Over the past few months, a new revolution of meditation practice has been implemented at River Rock Treatment. Through a local partnership with OVR Technology, River Rock Treatment has been able to incorporate OVR’s Inhale (virtual reality) program as a means to meditation. OVR has a unique team of scientists, engineers, scent designers, technologists and entrepreneurs who have invented a new way for people to experience virtual reality and practice mindfulness. When we engage our primal sense, scent, we are enabled to create a richer and more meaningful experience. OVR reports that each scent used has been “carefully researched and selected by global experts to produce the highest quality experience possible”. Activating olfactory receptors and linking them to virtual reality experiences can dramatically increase immersion, promote mindfulness, and lessen both anger and sadness. OVR explains how “olfactory effects on mood are immediate. They elicit emotions and associations immediately which activates the downstream physiological and behavioral reactions of those emotions. For example, if a scent triggers feelings of invigoration, heart rate will increase and physical exertion may be boosted.”

OVR states that “virtual reality may benefit both substance use disorders and behavioral addictions through computer-generated simulations, mostly in the form of exposing them to triggers to raise awareness and teach patients how to cope with their problems more effectively… Scent is the only one of our senses directly linked to the limbic system of the brain, where memory and emotions are also processed,” says Aaron Wisniewski Co-Founder of Inhale by OVR Technology. One of the optional scents to smell is lavender by choosing the totem (“physical object” within the program to smell) of the lavender plant. Lavender is known for its relaxing and calming properties which enhances meditation practices and reduces stress levels. Furthermore, the National Institute of Health claims that aromatherapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine. Some benefits of using virtual reality combined with distinct scents are improved sleep, decreased depression, decrease in pain, increase in happiness, and decrease in anxiety.

To introduce OVR Meditation to River Rock Participants, one-on-one sessions are initiated with each individual interested so they can become familiar with the program before trying a lengthier meditation. They are able to pick their preferred scene (beach, waterfall, or mountain top scenery) and choose from numerous totems (orange, fern, and lavender plant). They place the headset and ION (the scent cartridge) over their head and settle into the virtual world. They explore the imagery and practice an 8 minute guided meditation while smelling their totems. Between the individual sessions and OVR groups (including 2-3 participants at a time), there has been tremendous feedback. One Participant remarked having had a “great experience!” and reported that she was “quick to go from 60 to 0” and relax. She liked how she could meditate with her eyes open and choose to close them at any point to listen to the waves. She remarked that she felt “warm, safe, receptive and excited” and she loved smelling the orange totem. Another Participant expressed how he meditates daily, yet this is a great way to “change it up and try something different” in his practice. He enjoyed having a specific place to practice and a designated time to do so. He enjoyed the mountain top scenery because it felt like “home” to him. The most prevalent feedback from Participants has been how quickly the guided meditations seem to go.

There have been multiple instances where Participants have been observed becoming relaxed, calm, and quiet. After the practice when asked about their experience, Participants have physically been slower, quieter, and spoke softer. Reports of feeling “a state of calmness” and “tiredness” have been recorded as well.

We are excited to provide this technology to the participants of River Rock Treatment and we are hopeful that it will enable them to experience calmness and relaxation more often. The goal is to use this tool as a way to gain experience and coping skills to navigate life more effectively without drugs and alcohol.

To learn more about OVR Technology visit them at https://ovrtechnology.com/

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