23-03-2021 | ORIGINAL PAPER
Meditating in Virtual Reality 3: 360° Video of Perceptual Presence of Instructor
Gepubliceerd in: Mindfulness | Uitgave 6/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
The need for remote delivery of mental health interventions including instruction in meditation has become paramount in the wake of the current global pandemic. However, the support one may usually feel within the physical presence of an instructor may be weakened when interventions are delivered remotely, potentially impacting one’s meditative experiences. Use of head-mounted displays (HMD) to display video-recorded instruction may increase one’s sense of psychological presence with the instructor as compared to presentation via regular flatscreen (e.g., laptop) monitor. This research therefore evaluated a didactic, trauma-informed care approach to instruction in mindfulness meditation by comparing meditative responses to an instructor-guided meditation when delivered face-to-face vs. by pre-recorded 360° videos viewed either on a standard flatscreen monitor (2D format) or via HMD (i.e., virtual reality [VR] headset; 3D format).
Young adults (n = 82) were recruited from a university introductory course and experienced a 360° video-guided meditation via HMD (VR condition, 3D format). They were also randomly assigned to practice the same meditation either via scripted face-to-face instruction (in vivo [IV] format) or when viewed on a standard laptop display (non-VR condition, 2D format). Positive and negative affect and meditative experience ratings were self-reported and participants’ maintenance of focused attention to breathing (i.e., meditation breath attention scores [MBAS]) were recorded during each meditation.
Meditating in VR (3D format) was associated with a heightened experience of awe overall. When compared to face-to-face instruction (IV format), VR meditation was rated as less embarrassing but also less enjoyable and more tiring. When compared to 2D format, VR meditations were associated with greater experiences of relaxation, less distractibility from the process of breathing, and less fatigue. No differences were found between VR and non-VR meditation in concentration (MBAS). Baseline posttraumatic stress symptoms were risk factors for experiencing distress while meditating in either (VR and non-VR) instructional format. Of those who reported a preference for one format, approximately half preferred the VR format and approximately half preferred the IV format.
Recorded 360° video instruction in meditation viewed with a HMD (i.e., VR/3D format) appears to offer some experiential advantage over instructions given in 2D format and may offer a safe—and for some even preferred—alternative to teaching meditation face-to-face.