#779: Using VR as a Psychedelic Primer or Integration Tool with Andromeda Entertainment

robin-arnott2Andromeda Entertainment is creating and distributing immersive entertainment experiences for healing and self actualization. I previously talked with CEO Robin Arnott about his Sound Self experience, as well as a previous incarnation of Andromeda Entertainment when it was called Orpheus Technodelics. Arnott says that they’re interested in creating immersive experiences that could be used either as primers or assessment tools for psychedelic therapy or to cultivate mindfulness-based practices that could assist in integrating psychedelic experiences.

topher-sipesJoining Arnott is visual artist & VR performance artist Topher Sipes as well as flow artist and creative marketing director Swan. We talk about the intersections between psychedelic culture, immersive technologies, and contemplative meditation practices, and the variety of different flow states that they’re able to achieve through these intersections.

Another big topic of discussion was our wounded relationship to technology, and how technology usually puts us into a hyper mental state of consciousness. So what does it mean now that we have immersive technologies that are able to cultivate deeper embodied states of consciousness that increase our awareness of our bodies? There are many ancient “technologies” of plant medicines as well as breathing practices, and so they’re starting to explore some of these intersections by using breath as a gameplay mechanic in Sound Self, But they’re also thinking deeply about how technologies can be used to connect us to others and cultivate sanghas and communities of practice.

swan-vrAndromeda Entertainment is on the bleeding edge of fusing together psychedelic culture with immersive technologies that are aimed at the transformation of consciousness, and so it’ll be interesting to see the role that they may play in finding a niche therapeutic application for using immersive experiences as a form of psychedelic primer, assessment process, or post-psychedelic journey tool for integration.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So, as you may have noticed here on the Voices of VR, I've been doing a bit of a deep dive into the Awaken Futures Summit, where I did about six hours of conversation across 10 different interviews, looking at these cross-section between psychedelics, immersive technologies, and meditation. And so, one of the interviews that I think really embodies the essence of this intersection and cross-section is with Andromeda Media. featuring Robin Ornot, he's the CEO of Andromeda. Also, he's the creator of Soundself, which I've done a couple of other interviews with him talking about not only Soundself, but also what used to be called Orpheus Technodelics, which has gone through a number of different iterations. Now it's just called Andromeda Media. where they're focusing on these different psychedelic type of experiences that are really trying to create either a primer for psychedelic experiences or to help do integration or just cultivate a general sense of flow state that is totally inspired by psychedelic culture. So also on this podcast interview is a visual artist of Soundself, also just a performance artist using virtual reality art, as well as someone who is involved in working at the originator studios of VR Arcade, that's Topher Sipes, as well as Swan, who I've featured on the podcast before, talking about going viral with Beat Saber, doing a lot of the flow arts when she was working with Liv, which was the mixed reality company now she's working as a creative director of marketing at Andromeda Media. So Andromeda is really at this forefront of looking at this cross-section and intersection between psychedelic culture, immersive technologies, and these meditative and contemplative practices, representing a number of different VR experiences like SoundSelf and Microdose VR by Android Jones, which I've featured on the podcast before, as well as with a new kind of rhythm game called Audio Trip. So we'll be covering all that and more on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Topher, Robin and Swan happened on Sunday, May 19th, 2019 at the Awaken Future Summit in San Francisco, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:20.947] Topher Sipes: My name is Topher Sipes, and I'm a visual artist, a V-artist. I work with Andromeda Entertainment as a visual developer for Soundself, a lead graphic designer for Andromeda, and hardware and experience facilitator at events. Additionally, I'm a V-art performer, so I'll be using Tilt Brush this June 13th to perform with the Houston Symphony, and a 15-year dream journalist, which is another type of immersive tech.

[00:02:50.974] Robin Arnott: I'm Robin Arnott, I'm the CEO of Andromeda Entertainment, though actually we run a holacracy, so I call myself a CEO as shorthand, but really I have some roles in the company that are more strategically oriented, and I'm also the lead designer on Soundself.

[00:03:10.050] Swan: Hey, I'm Swan. I'm known as SwanVR in the VR industry. I do flow arts and I got known because of a viral video featuring Beat Saber before launch. We partnered with them when I was working at Live. Right now I am with Andromeda and I'm a creative director of marketing. So my role is to amplify VR experiences that invokes flow state. And flow state has been a huge interest of mine with new embodiment, with new tech as a flow artist.

[00:03:37.549] Topher Sipes: One last thing, I help to operate Originator Studios Virtual Reality Arcade in Austin, Texas.

[00:03:43.439] Kent Bye: But you've also studied as a Flow Genome as well, right?

[00:03:46.263] Topher Sipes: Yes, for the past five months, the Flow Genome Project Coaching Certification, so I'm wrapping that up right now.

[00:03:52.617] Kent Bye: Cool. So we're here at the Awakened Futures Summit, which is the cross-section of psychedelics, technology, and meditation put on by the Consciousness Hacking Group here based in San Francisco. So I'm curious to hear how each of you think about this cross-section and intersection of psychedelics, consciousness, and technology being here at this conference and seeing how all these intersections are coming together.

