Can you tell a little about your first VR experience?
Definitely. A coworker brought his VR rig to the office. I put it on and was instantly shooting arrows at some little attackers in some tower defense game. I was utterly and completely IN it. No training. No tutorial. Just started shooting arrows. It wasn’t second nature…it was natural! It was completely immersive. Afterward I was blown away by how completely my brain bought in to the fake reality. Which instantly made me think two things. 1) if my brain believed the fake reality so easily, what does that say about “real” reality? And 2) I wonder if I can have a “real” experience of group meditation with people in VR. And I was sold.
What makes VR meditation different from traditional meditation?
Many things. And nothing. In traditional meditation we might say we are trying to reduce distractions to more easily facilitate awareness. In VR meditation we’re adding distractions in before then reducing them again. But really, technically, none of that should matter. Ultimately in meditation we usually would be working with whatever is present so the headset and it’s distractions are just more sense objects to relate to. Any disadvantages can just be worked in to the practice. And there are some big advantages. Like being able to sit, and feel like you’re truly with, people from all over the world. Or to customize a world to enhance aspects for a particular meditation. Recently I added some birds and animal sounds to the environment to use in a mindfulness of sound meditation.
What motivates you to lead sessions with EvolVR?
How would you describe the session you lead?
I have no idea how to answer that. I’ve had many great teachers and my current teachers are truly special. So obviously they all inspire and inform whatever I do. But I’m equally inspired and informed by a life time of music and geekery. I guess I’ve sort of evolved in to a certain process that I enjoy where the opening dharma talk slides in to the meditation or is interwoven together with it. It seems to be well received. And always at the end we invite everyone to check in even if that’s just some emojis flying up to the sky. It strengthens the feeling of community and encourages everyone to see and be seen by one another. And you’re very likely to leave one of my sessions with a song stuck in your head. I know I do.
What is your hope for the future of VR meditation?
Tremendous. I hope it’s widely adopted. Wisely utilized. Accessible. I think what we are doing, and what we think we can do right now, is just the beginning. I worry about people developing a dependence on visual/audio input (I think silent meditation is crucial) but I’m excited about possibilities such as visually and viscerally experiencing things like the 32 parts of the body meditation. The monastics used to sit in contemplation of an actual corpse decaying to truly grasp impermanence and nowadays most people can’t and wouldn’t want to do so. But now it could be simulated virtually. Ultimately it’s primarily about connection I think. The meditation possibilities are wonderful and endless but mostly meditating together is about human connection. Even if that means sitting quietly together.
What’s your favourite thing to do in VR, besides meditate or do yoga?
Kingspray Graffiti Simulator is by far my favorite thing to do. Real VR Fishing is my favorite space to be in. I’m not a fan of fishing but that lakehouse is the best meeting spot in VR! And I’m not proud of it, but Population One definitely gets more attention than it should from me.
Does your avatar look like you?
As much as possible. None of the VR avatar options give you the ability to be as accurate as I’d like. I’ve yet to see a decent ponytail for a long haired guy :b
Do you have one piece of advice for someone new to meditation?
Yes. Don’t give up, especially when you think you are too busy or burdened in life. There’s a momentum to practice. 5 minutes a day would be better than 30 minutes once a week.
Where can we find more of your work and offerings?
I currently lead:
Mindfulness Monday with Keoki Mondays at 6PM PT / 9PM ET.
Right Now, It’s Like This! Dharma and Meditation with Keoki Thursdays at 6PM PT / 9PM ET.
And all my other methods of contact can be found here: https://poplme.co/keoki
Find links to Keoki’s EvolVR sessions in AltspaceVR.