Health VR/AR

The Dancing Mind

Movement is essential for creating a mind-body connection, yet often ignored by existing meditative/therapeutic technologies. Collaborating with a dance/movement therapist, we extend the VR therapeutic experience to engage participants’ full-body movements and social interactions.


Meijie Hu


Sharon De La Cruz


The Dancing Mind is an interactive VR therapeutic movement experience that incorporates body movements in meditation. We worked with dancers and dance/movement therapists to use virtual reality to construct a solo+multiplayer environment for participants to move freely along with the audio and visual instructions. This VR experience demonstrates the VR interaction possibilities in Dance/Movement Therapy.


Metaphor is widely deployed in meditation and psychotherapies to establish interoceptive awareness. Meditative technologies nowadays often augment metaphors such as visuals, audio, and haptics[Roquest & Sas, 2021], where participants are often sedative and passive. We intend to challenge that approach by examining body movement metaphors used in Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), a modality of creative arts therapies. It is an engaging and expressive process that relies heavily on metaphors and creative movements to tap into participants’ internal sensations and establish a sense of presence. Given the creative empowerment of virtual reality (VR) and the numerous proven benefits of VR in psychotherapies [Bohil, Alicea & Biocca, 2011], we believe it would be a great medium to augment the initial linkage between the body and the mind. Another core concept in DMT we incorporated is mirroring. Mirroring neurons can be stimulated similarly when individuals act and see others performing the same action. [Kilner & Lemon, 2013] The mirroring technique in DMT utilizes the theory to foster affective connections between therapists and clients. Social and group practices also play an essential role in movement therapy. Often, dance therapy is held in groups with multiple individuals. By providing opportunities for social interaction, learning, and shared purpose, group exercise can support individuals toward greater self-awareness, healing, and well-being.

Technical Details

The experience is made in Unity using networking and hand-tracking to provide a social experience and to reinforce attention to the body and limbs instead of the tracking devices. The whole experience is divided into two parts - the players will start with a 3-min solo meditation experience to get used to breathing and moving around in the virtual world. Your breathing will be tracked by the internal microphone to alter the environment with your breathing. Afterward, the players will join the multiplayer session (maximum of 5 people) to complete a multiplayer therapeutic movement session.