Meditation is an ancient practice that continues to gain adherents in the modern age. Even as we find more and more people leaving behind traditions that were practiced by their parents, more and more active adults are finding a variety of benefits from a practice that’s as old as the written word.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Medical research has shown a variety of physical benefits to be gained from meditative practices. The National Institutes of Health show that “Some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.” While Harvard researchers have found that depression and pain management can both be aided by meditation practices.
What may surprise you, however, is that this ancient practice has found new tools in the field of Virtual Reality. VR gives meditation practitioners greater control over their direct perceived environment, removing one of the largest obstacles for beginners. VR technology can be used to put the user in a calm environment, presenting an image of a Buddhist Temple or an open field, making it easier for the user to put themselves in a calm and centered mindset that’s amenable to meditative practices. But it can be used in even more inventive ways. For transcendental meditation, the practice has as its goal focusing the subject on a given mantra, letting them remove themselves from their perceptions of the outside world. Virtual reality software can be programed to cancel out distractions, creating a pulse of color and light that mimics the person’s breathing and heartbeat, allowing them to focus on the mantra as they sink deeper into the meditation practice. Similarly, mindfulness meditation can assist a person’s focus. Presenting the user with a dark room lit only by a single candle may be an excellent beginning for this meditative practice, or a quiet spot by a gently running stream. These can provide a peaceful and centered mediation experience, even while the user is sitting in an office environment in the middle of downtown. VR allows mediation to be a habit you can practice regardless of where you are, making it easier to find focus even during a hectic day.