Immersive meditations using VR

Meditation has been known since medieval times. It allows to get to know yourself better by delving into your own thoughts and feelings. During it, all high-level attention is transferred to the experience of the here and now. It increases productivity and relieves tension and stress. The immersive effect, on the other hand, is a kind of feeling of being absorbed by another reality, such as virtual reality. It is a move beyond the zone of physiological sensations to psychological sensations.

The combination of meditation and immersive effect allows to focus precisely on psychological aspects – during which participants have the impression of being in a different, isolated world, where they focus on a specific goal (e.g. relaxation and stress reduction). Immersive meditation with the addition of technology allows for an even deeper experience than during a traditional form of meditation – because the participant, using innovations such as VR technology, actually moves into another dimension. He sees and hears the otherworldly environment into which he is immersed.

The development of technology itself is influencing the popularity and friendliness of relaxation techniques. More and more apps are appearing on the market that enable such experiences. There are also new VR headsets / goggles that are becoming more and more handy – so user can use them anywhere. This is a definite plus in the way of the development of immersive meditations – as they can be performed virtually anywhere, such as while waiting in a queue or during a break at work. VR technology is not only conducive to fun while playing games, in various applications it is becoming a powerful tool for mental health. VR allows to enter a surprising world of three-dimensional space combined with the sound of guide podcasts. Such relaxation sessions can be carried out in any place chosen by the player, such as the one where they feel most comfortable. By bringing meditation into the VR world, it becomes more engaging.

What distinguishes VR meditations from traditional ones is the possibility of being transported to a whole new, beautiful world – such as a peaceful beach, a beautiful mountainside or an amazing cosmic world. VR meditation applications offer a variety of environments: from the most natural (such as a meadow) to the spectacular (such as huge mountains or the cosmos) to surreal spaces. The choice depends on the participant’s preference. Such visual experiences make the participant feel isolated in their own world – a beautiful, stress-free image of nature.

VR meditations are an interesting proposition: they can be an incentive to try the art of meditation for the first time but also a driving force to diversify long-time practitioners. That’s why mobile apps that use VR techniques to support users’ mental health are gaining popularity. For those who use them, it is a kind of respite from a stressful life filled with responsibilities, work and long-term stress. Taking care of mental health also has particular resonance after a pandemic and lockdown (often for many months).

Such an experience is precisely what the Mentis project offers using the Aribo mobile app, which aims to support mental health. It allows to enter the surprising world of virtual reality and follow a meditation training to focus on breathing during the projection of VR movies. VR meditations promote relaxation – the isolated participant temporarily forgets about the real world. Traveling in the VR world to distant galaxies stimulates a feeling of detachment from the worries of the day. By participating in appropriate training sessions, participants calm their thoughts and exercise their focus as well. This is because the participant finds himself in a completely new environment that intrigues him, and perhaps distracts because of it. These unusual images, however, combined with audio recordings, exercise the ability to remain attentive to a given element, a given task, despite the colorful VR world that spreads around. Thanks to gamification elements, the Aribo app also encourages users to practice meditation regularly. This happens through points, badges and rankings, which, by engaging players, make them more likely to return for further adventures in the app.