It was an innocent question, but one I’d heard posed one way or another too many times. “Aren’t you the people who do the Bible in VR or something?” While a worthy project, it’s not we’re doing.
As someone who has spent their whole career in communications, I realized I was failing in positioning the company successfully, despite my many efforts. Months into the branding and promotion and hundreds of conversations thick into the business, we were still being misunderstood by some people as a purely religious company.
SpiritualVR began as a development and publishing company with the goal of body, mind, and spiritual learning and health. Although our goal was always self-improvement and spiritual exploration, we were often misunderstood as a religious organization. I believe this is because the very word “spirituality” carries a different connotation to each person. The official definitions can’t even agree with one another.
1. the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
1. something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or to a cleric as such
noun, plural spiritualities.
the quality or fact of being spiritual.
And the list goes on. Words have both qualitative and a connotative value. The connotative value is where we get into trouble. If I say the word “chair”, you connote an image of a certain type of chair, because you have your own past experiences and definitions to make up your meaning of what “chair” means to you. It might mean any of the following.
It’s the same thing with any word, including “spirituality”. It could mean Buddhism. Nature. Church. Music. Yoga. It could mean chakras. We found ourselves spending a lot of time explaining “what spirituality meant to us”, and not nearly enough time focusing on how we were going to “bring wellness to VR”. We’ve always believed in the transformational power of VR for personal growth. I think now, in the letting go of the name, we will actually be able to do what we set out to.
Buddhists practice the principle of “non-attachment”, surrendering and relinquishing misguided preconceptions that will allow us to experience the essential peace that is within.
Zen teacher John Daido Loori said,
"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, non-attachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In non-attachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"
And Unity there is. It was the only sound choice for our prototype. ;)
A prototype built by our CTO, Eiran Shalev, proved methods from our Active Psychology toolkit and the self-compassion/cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercise for which we realized there were much wider applications. We now see the larger opportunity to help people build their emotional skills to help them thrive in both personal and professional lives and are developing toward that end.
Technology’s promise has always been to make life more convenient — everything better, and faster. Yet what’s really affecting us, killing us in fact, if not at the very least damaging our quality of life and holding us back from reaching our true potential, are our stress factors and emotional issues. Twenty-five percent (25%) of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime. But only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment.
That’s 180 million people missing the psychological support they need, a need NewPathVR is eager to address.
We aren’t abandoning the mission of SpiritualVR, however, we see the impact of the problems of the unwellness epidemic, specifically around stress and behavioral health, contributing to our dissatisfaction, and a 10-15% decrease in economic output. We believe we can change this and help improve health outcomes, through virtual reality.
It’s a new path. It’s going to take us somewhere better.