Despite being a popular practice in the United States and abroad, according to Hari Sharma’s analysis “Meditation: Process and Effects” the practice of meditation largely lacks a centralized framework. At the core of meditation is the desire to connect the body and deeper inner self. For some, this takes shape as clearing the mind of conscious thought, growing in sync with bodily sensations, or focusing on rhythmic patterns of breathing in order to release built-up tension and stress.
Ironically, despite lacking a consensus on what exactly constitutes meditation, the health benefits of meditation have been studied utilizing a variety of techniques that predominantly focus on using directed attention and relaxed breathing to ease the mind. The results of these studies suggest that practicing meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, and pain, improve memory, and increase work efficiency. These promising results have driven the development of several meditation studios and classes, and even renowned companies like Nike and Google are beginning to introduce meditation into the workplace (see: 6 Companies Using Meditation for a Productive and Happier Workplace).
Though one of the higher-level goals of meditation is the ability to meditate anywhere, at any time, for individuals new to meditation, practicing in a cluttered or distracting environment can present a challenge to developing an effective practice. Mindworks, a non-profit dedicated to educating individuals about effective meditation practices, recommends meditating in a tidy, organized part of the home, a garden, or outdoors near a river, stream, or fountain (see: 5 Best Places for Meditation). While all of these calm, soothing places have great potential to encourage rest and reset, if you live in an urban center or are having a particularly busy day, these options might not be completely accessible to you. This begs the question: How can you set up a successful meditation practice and reap the plentiful benefits of it, without leaving your home or having to dedicate extra time to tidying up?
The immersive capabilities of virtual reality technology presents an interesting solution to this challenge. Unlike traditional smartphone and computer applications, virtual reality is a 3D experience that fully engages an individual in a new environment. Many virtual reality technologies, in addition to 360-degree immersion, feature additional sensory components like surround sound and options for manipulating the virtual environment. Some experts believe that virtual reality may be a promising supplement to meditation because it can limit distractions, increase an individual’s sense of presence, and provide an interesting and separate environment in which individuals can build their meditation practice (see: Meditation experts try Virtual Reality Mindfulness). As virtual reality continues to develop, it may just prove to be the solution to setting up a successful meditation practice no matter your location or schedule.