Mindfulness

Mindfulness (9)

Mindfulness in VR

September is National Emotional Wellness Month and there's no better time to build up resilience for the upcoming school year and holiday season approaching.

Here are my tips for building resilience through mindfulness.

Right now, as you’re reading these words, this is all that exists. Put the past aside for now. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the next few seconds, let alone tomorrow. So, by living in the moment, you’re living in the only reality that you can be sure of. This is mindfulness. Being present and appreciating now, whatever is in your "now." Living in the here-and-now is especially helpful when you’re going through a tough time.

You can take things moment by moment, rather than worrying about the whole problem. Say to yourself, ‘I’ll live my life one breath at a time and see what happens.’

1. Get in touch with your body, be mindful of your posture, straighten up a bit, let your head rest comfortably on your spine. Relax your muscles.

2. Breathe. Live life one breath at a time. Take three deep breaths before and after tackling a task or conversation. You will be more present and mindful.

3. Accept what you cannot change. Letting go of things we cannot control can be liberating.

4. Be mindful of what and when you eat. Eat slowly, regularly and because you are hungry, not for distraction or emotional reasons.

5. When you're talking with someone, pay attention and focus on making eye contact, on really seeing them. Practice mindful listening — are you truly listening?

6. Stick gratitude quotes on your wall, mirror or computer, and bring a picture of your family to work – these things may all remind you to be grateful.

7. Spend time with grateful, positive people who inspire you. Robert Emmons, Gratitude Researcher at the University of California says, ‘If we hang out with ungrateful people, we’ll “catch” one set of emotions; if we choose to associate with more grateful individuals, the influence will be in another direction. Find a grateful person and spend more time with him or her.’

8. Listen to music. Music can help focus your mindfulness and meditation practice.

9. Enjoy nature. Enjoying the sunshine and outdoors is a great way to engage the senses and be mindful of the beautiful world around us.

10. Move your body for 30 minutes each day.

11. Sleep well. Mindfulness is associated with better quality and longer sleep, with fewer sleep disturbances.

12. Take time each day to reflect on why you’re here.

13. Discover apps on RenewVR that use the unique properties of virtual reality to encourage personal transformative change. We recommend the following designed for mindfulness:

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RenewVR.com has reached more than 300 interactive virtual experiences with the power to personally transform you and build emotional wellness, with more being added all the time. Frustrated searching the app stores? Find them here! Our health and wellness app reviews bring you the best in abstract art, atmospheric experiences, exploration, meditation, nature, personal development, puzzles, and stress relief.

Events next month:

* The 3rd Annual Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality and Behavior Change in Stanford, CA Oct 6-7
* SOCAP17 is coming up Oct 10-13 in San Francisco, CA
* One Love Experience Oct 20-22 in Lake Perris, CA

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brain tears

VR developers are getting good enough at fooling your brain in virtual reality that they also have to start worrying about your safety. Scientists and researchers really have no idea whether and how long-term exposure to VR changes the brain. This begs a discussion about responsibility as to what we create. There are decades worth of research into how motion simulators affect people, etc. and we have some insight into the psychology of the software interaction, and the physiology of the how the body and mind react.

What we're able to do with the technology that has come available in the last couple years is exciting, and so much more impact than other forms of media. We need to think long and hard about what long-term exposure looks like.

The way VR fools your brain into thinking that a virtual space is real is by knowing what pieces your brain uses to construct reality, and then giving your brain the same information, presented in virtual reality. The vestibular system in our ears tells our brain about our position in 3D space by helping us achieve balance. But there's a lot more to it than motion sickness, which Chris Dede from Harvard University, says affects roughly 3% of VR users.

With recent mapping data from the Human Connectome Project revealing 180 distinct regions of the brain, imagine what's possible when you consider that VR is being used for pain reduction, PTSD, and social anxieties like fear of speaking.

The key to achieving these goals is to first understand the senses that the human brain uses to intuit what is real, in the real world, and then give those senses the same types of data, but in the virtual world.

