Mindfulness, VR, and design research

This week has been dedicated to research over many topics that need to be strung together in order to achieve the goal of creating some form of virtual stress relief environment. First, I discovered the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness. He covers what mindfulness is as a very broad number of studies, but tends to always come back to the same core idea of being aware of the present moment with oneself. Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as, “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”. This is the definition I chose to follow as well because with this definition of mindfulness an individual gains the ability to void unnecessary thought and truly identify with themselves and any affliction in their lives.

Another topic for the week has been Immersion. Discovering what truly is immersion and what are causes it. While there are many definitions for immersion, one in particular is not only very relative to my work, but is also widely accepted. To be immersed is to be involved in a given context, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. I think this definition is very concise and accurate in regards to the feeling that immersion gives to the player. Not exactly being physically immersed, such as all virtual reality technology has the capability to do regardless of content, but having emotional connections to the virtual space and believing that the space you are in is all that matters at that moment.

I am still reading more about the aspects of interior and exterior design in relation to stress relief, but what I have discovered so far is the connection to natural lighting and an isolated space. One of the benefits to having an isolated space is that the individual does not have the fear of being viewed. People tend to act differently when in situation where they are around people verses when they are in an isolated area. Also, natural lighting gives off the feeling of relaxation because of the chemical connection people have to natural lighting verses artificial light.

Soon I hope to tie more of these factors together in order to create some concept for a virtual environment that will best allow an individual to relax and receive guided meditation.

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