[00:04:17.449] Robin Arnott: To me these three things, meditation, psychedelics, and technology, to me it's so clearly how these things relate and are related to one another and are, I want to say, sort of different expressions of the same thing. Or can be, anyway. We think of technology as being your phone, being your... car and our relationship with technology as Westerners at least or at least I think our conscious relationship with technology the way we think about it is are things that serve our mind but more and more as people are becoming hungrier for that internal experience the kind of internal experience that you can cultivate with meditation and that you can weigh access with the psychedelics you know really like our reality is so much deeper than we have an understanding of it's absolutely humbling But the material reality that we imagine ourselves being part of is a shimmering piece of it, but by no means the whole. And these are tools that can help us feel into deeper parts of reality, and VR can certainly play into that. Especially when, as VR artists and creators, we take influence and inspiration from these domains that have long been a part of that inner exploration. And I think the work MAPS is doing, leading psychedelics into the mainstream of the United States, is also leading the way to a deeper conversation about our relationship with technology as a whole. It's not going to look the same ten years from now as it did, as it does today. Just like today, meditation is mainstream, yoga is mainstream. Ten years ago, these were not things people did or talked about very much.

[00:05:50.602] Swan: So it's kind of interesting as technology is a tool. You can use it as like a phone as a distraction, but you can also use it to dive into yourself. So there's a lot of experiences like, for example, the Muse headset where you put on the EEG reader and it tracks your brainwaves and it gives you a biofeedback as to how you're meditating. I feel like that's good because it's making things like meditation and the idea of consciousness training more accessible to people that don't know where to start. It's just like, oh, go meditate. It's like, but how do I know I'm meditating? How do I know I'm in this peaceful state? With the EEG reader of Muse, it gives you that biofeedback that you're like, oh, so this is what meditation is like. This is what it's like to be present. So if anything, technology is a tool, so you can use it to distract yourself, you can use it to binge watch shows and not really exist in this reality, or you can use it for good, where you're basically using it to discover more about yourself, more about how to get present and also be much more conscious and more aware as to your surrounding. And the great thing about VR, the thing that I love about it is it embodies people in themselves and into other worlds. Basically it takes them out of their current state and it takes them into a new world and basically enables them to kind of, you know, be more aware and also be amazed of like the scope and the spectrum of what reality can be. So in itself I feel like they're all aligned because technology can help other people get to a better state of consciousness, and technology, like what Robin's doing with SoundSelf, is helping people meditate and come into this biofeedback awareness of themselves with tech. So, if anything, I think the future of consciousness is marrying the technology, because as a society, we're so used to technology that if we can have technology teach people consciousness, it's a better doorway for people to learn practices than just be like, hey, learn how to meditate, and it's like, where do I even start? So, it's a great first step, I think.

[00:07:50.821] Topher Sipes: Human-centered technology. I'm thinking of Kevin Kelly's book, What Technology Wants, and how he speaks about the technium, and how technology is, he has an expanded definition of technology, so when I think about psychedelics, meditation, those are, in some senses, different types of technology as well. and this intersection between all of them. It's exciting because so much technology that we consider in our modern lives is relatively centered around the mind. Something that Robin mentioned during the unpanel earlier today is how immersive technology allows for embodiment, specifically AR, VR, XR that has that design principle built in. And I'm very excited about how we can be more embodied through technology as mediation, not technology as replacement. And so I'm most interested in the bridge building between VR and the real world and how it can improve the relationships with ourselves and with one another and the environment.

[00:08:59.650] Kent Bye: Yeah, and with each of, especially psychedelics as well as with technology and VR experiences, I see it as being able to go into these immersive environments, similar to an immersive theater where you have a set of rules and a whole context and an experience where you put yourself into this other environment. and then it kind of changes your behavior because you don't have the same pressures and social pressures and it allows you to kind of experiment with yourself in a way that you're able to discover a part of your personality that may have been suppressed but maybe it's always been a part of your character that you're able to discover by switching into these different contexts. And I feel like whether it's a psychedelic journey, or whether it's with these virtual reality experiences, you're able to kind of step into this altered state of consciousness, but then be able to look at yourself from this other perspective, and then come back out of it, knowing a little bit more about yourself. And I think that is another theme that I hear in terms of both what I'm seeing in the immersive technology sphere and the bleeding edge of what's happening in storytelling and VR, but also here at this Awaken Futures conference with people being able to really tune into these deeper insights about themselves through these different experiences.

[00:10:06.417] Robin Arnott: I'm curious, because you've spoken to more people in this domain than probably anyone in the world, When I think of, and I speak as a technological optimist, and a VR optimist, and a very great believer in the technology, and as a psychedelic psychonaut, I'm going on my second ayahuasca journey end of this month. And I've had the kind of revelations you have through psychedelics are shaking, just absolutely shaking and life-affirming. And I wonder what in your experience, speaking to these VR creators, working in VR, experiencing VR, what do you see as the capacity in VR to illuminate those same kind of experiences?