Creators need to take great care in how they prepare users for their experiences, something that so far I don't see enough of yet. Because your brain can be so thoroughly fooled into thinking the virtual world is the real world, those who experience VR may need to be warned about the content that awaits them. First impressions are important, something scary in VR could be offputting at least and in worse cases disturbing.

Adding enough sensory and directional data in virtual experiences is important not only in keeping the brain believing that the virtual world is real so that we can enact situations to enlighten and educate ourselves but also to avoid potentially negative or even traumatic experiences unintended in VR.

At a recent Cannes Lions Festival appearance, Google VR vice president Clay Bavor said: “When you look at your brain under an fMRI, remembering and experiencing look very similar.”

They also impact you similarly.

Please also read our white paper: "Using Virtual Reality for the Reduction of Anxiety: An Introduction to How Immersive VR Can Improve the Treatment of Anxiety"

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Dr. Phil's Pat to Recovery ProgramFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RE:NEW VR Wellness Portal to Feature
Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery Virtual Reality Experiences

San Francisco, California - August 21, 2017 - NewPathVR is pleased to announce that they will be working with Dr. Phil to promote Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery on RE:NEW (RenewVR.com), the Leading Source for VR Wellness Experiences.

Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery is a virtual reality recovery reinforcement tool available to help the newly sober make the difficult transition from rehab to the real world.

Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery VR experiences depict various scenarios that are common triggers for individuals reentering the world outside of rehab. Each scenario features a face-to-face experience with Dr. Phil.

This powerful new virtual reality tool for use in the fight against addiction was created with inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in mind. The RE:NEW wellness portal will help direct people to the various facilities that offer DR. Phil’s virtual reality experiences as part of their treatment program.

"Dr. Phil's drug and alchohol rehab experience highlights the type of wellness content that will draw people to VR." said Lisa Padilla, NewPathVR's founder and CEO. "Wellness products will drive adoption because they represent meaningful content people will use on a regular basis to improve and change their lives."

Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery’s two-step supplemental strategy includes virtual sessions with Dr. Phil, accompanied by workbook exercises designed to be completed and discussed with each facility’s counseling staff.

Designed specifically for those struggling with addiction, it represents the culmination of more than four decades of experience Dr. Phil has working in the mental health profession and addiction recovery. Dr. Phil’s Path to Recovery uses virtual reality to help people confront all of the problems in their life (not limited to addiction), identify the causes, and start working toward permanent solutions. You'll be able to find Dr. Phil's Path to Recovery VR program on RE:NEW starting this week and at participating rehab centers.

About Dr. Phil
The creators of this program, Dr. Phil McGraw, who has more than 45 years of experience working in the mental health profession, and Jay McGraw, understand what it takes for someone to make a drastic change in the direction of their life. Initially launched in early 2017, it has been enthusiastically received by reputable facilities coast to coast.

About NewPathVR
NewPath VR creates research-driven virtual reality experiences for personal development and emotional wellbeing. The company creates experiences using its proprietary Active Psychology™ platform which is based on extensive psychological research with the goal of evoking positive change through transformative technology. We also power the world’s first VR wellness portal — RE:NEW (RenewVR.com).

Contact:

Ashild Fossum
Marketing and PR
NewPathVR
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
1390 Market Street #2710
San Francisco, CA 94102


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Mindfulness and Technology

Originating in Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the West as the incidence of anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders plague the undercurrent of our fast-paced industrialized way of life. Recent scientific research on mindfulness has demonstrated beneficial effects on several holistic aspects of personal health, including the mind, the body, and behavior. 

Mindfulness meditation has been proven medically effective to decrease stress and improve well-being when practiced consistently. Yet many people still struggle with the concept or application of mindfulness-based therapy. A new wave of delivery is emerging which is combining this ancient practice with modern technology to bridge the gap and appeal to a modern generation of meditators. Studies show not only relaxation, but important shifts in cognition, emotion, biology, and behavior that may work synergistically to improve health. There is also emerging evidence that mindfulness training is associated with greater meaning and peace in one’s life (spirituality), as well as enhanced relationships with others (Carmody et al., 2008Carson et al., 2004)

