Meditation Research

As a serious game designer-researcher I became fascinated by the power of meditation for well-being, self knowledge, personal transformation, and really cool experiences. Science increasingly documents saltatory mental and physical health benefits of meditation.  The creative possibilities for meditation designers are a well kept secret that far exceed Harry Potter spells.  (Of course, the experiences and effects are all internal.)  As a media scholar and technology-enhanced experience designer, my work with meditation naturally shows up in the form of cybermeditation.


  • Mind-Body Therapist Dr. Marcel Allbritton (who is also my meditation teacher)
  • MSU Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Rebecca Lehto
  • Chase Bossart, Director of Yoga Well Institute
  • MSU Media and Information Doctoral Student Tom Day
  • Josh Farkas, Founder of Cubicle Ninjas and inventor of Guided Meditation VR

What do I mean by meditation?

The Sri Krisnamacharya/TKV Desikachar system of meditation and yoga that I practice and have been studying is a science of experience that explains how to apply nearly infinite tools (attention, meditation objects, breath, movements, mantras, chanting) to change the human system (mind, body, breath, emotions, patterns and habits) in a desired direction.

Studying Effects of Meditation

The complexities of studying meditation parallel research on the effects of games.  Meditation is easiest to study as a one time experience.  However, meditation is a skill where abilities (including breath and attentional capacity) develop over a long period of time, and regular, repeated experiences (over many years) yield the juiciest outcomes.  This is much harder to study, since it relies on engaging research participants in ongoing, regular meditation experiences.  On the opposite side of the spectrum (and please forgive me for coining this abomination), meditatification describes applying select elements of meditation outside of meditation (paralleling the concept of gamification).


Heeter, C.; Allbritton, M.; Lehto, R.; Miller, P.; McDaniel, P.; Paletta, M, (2021) Feasibility, Acceptability, and Outcomes of a Yoga-Based Meditation Intervention for Hospice Professionals to Combat Burnout. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18, 2515.

Heeter, C. & Allbritton, M. (2019). Beyond Scientific Mechanisms: Subjective Perceptions with Viniyoga Meditation. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2200.

Allbritton M. & Heeter C. Meditation as an Intervention for Health: A Framework for Understanding Meditation Research. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine  2018;3(4):025; doi:10.21926/obm.icm.1804025.

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H. (July 31, 2018). Meditation App Benefits Hospice and Palliative Care Clinicians. Oncology Nursing News.

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H. (May 24, 2018). Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Patients with Cancer. Oncology Nursing News.

Lehto, R., Heeter, C., Allbritton, M., & Wiseman, M. (2018). Hospice and Palliative Care Provider Experiences With Meditation Using Mobile Applications. Oncology Nursing Forum 45(3):380-388. DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.380-388

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H., Allbritton, M., Day, T., & Wiseman, M. (2017).  Effects of a Technology-Assisted Meditation Program on Healthcare Providers’ Interoceptive Awareness, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout.  Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, August 2017, Volume 19, No 4.

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H., Allbritton, M., Day, T., & Wiseman, M. (March 23, 2017). Improving professional quality of life for hospice and palliative care health providers: Assessment of a 6-week cybermeditation app program for alleviating compassionate fatigue and burnout. Poster presentation at the 25th annual Greater Lansing Community Research Day. Lansing, MI.

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H., Allbritton, M., Day, T., & Wiseman, M. (2017, April). Evaluation of a 6-Week Cybermeditation App Program on Compassion fatigue and burnout outcomes in Hospice and Palliative Care Professionals. Poster presentation at the 41st Annual MNRS conference. Minneapolis MN.

Lehto, R.H., Heeter, C., Allbritton, M., Day, T., Wiseman, M. (2017, May).  Hospice and palliative care providers perceptions about using cybermeditation to combat compassion fatigue: focus group findings. Poster presentation at the 42nd Annual ONS Congress, Denver, CO. [Abstract]. Oncology Nursing Forum, 44 (2), E187. 10.1188/17.ONF.E88.

Heeter, C. (2016).  A Meditation on Embodied Presence and Meditation.  Presence, Teleoperators, and Virtual Environments, 25:2, 175-183. [doi: 10.1162/PRES_a_00256]
Accompanying audio Demo 1
Accompanying audio Demo 2

Heeter, C., Lehto, R.H., Allbritton, M., Day, T., Wiseman, M. (2016, October).  6-Week Cybermeditation App Program Introduces Hospice and Palliative Care Professionals to Meditation and Improves Professional Quality of Life.  Poster presentation at the 18th International Psycho-Oncology Society World Congress. [abstract:Psycho-oncology, 25, suppl 3, 137. DOI 10.1002/pon.4272].

Heeter, C., Allbritton,  M., Lehto,  R., Day. T. (September 19, 2016). “Effects of a 6-week cybermeditation program for hospice professionals on meditation engagement, interoceptive awareness, and compassion fatigue,” Poster to be presented at the Symposium on Yoga Research, Stockbridge, MA, September 19, 2016. And to appear in a supplemental issue of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.

Heeter, C., & Allbritton, M. (2015). Being There: Implications of Neuroscience and Meditation for Self-Presence in Virtual Worlds. Journal For Virtual Worlds Research, 8(2).

Heeter, C., & Allbritton, M. (2015). Playing with Presence: How meditation can increase the experience of embodied presence in a virtual world. In proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games, Asilomar, CA.

Heeter, C. (2014). Meditation as Entertainment: The inverse of serious games. In proceedings ofMeaningful Play, East Lansing, MI.

Heeter, C. “Reflections on Real Presence by a Virtual Person.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, August, 2003.

“TeleWindows: Changing the Social Fabric of Life for Homebound Elderly,” National Council on Aging Annual Conferences, 1999 and 2000,

“Interactivity in the Context of Designed Experiences,” Journal of Interactive Advertising, Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 2000.

“Aspects of Presence in Telerelating,” Journal of Cyberpsychology and Behavior, fall, 1999.

Heeter, Carrie, “Real hands, virtual worlds,” Proceedings of the Virtual Realities Systems Convention, fall, 1993.

Heeter, Carrie, “The thin line between Hypermedia and Virtual Reality,” Educational Technology Review, Winter, 1993.

Heeter, Carrie, “Being there: The subjective experience of presence,” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, fall, 1992.