[00:10:51.612] Kent Bye: Yeah, just the last interview that's published at this point is called The Collider. It was at Tribeca. And as you go into the experience, they ask you to recall a memory. So just by asking you to sort of bring a part of yourself into the context that you're about to enter into. And it's an asymmetrical power dynamic where someone's in VR and someone's outside of VR. The person that was inside of VR is being asked to recall a time when someone was controlling them. And the people outside of VR was asked to recall a memory when they had undue power over somebody else. And then you walk into this experience and have this psychodrama where you're doing this embodied ritual of actually having the person outside of VR controlling the person who is in VR. And then they have the people come together and talk about it afterwards. So they have this onboarding process where you're learning about what they mean by the collider, what does it mean when two people come together, when they have sort of these interactions of how they interact with each other, but by invoking your own internal state, but doing an external embodied interaction to be able to unpack it. Because I think the challenge with the psychedelic journey is because you're taking these substances that are taking you into almost like a dream, you're recalling from all your lived experiences, all your associations, and then you'll be able to draw upon that for a journey that's very specific to you. When you go into a VR experience, you're asking somebody else to create some sort of experience. How are you going to ever be able to reach that depth of insight of someone's direct embodied experience of a lifetime and be able to really give them the information that they need? I feel like that's the realm where maybe psychedelics can do that more inward recalling of those experiences, but that there's something about the VR experience where you're able to create this context to have these embodied rituals and interactions where Then you can sort of see what emerges and then have a process where you can start to unpack it afterwards So that's kind of what I'm I'm saying but I feel like there's also this other potential where you start to have these community rituals or community gatherings and Be able to break down the limitations of space And so I feel like that there's a lot of lessons to be learned from say like an ayahuasca ceremony where there's a whole container and a process by which you're coming together to have a safe contained space and And then could you be able to create that in VR? And then what would be able to be created from those different types of interactions? On top of what other type of visual impact you can start to give to somebody. Because at Tribeca this year, there was an experience called Ayahuasca, which gives you the sort of more of a mandala visual journey into what they imagine a psychedelic journey might be like. But again, it was their imagery and not something that was coming from yourself. So I kind of see it from those different trajectories.

[00:13:23.221] Robin Arnott: Two pieces of technology that what you're describing really reminds me of and neither of these are virtual reality but they're both present in some form here. Firstly there's what East Forest is building with his concerts that are so sacred and so ritualized. I was crying so hard this morning because something about the cacao and the lying down listening to the music and I felt like something offstage left in my consciousness that I'd been resisting for a little while, and I let it in, and it was envisioning myself at my own funeral. And that just opened the floodgates for me. And so he's approaching music as one might approach psychedelics, or especially ayahuasca, you know? Like, we don't really have this with LSD or psilocybin yet currently in the same way, but ayahuasca is unique in that it is absolutely coupled with a ritual tradition. I don't think it's at all uncoupled from that, and I hope it remains that way. So we have here a musical coupling with ritual. Another technology is Mikey Seagal, who organized this conference, the creator of consciousness hacking. He's also an inventor, and his current creation is something called Group Flow, which Topher and I are going to experience at Esalen in about a month, month and a half. And group flow is a technological intervention, a very artistic technological intervention using biofeedback to help you feel one another's heartbeat and breath and connect to one another through our bio data in a very intimate way. And he's also building ritual and ceremony around this, and again, much the same way as you might with ayahuasca, there's a closed container. So neither of these things are in VR. In VR we have like a little micro ceremony of putting on the headset. But it makes me wonder what the potential of this technology is once we start really integrating the wisdom of ceremony.

[00:15:14.892] Swan: On that note, yeah, so I've tried group flow over in Mikey's place, it's like a hacker house, and Esports was there. And it was interesting for me because I was in a group of like 25 people, and then slowly Esports started playing each person's heartbeat on the giant speakers, and he went around and did each person's heart. And when it got to my heart, it was kind of endearing but yet it was kind of really shocking for me because it was an embodiment of my own mortality. I realized hearing my heart beat so loudly in the speaker, I'm like if this heartbeat stops, I die. And I realized how precious life is and how fragile life is. And it was really an empowering experience for me to kind of get really humbled into my human vessel. So group flow, that was my big takeaway from it. It was so powerful to kind of hear my heartbeat. And then witnessing East Forest's music, basically he took a lot of people's heartbeats and then turned them into like frog sounds and made music from it. And we collectively in a circle made music with our heartbeat and it was such a powerful experience. So I hope more people are able to kind of experience that and kind of get familiar with their own mortality. And I think that's something that is, especially with cancer patients, like something that we could definitely help with. And I definitely see that happening with sound self, like, you know, helping people that's experiencing the idea of mortality and death. to kind of get embodied in the present and escape that sense of fear or be more comfortable with that sense of fear. And that's something that technology can really kind of help with.

