The Science of Meditation in VR



From Flow VR: Focus meditation - "Thinking..." filmed in the Westfjörds of Iceland


Literally thousands of studies have been done to prove the efficacy of meditation in relieving stress and boosting mental and overall wellbeing.


(From The Science of Meditation: How to change your Brain, Mind and Body by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson)


But what about meditation in virtual reality - or VR? Turns out that a lot of studies have been done on how virtual reality can boost mental health. From a recent report on VR and Mental Health: A Critical Review of Current Research on ResearchGate, "eHealth interventions are becoming increasingly used in public health, with virtual reality (VR) being one of the most exciting recent developments." The report tables 82 studies where VR devices have been used in their interventions, most commonly and effectively for autism, PTSD, anxiety disorders and pain management.


But what about meditation in VR? Neuroscientist Dr. Walter Greenleaf MD at Stanford University, advisor to the Virtual Human Interaction Lab has been on the forefront of research and design when it comes to virtual reality and mental health. He is a prominent voice for virtual reality in the medical field. As a pioneer active in the development of medical applications of Virtual Reality Technology, Walter's product designs include applications in surgical simulation, 3D medical visualisation, tele-rehabilitation, clinical informatics and decision support, ergonomic evaluation technology, automatic sleep-staging, psychophysiological assessment, as well as simulation-assisted rehabilitation technologies.


In behavioral medicine, Walter has developed and helped bring to market systems for the treatment of PTSD, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders and addictions.


The Flow team has held a number of Skype meetings with Walter to discuss conducting a landmark research project on meditation in VR. Walter has spoken highly of Flow: "The Flow team has all the depth of experience and the right content partners to succeed in this new area of virtual reality meditation. Not everyone can pull this off, and this application can be highly effective. It can help change the world." Walter is helping to prepare the ground for a breakthrough study involving Flow, to show how meditation in VR can change our mental health for the better.


Recently German researchers combined VR nature scenes with a breathing exercise while measuring Heart Rate Variability HRV and discovered that "VR-based implementation buffered perceived stress in the subsequent stressor task, increased relaxation self-efficacy more, reduced mind wandering, helped participants focus on the present moment, and helped preserve attentional resources." Front. Psychol., 20 September 2019


Since it's first showing in 2016, the Flow team has proven time and time again with Flow VR that meditation in virtual reality works. We have enabled thousands of people to meditate, in busy work offices, on airplanes (Flow is now being piloted in a project with Inflight for Singapore Airlines) in crowded concert halls, like at Sigur Ros' Norður og Niður at Harpa, and bustling trade shows like TechCrunch and BioHacker Summits.


Take just four minutes from your busy day wherever you are now to Breathe, Focus, Move, Let go, Calm or Restore with Flow Meditation. Our new Flow website lets you to meditate from your mobile phone while you are out getting some exercise (try Move and Let go while walking or running). Enjoy the feeling - along with the soon to be scientifically proven benefits!

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