Deepak Chopra Pioneers Wellness Benefits of VR With Finding Your True Self
Working at the forefront of the VR revolution, we can’t help but ruminate on the many possibilities for this new medium. Beyond its vast potential as a creative avenue, there are additional areas where we are convinced VR will prove to be absolutely transformative. One of these areas is the field of healing. And it is this very notion that led us to collaborate with renowned lecturer, philosopher, physician and best selling author Deepak Chopra. As Wevr co-founder Anthony Batt explains, “We believe there are inherent therapeutic possibilities with VR and that’s what this experience is pioneering. The idea that simulations might be used to create a better outcome for people. And really, who better to be our guide in this than Deepak Chopra.”
Deepak Chopra’s experience Finding Your True Self is available now via Wevr Transport.
The process of creating Finding Your True Self, like with so many intriguing endeavors, began as a conversation. The initial dialogue occurring between an accomplished father and his talented son. “My son Gotham is very interested in technology and the experiential aspect of it,” Deepak says. “We discuss technology all the time. I’m a big fan of how technology can shift consciousness. He was the one that brought me to Wevr.”
Gotham Chopra, Deepak’s son, is an author and filmmaker whose latest cable series The Religion of Sports chronicles the idea of sports as religion. He also documented his famous father in unflinching fashion with the film Decoding Deepak. “In the beginning of this I was just thinking how this was going to help my father communicate some of the things he has been talking about for years,” Gotham says. “To add an experiential or interactive element to what has otherwise been him lecturing or writing.”
The task of translating Deepak and his vast wealth of knowledge to Virtual Realty took a creatively circuitous path from live action and purely informative to something more impressionistic and inspiring.
“In the beginning we didn’t really know how we were going to go about it,” admits Wevr creative director Luise Blackaller. “But at some point it became very clear that Deepak’s voice is really powerful and he knows how to induce a certain emotional state of well being. We also started thinking about it visually in reference to color therapy and sensory depravation and sensoriums from the sixties. The question of what makes an image powerful enough to create a near religious experience – cathedrals and how the vastness of space and refracted light can provoke a sense of awe. So we created this very lyrical and impressionistic sequence that follow what Deepak is saying in his narration.”
The resulting experience merges a guided mediation and philosophical lecture by Deepak with subtly evolving visuals utilizing water colors by acclaimed artist Abhishek Singh. There is also an underlying ambient score provided by award winning composer Brian Riordan.
In addition to the guided meditation experience, there is also a highly informative lecture by Deepak from his personal study, where he discusses the spiritual and scientific nature of meditation and its many healing benefits.
As Gotham explains, “I think what differentiates this from other meditation experiences is that my father doesn’t just lead the audience through a meditation, which a lot of people can do, but he actually explains what meditation is. And not just from a spiritual perspective but from scientific perspective. And that helps to broaden the audience and appeal to new generations who don’t need it to be so “new age.
Executive producer Jamie Bryne sees the experience as merely the beginning of something potentially profound. “What’s really interesting is that this is an entirely new form that we are going to be able to continue to build on,” Byrne says. “It’s an opportunity to see how virtual reality can impact overall wellness. A project like this at this particular stage of VR’s development is as much about learning and finding out what works as anything. And it’s also inspiring. Hopefully people will see this and it will give them ideas that will push the medium forward. “
Deepak says he believes there is mounting scientific evidence that a VR experience like Finding Your True Self possesses the ability to positively effect people’s health. As an example he sites a 2015 study conducted at UC Berkeley linking the emotions experienced from nature, art and spirituality with a notable decrease in pro inflammatory cytokines. As psychologist Dacher Keltner, who co authored of the study, states in the university paper Berkeley News, “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”
Deepak believes Finding Your True Self is merely the beginning. “When VR came around I though it was a perfect way to amplify and make more powerful what I have been doing for the last thirty years,” he says. “I think one of the biggest applications for it in the future will be healing. In less than five years I believe you will go to a really good medical center and a physical might prescribe a VR session instead of pharmaceuticals.”