Stress has been dubbed the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization and technology is often cited as one of the major contributors to the stressors of modern life. But, at the same time, tech is becoming part of the solution. From mindfulness apps like Headspace to Spire - a personal breathing sensor, there are dozens of tech products which can help us find a better balance.
Meditation has been proven, in peer-reviewed scientific studies, to be one of the most effective solutions to stress. Within the past five years, the number of U.S adults and children practicing the mindfulness exercise has greatly increased. Now, we can add an extra dimension to meditation through VR.
Meditation, coupled with VR technologies, can be more precise and personalized and make the learning curve easier. Plus, when wearing a headset you are truly transported, making it easier to tune out of any distractions around you and focus.
As this month is Mindful March - a month-long challenge involving one simple mindful activity per day in support of better mental and emotional health - I thought it was the perfect time to take a look at some of the VR meditation apps out there that will help you on your path to next-gen relaxation, happiness, and fulfillment.
Guided Meditation VR
Built from the ground up for VR, this app makes meditation simple and visual. Take a short virtual vacation across 27 environments to find your happy place in one of the customized meditation spots. Alternatively, learn ancient meditation practices in a cutting-edge way with over 16 hours of custom guided sessions. You can also trek through the lush environments at your own pace.
Developer: Cubicle Ninjas. Available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Window Mixed Reality HMDs.
Transform your home into an exotic, relaxing escape with Guided Meditation VR.
Tap into meditation’s infinite benefits with 4K 360° video, amazing music by Sigur Rós and other artists, and quality guided meditation in this mobile meditation app. The app has a variety of four-minute meditations in six modes: 1. Breathe, 2. Focus, 3. Move, 4. Let Go, 5. Calm, 6. Restore - these allow users to choose what kind of meditation they want or need. All six modes are demonstrated in this TED talk on how to meditate in VR by Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin, co-founder, and CEO of FLOWVR. The app was created in Iceland and is inspired by the beauty and vastness found there.
Developer: Breach VR. Available on Gear VR and Oculus Go.
With FLOWVR, you can de-stress surrounded by stunning nature.
Be transported to the different corners of the globe with Provata VR’s guided meditation and mindfulness app. The experience includes locations from tropical waterfalls to underwater coral reefs and gives you the option to tailor your meditation experience to your needs - whether you’ve had a bad day at work or need help getting to sleep. The most unique feature of this app is its smart feedback algorithms that track health indicators, such as resting heart rate, to monitor your progress and maximize the impact of your guided meditation settings. The app has two options: 360° video or VR mode, which means that users can experience it on the go through their smartphone, or via a VR headset.
Developer: Provata. Available on iOS.
WiseMind / Tai Chi Trainer XR
Tai chi is often coined ‘meditation in motion’, as the mind-body practice focuses on constant gentle body movement and being aware of one’s breath in order to gain physical and mental health benefits. Aside from improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength, tai chi has been reported to help aid sleep, reduce stress, and improve general mood. VR technology is taking this ancient practice, rooted in Chinese martial arts, into the future with apps such as Tai Chi Trainer XR and WiseMind. Tai Chi Trainer XR also utilizes augmented reality to bring a 3D instructor into the room with you so that can follow along and see your own hand movements.
Tai Chi Trainer was developed by Shao Long, LLC and is available on iOS with a VR headset.
Wise Mind was developed by REALITEER Corp and is available on HTC Vive with Oculus availability coming soon.
WiseMind is a global platform for wellness activities in Virtual Reality. These activities are co-developed with therapists at top-tier academic institutions like Stanford and are used to better patient health in hospitals and clinics.
This 360 guided meditation enables you to learn the meaning and power of seven chakras. Now you don’t need to imagine the flow of color into each chakra, you can experience it for yourself. Each chakra has a different color that descends from above and settles into the part of the body you are to focus on.
Developer: Heal VR. Available on: Gear VR and Oculus Go.
This guided meditation takes you through an Eastern-based spiritual practice, observing and concentrating on one’s Chakras, or focal points of energy in the body. While you are seated you can look down to see a version of your own body in a meditative position, as you are part of a meditation circle.
Relax VR: Rest & Meditation
This free app has highly detailed 360° video footage and spatial sounds. Select from 10 beautiful locations including the Northern Lights, Wineglass Bay in Australia and rice terraces in the Philippines. Calming, guided meditations or peaceful ambient beats accompany your experience.
Developer: Now VR. Available on Gear VR.
The app features 360 videos, 3D spatial audio sounds of the beach, ocean, wind, and waves, and a proven meditation technique called Yoga Nidra.
With meditation, your brain is effectively being rewired: as your feelings and thoughts switch toward a more pleasant outlook your brain is also transforming. The more your brain changes from meditation, the calmer you become in your day to day life.
“Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” Sr. Francis de Sales
So, take a moment to breathe (most of us breathe only at 20% of our lung capacity) and consider downloading one of the above apps. Happy Mindful March!