Meditation and mindfulness are perhaps different sides of the same coin; both are inexpensive, proven methods to quell anxiety. Unfortunately, mindfulness is difficult for many people and meditation can be even harder. Mindfulness and meditation are most effective when practiced by people who have had a great deal of successful experience. For a patient with little or no experience with either practice, it may not be particularly helpful to advise them to focus on “no-thing” or bring themselves totally in touch with the “now”. It could even may make their anxiety much worse.

StoryUP Studios’ Healium does an end-run around traditional meditation and mindfulness practices by combining wearables with virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and story-telling. The result, however, is similar to a shared goal of both meditation and mindfulness: an improved sense of calm and self-control accompanied by lower anxiety and stress. Healium serves as training wheels for learning how to use the power of one’s own brain for self-care and self-control.

Healium relies on various pathways to the same process, all based on using other peoples’ hardware (OPH). Healium provides the method, the software, and the content of what is essentially a teaching process. If you use a Muse headset and an Oculus Go VR headset with Healium’s stories, for example, the Muse technology captures and transmits brainwave and heart rate data to the VR headset. The Healium app then projects the biometric data as a visual overlay on the current story content running in the VR app. A story, for example, could involve birthing successive butterflies by reducing stress levels and the reactive story script would coordinate with the incoming data. When the wearer chills out, he or she is rewarded with butterflies.

Initial studies indicate that system can deliver benefits to people in high-stress jobs or situations. The company is also involved in a dozen clinical trials conducted by a variety of third-party organizations to investigate the system for patients with anxiety, pain, PTSD, and sleep problems.

The Muse headset and Oculus Go are not the only platforms Healium supports. In addition to various third-party biometric sensors and VR headsets, there are AR apps for smartwatches, most notably the Apple Watch, and for iOS and Android smartphones. Healium is available on a monthly subscription basis in its VR and AR forms.

There’s a lot to like about the Healium solution. Healium’s training wheels approach to teaching people to use their brains to care for themselves makes the benefits of mindfulness and meditation accessible to populations that would otherwise miss out. Healium is a drug-free and inexpensive way to learn how to heal and help yourself.