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Skyrim is the ideal location for meditation.

2023-01-13  Sophia Zackary

Hannah Cowton for Polygon
That a game with so much activity like Skyrim can make me feel so calm in my head seems contradictory.

Since it was published in 2011, I have played the fifth Elder Scrolls game repeatedly. More times than I care to remember, I've faced off against dragons, explored dungeons, and had my sweet roll stolen. Nevertheless, the more I think about it, the more I realise that all I want to do is go slowly through everything.

Forgoing quick travel while I'm playing mindfully, I start walking and allow the landscape to lead me to a location that is so breathtaking that I can't help but pause and enjoy the moment. If I'm lucky, I'll get a glimpse of the northern lights and linger to watch a kaleidoscope of colours dance over the digital sky.

Finding these locations on your own is a prize in and of itself, particularly after engaging in arduous combat or doing heroic missions. For example, making my way up to High Hrothgar, where I had to fight my way up 7,000 stairs while also facing a frost troll along the way. The toil was well worth it to reach the peace that can be found at the summit of the Throat of the World, where the howling of the arctic wind could be heard over the stirring music.

Even beyond that, several stretches of gameplay actively push players to take things at a more leisurely pace. It was completely by chance that I found out about Eldergleam Sanctuary for the first time. I sneaked in while dual-wielding swords and standing at the ready-for whichever foe was bound to appear around the next bend in the path.

Imagine my astonishment when I came face to face with two worshippers of the goddess Kynareth, who were content to spend their time doing nothing more than taking in the breathtaking sights of the gushing waterfalls, twisted roots, rocky caverns, and sprawling branches of an ancient tree in the centre of the area. I came to a complete halt, transfixed by the incredible scene that was unfolding in front of me.

In the world of video games, meditating is frequently linked to entering a "flow state," which scientists say may be accomplished by playing games like Tetris, in which the player is required to concentrate on a single task. Cooking, blacksmithing, and alchemy are all activities inside Skyrim that are simple enough and have enough repetition to qualify as potential candidates for this type of gameplay. But for me, the notion of mindfulness is taken to an entirely new level whenever I play a role-playing game because of the way its environs are so peaceful.

To investigate this concept further, I contacted Thomas McConkie, the founder of Lower Lights School of Wisdom who is presently attending Harvard University to study transformational practice. He is the host of the podcast Mindfulness Plus, in which he discusses themes such as the use of technology to hone in on mindful consciousness and articulate that awareness.

He believes that one of the best ways to meditate is to put oneself in the shoes of a different character when playing a video game like Skyrim. This is especially true if we spend a lot of time thinking about our existence as we go about our day-to-day lives.

According to an email he sent out, he stated, "We know from Buddhism (and personal experience) that excessive self-reference and self-clinging make us sad." "As a direct reaction to this challenge, Buddhists of the Tibetan tradition created a practice known as Deity Yoga.

"It is a complicated tradition, more than I can summarise all at once here, but the transforming part consists in learning to decent rate our sense of self," said the teacher. That is to say, when we invest all of our focused awareness into another being, we acquire insight into the arbitrariness that underlies identification in the first place.

As a consequence of this, he maintains the opinion that it makes no difference whether you are role-playing as a Nord Stormcloak dissident or a Khajiit thief. There is a possibility that you are still playing as yourself provided that you can reach a state of nirvana while engaged in the game.

There are several other open-world video games besides The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that also provide players with the chance to take a break and take in the environment around them. Nevertheless, this Bethesda classic has the biggest grip on me, and I can't help but question how much of that is because I played it when I was younger.

When Skyrim was first launched, I was in the midst of an upsetting and trying time in my personal life. It was an opportunity for me to go exploring in a harsh and fantasy environment, and it served as my getaway. Now, whenever I open up a save file, it feels like going home; I can locate a new area that I haven't explored yet and go back to that sense of simply being (as long as a sabre cat doesn't drop in for an unannounced visit, of course).

This sensation of being at home is heightened for me by the eerie music and the picturesque settings in the North. When I contacted McConkie about this topic, he agreed with me that including visual and aural aspects into your meditation practice may be a beneficial tool, provided that these elements assist you to concentrate on the here and now. In addition to this, you can improve these moments throughout your day-to-day existence.

"To enhance your mindfulness experience with Skyrim or any other game or activity for that matter, you can practise keeping some attention on physical sensation and emotion at all times, as well as having an attitude of openness and willingness to feel everything you're feeling," he wrote. "Keeping some attention on physical sensation and emotion at all times" can be practised by practising keeping some attention on physical sensation and emotion at all times. In addition, he asserted that this can result in the development of the "mindfulness skill of equanimity," which, in its most basic form, means to accept circumstances for what they are, even though they may be challenging.

When you play Skyrim again, I want you to stop for a moment, locate a private spot with some peace, and commit to being more conscious of your surroundings. Even if you are in a digital world full of dragons, a level of comfort that may be achieved on its own is to be present at the moment.

Skyrim and SpongeBob are visiting Fall Guys.

2023-01-13  Sophia Zackary