Mindfulness matters. In an age of high intensity, accelerated by an inescapable online environment in which our work lives as well as social lives perpetually revolve around, we all need to take a break, reset and recharge. However, escaping the internet's unyielding grasp is easier said than done; the irony of you reading this online article about staying offline speaks volumes.
But what if there was a way for the internet to offer a liberation from the wild happenings of the world, and ultimately achieving a sense of calm for you as a user? Web3 may just be the answer.
Meditation x Mindfulness x Metaverse
An intrinsic part of mindfulness is focusing on being in the present to channel out anxiety and negativity. Meditation is thus a common practice to achieve this state of calm, detaching yourself from the woes of everyday life by immersing yourself in the present, and heightening your awareness of it.
Brijjwell founder Anastasia Ling sees the metaverse as untapped potential for this very practice. "The metaverse is like an alternate realm," Ling says. "It's like a spiritual realm. You can live the life you want in the metaverse to make it happen in real life."
Indeed, whether it's through VR or just through a monitor the metaverse offers users new worlds to explore and get lost in. It's not quite escapism either, which is described as an "unconscious decision to turn away from life, to disown it." Instead, the metaverse provides a digital realm that is rooted in reality; vendors and other metaverse participants are activated by real-life counterparts. This is very much in line with mindfulness which is rooted in reality too.
"Escapism comes with judgement," Ling explains. "Meditation is a tool for mindfulness. Yoga and meditation are ways to reach the state of surrender that leads to nothingness." Web3 can provide this bridge.
"Wellness can be delivered in numerous way and is not one size fits all," Ling continues. "And if metaverse/web3 presents an opportunity to help people in the space to improve their well being, why not?"
Web3 prizes itself on its community-driven content. Whether its the metaverse, NFT projects or blockchain innovation, the bedrock of the technology is community. These parallels can be also be drawn for wellness community.
"The metaverse can potentially help people build a regular practice that can translate to real life," Ling explains. "We could also see a community coming together [in the metaverse] to meditate. In real life, communities come together to meditate – the collective energies and vibrations rise which is good for humanity"
Speaking at Blockhaus 2022, Alchemy Pay CMO Karmen Tang also emphasised the importance of community in spirituality. "For me [spirituality] is the feeling about how I love myself but how I want to be connected to something that's bigger than oneself. The term that comes to mind is "community" and web3 is a very community driven culture."
Tang highlights how the COVID pandemic was "really difficult for people dealing with loneliness", forcing people to "long for some sort of belonging." For Tang, "the rise of yoga movements" and "pelotons" show that people are wanting to be "part of something bigger than themselves."
"We're seeing that with web3, where people are turning to PFPs to feel like they are part of something that can resonate to a different part of identity," she adds.
Ling agrees. "The goal in the metaverse can be to help galvanise communities," she said.
Metaverse as a safe space
During Blockhaus 2022, panelists were keen to explore how the web3 can offer an even safe space for wellness than real life.
"The metaverse could be a space where people can engage in wellness and mindful practices in a safe space," says Ling.
Emote Health founder Booker Woodford emphasized how web3 can empower mindfulness too. "I see web3 providing a much more autonomous and empowering experience for wellbeing," he said. "There's much more versatility and ways of representation. I worked in the UK and Australia. If you're a minority there are not many paths that speak to who you are. In web3, it opens up that space."
Indeed, the first step of approaching mindfulness is empowerment. In real life, entering the community or seeing a therapist can be daunting and ultimately discouraging. The metaverse and web3 could provide a solution to this issue.
Daryl Lim, co-founder of NFT project MetaPals highlighted the importance of anonymity. "Web3 gives you the option of anonymity," he said. "If you go and see a therapist now, you might think not be convinced by client privilege. But people talk still."
"Web3 creates a safe space, allowing people to see a therapist whilst having their identity hidden. Imagine if you're the CEO of a multinational company. The in-house therapist in Billions shares everything with Axe!"
Realistic alternate reality
It's all well and good hypothesising how web3 can boost wellness, what exactly would this look like? Well, Tang argues that we've already seen glimpses of web3's potential for the space.
"Web3 is already intercepting the space," Tang said at Blockhaus. "Because of COVID we have 'click and mortar stores' instead of 'brick and mortar stores' where consumers can interact more."
Tang explains that China has taken the tech one step further with consumers interacting "with the actual products and can earn social currencies with their avatar."
"We're already seeing how technology like AR is interacting with fashion, and it's only a matter of time for it to intersect with wellness."
For Tang, wellness is a wide field and web3 technology has the capability of tapping into any of these verticals. "There are so many pillars in wellness eg fitness, skin care, therapy, mental health, aromatherapy," she says. "It's all about touching on the different sensory points, and we'll definitely see technology intersecting with that."
Ling agrees too. "Wellness can be delivered in numerous way and it's not one size fits all," she said to Blockhead. "Whatever that connects best with large group of audience is how we can make impact and serve people's needs."