If you’ve ever looked into traditional meditation and been scared off by an ancient practice that seems too intimidating and too difficult for an everyday newbie to master, you’re not alone. Meditation is, in fact, pretty intimidating. All that sitting still and quietly. It’s meant to relax you and help you destress, and be more present in the moment, but for some, that quiet stillness can feel like a recipe for even more anxiety and stress.
But this is where virtual reality meditation comes in. Virtual reality meditation takes all the great benefits of traditional meditation and blends them with all the benefits of virtual reality, for a new and improved experience that’s incredibly easy for anyone to enjoy. Here’s how.
Think meditation is too difficult? Here’s why
If you think traditional meditation is too difficult, that’s because, for most people, it is! We humans love instant gratification. That’s why we’d rather “de-stress” by lying on the sofa and scrolling through Instagram. Just sitting still and doing nothing? Sounds like a way for you to end up lost in your own worrisome thoughts. It just sounds uncomfortable and unreasonable, to ask you to sit still for up to an hour at a time.
And even if you go into traditional meditation thinking it’s going to be something you can eventually master, you might find that it's harder than it looks and, when you don’t see any benefits after your first session or two, you give it up.
According to Huffpost, a few of the top complaints about traditional meditation include being too busy or too stressed to meditate; the inability to quieten the mind; an abundance of distractions and/or noise; not seeing the point; not feeling “good” at meditation; or thinking that meditation is “all just weird New Age hype.”
How virtual reality can help you meditate
But, despite all of these challenges, studies are showing that virtual reality can help alleviate all of these complaints and make meditation easy enough for just about everyone. One such study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that “[virtual reality] may help address the challenges of practicing mindfulness by creating a sense of presence in a tailored [virtual environment]; by allowing users to attend to visual and auditory anchors of their choice; and by reducing the scope of the content in users’ mind-wandering.”
In other words, virtual reality can help you better enjoy meditation practices, as it…
Helps you visually and audibly escape from the world around you
Decreases your connection to real-life stressors in your environment
Allows you to choose exactly where you want to be, right at any given moment
Allows you to meditate with your eyes open
Allows you to move your body while you meditate, as needed.
The benefits of (virtual reality) meditation
But does virtual reality meditation allow you to really harness the same great benefits that traditional meditation offers? The answer is a resounding yes.
Virtual reality meditation helps you to decrease stress, just like traditional meditation, as you quite literally escape from your environment and sensory input, so you can clear your mind and focus only on what’s happening in your tailored virtual environment.
Better yet, you can decrease your stress and reduce this sensory input all without having to close your eyes, which is one of the most difficult parts of traditional meditation. You’re constantly tempted to open your eyes at every noise or nearby movement, but with VR meditation, you can enjoy a tailored visual experience that allows you to relax in an environment of your choosing — such as among the beautiful natural scenery of Iceland!
Flow allows you to virtually travel to more than a dozen (and growing) different natural locations in Iceland, and we’re not the only VR meditation app that does so; you can find similar apps that allow you to travel to a virtual locale that will be most soothing to you. (We like the nature settings, though, as they’ve been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on your wellbeing — plus, it’s not always possible to get out into the real natural world, so this is one way to do so without even leaving your busy apartment building or workspace.)
But stress relief isn’t the only benefit of traditional meditation. It can also provide an energising effect, and virtual reality meditation enhances that effect by allowing you to move about freely, without breaking the meditative state. You get to remain in your controlled, stress-free environment, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, but you can also move about, jump, dance, walk, etcetera, while you’re at it. You can boost your mood and mental state, wherever you are.
Is virtual reality meditation right for me?
We think everyone should get into virtual reality meditation, but virtual reality meditation is particularly well-suited to those who…
Want to get into meditation but who’ve been frustrated by traditional practices in the past
Want to reduce their overall anxiety
Want to reduce their stress in the moment
Want to gain greater perspective and enhance their ability to be present
Want to gain clarity of mind, wherever they are, whenever.
These are all benefits of virtual meditation that you can enjoy, no matter how stressful or anxiety-inducing you think your life may be. (And you might even think that your stress levels are relatively low, but then you try VR meditation and realize just how much lower they could be!)
How to get started with virtual reality meditation
Ready to get started with virtual reality meditation? If we’ve convinced you that this is one new wellness offering you need to try, here’s how to begin.
First, you’ll need some equipment. To meditate in virtual reality, you’ll need…
A VR headset
This should include both the headset itself, as well as headphones, for audio content.
With Flow at work you can get VR headsets and other tools for wellbeing for your organisation. You'll soon also be able to get your own personal Flow-branded headset through our website - we'll keep you posted.
A comfortable space
You’ll want a comfortable environment. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to find an environment that’s going to be completely silent or dark (that's what the virtual reality headset is for, obviously), but you do want to be somewhere that you won’t be interrupted constantly. For example, if you’re at home, you could go to your bedroom. If you’re at work, you could go to an empty conference room.
This is probably the most important thing you’ll need to truly enjoy virtual reality meditation to its fullest. You won’t see the benefits of meditation unless you actually take the time to make it part of your routine. That doesn't mean you need to practice your VR meditation for an hour every day — it just means you need to practice it regularly. Maybe you practice for 10 minutes in the morning or 10 minutes at night. Maybe you allow your mood to set the rhythm, so you practice for 15 minutes every time you feel your anxiety becoming triggered. However you decide to establish a meditation routine, try to stick with it.
And, on that note, you’ll just want to be sure to actually dedicate some time to your meditation routine. How do you personally best keep yourself dedicated to something? Maybe you need to set a reminder in your calendar or you need to buddy up with someone else in your household, to hold you accountable. Whatever it takes, if you want to see the benefits of meditation — even VR meditation — you want to turn this hobby into a habit.
Travel to Iceland — virtually — with Flow
Use Flow to experience the benefits of virtual reality meditation. Flow combines meditation, nature and technology to improve your mental health and well being. Wherever you are, Flow can transport you via the magic of VR to some of the most beautiful settings in Iceland, for your own private meditation retreat. With our easy-to-follow, guided meditations, ambiance-enhancing music and all-natural scenery, you’ll see the benefits of a meditation practice sooner, rather than later.
Whether you’re aiming to increase your calm, fine-tune your focus or just de-stress, you can do it with Flow. Download the Flow VR app now (available for Oculus, SideQuest and SteamVR) to learn more and get started exploring a new way to meditate.
No VR headset? Access the Flow mobile app on the Apple App Store or on Google Play for Android devices, to get a taste of what you can expect from the VR app at a later time, with its high-quality guided meditations in both English and Icelandic, and immersive 360-degree video paired with soothing music and nature sounds.