We never knew that the word that was once used trivially by us would become a health epidemic of the 21st century. Stress is an all-pervasive emotion. We have all been a victim of it. Some of us experience it more than others. As the world and its whims expand, so does our reasons to worry. We often find ourselves to be overwhelmed with life, and mostly it is because of the underlying stress in our work life or personal life. Stress hampers one’s mobility to do tasks and take-on life with a positive approach.
As the number of stress-related diseases rises around the globe, it has become clear that we need to do something that counteracts it. And what can be that thing? Well, the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to manage our thoughts. But how do we achieve that power to control our ever-dynamic thoughts? The answer is, through meditation. Meditation is an age-old practice that teaches you mindfulness and blossoms the divinity inside you. It quiets your mind and calms you down. Various studies have proven that meditation is better than any form of medication to take if you are stressed or depressed. Millions of people around the globe vouch for it and practice it daily as a process to maintain mental well-being.
Technology v/s Stress
Technology and stress are two entities that are by default assumed to go hand-in-hand with each other. Our dynamic workspaces have made us the slaves to our screens, and these kinds of constant stimulation by them induces a high level of stress in our mind. Having said that, technology does not always contribute to our stress. It also opens up the pathways that can significantly reduce our overall stress. People are now moving towards finding a solution to manage stress digitally. Hundreds of apps that provide people with guided meditation exercises are doing immensely well. However, these guided meditation forms are not just limited to these apps.
Virtual Reality Meditation
Virtual reality, which was once seen as a gimmick and toy for gamers and video streamers has now very well established itself in the field of meditation. Virtual reality mediation is a unique way of doing your regular meditation process. It elevates your surroundings and transports you into a serene environment where you can connect with yourself. It is an authentic experience where you go beyond reality to experience something truly innate and powerful.
The reason why Virtual reality complements the process of meditation is because of their similar nature. Meditation is a holistic experience; it touches all your senses equally. Virtual reality is a way to heighten this process. It exposes you to a platform where you can single-mindedly focus and channel all your energies and de-clutter your mind. It can be customized and modified just the way you like it.
Many companies like HTC, Oculus, and Samsung that manufacture VR headsets have capitalized on this need to produce mindful experiences that let you get away and find calm in the world. They introduced apps like Mind Labyrinth, Flow VR, and Chakra VR that allows people to have therapeutic uses for VR or therapeutic benefits. They have pre-set simulations that calms your nerves and gives you a comfortable experience while you are meditating.
Which Is Better: Meditation Or Virtual Reality Meditation?
No matter how similar mediation and VRM sounds. There are points on the opposite spectrum. Traditional meditation is one where you do not need any other auxiliary except your mind. You just close your eyes and focus on your breathing. In the case of a VRM, you level up and use a VR headgear that provides a simulation of an environment that you choose. You can use this environment to channel all your thoughts and focus on the state you are currently in. It is more immersive as compared to a traditional mediation process. So, which one of them is better? Well, that is quite subjective and totally depends on the person who wants to meditate. But given a choice, we would mostly suggest that you experience VR. Why is that so? Let’s see.
Vr Meditation or Traditional Meditation
- Fully immersive
- Harder to concentrate
- Personalized-you can choose your own simulations
- You cannot experience the vividly of simulations
- Puts you in a ‘Do not disturb mode’
- You can easily be distracted by external noises
- Best experience for old people, kids, or someone trying VR first time
- Harder for children and teenager to stay still for a long period of time
Let’s Talk About Health
There has been a constant debate about the perks and the down-side of adopting VRM. There are two schools of thought here: One that vouches for VRM and has felt its positive impact and the ones that degrade it as any other fads that come in the tech world. To understand both these perspectives, we have listed the varied health benefits as well as the side effects of using VRM daily.
- Mental health management- Various studies (Source) have claimed that VR meditation courses decrease depression by 28.84%, anxiety by 30.29%, and stress by 32.45%
- Boon for PTSD patients- People suffering from PTSD often rely on VRM to manage their symptoms. VR allows them to face their inhibitions in a sophisticated way so that their anxiety levels do not rush up. There have been miraculous cases wherein VR allowed people to deal with the pent-up emotions of the trauma they faced. The exposure helped them get habituated to those painful memories so that they can further take on their life with a strong head.
- 360° Health Monitor- VRM headsets are not limited in its function. They constantly monitor your heart rate to check your overall progress while meditation. Its advanced algorithms adapt themselves to suit your needs.
- Helps with Insomnia- VRM puts you into a deep meditative state that helps you unwind after a long tiring day. If you are suffering from insomnia and have any trouble with getting that 8-hour sleep then you should try doing VRM just before you go to bed. You will surely have a peaceful sleep without the use of any medication.
- Strain on eyes- Constant exposure to videos that are used while meditating can significantly strain your eyes if VRM is done for a long time. This can induce more fatigue and prove detrimental to your health.
- Cybersickness- It is a different kind of nausea that is caused by using VR technology for a long time. It is a technological version of motion sickness. People who are highly susceptible to motion sickness should avoid doing VRM.
How Does VRM Work?
