How Virtual Reality Meditation Could Change Our Companies for Good – Pt 1
This is the first blog in a series I have planned to explore and record the impact that VR meditation could bring to our workplaces.
I want to find work out if it will genuinely improve people’s working lives. Through enhanced productivity & focus, relationships, and consequently making our companies better.
Virtual reality can be pure escapism for our conscience. In our noisy, stressful world of work, it could be just what people need to dip out of the office and into some headspace. Thus resetting and jumping back into our workload may give us renewed vigour to run faster towards our goals.
Below I’ve outlined why I think VR Meditation in the workplace could be a mega incoming trend. I plan to test this and some VR content that you can steal and use yourself right now.
(PS. I am looking for test partners for this project. If you read below and like the sound of it, drop me a line to test it with your team).
My Hypothesis and Prediction
Virtual reality gives you the exact distance from your office and your stresses. It causes you to be present with the virtual experience which distracts you from your distractions in a way that is easier than traditional mediation. As a result, I think we’ll see VR Meditation breakout in areas becoming common in offices and events across the western world over the next decade.
3 Reasons why VR Meditation breakout areas could become widespread:
1. Meditation is now firmly embedded in our society.
In fact, it’s so far beyond a fad it’s hard to see it ever leave us. Interest in personal meditation practice has gone through the roof over the last 5 years and is continuing to climb. (See google Trends). Google Trends Topic “Meditation”, 2004 – 2019. I won’t begin to recap the known benefits of meditation here – there are a million blogs on that. (A great one from Inc)
If we accept the calming and productivity-boosting powers of mediation, then we would surely be remiss to not have them as part of our work life.
2. Meditation is entering the workplace in a big way.
Big companies have started empowering people to use time in their day to take some headspace. So, they can become extra productive, zen and collaborative the rest of the time.
When the big players do this, you can be quite sure that it’s heading to the rest of us over the next few years. And why wouldn’t it? Research shows a highly stressed employee costs a company an extra $2,000 per year in healthcare when compared to their less-stressed peers. Aetna’s study calculated that productivity gains of calm people were about $3,000 per employee, equaling an eleven-to-one return on investment.
3. Distraction in a typical office is rife!
The problem with trying to relax and escape for 15 minutes in most offices is you’re surrounded by people. People have demands on your time, they make noise and, in the UK at least, they love to mock.
Going into a corner and shutting your eyes with some headphones to “escape” is comedy gold for everyone else. Still, worse is, it’s a guarantee that you don’t get to truly relax for awareness that others are watching. You need a peaceful space. So where do you go? The stuffy work meeting room that’s always booked?
Enter Virtual Reality.
Unlimited escapism. That’s what VR can bring to the mediation party. A complete retreat from your office, team, workload and the stresses of modern city life.
My favourite quote about VR comes from the creator of Blortasisa Kevin Mack. “The fundamental innovation of virtual reality is spatial presence – the sense of being in a place.” – Kevin Mack.
In the case of meditation, a place that is NOT your office. An area utterly different that resets your perspective back to baseline, allowing you to see a macro picture, dissolving the stress of trivial minutiae.
As I was writing this, my flatmate was watching Friends with Benefits (I won’t pretend like I didn’t recommend it). Early in the film, there is a scene where Jamie takes future boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) onto the roof and says a line that captures the essence of the above point perfectly.
Jamie (Mila Kunis) says: “I like to come up here to think. It’s like my New York version of a mountain top.”
Imagine going for a quick time out on the top of Everest, the national parks of the United States. Or sit next to the most magnificent waterfalls on Earth.
Some may like to step back to see a macro view of the planet to remember that you’re one of 7.5 billion humans. To remember that you’re just a small part of a giant interconnected network of life sitting on a speck of stardust, hurling through infinite space at 33,000 mph.
That would really wake you up. Pop-out to the solar-system on your lunch break. How’s that for perspective? Maintaining perspective is a fundamental pillar of mindfulness after all.
The Test plan.
I’m going to try and meditate in VR every day for 2 weeks and record how it makes me feel.
I’d like to test this out in the field with clients who would be open to dipping their toes into calming waters of VR with me. If you think you could be one, let’s talk.
The idea of having this level of escapism does sound fantastic. The truth is I don’t know whether this is actually going to have the same benefits as regular meditation.
I also don’t know if it can practically be implemented at the moment because some VR is quite tricky to use. This could limit my audience and be a barrier that makes most people not bother.
In the coming months (and blogs) I’m going to get qualitative and quantitative data on whether VR Meditation drives changes in the team’s working behaviours. Will it improve their mental well-being and focus, and critically, is it simple enough for them to stick with it?
The VR Meditation Test Content
Here’s the best VR Mediation content I’ve come across so far. Some are built for a purpose. Some are just amazing, low interaction VR experiences that I think could possibly work even better like VR Painting in Tilt brush.
These choices generally all use nature, space and art to elicit awe. Feel free to steal these, (that’s the point of the blog) or message me if you want to be one of the first to try this out with your team. Let me know how you get on in an email or in the comments below.
Gala – Oculus Go (£5) – Requires an oculus go (£200)
The Lab: Solar System (£Free) – Requires a Vive/Oculus rift + VR Laptop (~£1500)
Nature Treks VR (£5.99) – Needs an oculus go (£200)
Guided Meditation VR (£10.99) – Needs an oculus go (£200)
Calm Place (£10.99) – Needs an oculus go (£200)
Nature Treks (£7.99) Oculus Quest.
Overview – A tour of the universe.
Tilt-brush VR (£ Oculus Quests)
I’ve intended to offer this as a service at Steamed Egg for a while, and so writing this piece will commit me to make some tests happen for a few clients and share that journey with you.
From here we’ll progress to more research, stories or testing, feedback and tweaks. Hopefully, we’ll have a full-blown, powerful VR mediation service we can offer to our customers to provide genuinely better working environments.
The could be mega, watch this space.
If you want to be one of my test partners, please contact me and we can try and bring some Zen to your office work life.