Imagine you are sitting peacefully on a beautiful beach. You can hear seagulls against a backdrop of pebbles clinking together with each breaking wave. You take deep belly breaths and listen to your meditation teacher as she sits beside you and guides you through the film roll of anxiety and consciousness unfolding behind your eyes. Now imagine that you take off your virtual reality headset to discover you in fact never left your own living room (and saved hundreds of dollars on a flight to a meditation retreat in India.) This is an example of one scenario that modern entrepreneurs are envisioning the marriage of mindfulness and technology to enhance the effectiveness of well-being and relaxation intervention. Virtual reality devices can be combined with health tracking technology such as Provada Health's iOS app; “…incorporated into (the) app (is) the ability to link health-tracking wearables, such as the Apple Watch, to quantify the effects of a meditation session on, for example, your resting heart rate. Or look at how your sleep is being affected by taking time out to meditate.”

Modern gaming technology is another avenue where it seems there is potential for mindfulness to be cultivated. Take for example one gaming app available via Play Store called 'Pause,' which was created through the principles of mindfulness meditation and Tai Chi. The creator Peng Cheng explains, “It started with my own severe experience of stress and depression. I gave myself 6 months, I practically didn't do anything but I meditated and practiced Tai Chi with the goal to do nothing but staying in the here and now as much as possible.” The simple game involves a little blob which follows your finger across the screen and facilitates focused awareness by growing in size as you maintain a slow concentrated speed. “Most of our stress only exists in our head and absorbs all our attention. To break this pattern, I need to focus on what is physical and tangible and actively put my attention in the moment.”

Cultivating focused attention in the present moment is the core foundation of mindfulness practice preached hundreds of years ago, in ancient India, and today via a squiggly blob on a hand-held screen or through a high-tech headset. Proper use of technology has the capacity to transform the quality of our lives and the delivery of ancient therapies such as mindfulness which are being lost on a section of the modern generation unaccustomed or afraid of 'spiritual mumbo jumbo.' Many trials of research have found that people with higher levels of mindfulness – even without “formal” meditation training – report feeling less stressed, anxious and depressed, and more joyful, inspired, grateful, hopeful, content, vital, and satisfied with life (Baer et al., 2006; Brown & Ryan, 2003; Cardaciotto et al., 2008; Feldman et al., 2007; Walach et al., 2006).

Another benefit of mindfulness is the ability to recognize and accurately label emotions (Analayo, 2003). More mindful people appear to have a greater ability to control emotional reactions in the middle part of the brain (the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex [ACC]) by engaging the front part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex [PFC]), which is associated with attention, concentration, and emotion regulation. This means when you’re practicing mindfulness you’ll better be able to control your emotions and correct unpleasant mood states.

Believe it or not, there is increasing scientific evidence to support the therapeutic effect of mindfulness meditation training on stress-related medical conditions, including psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic low back pain, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Several new technologies, including brain imaging, wearable tech. and virtual reality, are being used to look at and extend the potential health benefits of mindfulness. Finally, research is beginning to prove what mindfulness practitioners have known for centuries…that greater focus, awareness, acceptance, and empathy can make for more flexible, adaptive responses to stress, which, in turn, can help free us from suffering and realize greater well-being & happiness.

Please also read our white paper: "Using Virtual Reality for the Reduction of Anxiety: An Introduction to How Immersive VR Can Improve the Treatment of Anxiety"

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explore religion1

Virtual reality is hitting practically everything in existence right now. From entertainment to exploration and beyond, it seems like there’s nothing virtual reality won’t have a hand in. But will it have a place in religion? Before any cries of blasphemy are made, it would be prudent to consider how virtual reality could affect religion, and maybe even make it more immersive and tangible for some people.

Virtual reality could be used in many ways to alter how religion works in society, and one of the most prominent ways it may do this is through travel. Almost all religions have sacred places. Jerusalem, Mecca, and the like are just a few examples of holy locations that are sacred to certain religions. Many followers of those religions would like to visit those places, and in some cases they are technically required to.

But unless Mecca is just a hop and a skip away, it’s not easy to get there. Not only is it time consuming, in some places in the world dangerous, but expensive as well. With virtual reality, pilgrims may be able to visit their holy location without ever actually leaving their own country. Whether or not this would be accepted as equivalent to a real physical journey is particular to each religion, but the point still stands: virtual reality could allow pilgrims to essentially visit places of religious importance.