Virtual Reality Meditation is a laid-back experience which lets you relax in different kind of environments with really great atmospheres and music. You just need to switch on a VR headset and switch off your mind to completely enjoy the fantasy-like inspired dreams that really take you out of this world and transport you to your happy place. It’s almost like a VR piece of art that is created for you to find your inner peace.
For the people who own a VR headset, it doesn’t hurt to take a break from cutting blocks or shooting zombies every now and then. VR headsets have a variety of apps that teleports you to various serene locations like the top of Everest, the side of a beach, or even in our milky way galaxy! These simulations are specifically designed to calm your being and help you gain mindfulness of your actions.
How do you start your first VRM session?
Here are some pre-requisites and tools you need before starting your first VR Meditation process;
- VR Headset
- PC- if the Headset is not tethered
- A relaxing spot- Like your room
- VR Meditation app installed on your PC or headgear
- Headphones- if you want to enjoy a fully immersive experience
Once you have all of the above in place, it is time to start your first session. Follow these simple steps to enjoy the strong ambience that plays with your emotions.
- Make sure you are in a comfortable environment where you have sufficient space.
- You probably want to sit down comfortably to enjoy your first session.
- Plugin your headset to your PC and wear it making sure that it is neither too tight nor too loose on your head.
- Switch on the VRM app and choose the simulation and the duration for which you want to do it.
- Now loosen yourself and enjoy this wonderful ride to your inner peace.
VRM sessions can last from 5 minutes to an hour. However, to make the most of these sessions, you need to fully immerse yourself into it for at least half an hour. Also, to unleash the full potential of the healing powers of VRM you need to continue practicing it on a regular basis. Unlike a game that is played for leisure, this thing is connected to your mind, and things of the mind do take time.
Types of VRM
Broadly speaking, VRM can be of two types- Guided and unguided. Both types are different in their suitability and can help people who enjoy VRM at different levels.
1. Guided VR Meditation – Guided VRM is led by an instructor’s voice, who directs you at every step of the way during the whole meditation process. The instructor helps you focus and make full use of the scenic environment. Advanced AI algorithms enable these instructor voices to soothe your mind.
Guided VRM is best suited for:
- Elderly people and young kids that have problems concentrating for a long time
- People suffering from insomnia or PTSD who are using it to manage their mental health.
2. Unguided VR Meditation – Unguided VRM allows the person to take charge of his own meditation process. It involves a deeper need for contemplation as compared to Guided VRM. It gives you full freedom to enjoy and customize your meditation practice. It can be done privately for a deeper immersive experience.
Unguided VRM is the best for people who are:
- Practicing VRM for a long time and want to take charge of the process
- Using VRM just to visit scenic places and just want to relax and enjoy
- Looking for a deeper connection with themselves
- Not susceptible to outside noises and distractions
You can decide for yourself which type of VRM suits you the best and take control of the mediation front in your life.
VRM V/S Other Forms Of Meditation
Apart from the traditional meditation process and VRM, there are several forms of digital meditation that have made their way into the market. Some of them are:
- Meditation done through phone apps like Calm, headspace, etc
- Mediation gaming websites like Buddhify
- Meditation podcasts- The most famous one is by Deepak Chopra who has a collection of 24-hour free mediation sessions.
- Websites like “donothingfor2minutes.com” that allows you to watch soothing videos on full screen and relax. If you do any sort of physical movements like touching your keyboard or mouse it alerts you and starts the process for 2 minutes again.
- If there are so many alternatives to VRM in the market then why do people still prefer VRM? Well, there is some substance to that argument. Let’s see the pros and cons of VRM and what sets it apart from the other forms of meditation.
- The sublimity of external distractors- Regular mindfulness has proven to do wonders for your overall health. Often external distractors hinder this process. VRM has the ability to orient the user within its simulations completely and detach them from the external environment. VR can tailor make your environment in such a way that you do not lose focus and truly touch your feelings.
- Fully immersive-VR has the unique capability to induce mindfulness among individuals. The customized sessions allow the users to attain undivided attention and lets them hold on to the present. VR heightens the experience by including auditory and visual simulators together. This prohibits your mind to wander off from the mediation process. No other form of digital apps can ensure this kind of optimum immersive experience.
- Increased mobility-VRM can be practiced anywhere and anytime. There are no such physical restrictions that limit you from practicing it. If your headgear is a standalone device then you can also carry it to various places and not miss out on your mediation practice.
- Health Balance- No other form of mediation can check on your overall mental well-being the way VRM does. VRM helps PTSD patients and insomniacs by letting them get comfortable with their inhibitions and preconceived notions. It simulates a safe space for them to loosen themselves and overcome their fears in a guided way. The phone apps and websites might not be able to achieve so much when it comes to the overall health balance of an individual.
- Uncomfortable experience- Wearing a huge VR headset for a long duration of time can be uncomfortable for some people. Given that meditation is a process best enjoyed when done for a longer period, VRM can pose some problems. It can fatigue you both mentally and physically defeating the whole purpose of starting meditation in the first place.
- Self-consciousness- Some people might shy away from wearing a clunky VR headset when they want to practice meditation outside their four walls.