[00:16:57.108] Topher Sipes: Life-affirming embodied rituals. What comes to mind is breath, especially. Because everything we're describing, breath is a foundation. And as of late, respiration physiology has been an increased interest of mine, whether in relation to holotropic breathwork or vagal breathwork or prana breathing. And something I've learned from the Flow Genome Project is how Vagal breathing, for example, is something where you have an extended exhalation and it's something that improves the vagal tone and therefore turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. And so this is something that increases calm and it's physiologically verified. This is scientifically good for you. respiratory vagal stimulation and singing along with plane of wind instruments are things that activate this and realized recently that sound self by its design is something that engages this because of the extended exhalation during toning. And then, as a visual artist, a recent insight has been that drawing, particularly long lines that require extreme focus, are most easily executed while exhaling slowly and taking a break from the line while inhaling and then continuing the exhalation in the drawing. And it's very meditative. And I've been doing this for years, and it was really exciting to recently figure out that, oh, this is also contributing to my health in other ways through this vagal nerve stimulation. So meditation, psychedelics, technology, these are all things that require us to keep breath in mind and to keep life-affirming embodied practices in mind, too.

[00:18:57.919] Kent Bye: Interesting talking to different people here, being involved in the space for a long, long time, where a lot of the stuff would be considered New Age, Wu, and sort of religious practices, but that it's been quite a change that's happened over the last 10, 15, 20 years in terms of the research and the science that's been validating different aspects of that, just from meditation has come up into a lot more legitimacy over the last 20 years. But it feels like the types of discussions that are happening here are still in some ways on the frontier in the sense where you have one foot above board with the psychedelic therapy and then another feet that are underground with a lot of these other gatherings where people are able to have these more recreational or ritualistic spiritual experiences with these psychedelic technologies. And so it feels like this is a weird conference for me being here covering, because I really feel that sort of one foot above board, one foot below, still underground. But that to me there seems to be so much potential for the combination of all these different technologies, especially with virtual reality. to see how you could potentially amplify a psychedelic experience. And I was at a float conference in Portland and listening to Duncan Trussell and, you know, they're talking about, you know, float technologies are really about trying to like have complete sensory deprivation. And with some mixed results of taking psychedelics while going into a sensory deprivation tank that his reaction was like, well, it's a much better experience just to go out in nature and be connected to nature rather than to try to do all the sensory deprivation. So it feels like sometimes the VR could be similar. Like maybe it's actually a worse experience to be on psychedelics and be in a virtual reality experience. Or it could be one that really amplifies your experience and kind of takes you into a realm that would never even be possible unless you would have either the entrainment or the visual experiences that put you into a whole other realm. Just curious what you found with that, with this cross-section.

[00:20:52.183] Robin Arnott: I can speak directly to this. Topher, do you mind if I share this? Okay. I knew that people were trying SoundSelf on different psychedelics. And a question I got all the time was, what do you think about combining this with LSD? What do you think about combining this with psilocybin or even DMT or whatever? And at the time, I was, I don't know, because after years and years and years, I've never actually combined anything, aside from marijuana. Now, when I show SoundSelf, if I can, if it's legal, definitely encourage marijuana use immediately before. It just shakes up the brain and allows for a much, much deeper experience. I mean, people have known this all the time about immersive technology. Like, marijuana in video games are like chocolate and vanilla ice cream. But I hadn't tried it with psychedelics. And so Topher and I decided to, literally, you know, for research on the project, we had a small amount of LSD and it was a really memorable night. But the intention was for us to at some point get into sound self and see what the experience was like on acid. And we had wildly different experiences. For me, as the lead designer and creator of Soundself, I put on the headset and played Soundself for about five minutes. And I remember saying, this is stupid. Why am I doing this? Like looking at a screen in VR and like, no, no. And I kind of threw off the headset and laughed. And so for me, it was just like, no, I don't want to go into electronic space. I don't want to play a video game and look at a screen. I don't want to be, I want to be like embodied reality. But Topher had a very different experience.

[00:22:34.223] Topher Sipes: Now, wait a minute, Robin. Weren't you also analyzing a lot of, yeah, what about that?

[00:22:38.427] Robin Arnott: Come on. Yeah, well, I mean, being the creator of the experience, I couldn't get out of just, like, you know, seeing the code going on in the background, seeing, like, oh, there's a frame hitch there, oh, this thing, you know? And so I couldn't not be in the analytics of experiencing sound stuff. So in fairness, I'm the worst research subject for that particular test.

[00:22:55.340] Kent Bye: It's hard to get high on your own supply in that way. Exactly.

