As a yoga teacher, I meditate on a pretty regular basis. So, naturally, I was curious to see how immersive meditation would change my view on traditional mindfulness. Meditation is loosely defined as giving your attention to only one thing to achieve total relaxation and mental bliss. Combine this sacred Hindu tradition with modern technology, and you get a breathtaking room full of LED lights projecting a soothing voice to lead you through a guided meditation.
At least, this was my experience when I decided to give immersive meditation a try at Inscape studio, where I attended something called a "Focus" meditation class.
Inscape is a studio that puts a twist on traditional meditation by turning it into an immersive, multi-sensory experience, complete with different lights, sounds, and even scents to guide the class through some mindful inner reflection.
I asked my mom to come with me, and once we arrived at the studio, we were promptly directed to a room called "The Dome." The name was honestly very fitting, as it was literally a cylindrical room illuminated by blue, purple, and magenta LED lights, and sprinkled with comfortable cushions along the floor for all of us attending the class.
My mom and I sat down on adjacent cushions, and the facilitator of the class came around with a subtly calming essential oil that she rubbed on our wrists.
(Side note: If someone ever asks if you'd like essential oils in a yoga class or meditation session, say yes -- it's always the best thing ever.)
For the next 45 minutes, we were guided by a British woman's soothing voice (honestly, when is a British accent not soothing?) as she instructed us to first perform various gentle movements with our arms, and then counted us down through even, deep breathing.
By the time the class was over, my mind and body felt something between incredibly rejuvenated and stoned AF.
I mean that in the best way possible, of course. My mom, on the other hand, found a way to describe the magic by calling it "the power nap she didn't even know she needed."
Overall, the class was a great way to find tranquility and stillness in an otherwise hectic and busy day. Plus, it was so reassuring to be in a room surrounded by other people who were all there for the same reason: to chill TF out and find a quiet sense of peace.
The newfound feelings of calm stayed with me and my mom for the rest of the day, even as we walked through the unchanged, bustling city streets of Manhattan. Even when a woman aggressively pushed past me on the subway, I channeled that lovely British woman's voice and reminded myself to focus on my breath, rather than any frustrations or emotions that wouldn't serve me in that situation.
All in all, I think that immersive meditation is a great first step and building block that can lead you toward developing a deeper meditation practice, if that's what you're looking for.
However, many practitioners of traditional meditation argue that immersive meditation may not be meditation in its truest, purest form.
And, TBH, I do agree with that to some extent. Mindfulness-based meditation (which is more traditional) has the meditator get away from all noise, technology, and distractions. It is simply you and your breath, and nothing else -- which can actually be pretty challenging and uncomfortable at times. You find ultimate calm (or "Samadhi") when you are able free your mind from all attachments and simply be in the present moment.
Of course, as a yoga instructor who faces the powerful challenge of mindful meditation on a daily basis, participating in immersive meditation was moderately easy for me. And, in fact, the lights, scents, and guided audio in the session diverted my attention from any stresses or thoughts I was holding onto and immersed me in the present moment.
While traditional meditation demands you to look inward, immersive meditation has you focus outward -- kind of like bicycle training wheels on the path to inner reflection.
I definitely recommend trying immersive meditation if you're having trouble maintaining a consistent mindfulness practice, and are looking for a helping hand. Or, honestly, I think it's worth trying even if you just need a quality, deeply restorative nap -- or, as my mom calls it, the power nap you never knew you needed.
Because, you know, adults deserve nap time, too. Can I get a yawn of approval?