Todd Berry was one of those people who just couldn't meditate. "Sitting in my room with my legs crossed trying to think about nothing was really difficult for me," he said. The former army major has PTSD, anxiety and depression from his military service. Guided audio meditations were not enough for Mr Berry to focus on. "When I would close my eyes, then I would start to get a lot of ideation and a lot of intrusive thoughts and bad memories," he said. A few years ago he tried a virtual reality headset with guided meditations, and has had his own for about a year. Virtual reality is a simulation that allows someone to interact with a three-dimensional visual, as if they are actually in another environment. It has been a "game-changer" for the veteran. Meditating once or twice a day for 10 minutes, Mr Berry can focus on three-dimensional scenery - like a river or snowy mountains - while wearing a headset. "With the visual stimulus [the intrusive thoughts] doesn't occur, because you're focusing on the picture right in front of you," he said. "Bringing the headset to that guided mindfulness just makes it a lot more incredible." Mr Berry said he feels more stable since starting a regular meditation and mindfulness practice. "My intrusive thoughts have dissipated, my general mood during the day is pretty good, I'm a lot less irritable, less angry. Almost all my angry outbursts ... did significantly dissipate as well," he said. "The more I was using it, the more in tune I became with my own emotions and my own feelings." Meditation helps reduce symptoms of traumatic stress, founder of virtual reality mindfulness company AtOne, Edwina Griffin, claimed. "Data shows mindfulness and meditation has a significant effect on alleviating PTSD symptoms compared with both active and non-active control conditions," she said. "Research shows that virtual reality can reduce the symptoms of PTSD, particularly in war veterans, by calming the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the 'fight-or-flight' responses to danger." The AtOne app will be included in a program designed to improve emotional regulation in serving and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members. The program is a partnership between the virtual reality company, Frontline Mental Health Services, Western Sydney University and RSL LifeCare Veteran Services. The program will also include group sessions and mindfulness. More than a quarter of people who had served in the ADF had a mental or behavioural condition in 2020-21, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is compared to one in five people who haven't served. MORE MENTAL HEALTH NEWS: The idea of meditation or mindfulness can be off-putting for veterans, Mr Berry said. "I've been an inpatient in hospital with other veterans, some were quite reluctant to do mindfulness or give meditation a go," he said. "Meditation and mindfulness is becoming a bit more mainstream now. I think the younger generation will adopt it a lot more readily than the older generations." The Bonner resident believes tools like augmented reality will help encourage more people to try meditation. "I'm 100 per cent certain that if people try it, they won't regret it," he said. We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.