Maloka, a new meditation app for Quest available on App Lab, offers calming, personalized environments and guided meditation sessions with stunning visuals.
There’s a number of experiences available for VR headsets that aim to offer a form of formal or informal meditation. Some of them offer guided audio sessions while others just place you in a zen environment where you can relax and let your thoughts take you where they want to. Maloka, a new App Lab experience on Quest, tries to find some middle-ground between the two and offer something unique for the VR medium.
As someone who practices mindfulness and occasionally dabbles in guided meditation, the thought of doing either with a VR headset strapped to me has never seemed overly appealing, nor relaxing. While I find the Quest 2 to be a comfortable headset across short sessions, I’ve never found a compelling reason to meditate inside VR when I could just do it normally instead. What does a VR meditation experience offer me that a regular guided meditation experience does not?
Maloka attempts to answer that question by bridging the two, and offering something a little different to how I would meditate in real life.
The app is available as both a VR app on App Lab and as a mobile app (currently only available for iOS, as far as I can tell) and you can go through guided meditations on either platform. You can also start your experience in VR or via mobile too — whichever you choose, everything will transfer over to the other with a linking code.
Maloka isn’t just a guided meditation app though — in VR, you open the app into your own personalized island, decorated with items you earn as rewards for completing meditation sessions. The island is also occupied by your spirit, a small anthropomorphic creature that you pick when signing up.
Normally, I wouldn’t be an advocate for gamifying meditation — if you need game-like motivation and rewards to do it, isn’t that kind of defeating the point? But in this case, I think it works. The rewards feel appropriate, not arbitrary, and it’s nice to be able to create your own personalized zen environment to start a meditation from. Over time, you’ll expand the decorations in your space with more items you’ve earned from regular meditation. It’s a nice system that plays into the themes of mindfulness and zen energy that meditation encourages, so it feels appropriate.
When using VR, the guided meditation sessions also offer something different to your standard audio guide. Instead of prompting you to close your eyes, you keep your eyes open and focus on a ever-changing vortex of circular psychedelic patterns that pulse in and out, slowly moving toward you, as pictured above. As you progress through the session, the guide encourages you to align your breathing with the contractions and expansions of the patterns. It’s soothing and a fantastic, entrancing alternative to closing your eyes.
The real boon here is that using the psychedelic patterns, and aligning your breathing to its movements, offers something more than your standard meditation experience outside of VR. Without it, there would be no real reasons to use Maloka over any other audio meditation service. Being able to then also effortlessly switch to the mobile app when you haven’t get your headset around you is also fantastic — if I don’t have time for a headset session, I can use the mobile app and still gain rewards to decorate my island with when I return to VR.
It’s a great free experience on App Lab — if you’re a long-time meditator looking for something different, or want an engaging experience to start you off, check out Maloka.
Maloka is available in beta on App Lab for Oculus Quest now.