July 23rd, 2019
That was exactly the day I wandered into a event in VR about meditation and mindfulness. Right before that, I was checking to see what was up. Which future event had a lot of interest, and which ones were ongoing. While searching, I saw an EvolVR mindfulness meditation event listed. Noticing the thumbnail and reading the description, it grabbed my attention. I had watched a video with EvolVR showcased a few weeks prior, and after I remembered that, I knew that I should get an “in-person” experience of EvolVR.
Inside the space, there were a variety of things. There was the session leader at the very front, information posters, a breathing guide video, meditation platforms, and of course, there were users dropping in.
I patiently waited for the event to start, feeling prepared for my very first experience with meditation. The session leader called on us to check in. Some stated they have meditated before, but never in VR. Others stated that they were meditating for the very first time. The fascinating thing about our presence is that we were all over the world. Some here in the US, and some in Europe. But on top of that, we were all in the same room together. A virtual room with cartoonish avatars.
After we all checked in, it was time to start. We began our practice of deep breathing. Breathing in through our nose and out through our mouths. We then thought of a peaceful environment, a favorite place to go to, or something totally imaginary. Furthermore, we chanted our mantras which were….
“I change my thoughts, I change my world”
“Love is the only miracle there is”
After we finished, the session leader called on us again for our check-out. Asking us if it went well, and he thanks us for coming. We can stick around and chat afterwards if we want. It’s how it works in VR.
Overall, it was an amazing first experience. I must say that focusing on the present moment was a bit of a challenge. I was a beginner, and I still am to this day! Anyway, I could have been doing other VR activities that day. Playing games, world-hopping, or even partying.
But I picked EvolVR instead. I thought I was going to be a passerby, but no. I’ve gained an interest in mindfulness and meditation.
I returned for more sessions, getting the same feeling of calmness as I practice. Learning more and more as time went on, and improving at focusing on the present.
This was very beneficial, and from that day I knew that this was going to be a pretty big part of my life. I think spirituality has changed my life. If not, saved my life. I consider my discovery of it as a milestone. I now meditate on a daily basis. I think using the word “meditation” isn’t good enough for my own experience, so I coined a new word for it:
I love using that word. Some of my friends even began using it. And another phrase I made up is…
“Just notice it, and go back to the breathing.”
Moving on, the most profound change in my spiritual practice was my discovery of Buddhism. I’ve heard of the religion before, but never got into it, until there was a new event added to the schedule: EvolVR Book Club. It focused on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, also known as the The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It explores a highly developed tradition behind impermanence, death, karma, and rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism. It was pretty difficult for me to concentrate listening to the speaker at first; my mind was consistently drifting away. But then around a month after the EvolVR Recovery Dharma events occurred, I bought the book, deciding to give myself an interest in reading it. It was absolutely interesting. I have never read anything quite like it.
And speaking of EvolVR Recovery Dharma, that was another key contribution to my interest in Buddhism. I don’t remember attending the first of those events, but I remember hearing these words a lot:
Never have I ever heard of those. I was hearing them so often but I couldn’t comprehend what they meant, and I don’t recall seeing them in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. But I was really liking all this stuff I was hearing.
I learned gradually about Buddhism through EvolVR. Learning about the 84,000 Dharma doors, the Four Noble Truths, and so on and so forth. My mind was beginning to open to not just Buddhism, but also religions, philosophies, and ideologies.
I began utilizing the Buddhist practices that we were doing. These were much different than what I’ve done before. It’s like I found a whole new universe of learning!
Later, I purchased a book called The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. It has a gifted explanation of basic Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. I highly recommend this for anyone being introduced to Buddhism.
Another book I purchased is Old Path, White Clouds, also written by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s about the Buddha’s life, his teachings, and his path to enlightenment, and as the book progresses, the reader gets a deeper understanding of the Buddha. Sore core aspects of Buddhism are also discussed in the book.
To sum it all up, my personal practice is a mash-up of many different teachings over the course of 2 years. And everyday, I learn something new as I cultivate a relationship with meaning and mystery. Spirituality is a powerful shaping force in human life, transforming us through practice and commitment.
It took me a year and half to begin noticing the positive effects of meditation. More often, I began feeling calm, self aware, and now having a new technique to calm myself down when I have tons of emotions flowing by. Buddhism has changed my life and my spiritual practice quite profoundly and fundamentally, and to this day, I continue to practice with the EvolVR crew and The Eight-Legged Sangha, which is a “pawesome” sangha.
That’s what we do here at EvolVR. We evolve, transform, discover, become compassionate human beings, and have that compassion pass the boundaries of VR.
You don’t have to be spiritual to have a rich life.
Right now, it’s like Jed-Jed
Ok for real…..
Right now, it’s like this.
This piece is written by EvolVR member, Jared. For more of his writing, see ortizjared15.medium.com.