- Affordability- VRM can prove out to be quite an expensive affair as investing in a VR headset needs a lot of money. People who are not familiar with such technology and its benefits will always choose the free meditation apps over any VRM.
Is VRM Worth It?
We discussed the positives and negatives of using VRM. But how do you actually authenticate the VRM experience? Don’t worry, we are here to give you an all-round picture of the VRM. We have consolidated findings from multiple studies and also gathered public opinion about VRM to see if the hype is really worth it.
What do the researchers say?
- Researchers around the world have been testing the nitty-gritty of VRM and how it impacts mindfulness. Some notable results that can enlighten us more about VRM can be understood from these researches
- Elizabeth Seabrook with her team studied a group of 37 people and observed that the state of mindfulness significantly increased with the use of VRM. (Source)
- Another study taken up by Hunter G Hoffman and his peers highlighted the positive changes observed in people in terms of their willingness to meditate with the help of VRM, their mindfulness, and their emotional state. (Source)
- The Chopra Foundation that are pioneers in the field of meditation is also collaborating with Wevr and Jiyo and UC San Diego to study the effects of VRM on heart rates and the overall mood of individuals.
These findings have been in favor of using VR for meditation. People from various walks of life have contributed to these studies, and have experienced the perils of VRM.
What does the public say?
Many people turned their way towards VRM, especially during troubling times. Those who regularly practice VRM say that it is a cool chill-out experience where you can declutter your mind and navigate into the realms of your soul.
People have testified their experience over social media on how VRM has helped them control their anxiety symptoms. For people who are in a perpetual state of mental hyperarousal, VRM comes to their rescue. It is low cost and no risk investment on their health that can reap miraculous results that are proved to be better than any medication.
Some of the reasons why people prefer VRM are:
- Deep focus on things besides their intrusive thoughts
- VRM device makes them more accountable to take charge of their own health.
- Diverse simulations can be accessed from the comforts of their bed
- Anchoring the auditory and visual senses equally during the VRM sessions
Should you invest in a VR headset to enjoy VRM?
Having seen both sides of the coins and getting candid reviews both personally and scientifically, it can be said that VRM is not an investment that you would regret. It will allow you to bridge the gap between where you are and where you can be.
On average a person who is trying to manage his mental health and maintain it spends hundreds of dollars on yoga classes, meditation apps, and doctor consultation. Compared to those, investing in a VRM headset can prove out to be more fruitful. You can not only take charge of your health, but you can also entertain yourself with games and videos in your free time. A VR headset has multiple benefits, and if you can push your budgets a little bit and invest in it, then you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Best Apps to try for VRM
If you are investing in a VR headset for practicing VRM, you should make sure that you also invest in the best VRM apps that are available in the market currently. We have put together a list of the best apps that you can use to start your VRM journey.
- Mind Labyrinth VR dreams- The app has been one of the most sought out for meditation. It is compatible with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It had various landscapes and dreamy scenic places. The user also encounters some uplifting quotes while they are meditating in these landscapes. The music on this app has been composed of some very talented Academy award winners. It is specially designed to put you in a peaceful state.
- Chakra VR- Chakra VR is based on the concept of seven wheels that balance your spirituality. The app guides you towards aligning your chakras by trying different poses. The app has garnered a lot of attention recently and is just available at $2.99 on Samsung and Oculus devices.
- Flow VR- Flow VR is the best app for beginners and the ones who need complete guided VRM sessions. The journey of Flow VRM allows you to tap into your inner pool of peace and balance through its six modes: Breath, Focus, Movement, Letting go, Calm, and Restore. The app can be accessed through Samsung gear VR and Oculus Go.
- Guided Meditation VR- The app is the most traditional way to approach VRM through meditative music. It has 23 pre-installed landscapes ranging from dense forest to serene beaches that are very pleasant to the eyes and ears. It’s pretty cool with no motion sickness of any sort.
These apps are intricately designed keeping in mind the complexities one faces while meditating. These apps to counteract those distractors and serve soothing and calming VRM sessions.
The Future Of Meditation
As the world advances, and technology changes the ways in how we do things. It has become imperative to adopt these changes by giving them the support it needs. VRM is also a figment of such resourceful technology that is here to chart out a different course of how we practice mindfulness.
As the world moves towards a self-reliant approach to living, it is important to be connected with yourself to maintain your sanity and happiness quotient. VRM is none such approach that balances both self-reliance and happiness. Once you get the hang of practicing VRM, there will be no looking back! There is no other method of meditating that has so much scientific backing it. And the testimonies also speak for themselves.
Meditation is all about feeling your emotions, with VRM you not only feel those emotions but you witness it, you allow it and you release it. VRM does not make your mind quiet, it teaches you how to find the quiet that is already buried in your mind under your ever-dynamic thoughts.
We hope that we could give a crystal-clear picture of VRM and answer all your queries about it. We speak volumes about VRM because we know its inherent power and how it can impact the future of the meditation industry. If you want to truly immerse yourself into the blissful quietude state of your mind, then you should not think twice about investing in a VR headset. Once you get your hands on your headset make sure to visit this blog again to follow the steps of creating your happy place through mediation.