Mindful 360 and Immersive Tech

Summary: M360 is an embodied spin by a mindfulness professional around your whole system to cross check from conception to distribution that the mindful principles of care and attention are in place. As embodied practitioners, we start with self and make sure those self-care foundations are strong.

A huge gratitude to all the creators, founders, researchers, designers and developers who were part of this action research learning process including Tony Langford, Dumeethra Luthra, Mark Farid and Arebyte Gallery, and Jose Montemayor Alba.

Slide from The Death Incubator Project with Jose Montemayor Alba from Virtual Awakening

The Mindful 360 Approach is a design process that draws on mindfulness, neuroscience, psychology and spirituality that seeks to ensure the principles of care and attention are (as far as possible) key features of any design from conception to the execution.

This systemic approach examines all levels including Purpose, People, Process and Product. It has arisen from live action research from a number of transformative technology projects. One enhancing well-being (Take-Pause), another expanding awareness (The Death Incubator with Virtual Awakening) and a provocative artistic piece/installation (Seeing-I). Each of these projects utilized the elements of the M360 project as required for stage of development and within capacity (financial, attentional).

M360 is for projects who prioritize ethical and safe conduct (beyond lip service) as an integral and embodied feature of their purpose, product and processes. It extends the zone of care to the psychological as well as physical safety of all involved, as well as the true cost (to people and the planet) of the production line. These are projects and companies who are committed and resourced to do the thinking to mitigate against unintended consequences. An ethos of transparency guards against inequalities (financial, access) at multiple levels.

Why is this necessary? Real care and attention to detail is important for any process or product but we believe especially so when the work is around sensitive topics, using powerful consciousness altering tools (e.g. XR or AR) easily mass scaled, and at a time of mass collective psychosis arising from trauma and deep mistrust. This is why psychological safety and clear intentions are not just nice to have, they are now essential: to prevent harm, to optimise effort.

Our process starts with a conversation and two questions: What are you doing (and why)?. Start with the why was made famous by Simon Sinek, but we go deeper. To the neurobiological and psychological realms. What is your brain doing (and why)? What are you doing that is conscious and unconsciousness (and why)?

We offer tools, processes and audits that can either be self-directed or done within a specific project remit or as part of an on-going collaborative relationship. Our M360 process helps you with your thinking around key topics such as Purpose, People, Process and Product. To complete the whole process would be the gold standard but this is a timely and costly process that (in future) we believe needs to be part of the funding assessment process. Projects or collaborations who have been through this process will work more effectively, more productively and profitably (see Project Aristotle at Google for the returns on investment for psychologically safe teams). They will also work in ways and on products that enhance rather than diminish true human flourishing. This is why we are so passionate to share this work.

M360 is closely aligned to the principles of the Mindful Business Charter (mindful meetings and communications, mindful delegation, planning disagreements, and honouring rest times). In our MCoE team meetings we do a check-in to understand our attentional and emotional bandwidth and what we need to work together in that moment as best we can. Sometimes its small kind steps and seeing what is possible right now. Other times we select a wider lens, shifting gears to creative long term vision work. Our Conscious Collaboration process may be something to explore, as it outlines at a much deeper archetypal level the ways we can mitigate the common barriers to great team working. Celebrate whats working, but get clinical with your approach to some common derailers (e.g. cognitive diversity, narcissism and hubris, diversity of risk tolerance, unconscious intentions).

https://mindfulbusinesscharter.com/

Mindful 360 Process – Key Features

Purpose: a deep questioning into intentions. This is increasingly important from a practical business perspective but additionally so at the psychological level for passionate founders working through their own healing journeys in their work. What makes these projects great is often what is also at the heart of their failure to launch. Psychological screening, emotional intelligence questionnaires or at the very least a supervised investigation of the “mesearch” element of the story are some of the options available. This also includes remaining cognizant at all times of the “true cost” of any business and negotiating the value of “intangibles” – those essential, invisible structures that hold everything in place. Valuing care.

Intentions and purpose were particularly important in the Death Incubator project. This was a topic of transformative potential using a transformative technology tool coming from a strong founder story. All the ingredients for powerful work, summarised in this short documentary about the project. Therefore it needed a mindful lens on care and attention.

https://www.mindfulnesscentreofexcellence.com/m360-case-study-the-death-incubator/

People and Personnel: an exploration of personal, collective, conscious and unconscious intentions, and relational processes in the team. This is what helps keep everyone aligned to purpose and allow coordinated flexible (often remote) working. What is the cultural glue holding your team together? How are you working with psychological safety? Interdisciplinary team model clash? Capacity and care? Here, workshops and information exchanges can help to bring your IDT together quickly, effectively and kindly. How are you working with diversity of thinking (and feeling) and taking care of the well-being of all those who come into contact with your product?

In the Seeing-I Project the team mindfulness processes proved essential in supporting a large interdisciplinary team at an international art show (Ars Electronica). Morning team mindful movements and intention setting were a vital part of the routine. Psychological safety and mindfulness training was provided for the artist, with research and clinical skills used to understand in the moment the impact of this creative consciousness hacking experiment.

Process and Production Line: Care and attention given to the minds and bodies and hearts creating the content (self-care first). If we are creating new worlds we want them to come from a brain and body system that is healthy and optimised and flowing with good vibes! We ask “what’s kind in the “next gen” production line?”.

Product: In a mindful 360 design the product is more than the product. There is a VR or AR experience, but when we wider the aperture of our lens of attention, the context, intentions, and transitions in and out of contact with the experience itself are included. We must apply the principles of care and attention here too. Those working with consciousness (whether in the therapy, psychedelic or shamanistic traditions), know the importance of set and setting. But when set and setting becomes someone’s living room, what do we need to think about to ensure not only safe use of the experience but also optimum and really meaningful experiences?

One key tool we work with in VR is a modified Transitional Pause from Dr. Tamara’s Russell’s Tools to Transform. This practice is a must for enhancing team productivity and well-being. It is also a great transitional process to support your brain as you move in and out of different realities (VR or otherwise!), or for short pauses to reground or experience within a VR experience. It can also be used at the macro level to support a reflective process. The Transitional Pause is just one of eight embodied mindfulness tools that work in XR as well as RL (real life – yep, for the team too). The provide grounding (Soles of Feet), mindset orientation (The 3Cs), vagal nerve soothing (Hand on Heart), and micro and macro integration tools (The transitional Pause) amongst others. Visit Tamara’s soundcloud to sample some of the Tools To Transform.

Slide from The Death Incubator Project with Jose Montemayor Alba from Virtual Awakening

These are a selection of some of the work the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence has completed in relation to mindfulness as applied to immersive VR. We use action research methods to evaluate live our brainwise tools and processes. Our collaborative working makes our insights broad and widely applicable.

Our main interests lie with projects intersecting arts and health (particularly mental health) and we are committed to the Mindful 360 approach. We recognize we are inviting entrepreneurs and those developing new tech to think deeply about how much they value care and attention as currently, doing this well will add expenses to the budget that were not previously there (or were moved elsewhere). This is a shift towards new ways of working and products that support preventative health. There is often confusion that preventative health doesn’t cost. In the longer term is does cost less, but it requires investment.

We are in a moment of pause to refine the learning from these projects and develop a space where we can share this work.

Those interested in Mindful 360 (consultancy, experiences) please contact Tony Langford via the website contact form.

Dr. Tamara Russell playing with VR at the RSA, London.

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