But it could also be used to teach. The majority of religions have a holy book or something similar that details the past of that religion, as well as their doctrines and beliefs. While reading them from a page is certainly one way to learn, what if you could actually be there? How would it feel to sit at the feet of Jesus or Mohammed or any significant religions figure as they taught their message? Without a doubt, it would be a very different kind of experience, and may even help followers feel more attuned to their religion as they get to physically see figures of importance.

84 million Americans attend church weekly but that number is declining for a number of reasons, says Pew Research in their 2015 report on America's Changing Religious Landscape. Virtual reality offers a way for people to connect spiritually, from home.

These are just a few of the ways in which virtual reality could influence religion. Without a doubt, some religions will not accept the idea of incorporating technology into their means. Others may accept it with open arms. Either way, the potential is extremely vast, and in the end virtual reality will likely become a major part of various religions, limited only by the ingenuity of the programmers that work on it. Only time can tell how much of an influence virtual reality could have on our churches, synagogues, and mosques, but it’s an exciting anticipation that will no doubt bring some great wonders and marvels along with it.

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sad older man pic 1

An Introduction to How Immersive VR Can Improve the Treatment of Anxiety

Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. Many people feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They can cause such distress that it interferes with your ability to lead a normal life. These types of psychological and emotional problems are common. There is a growing body of research that shows virtual reality can be used effectively to treat depression without medication, treat PTSD and phobias, and reduce persecutory delusions. 25% of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and nearly 50% of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Between 30% and 80% of people with mental health concerns never receive treatment. In 2011, 59% of adults with a mental health problem did not receive any mental health treatment. Those numbers are only for serious mental health issues. Acute anxiety can be a serious mental illness. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.

There are many types of anxiety disorders including the following: panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and specific phobias which are intense fears of a specific object or situation. Symptoms of anxiety disorders can be feelings of panic, fear or uneasiness, problems sleeping, cold or sweaty hands or feet, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, and dizziness. The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but anxiety disorders — like other forms of mental illness — are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress which can cause maladapted behavior.

Anxiety is generally treated with medications and/or psychotherapy. The growth of technology in medical treatment has expanded over the past several years and virtual reality (VR), a newer technology, has shown promise in its effectiveness in treating mental disorders, particularly when it is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). VR is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors...

Email us to receive the full white paper "Using Virtual Reality for the Reduction of Anxiety: An Introduction to How Immersive VR Can Improve the Treatment of Anxiety"

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candles

Life is hard. That is why so many people look for relief/escape in drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, food, and various forms of travel and entertainment. We are looking for instant gratification, a quick fix, an escape from a reality that has become painful and burdensome. Any uncomfortable emotion is now looked upon as a pathology to be medicated. We are not looking for personal growth, we are looking for relief.

Some people are able to look past the immediate and yearn for something more than a quick (and temporary) fix. They are not trying to escape their present reality, they are looking for a way to understand it and get better at living within it. This can take the form of spiritual tourism, whereby we look for the next vacation, trip, retreat, class, church, temple, congregation of like-minded people, to support us in our quest. While potentially helpful, there is an element of striving to this which is counter-intuitive to any real spiritual experience. And it is a spiritual experience which is required to create meaningful change in how we view ourselves and the world around us.

Virtual reality (VR) offers us the opportunity to experience a reality that is different than the one in which we are experiencing discomfort. What does this have to do with spirituality? All religions have rites and rituals designed to create an atmosphere of the transcendent. These rites and rituals use music, dance, incense, and formal prayers to create an atmosphere which invite us to experience the divine. It is in this mystical environment that we are able to expand our consciousness beyond our daily cares concerns and and connect with timeless truths which can offer us insight and guidance. This path has traditionally been pursued by those searching for a deeper meaning to their existence.