[00:23:00.328] Topher Sipes: Thanks for the clarification. So I'm involved, but not as deeply as Robin in the project. And so I had a little bit more distance to work with. And I also hadn't tried Soundself in a while up to that point. And so I was a little bit fresher to the experience. And so I had a very positive experience and I thought, wow, this is a really well-designed techno-delic. It's like this feels like a great embodied ritual. I'm really enjoying this experience. And so I was impressed. And near the end of the experience, there's an option in Soundself for strobing. I chose high strobing. And so during the strobing, it was a black and white strobing, but I was able to perceive the red, green, and blue, and I saw more of a rainbow strobing effect. And I was able to perceive a visionary experience that was not built into sound self as part of the visual design. And in that rainbow strobing section near the end, I perceived a mandala of rainbow eyeballs. And it sounds kind of cliche for some visionary art paintings, but that's what I saw and I think I probably laughed. And I was like, oh my gosh, that's so cliche. I'm seeing rainbow eyeball mandala. Well, that's cool. So I had a very positive experience, and I don't necessarily recommend it, though. You know, I don't think it's for everyone, and the setting, the container, you know, where someone is at is really important, you know, and we put a lot of time and intention to make sure that it was the best set and setting possible. You know, I could imagine some people having a very negative experience too. So I think it's definitely a proceed with caution sort of thing. We're already talking about two frontiers that are so bleeding edge and combining them directly like that opens up other variables that barely understand.

[00:25:00.461] Kent Bye: Any other intersections of psychedelics and technologies?

[00:25:04.039] Swan: Yeah, so speaking of rainbow eyeballs, that's kind of the logo of Microdose VR by Andrew Jones. And I had this amazing experience with him, like that's actually how I got into VR in 2016. I tried it and I'm like, this is what I want to do. And back in 2018, I went to his farm to collaborate with him. I actually got gifted a microdose by a friend and then I ended up going into microdose so I microdose on microdose and it was interesting because it was enlightening and I just got lost in like the particle effects and I was like so into the music I was like flowing and I like lost sense of time and I was just like in this world and I was like dancing and it felt so good and it was great and I felt like That was a great experience because I was really present, I really unlocked the sense of flow and I was just dancing and flowing and just moving and then seeing how all the particles played with each other and it was great, brought back this like inner child energy, this creative playfulness and yeah it was great but at the same time I think there needs to be a lot of caution with it because You don't know what kind of experiences. You can have a bad trip, and you could be in VR, and then you might not even know how to take off the headset, or you might not be aware that you're in a virtual reality. It's kind of a little bit like Black Mirror, like one of the episodes where the guy gets trapped in this virtual game. So I think it's a very proceed with caution kind of experience. I was in a safe space because I was in Android's farm, and if I needed to yell, it's like, take off the headset, I don't know what I'm doing. I can do that, but at the same time, I think this is something that should have more like you know experimentation and kind of like more proceed of caution right now especially when it comes with dosage of whatever psychedelic you decide to take and also the experiences you decide to go into because I know personally I do not want to microdose on Arizona sunshine. I think that would scare the shit out of me. So luckily microdose was just like particle effects and me flying through like a virtual Burning Man on Playa and it was amazing and just got me like flowing and dancing again. So it really got me into myself and into my art form which is more like dance movement and flow.

[00:27:16.605] Robin Arnott: One more thing I want to add here, which is that one of the reasons I'm here at Awaken Futures and something we're really actively exploring with SoundSelf is how to integrate these into psychedelic therapies. I believe that SoundSelf can make an excellent psychedelic primer. Like before you take the drug? Exactly, before you take the drug, maybe days before you take the drug, especially if you're working with a therapist, because it is a... SoundSelf does what psychedelics do in some ways, and it's a great opportunity for a therapist to see how are you responding to this, is there anything that I as your therapist should be aware of here that this has given me a little insight on, And also as a person, especially people who have never experienced psychedelics, it's a great introduction to, okay, what happens when your mind stops? What happens when the whole universe to you is sensory stimulation? And so you can get a little bit of that taste yourself. So that's on the before end. And then on the after end, there's integration. Because when you're deep in psychedelics, you're in a wordless place. And when we come back to our mind, we want to language everything, of course we do, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we do risk losing the wisdom of the reality in words. And also, I mean, this is just a known issue with psychedelics, is that the integration period is so important. And, you know, three weeks after the experience, you could be right back to where you were before. Or three weeks after the experience, you could be a new person. It's all about the integration. And I think Soundself, probably Microdose VR as well, I'm sure there are other tools, can be really valuable for the integration. For partially the same reason that they're good as a primer is because it's like stepping down from the deep universe exploding experience of psychedelics into something that is just getting you used to being in that place and allowing yourself to remain in that place where everything just is.

