I tried meditating with a virtual reality program from Warpin Media.
It took me to beautiful locations on Sweden's High Coast.
Warpin serves B2B customers and has provided VR training programs for companies like H&M.
Warpin Media builds VR programs and helps companies obtain headsets to help with training. It also has a wellness program.
I decided to try it. Meditation is hard, but it feels like it might be easier in virtual reality. VR meditation has been shown to be more effective than video, at least.
Move over, Calm app. Source: Smart Learning Environments
Warpin sent me a Pico headset, and it is quite comfortable. The strap fits snugly on the back of your head, and it rests gently on your face.
When you don the headset and turn it on, you are transported, quite convincingly, to space, with a floating option screen.
After you turn on the remote, the program prompts you to point it to orient the device to your hand.
The remote works pretty well. If it gets un-oriented, it's pretty simple to turn it off and try again. However, I kept getting the "select" button and the "power on/off" button mixed up. That button also would turn off the headset or make it go back to another screen, which is a bit of a hassle.
I clicked on the wellness program option and arrived at this instruction screen. It asks you to do things like sit down and clear your surroundings. It's your first glimpse of the nature imagery, and it feels immersive.
The images are in Swedish because the company provided the screenshots. I tested it in English.
So, I cleared my stuff and sat on my bed to prepare to meditate.
I chose the breathing exercise mediation first, which took me to a cliffside landscape.
It's also weird to meditate in VR because you want to close your eyes, but you also want to look at the cool pictures.
The craziest thing is looking down and actually seeing the rock below you.
Music plays, while a woman's voice guides you through breathing in and out. "Inhale and exhale completely," she says.
I felt slightly more relaxed looking even at the virtual trees, which is a proven phenomenon. Source: The New York Times.
However, as the minutes went on, I got bored, instead of relaxed. One study has shown respiratory biofeedback, aka people telling you to breathe in and out, doesn't add that much as far as relaxing over VR.
I asked Katarina Von Horn, partner and client director of Warpin Media, about it. "Some meditations might talk to you more effectively than others.. It's personal preference," she said.
"Like with most early innovation, there are always going to be studies supporting arguments on both sides," she added.
Von Horn joined the company about three years ago and had wanted to make a meditation program for clients. The pandemic gave them a little bit more time to do that, she said.
They collaborated with renowned psychologist Christina Andersson, of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Von Horn said. "She wanted to experiment to combine technology of virtual reality with the knowledge of the psychologist," she noted.
The company got the video nature footage from places around the Swedish High Coast. The "Höga Kusten" is the world's highest coastline and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Filming in these locations isn't easy, Von Horn said. It requires special equipment and teams to capture the 360 views.
You have to capture how it looks standing up and sitting down, for example, Von Horn said. It took them about three days to get all of the footage.
Andersson was crucial in the filming process. She helped pick the spot for my favorite thing on the program: the compassion mediation.
That is her in the photo!
The place "has a great energy," Von Horn said.
Andersson also voices this meditation and walks you through a series of compassion affirmations. It felt as hypnotic as a story on the Calm app.
"May I have love and compassion towards myself," Andersson instructs you to repeat. "May you live with ease," Andersson adds.
Then, you do similar affirmations for other people. "Open up the energy of love and kindness to someone you care for and share this offering of love and compassion with them," she says.
It was nice to sit closer to the ground and easier to listen to something more substantive while "meditating" with the headset on.
After enjoying the compassion one, I checked out the "solo" meditation areas. I didn't enjoy them as much. There's something that really works about listening to an engaging audio while looking at the virtual trees.
However, the locations are still very cool. This is another landscape available, called the Fäbodarna on the program, after the region it's in.
Von Horn said the Fäbodarna program features a cabin in the style of the Sami people, indigenous people to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
"Once you travel to the northern part of Sweden you become very close to this sort of history," Von Horn said. Source: Swedish Institute
Men tend to love this one, Von Horn said.
There's also meadow scene.
This is a sort of fun of view for Swedes, Von Horn said. "Living in Sweden we only see these colors for four months a year," she said. "To be honest, looking at this, being a Swede, you become very, very happy."
There, you can also do a little movement meditation, which was fun and relaxing, but feels more like something you could get online from a YouTube video.
I also checked out the Topp landscape. "It's very calming and extraordinary," Von Horn said.
Kat told me the goal was to give employees who used the headset for training a place to recharge.
About 10 companies out of the roughly 20 the clients they work with are using it right now, she said.
I think they succeeded, for the most part.
My headset had a few glitches. I had to download the meditation software remotely because I was originally going to test a different program, which turned out to be in Swedish. That was hard to do on my own (it took me day or so connected to WiFi and kept on).
"The wellness programme typically takes a few minutes to download on Wifi," Von Horn said, adding I got a different headset than clients normally would, the issue was that it didn't have a specific setting changed that they typically would do for customers.
Right now, Warpin's headset programs are just available to its business customers. The headset costs about $350, and they charge $60 a headset per month to license the wellness program, Von Horn said.
It's a theoretically cheaper way to make meditation more immersive, than, say, buying a Somadome or other meditation chair, but maybe more of a hardware investment than the Calm app.
The Calm app, for example, is $399.99 to use forever or $69.99 a year. A Somadome, for example, can cost well into the thousands. Source: Inc. Magazine.
"Our ambition is definitely to make this experience available for everyone and we hope to share the program in VR experience stores in the near future," Von Horn said.
If you're already into VR and want to boost your meditation practice, it's not a bad idea to try and find a good model for consumers.
Read the original article on Business Insider