Headspace XR has made me forget how much I hate meditation technology

I'm not a quiet person, but I'd like to be. That's why I continue to experiment with different meditation techniques, breathing in and out as abstract drawings or disembodied sounds guide me to a higher state of being. Or that's what would happen if most meditation techniques worked for me. So trust me when I say that I expected nothing from Headspace XR.

When the pandemic hit, meditation and mindfulness apps took a hit Head space They were everywhere. It makes perfect sense. After meditating in virtual reality? It seems ridiculous. Why should I breathe into a headset when I can't? But you never know! Things that may surprise you! That's why I, a meditation skeptic, agreed to try a demo of Headspace XR. As I walked into Meta's New York office, I thought I'd put on my headset and nod politely while strangers watched me watch me put on the Quest 3 and take a deep breath. Technically so He is What happened, but I was surprised that I actually enjoyed what I was seeing inside the headset.

Headspace XR is what you get if you take the Headspace app and turn it into a virtual playground. You walk around as an abstract, gender-neutral avatar and there are different locations you can go to and… play. There's a set of 'fountains' where you can pick up colorful orbs and throw them at the walls – or breathe in and inhale the colors in your avatar. There's a place called the Energy Dome where you can go and wave your arms while tracing shapes. The best I can describe it is if Saber won And Tai Chi had a baby. I'm sure I looked like an idiot on the outside, but inside the power dome I was having a good time.

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It's kind of like tai chi.
Jeff: Dead

You can also pull up a small map to view all the areas within this mental health playground. A giant mood stream, where six balloons with faces representing different emotions are waiting for you. Touching one will customize the experience according to whether you're feeling happy, sad, bored, anxious, angry, or lonely. There's a mural with catapults lined up in front of it where you shoot virtual balls of paint to eventually discover a message. (In my demo, my motto was “Be Present.”)

There are actually a lot of catapults. At some point, we were encouraged to throw balls through giant shapes in the sky – inhaling when they retracted, exhaling when they let go. You can also invite friends to come with you to various “public” places and clubs. The most traditional experience I had was a visit to the Boxy Treehouse. It's a virtual treehouse at sunset where you can see a visualization of it Box breathingDeep breathing technique to calm the nervous system.

The whole thing looked like a meditation pill pocket. But instead of hiding medicine in a treat for your pets, you learn meditation skills by playing games. This is by design.

Headspace XR is designed to be a virtual playground for meditation and mindfulness.
Photo: Meta

“There are five pillars of mindfulness that we talk about specifically at Headspace. There are meditation, movement, eating, sleeping, and play. Play, to me, is something we can really access in the VR world, which has been one of It is difficult to access in a two-dimensional world.

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Another feature launched in Headspace XR is more mixed reality experiences. I wasn't able to try this out during the demo, but I'm told it's designed to allow you to physically interact with your surroundings. For example, one allows you to draw a window in your room and guided visualization allows you to see positive energy bubbles flying through that window into your space.

There are some mixed reality experiences in Headspace XR as well. This also visualizes box breathing.
Jeff: Dead

“The idea is to bring this practice into your daily life. Because it's not so much about techniques and exercises. Mindfulness is really a lifestyle,” says Kesonja Giscombe, one of the mindfulness and meditation teachers at Headspace. “It's the same with the XR experience.”

Which feels good, though I'm still skeptical about VR meditation in general. Last week, I tried out the Mindness app in Apple Vision Pro, and the typical “look at these shapes and breathe in gratitude” experience never resonated with me. So, as a meditation skeptic, there's something about Headspace XR's approach that feels fresh. I will try again. This is even though part of me knows I'm feeding myself something good under the guise of the game. But if it's good for me, and I enjoy it, does it really matter how I get there?

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