[00:29:07.889] Topher Sipes: So altered states from altered traits, gaining the altered traits from the altered state as a type of integration. Swan, you were talking about dancing and flowing while playing Microdosphere, and I know that that's something that you take with you beyond the headset and re-engage with as in a type of embodied ritual outside of the headset. with sound self, toning, mantra meditation, meditation in general. These are things that one can take virtual experience points, but apply them physically in lived reality. One of our other published titles later this year is Audio Trip by Kinemotik Studios. It's a dance game and that's something where one can learn how to dance and take that beyond the headset as well. So I think when it comes to integration, it's so important to continue that

[00:29:59.311] Robin Arnott: Learn how to take the wisdom beyond the tool that got you there It might not be practical or safe after an ayahuasca journey to spend the next two weeks Doing LSD every night or doing DMT, you know, that's that's not the way to integrate it into your lives But if you can make a practice after that experience of stepping into silence again and again or stepping in a dance again Because your brain is so plastic after that period that that's the time when it's most important to practice being who you want to be and to practice whatever it takes to, you know, maybe that's being in stillness, maybe that's meditating, and these are things that can be tools to help you touch into that gently in a way that is less shaking, earth-shaking than as psychedelics.

[00:30:44.104] Swan: I just want to add to that note, like I think it's good to kind of take the lessons and the messages that you've gotten from an experience and then kind of like reflect on it, learn from it, instead of jumping to the next experience or the next message. Like, oh my God, this was such a great experience. I need to go to the next retreat. I need to go to the next thing. Instead, take the time to reflect and integrate it into like your rituals, your livelihood, and maybe your core belief systems.

[00:31:09.525] Topher Sipes: As stealing fire says, don't be a bliss junkie.

[00:31:13.089] Swan: There's a fine line between, like, basically learning a lesson and going to addiction, so.

[00:31:18.811] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, it reminds me of the way that Kim Wilber talks about this, which is that there's states of consciousness, but also stages of development, where you kind of have these altered states, which are very ephemeral, but then once you sort of build up the capacity, then you kind of enter in these new stages, and it feels like that you can have these altered states if you have these peak experiences, but then, you know, how do you integrate it over time? I feel like there's a number of different trajectories where you could use the technology of meditation and sort of build up that capacity really slowly where you don't need to maybe integrate it just because it's like a muscle that you're slowly building over time, but it takes a long time. And so there's other methods of, I think of it as more of a rocket ship blasting into another reality or another consciousness that allows you to open up your mind a little bit, but then there's still that process of how to integrate that. And I feel like the technologies, virtual reality and other technologies as well, whether it's audio or haptics or whatever it ends up being, could help us to blaze those neural pathways to maybe accelerate or to do things that were never even possible before, but to maybe have this blend between maybe with Soundself, it does maybe slip you into this transcendent experience and gives you a peak experience. Or, like you said, you could maybe even use it consistently over time to be able to build this capacity to be able to integrate this. enter in those nonverbal spaces to allow your body to kind of integrate things. So I feel like there's a lot of potential there. And it sounds like between MycoDose and Audio Trip and Soundself that you're really kind of creating this palette of integration tools that could have a lot of different variety of uses. And it's going to be up to people to kind of experiment and see how they can be used in a singular instance and have like phenomenological feedback or start to be used over time and see what effects it has.

[00:33:03.332] Topher Sipes: So, what comes to mind is practice. And it comes back to breath too, you know, what are daily practices that we can engage with to integrate all these things, whether it's a healing, a cathartic experience, a peak experience, or communing with others. And another tool that comes to mind that's influenced me significantly is dream documentation and dream journaling. And it's a type of immersive, simulatory experience where one can dive deeper into oneself and either heal or, again, you can heal, you can have peak experiences, and you can connect with parts of ourselves that we don't normally acknowledge. And I think that's a, since we spend a great amount of our lifetime asleep and dreaming, it's a vastly underutilized space to reflect upon and better ourselves.

[00:33:58.044] Robin Arnott: That reminds me, so I just did a lunch discussion and one of the things that came up that was really interesting to me is, I didn't know this, people who video game before going to sleep or play VR a lot are more likely to have lucid dreams. That's what I just heard from a woman who's a surgeon, studies some of this stuff. Wow, that was interesting to me. Another thing that comes to mind is like, I think you hit the nail on the head with what we're trying to build. This is a potentially transcendent, not potentially, it is a transcendent technology. And I want to find the people who are thinking about it in this way. And it's not enough that there's a sound soft or that there's a microdose or that there's an audio trip or like, I really think more and more artists are beginning to think about their work in this way. And unfortunately, no, I'm not gonna say unfortunately, it's just the reality is that there's not currently a real marketplace for this stuff. You know, it would just get drowned in the Arizona sunshines and in the... because people don't understand it yet. But in order to get to the place where people understand it, we need to group these together. Instead of telling six different stories, tell one story. And that, what is that story? It's gaming for awakening. It's gaming for coming into the body. It's gaming for being more alive. And what's the application of that? And it can't just be in the living room. It's in the psychedelic therapy session. It's in the spa. It's in the cannabis lounge. It's in, especially as we, if we want to integrate community into these things. Jamie Wheal's been coming up a bunch in this conversation in his book, Stealing Fire, and Topher working with him at the Flow Genome Project. One of the things Jamie talks about a lot is communitas or sangha. We need each other and we can't let our technology silo ourselves. We can't keep letting our technology silo ourselves. So to me, it's not just about delivering these to people's living rooms. It's also about how do we create space around these experiences for people sharing them together and for the sharing them together to... There's a line in the Bible that says, when two or more of you gather in my presence, my will be done or something like that. When we come together to do sacred work, we do it at a deeper level. And there have been a number of studies showing that people meditating together go way deeper. Even just meditating at the same time, separated by space. So we have to get out of the home, and we have to get into some community space with these technologies, or else their impact is going to be limited. And I think Topher might have something to say about this with your experience in the VR arcade space, which I imagine might evolve into a technological temple, or could.

