Over the past few months I have come to understand the importance of boundaries and the pattern of energies. I also started embracing meditation as it helps me connect to my inner self and overcome fears and anxiety. Although I do meditation every morning for a few minutes, being an empath, I realized that I needed a full body refresh two or three times depending on how bad the day was, especially the day. afternoon when I feel like crashing into bed and cutting myself off from the world for a while.
I don’t know how, but lately I’ve started enjoying virtual reality (VR) meditation for some reason. I wasn’t willing to try it at first, but I see some kind of positive change in my life. When I first started meditating in VR I thought it would be a short term solution to heal my wounds, but it could be a long term thing as long as there are enough guided classes and the technology itself becomes more mature. Here is my experience of using a VR headset for meditation so far.
I accidentally discovered a VR headset in my closet… and it was less of a digital distraction
A few days ago, I came across an unused Xiaomi VR headset that was taking up space in my closet. The Xiaomi helmet has two straps to secure a helmet around your back and on top of your head. On the front is a slot that you can slide any smartphone between 5 and 6 inches in size (I used the OnePlus Nord CE 2 to test VR meditation apps) — the screen of the smartphone will serve as the headset display. The headset isn’t on the same level as the Oculus Quest 2; instead, it offers a slightly better fit and finish compared to the Cardboard Viewer that was all the rage when Google pushed to mainstream mobile VR headsets.
Although Google may have discontinued mobile VR, you can still buy Cardboard VR-based VR headsets online. Knowing the limitations of the headset and the ecosystem around it, I thought about selling it on OLX and even listed the device on the platform. But something prompted me to review the headset and start using it for fun. I had no idea what to do with the headset until I accidentally downloaded a few VR meditation apps from the Google Play Store on my smartphone. It was the first thing that came to mind and I was right.
I sat down in a chair, launched the Solas Meditation VR app on my phone, then attached the headset to my helmet. When the app launches, it will display a menu and allow you to choose between VR experiences: meditation space, wisdom space and breathing space. Using the helmet’s laser pointer, you can navigate the menu and choose different programs or change settings.
I chose the meditation space; its use is free. Once selected, you can choose the duration, preferred voice and background sound. For the first few seconds, I felt distracted and wanted to take the headset off. Eventually I did a 10 minute session and then I started liking it. I rotated to get a 360 degree environment and found myself in a garden. A soothing voice guided me to feel the environment and establish a relationship with nature. The voice told me to close my eyes and take long, slow breaths. I could hear the birds chirping and slowly I began to surrender to the world before my eyes. I focused on my thoughts and my breathing. I was meditating – and I was completely cut off from the outside world for those 10 minutes. It’s not that my fears are starting to disappear completely, but I have a space of my own.
Why does VR meditation work for me?
I have been meditating for months. I go to the park early in the morning and do meditation to relax and release my fears. It works for me – and I won’t stop doing it because VR is a better medium. You can meditate anywhere, even in a room in your house. That said, by doing VR meditation, I found a connection — a safe space of my own — that wasn’t there when I tried meditation apps on my smartphone or watched YouTube videos. The thing about virtual reality (VR) is that immersive experience that puts you in a realistic environment. You have the feeling of being “present” in the environment, even if the images turn out to be a little blurrier than you expected.
In one of the apps I tried, I was supposed to be on a fantasy island in the middle of translucent water. I jumped on a boat, the sky was clear… I could see turtles swimming, sometimes butterflies coming and going. Just being in this environment was like taking a break from the scorching heat of Delhi. I knew I was in a virtual world… far from reality but this feeling of being surrounded by crystal clear water and nature was therapeutic and relaxing. After writing a long post, I usually watch a YouTube video for guided meditation, but I still feel distracted. But doing meditation in virtual reality is a completely different experience. It not only helps me focus, but also transports me to a space where no one is looking at me. Your brain and your body react to this space and you become part of the world. Nobody tells you to wear a headset all day because it would be a little uncomfortable, but I enjoyed virtual reality for attending smaller meditation sessions.
Is VR the future of meditation?
I don’t own advanced headsets like Oculus Quest 2 or HTC Vive Pro but after meditating in VR for a few days, I have more confidence in the technology. All these years I’ve heard analysts and tech insiders take a dim view of the prospects for virtual reality. Virtual reality as a technology still presents many challenges, and tech companies need to find a way to make virtual reality headsets more accessible. I tried on a basic VR headset but still found a use case. I wish Google had stuck with the idea of mobile virtual reality a little longer. It would have given the developers a leap of faith in mobile virtual reality.
Right now, there are only a handful of VR meditation apps on the Google Play Store and to be honest, they’re not great. Beyond a certain point, your eyes get tired, although I will continue my journey of VR meditation, despite the limitations of technology and the lack of content. However, I will not encourage you to buy a VR headset for meditation. But I imagine a future where I will use a VR headset for a lot of things. I liked the idea of taking short guided meditation sessions using virtual reality, without having to go outside in the summer. I’ve heard a lot about the Oculus Quest 2 from Meta and hope to get the headset soon. For now, I want to stick with the cheap VR headset I have and will continue to use it for meditation.