When you put on the headset, you enter into a virtual world that can be manipulated to create a specific environment tailored to meet your needs. Virtual reality has the ability to manipulate the environment and your experience in ways that can easily be more compelling than real life. VR has been successfully used in exposure therapy for treating people suffering from various phobias and from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). VR allows people to experience their fears and past trauma in a safe and controlled environment. People know that the experience is not “real,” but the brain is tricked by the artificial stimuli. The overwhelming sense of “presence” experienced in VR which makes the experience so powerful. This presence allows people to experience VR as if it were real, and to experience the powerful emotions that can be triggered by this experience. It is the triggering of these emotions that has the power to create change.

Anyone on a spiritual quest is seeking a new way of experiencing the world. Those who can afford it can travel to spiritual centers in Tibet, Bali, and other places in search of enlightenment. Most people seeking spiritual growth don’t have access to these opportunities and will need to find something closer to home. In VR, you can attend a virtual religious service along with others in a virtual space, you can listen to a teaching from a spiritual master, and you can experience meditating on a beach in Maui — VR gives you instant access to another world. The brain-tricking power of VR provides us a tool to experience life as those who have sufficient means to travel and to create meaningful connections with others whom we might not ordinarily meet.

In summary, VR can give you the opportunity to expand your consciousness and experience life in a safe environment as a means of achieving personal growth. With VR, technology replaces religious rites and rituals with predetermined stimuli which can be arranged to create the desired effect that the individual is seeking. VR isn’t going to replace religion, it is going to provide an additional tool to enhance people’s lives in a way that religion has not been able to due to the immersive quality of the VR experience.

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tree bubble

There are two technologies that humanity has been looking forward to for decades. One of these technologies is time travel. The other is virtual reality. You may want to throw ‘flying cars’ up there somewhere as well, but some people haven’t seemed to realize that planes essentially are just that. Regardless, of all of these technologies that humanity has wished for, only one of them has come to pass so far: virtual reality. The thing is, with virtual reality, it may be possible to experience the other technologies through it. In fact, some of the leading physicists think time is an illusion.

Granted, virtual reality will never be able to truly, physically send you through time and space to exist in a different era. But, with the power of virtual reality, it may be possible to experience the past and future in every sense besides the legitimate physical.

Imagine, for instance, virtual reality that lets you experience the American Revolution firsthand. As a soldier perhaps, or even one of the commanders. Or perhaps you would just be present in an ethereal sense, watching everything from the safety of virtual reality. Or consider the opposite. What if you could go into virtual reality, and experience a programmer’s idea of the world in the year 3000? While you can’t claim any accuracy to what people think is the future (though Back to the Future did an uncannily good job with their Cubs World Series prediction), you could still experience what people believe the future will be like, from flying DeLorean’s to those hover boards we never got when we were supposed to.

Obviously, none of this will truly take you to the past or the future. You will still physically be present in the world of 2017, but, the real question is, does it make a difference? If you experience something that is so real to your senses that it may as well have been, does it really matter if it actually happened? To some people it might, but to many others it does not.

If you could use virtual reality to experience say, sky-diving, would it not be the same as actually sky diving so long as it was realistic? The same notion can be held to the idea of pseudo-time travel through virtual reality. Maybe you didn’t really travel in time back to the Crusades, the American Revolution, or one of the World Wars. Maybe you didn’t really travel to the year 3000 and witness the future. But if the experience is real enough, is it not the same as though you actually did?

It is something that is yet to be seen, but highly anticipated by all. Moreover, the potential is nearly limitless. With this kind of virtual reality, will the way history is taught change? Will students be able to experience renditions of the history they are learning first hand? And what of religion? Rather than read the Bible or the Quran, will you be able to experience every part of it from the perspective of someone who was actually there? You very well could, provided that a programmer desires to make it so. Coincidentally, SpiritualVR officially announced it's developer partner program this week, inviting creators to publish through its network of spiritual and wellness-minded apps.

Virtual reality is one of the most exciting things to happen to humanity in decades. And though we may never truly travel through time, who knows what we could one day experience through the power of the technology we now have. I’ll meet you there or, rather, then.

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building self esteem

Psychosocial health is a combination of psychological, emotional, and social factors. It determines and reflects the way people view themselves and others, and how they deal with problems and stressful situations. Here are just a few traits shared by psychosocially healthy individuals.

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