[00:36:34.601] Topher Sipes: So three things. First of all, as a VR and lucid dream enthusiast, I would also caution the late night plane simply because of the blue light inhibiting melatonin production and how that can adversely affect sleep. One. Two, co-regulation is coming to mind. so our bodies help to co-regulate our nervous systems with one another and how community facilitates that and then you mentioned the VRK at originator studios, so When people play there people book it with their friends and family co-workers Birthday parties all sorts of gatherings and they have the entire space to themselves. So there's a There's a large studio and everything you see in one of several headsets is projected up on the wall. And you also have the audio speakers that are playing. And so anybody who doesn't have a headset is witnessing parts of the experience as well. So no one is in total isolation. And it's unique to witness how, well certainly, immersive technology like VR lowers embodied inhibitions and people will move in ways that they wouldn't normally move around others because they're so immersed into the experience. And so it's been really powerful to witness how Families will express that watching the VR experience was much more fun than they had anticipated. It wasn't just like watching someone sitting down playing a video game, but they became a lot more emotionally engaged and involved with what was going on and would egg each other on. harangue one another or help one another through the process and so it's been really neat to see folks really light up with that experience and some people again move in ways that they wouldn't normally in front of people they know and love or strangers as well. One example recently several people played Richie's plank experience and no one would walk out of the plank But then the one person in the room who said that they weren't gonna play It's like I'm gonna do that and they got up and they sure enough they walked right off the plank without hesitation So that that was that that wouldn't have happened in another VRK context So it was it was neat to see how that community could connect with one another

[00:38:50.529] Swan: So with integration in VR, I kind of want to focus on the idea of reframing and setting. So the great thing about VR is it takes you into a different world and that can expand people's views in a way. So for example, setting has so much to do with our emotions and well-being. If there's a bunch of kids running around like crazy, one of my friends, he basically dims the light and then puts on Enya. And automatically the kids start calming down because if you change the setting, you change the behavior. So it's kind of like going home and then you're like angry about your day. But if you put on a VR headset and you get taken to a different world where you're either dancing or breathing or like playing with particle effects. It causes you to calm down and kind of forget about your troubles and kind of gives you a sense of like, you know, calming effects. Another idea is like the idea of arcades of the future and stuff like that. And one of the things I was able to try while here is black box VR where they gamified fitness. And it's kind of a good entryway for people to experiment with VR that are new to the space. And the fact that VR kind of puts you in your own world and it kind of allows you to do things that you wouldn't really do. They're actually hitting a demographic of gamers that's coming in because in Black Box you get your private room and then you're like playing these games, doing these reps to get these points and like save the crystal and stuff like that. So it's really interesting in that regard because it's bringing a lot of different people into the world of VR and VR could be like an entryway into the idea of different worlds, different concepts, different ways of thinking and different ways of expressing. So it kind of opens their mind a little bit and that's what I love about VR. It's like this tool to kind of open people's minds and also enable to think outside of this current realm, this current dimension, this current state of being into something that could be.

[00:40:43.588] Kent Bye: Yeah, one thing that comes to mind is in the future, very soon, we're going to have domes that can have a capacity of near 15,000 to 18,000 people that is going to have these opportunities to have these community rituals or transformation, like group transformational experiences. And what is going to be possible with having that many people together with a completely immersive dome and everybody experiencing things at the same time? But one thing I wanted to touch on that, you know, you talk about audio trip and cultivating these flow states and having studied with the flow genome and you being a flow artist, I'm just curious to hear, like, what is the mechanics as far as you can tell in terms of either what's happening inside of the body during these flow states? And then also, how do you like cultivate that in terms of like an experience in order to help induce these flow states for people?

[00:41:32.597] Topher Sipes: Well, the design is fairly simple. What's unique about Audio Trip? Because there's a different color triangle for each hand, and there's barriers to dodge. But there's different types of gems or notes or drums to hit. And something that makes Audio Trip pretty unique is Even though it's been compared to rhythm games, I think it's more appropriate to call it a dance game because aside from the rhythmic notes, you don't have to hit or punch anything. You can move your arm and hand through the air in a fluid motion, which is something that truly makes it stand apart. And so I think it engages a wider movement vocabulary in the body while playing. And when I play, I get goosebumps almost every time I play because I start to... Like, oh, oh, great. There's the flow state right there. Surfing the wave. It's notoriously good for being able to get back to that space. So I think it's engaging the attention. It's changing one's breath. I honestly, knowing what I know and what I'm learning with peak performance physiology, I don't know the full answer as to how or why Audio Trip works so well. And I look forward to diving deeper into that. Through research? Yeah, absolutely.

