Virtual reality is up and coming and I don’t know about you, but I had no idea. I thought it was only for serious gamers, rich people or trade show demos (what? I don’t know either), but it turns out that you and me can use it too! It is super accessible and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
While virtual reality is mostly used for games, virtual reality meditation apps are an amazing use as well. As the headset closes you off from the world outside, it’s so much easier to turn inward and sit with your thoughts while looking at some stunning scenery.
While there are specific virtual reality headsets, it’s just as easy to do it on your phone, with the virtual reality meditation apps in this post.
I also want to point out that virtual reality can be a fantastic manifestation tool. You know how they say you should ‘act as if’? It’s never been easier. Look up a 360 video of a mansion and see yourself living in it, play a game that lets you drive your dream car in virtual reality, or pretend you are vacationing on a beach in Vietnam. Whatever your dream is, virtual reality will help you feel like you’re living it already.
So in this post I want to help you understand what virtual reality is, how you can use it (without spending the big bucks), how it can improve your wellbeing and tell you all about my favorite virtual reality meditation apps for your phone.
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What is virtual reality?
Oxford languages has this defined as:
the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.
Which pretty much sums it up!
No worries, just kidding. There are many levels of virtual reality, depending on the resources you have access to. In its most basic form, it is a world you can see through your screen. But as compared to looking at a picture, virtual reality makes it easy to believe that you are in that world.
By using a headset or more extensive tools, such as a helmet with screen or even gloves, you can take the experience a bit further. Using these, you can also move through your world and play 3D games in it.
However, it’s also possible to go into Virtual Reality without these tools, using your phone and a simple headset. More on that down below.
Why should I try virtual reality meditation apps?
While many may say it’s not a good idea to use technology for a practice that’s meant to calm our brains, virtual reality can be much more useful than you’d expect.
As said before, virtual reality makes it that much easier to close yourself off from the world, outside influences and distractions. Allow yourself to be taken away to a galaxy, a beach or green pastures. It helps you feel like you’re really there, and your worries about the world are left in your living room. I guess it’s next level escapism. And for 10-20 minutes a day, it’s really nice.
While the benefits of meditation are well-known, let me recap. Meditation can help us live more in the present. It’s helpful with stress and anxiety, reducing negative emotions, improves imagination, creativity, patience and tolerance. It can even help those suffering from asthma, sleep problems, chronic pain, depression and headaches, among other things. Meditation is the medicine we all need, but find too boring.
Cue virtual reality, and it becomes a lot more interesting.
The virtual world shuts out the real world, and gives you something to focus on. To listen to and look at while you try to clear your thoughts. Something that doesn’t remind you of the laundry that needs to be done or the fact that you haven’t vacuumed in a week.
Get away from everyday life, and step into a calming environment to settle your thoughts for a couple of minutes per day.
Distractions become less as either you use a separate device so your phone is in the other room, or you turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and use it to cue your meditation. So the urge to check your messages, email or instagram is suppressed by not being able to do it.
What do I need for a virtual reality meditation?
This really depends on what you’re willing to spend. In its most basic form, you just need your phone and a headset. The most popular is the Oculus Quest2, scoring a 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon. The oculus comes with its own store, and countless games to play with the controllers. It recognizes how you move, and translates that into your virtual world as well. For the full gaming experience, the Oculus Quest 2 is one of the best headsets out there.
However, if you want a simple, cheaper option to use with your phone, I’d recommend this one. It does the job, and will still take you into all the virtual meditation worlds you want to be in.
You can also get a Google cardboard which is even cheaper, but it looks as uncomfortable as it sounds.
The best virtual reality meditation apps for iphone
You can either do this with special virtual reality meditation apps, or search special youtube videos. I’ve listed my picks for both below.
Provata is the best one-stop-shop meditation app I have tried on my phone. It allows you to choose between 6 different types of meditation, 2/5/10 minutes and has 4 free worlds to choose from. It has 11 paid worlds as well, which you can unlock through a monthly or yearly payment.
Within is a very complete app with a ton of content. It has actual movies, short videos, soundscapes and meditation environments. It even has a clip that lets you explore space through the lens of the Hubble telescope. If that isn’t amazing and relaxing, I don’t know what is. At the time of writing this post, the within app and all its content is completely free.
Solas meditation has a free and a premium environment, although I have only tried the free one. You can select three journeys (meditation, breathing and wisdom) which all have their own exercises and practices. The meditation journey is the one you get to try for free, and has 11 environments to meditate in. You then get to choose the length of your meditation, the voice of the guidance and the background sounds. In the free version it is a good meditation app, so I can imagine that if you upgrade to premium, it’s a very complete experience with a lot to offer.
Maybe not surprising, but youtube has some really good virtual reality videos. Most of them are unguided, but have white noise or dreamscape music in the background to still help you block out the real world. I like the meditations by immerse n breathe, as well as the ones from Aquilay VR and the VR Gorilla videos.
You can really experience most 180 or 360 videos in virtual reality, by clicking the cardboard image in the video, as in the image below. The screen will then split in 2 squares, after which you can put your phone in your headset and start your meditation.
There are also paid apps, like Scape VR and Dream beach 2, but as I have not tried any paid apps, I cannot say if they’re worth it.
Furthermore, there are many more virtual reality meditation apps, but unfortunately they haven’t been updated for iOS 14 at the moment of writing, so they are very glitchy. These include: tranquil reality, 360well-vrMindfulness, relaxriver and serene VR. You can always try these to see if they’re updated, or if you’re on another OS, but try it without your headset first, because the glitch is no joke on your eyeballs. Trust me.
Other virtual reality iPhone apps I like to use
I haven’t discovered too many iphone appropriate VR apps yet, but these 2 are definitely winners so far.
I am a big fan of VR X-racer. It’s a race game where you have to fly your ship through the tall pillars and make sure you don’t crash. In normal mode you tilt your phone to steer your ship, but in VR you tilt your head. In VR it takes your complete focus, which is great to distract yourself from everything else for a little bit. I typically only play for a couple of minutes, but I really enjoy them.
Not a different app, but check out the other VR Gorilla videos as well. They have a lot of travel and city videos, which allow you to move through the streets of cities like Paris and Rome, but also explore places like Angkor Wat or the Mayan Temples.
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I hope you liked learning more about virtual reality and virtual reality meditation apps, and that you’re as excited to explore more about this as I was the first time I discovered it. It’s such amazing technology, and we can really use this to our advantage. If you have questions or recommendations, leave them below! I’d love to hear them.