A virtual reality approach to mindfulness skills training

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly incorporated into psychotherapy, with the literature documenting its effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders, pain, and stress. Few studies have incorporated VR into mindfulness interventions. The present study examined the efficacy of VR in facilitating mindfulness. It was hypothesised that a brief mindfulness intervention integrated with VR would lead to a greater elevation in mindfulness than conventional mindfulness practice. Thirty-two adults (16 males) aged 18–65 (M = 27.25, SD = 6.04) were randomly allocated to either a control condition, in which participants listened to a mindfulness audio track, or an experimental condition, in which participants received mindfulness practice in a VR beach environment. The Toronto Mindfulness Scale (Lau et al. J clin psychol 62(12):1445–1467 ) was used to assess two mindfulness factors: curiosity and decentring. Although participants in the experimental condition experienced an increase in mindfulness, VR was not significantly more effective in facilitating mindfulness overall, although the VR condition was characterised by a significantly greater increase in decentring. Replication and investigation of causative mechanisms is necessary to further understand the distinct increase in decentring observed during VR-enhanced mindfulness training in this study.