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As a person who has always been interested and a loose practitioner of meditation, I was veeeerry skeptical about bringing meditation into the digital realm. I have frequently used meditation as a way of escaping the constant entrapping and pitfalls of our time.
Our modern era is filled with constant information and rabbit holes to pursue and endless material information to prevent us from ever being bored. How can diving deeper into digital immersion be helpful in healing from digital immersion?
But then HTC released a singular VR experience headset aimed specifically at meditation practices. To me, this forced a change in perspective. I have always had a toxic relationship to technology. I have a tough time telling myself to stop consuming, stop writing, stop working, stop reading, stop watching, you name it. So when I discovered meditation in 2016, it was a way for me to condition myself against my constant cycle of content consumption/interaction..
Is VR Meditation the same as Normal Meditation?
In a way, kind of! In my opinion, meditation is best done with a group or sangha. Meditating can be really hard to do on your own and your brain can be a rough place to spend time alone. Especially if you are like me and have struggled with anxiety or depression, trying to meditate is very very hard to start.
But there are also some big differences between a regular meditation session and using a VR meditation App. If you are interested in trying it out, I reviewed the two most popular meditation apps on Quest 2 here. But from my experience there are three big items that make VR meditation different from a regular meditation session.
- VR meditation can be more of a distraction for experienced meditators
- VR meditation is content focused whearas most meditation practices are centered on using your mind to guide the meditation.
- VR meditation is more entertainment and profit driven than traditional meditation practice.
Is VR Meditation Bad?
I hear many people are concerned about what the “metaverse” will contain for the future of mental health. I don’t think the metaverse is bad by any means. Check out some of my thoughts on the metaverse here. There are benefits and advantages to using the metaverse.
However, some people develop real addictions and problems within meta-digital environments. Videogame addiction, content-influenced isolation, and FOMO are all real symptoms of the social media digi-realm.
But I really believe the human race is capable of triumphing over these problems. There are real problems with the way we interact and our tendency to overconsume. But there’s also real solutions to debilitating problems that can only exist in the digital universe.
Developing a truly global language through the metaverse helps us become aware of the biggest problems we face like global warming, racism, and institutional failures. Before then, the global voices of the 99% were always suppressed by global narratives that were frequently just controlled by the same institutions that caused the problems.
People with disabilities are able to live a life more colorfully through the metaverse. We can be whatever and whoever we want through the advent of avatars. We can live and exist wherever we need to with VR. We can communicate and coexist with others in the most unique way that never existed before.
So I have shifted my mindset. I think the meditation community should rejoice in the newest way we can share our sanga or community. We know from Yogi and Ashrams that meditation is a practice better done with others than by yourself.
What do you think? Is it possible to be mindful while escaping? Is it possible to be mentally healthy in the Metaverse?
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