the pressures and anxieties of life.
First-hand accounts from those who have tried VR meditation have yielded mixed results. While the vibrant “immersive” environments may
The Pain Studies Lab, backed by the Canada Foundation For Innovation, has been working on a modified version of a VR meditation chamber for use as a virtual walking meditation experience. With your 3D goggles as well as biofeedback equipment on, you begin walking on a treadmill in a simulation of a forest. Your environment is modified based on your physiological parameters, helping you to gain control over your emotions and reactions. Research has found this immersive VR to be even better for pain management than traditional meditation, which is less accessible due to the skill needed.6
Who Should Try It?
If you are someone who meditates every day and the unchanging scenery of the location where you currently meditate is tiring you out, these apps can give you the variety you seek. If you need someone to guide you through your meditation, you will find assistance in the step-by-step instructions and the soothing voice of your meditation guide or teacher in the audio track. If you like the calm that music can bring, you will enjoy the sound effects of water, nature, and other little tinkles and hums that the VR meditation experience offers. More importantly, if you like to have a greater degree of control over the sights and sounds around so you can meditate in an environment that is optimal for you, this is a must-try.
But Is It Really Meditation?
Purists argue that this may not be meditation in its truest form. Mindfulness meditation, another popular movement, requires you to get away from all the noise and interference of technology
However, backers of the VR wave say that this is simply a natural progression or evolution to keep pace with our growing consumption of technology. In some ways, VR meditation can be superior to regular meditation. For one thing, it can also be integrated to
The biofeedback tracking mechanism of DEEP and the Pain Studies Lab’s forest VR walking meditation means that you do in fact need to gain control of your breathing as in traditional meditation. Your breathing changes how and what you see in the virtual world of the app or VR meditation experience, and it also modifies how you actually move through the virtual world.9
To test the effectiveness of stress therapy that employs VR-based meditation, one group of researchers tested it against the results from an imaginary technique. Results showed that while both methods had a positive impact on
While further clinical studies are needed to back up the claims of VR meditation advocates and just how helpful it can be in treating various ailments, the experience may offer you a chance to relax – and all the benefits that come with relaxation – that is worth tapping into anyway.
|↑1||Finding Your True Self, Wevr YouTube Channel.|
|↑2||Plante, Thomas G., Arianne Aldridge, Ryan Bogden, and Cara Hanelin. “Might virtual reality promote the mood benefits of exercise?.” Computers in Human Behavior 19, no. 4 (2003): 495-509.|
|↑3||Gonçalves, Raquel, Ana Lúcia Pedrozo, Evandro Silva Freire Coutinho, Ivan Figueira, and Paula Ventura. “Efficacy of virtual reality exposure therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a systematic review.” PloS one 7, no. 12 (2012): e48469.|
|↑4||Guided Meditation for Oculus Rift, Cubicle Ninjas.|
|↑5||Deep, Owen LL Harris.|
|↑6||, Simon Fraser University. Relief A Virtual Reality" href="https://www.sfu.ca/vpresearch/research-news/profiles-and-features/making-pain-relief-a-virtual-reality.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Making Pain Relief A Virtual Reality|
|↑7||Does virtual reality meditation work? Fox News.|
|↑8||Choo, Amber, and Aaron May. “Virtual mindfulness meditation: Virtual reality and electroencephalography for health gamification.” In Games Media Entertainment (GEM), 2014 IEEE, pp. 1-3. IEEE, 2014.|
|↑9||Virtual Reality Therapy: Treating The Global Mental Health Crisis, Tech Crunch.|
|↑10||Perhakaran, Gamini, Azmi Mohd Yusof, Mohd Ezanee Rusli, Mohd Zaliman Mohd Yusoff, Imran Mahalil, and Ahmad Redza Razieff Zainuddin. “A Study of Meditation Effectiveness for Virtual Reality Based Stress Therapy Using EEG Measurement and Questionnaire Approaches.” In Innovation in Medicine and Healthcare 2015, pp. 365-373. Springer International Publishing, 2016.|