Guided Meditation is a free Oculus Rift DK2 app which transports players to beautiful environments while gentle narration instructs meditative techniques. If we didn’t already have enough evidence from serene titles like Eden River HD, Guided Meditation is all the proof we need to see that ‘VR Relaxation’ will become its own genre.

See Also: Eden River HD Preview – Tranquility Amidst a Sea of Action-packed VR Games

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could whisk yourself away to a bright and sunny beach at the end of a stressful day ? It’s 2014, and it seems that Cubicle Ninjas, the folks behind Guided Meditation, think it’s about damn time (and we agree).

From a graphical standpoint, experiences like Guided Meditation have been attainable for some time. But the key that we’ve never had until now is the transportive ability of virtual reality.

Vision and sound are perhaps our most powerful senses. Subverting them offers compelling evidence to your brain that you are actually somewhere else. Guided Meditation uses this fact to great effect, and makes it easier than ever to find respite from the stresses of life.

The experience, now available for free, uses the Oculus Rift DK1 or DK2 on Windows or Mac, and offers four beautiful locations to spirit players away to somewhere that they can destress. My personal favorite is the beach at Costa Del Sol, but there’s a little something for everyone, including the flowering Yokosuka Japanese garden, the dusty Cosmo Canyon, and the rainy Birchnut Forest.

Each environment impressed me with imaginative detail and a genuine sense of not being in my office. Looking out over the vast Cosmo Canyon was really something.

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Each of the four locations has a unique audio experience associated with it, be it guided meditation instruction through gentle narration or some fitting music. Each location also has four areas that the player can transport to using the buttons on a controller or WASD on a keyboard.

I consider myself highly audio-visual oriented. I can’t have TV on in the background while I work (like some people prefer) because I’d pay it too much attention. For someone like me, the eyes-closed method of meditation/relaxation is tough because my audio-visual brain wants to fill something into that blank space. VR meditation, on the other hand, makes it much easier for me to escape.

The polished environments, audio, and presentation, combined with VR’s transportive power, really did a great job at taking me away from my real environment, and even made it hard to focus on the tasks and responsibilities associated with that real space.

Guided Meditation is an excellent addition to the start of what will almost certainly turn into an entire ‘Relaxation’ genre within virtual reality. The developers say they’re working on more features, like additional environments and varied meditation types.

Cubicle Ninjas made the Guided Meditation feature roadmap available to the public for voting and feature suggestions. Custom music is certainly getting a vote from me—while I enjoy the toe-tapping song in the beach environment, I’d love to be able to hear some wonderful ukulele from my bruddah Israel Kamakawiwoʻole while on that beautiful beach.

Guided Meditation is also in development for Gear VR for when you need your relaxation fix on the go.

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  • Nowry

    Wouldn’t be better with 360 stereoscopic videos of real natural places? I think no matter what artists can do, they won’t exceed real nature.

    • kindfox

      agreed, would be more practical to shot 360 videos. unless it’s required to create a fantasy world for meditation.

    • CubicleNinjas-Josh

      Great point Nowry!

      Video is amazing for VR, and has some absolute advantages over 3D graphics in certain areas. In fact, we have a VR app announcement in the coming weeks which is entirely video focused in the travel space.

      But using this approach also has some major disadvantages. A big one being flexibility. Three quick points on the flexibility front:

      1) If you do a shoot and users want something different there isn’t a second chance (outside of a costly reshoot). In our tests people wanted some sort of motion, so we added in teleporting and the intro fly through. With 3D graphics we were able to add in new features on the fly, even days before, which is especially keen at this early stage of VR. Doing this in video wouldn’t be possible without complete reshoots.

      2) With video, we’re stuck to the limitations of reality. With 3D graphics our only limit is our imaginations. Want the weather to be a bit more sunny? Want time to speed up? Want to look at the world like a watercolor painting? Want to shrink to the size of an ant? Anything is possible, which is sort of the fun of VR and especially a meditation app.

      3) And let’s not forget file size. 360-degree, potentially stereoscopic, high definition video is extremely large. This isn’t a challenge for small projects, but it is for longer ones. Our DK2 demo has 16 locations, so that would likely be well over 10GBs. A full app would be very, very large.

      Hope this helps explain our thinking! :)

    • Artist3d

      I agree it is rare that artists can exceed even representationally duplicating nature’s particularly infinite fractal nature, however artists are generally challenged and tasked to present unique perspectives that they come upon in how they imagine the world around them… ie: “What Dreams May Come” so to speak. I think of all the demos I have seen so far with the Oculus Rift, real video ones seem limited to the resolution of the video capture devices which are generally less pixels than the Rift is capable of viewing and of course video footage can lack imaginative elements that are so entertaining when you see a crack in the sky through which the Universe suddenly opens up the ‘doors of perception’ — The Chair demo for the Rift is amazing in that way. Also Discovering Space allowed me to gently drop through the atmosphere of the Sun’s Corona and bath in the light of etheric gossamer trails of plasma ejections that looked like a sunny version of the Aurora Borealis on a quantum level! Catching a sunrise on Venus was truly something one will never live to experience in so-called ‘real natural life’ and yet all of these experiences are now opening up to us broadening our perspective and allowing us to go beyond the limits of our usual frame of reference. The concept of using the Oculus Rift for eyes- wide-open meditation is a great advancement over the notion of the suspension of thought, and reducing existence to the nihilistic nothingness of somethingness. Each has their merits but either way you increase your awareness of where all this phenomenal experience is coming from… no matter what you perceive, be it dreams, nightmares, artistic landscapes or your specific notions of ‘reality’ it is still the Mind in its true state of unshaped primordialness that you are observing. ;-) I love how the Oculus Rift immediately induces a sense of centred presence in whatever it is. It’s fantastic.