Escape reality with Guided Meditation VR

Guided Meditation VR

Guided Meditation VR, created by Cubicle Ninjas, is a chance for you to completely escape the mundane ties of reality, free your mind… and hopefully relax in the process. We chatted to Josh Farkas, founder of Cubicle Ninjas, to get more details on their chilled out app.

Who are the mysterious Cubicle Ninjas?

Josh Farkas: We’re a creative design and development agency that helps bring ideas to life. I created the first few versions of Guided Meditation VR and now act as Creative Director on the project.

Guided Meditation VR is unusual in that it asks people to be still, which is not normally what happens in VR. How did you approach that when initially creating the app?

Our goal was to build an app that anyone could use to relax, from young to old.

While we love games, we found that many early VR movement techniques could make people feel uneasy. Meditation felt like an ideal fit for VR’s current state as it’s benefited by limited movement, yet the power of escaping your every day with an instant vacation makes it an experience only possible in VR.

That said, you can definitely teleport through the environments if you’re feeling adventurous!

Guided Meditation VR

Many people might think of meditation as closing your eyes and trying to block out the world. What does it mean to take part in ‘guided’ meditation?

Often the people who need meditation the most are also those who find it the most difficult: the anxious, type-A, ultra competitive, hyper-efficient, self-critical, folks who are focused on perfection. They’d tried meditation, didn’t receive clear feedback on their success of failure, and gave up.

We also heard in our initial research that a person’s home was too distracting to meditate within. With bills in the corner, and all of your preferred technology at an arm’s length, it is overflowing with disruptions.

Our hope with Guided Meditation VR was to transport your mind to a peaceful place, allowing you to get to a more focused state with greater speed or consistency. VR has a few built-in advantages to tackle these common problems:

– Virtual Reality is like a vacation for the mind, so the household clutter can truly be left behind. Taking a 10-minute breather in virtual cave or temple is joyful.

– Users can select from multiple meditation practices, helping them to understand that if a meditation doesn’t work it isn’t their fault. We can then help them find which techniques work best for them.

– In the future, better biofeedback devices will allow us to live within our body’s rhythm while inside VR. We call this the “Infinite Feedback Loop” and we see it as a new way of making the hidden mind-body connection more tangible.

My hope is that those who think “meditation isn’t for me” can learn the power of this simple, age-old practice in a fun way.

Guided Meditation VR

Clearly, the big advantage of VR is allowing people to travel to relaxing settings in the headset. How did you choose the included settings? How many are there?

We have over 17 unique environments, with 200+ scenic meditations spots within. Every few months we’re releasing new environments, meditations, and functionality in advance of for our final release. We’re aiming for over 30 environments by the end of the year.

In 2016 we traveled the globe showing Guided Meditation VR to 10,000+ people in various tradeshows. Our goal was to hear direct feedback about what they loved, hated, and hoped to see in a consumer release. All environments were suggested by these sessions or current users, in our quest to build the best relaxation app we can.

We’re very appreciative of such a kind community who has helped grow this idea together!

Are the environments static, or can people move around in them?

People can absolutely move around and explore the secrets of each environment. We feature teleports to preset locations and granular teleports, allowing a user to move wherever they’d like through the ground or the sky. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing other methods of locomotion as well.

Guided Meditation VR

Can you tell us a little about the process you went through to create the environments?

Our team began by finding inspiration photos and illustrations based on user suggestions. Once we crafted a mood board we’d sketch out the level roughly, planning multiple types of cover, changes in elevation, light differences, color palette, and squeezing in as many unique environmental elements as we could. While this initial process would only take a few days, we found planning in advance allowed us to make each environment as unique as possible.

Next we’d move to gathering and building 3D models as needed. Very often we’d modify our original plan once in VR, as the ability to play with scale or density created fun results. After two weeks we’d have a playable environment, but it would usually take an additional few weeks of shine to make it feel powerful. Our hope for every space was that it has a few moments that take your breath away.

How about the sounds featured?

Users can enjoy the sounds of nature with dozens 3D positional audio sources of environment sounds per space, with layered audio zones. The end result is a realistic feeling world.

Additionally, there are also over 50 unique meditations, across a half dozen meditation techniques. Users can also select music or meditation content, and they can easily adjust volume or if they should be played in 2D or 3D space.

Guided Meditation VR

Are there any ‘Easter Eggs’ or small details people should look out for?

In the current build you can escape the level bounds. We originally had a patch for this, but people really enjoyed exploring, seeing how we made the levels. We’ll likely keep this in as an option going forward.

If you hold the HTC Vive controller trigger to teleport you can swipe up or down on the touchpad to change the teleport distance. This makes finding the perfect spot easy.

Also, you’re not bound to the ground when teleporting. My favorite spots are often floating way in the clouds or in the swaying branches of a giant tree.

What’s your favorite environment to meditate in?

My personal favorites include the Caves, Waterfall, and Space.

We’ll be releasing a new, free content pack in the coming weeks which has both Japan, Underwater, and Bora Bora. These are our best environments yet, and have quickly become my new favorites.

Guided Meditation VR

Have you ever fallen asleep while meditating in VR, woken up and wondered where you were?

I personally haven’t, but we usually have one person each tradeshow doze off! Our longest record is a 45-minute nap in VR. We felt really bad when we had to wake them.

Finally, we have to ask – as a Cubicle Ninja, what is your preferred ninja weapon?

Hugs, the deadliest of ninja weapons!

Thanks for all your answers, Josh!

Guided Meditation VR is available now on Viveport.