[00:42:52.598] Swan: Yeah, Flowstate's kind of like a state of surrender in a way, because you just start moving in itself. And I feel like Audio Trip, because it's such a movement-based game, you're dodging, you're ducking, you're reaching, you're grabbing, and everything's in front of you and you're doing these swirls and following these ribbon trails. great in that regard because like it's causing it to move and flow and then all of a sudden there comes to a point where there's a pattern to it and then you just kind of surrender to it and then just follow the music and then before you know it like time slows down you feel more present and then there comes to like this bit of like intuition that comes out from playing the game so I think it's really great in that regard and also it's like getting rid of a lot of inhibitions because a lot of people are afraid to express themselves movement-wise. I feel like a lot of people, they're like, oh, I'm not an artist, so I don't even want to pick up a paintbrush. Oh, I'm not a musician. I don't want to even pick up an instrument. It's like, oh, I'm not a dancer. I don't want to dance on the dance floor. But if you're placed in this world where there's nobody to judge you, and you're given steps of what to move and how to move, like it's great because like it enables you to move and then feel comfortable with moving and then with movement you're activating so many parts of your brain and you're activating so many parts of your body that you just kind of go into this flow state from like just surrendering in and then getting into the pattern and then letting go and that's what the power of music and movement is like a lot of times music you just surrender to the music you're flowing to the music like that's why festivals are such a huge thing because there's one dj and then you can see when everybody's in it like there's a dj that just drops the beat and then everybody just kind of stops and then all of a sudden it's like like it was amazing one time i went to this concert and i was like up on this hill and then the dj was like boom boom boom and i just saw people melt together they're like da da da like syncing together and i was like that is amazing they're like synchronized flow state they're all melting together and that's like the power of music and movement audio trip kind of has that connection with like fluid movements and like music and one of my other interviews the interviewer tried audio trip and he's like yeah i feel like it's very feminine like i love it because it's like very flowy and that's that's like something that's a big appeal for it, especially since the moves are hand curated by Ashley, who's a professional dancer, and she's one of the developers behind the game. You're kind of following her a little bit like Simon says, but in a very like avatar manner, because we have like a dancer in front of you that's kind of telling you how to go and how to move and how to like shake your booty. And it's, it's pretty good in that regard. So yeah, like flow state through movement and music is a very powerful, I guess, way into it.

[00:45:37.395] Topher Sipes: I think part of Audio Trip's secret sauce is how you are visually solving a music puzzle with your body. And it's bringing all those things together, where now you have a new relationship to that song, even. So I imagine, when I hear the songs from Audio Trip outside of Audio Trip, I have a positive association with those songs. My mood is even elevated afterwards because I remember what it feels like to dance to that song and so It's a powerful technological set and setting that's been crafted together to mix those different perceptions into one

[00:46:16.668] Kent Bye: I've had that same experience of sitting in a movie theater waiting for a movie to start and having one of the songs that I had created my own track for soundboxing at the time. This is before Beat Saber had come out. And I just found myself starting to like move and dance. It's like, yeah, I feel like I've had a similar kind of affinity towards the original Beat Saber songs just because I had played it so much. And, you know, it's not the type of music that I necessarily listen to a lot. I'm much more of a fan of like the genre of East Forest or more ambient Taiko. or like Schnauz, I'm sort of more in the less dancey music that I recreationally listen to. But that said, I love that music now because I have those embodied experiences by playing it over the time. But I wanted to sort of wrap things up here with a few last questions and I'm just curious of like what some of the either biggest open questions that you're trying to answer or open problems that you're trying to solve.

[00:47:13.067] Robin Arnott: Oh, the big question, or the big problem. So to me, the question is so big and complex, it's even difficult to kind of mull into words, let alone find an answer. But I'll try my best. I mean, it's our whole relationship with technology. which I think is unfortunately, I won't say broken, because I believe very much in developmental psychology and we go through stages and there's of course a pendulum in development and we have to go too far in one direction in order to course correct and then we will inevitably go too far in the other direction. But our relationship with technology, as far as I can see, is, I'll say, wounded. And it reflects a wound in our soul, or in our self, in our relationship with our world. It looks like we're kind of trying to isolate ourselves from nature, and we're kind of trying to isolate ourselves from our body, and why wouldn't we? There's so much pain stored in the body. And we use technology to pedestalize the mind and give the mind so much power. I mean, that's almost when we think about technology, we almost, to the exclusion of other things, think about technology as something that extends the power of the mind. We don't necessarily think of things like music as being technology, but we'll think about things like word processors as being a technology. So I feel very sort of heart-centered and seated and grounded in that question of this wound in the relationship with technology and how do we reorient technology to serve our soul? And that's a question that has as many answers as there are people working in this space and more.

[00:48:53.975] Swan: So in the realm of, I guess, technology, psychedelics, and consciousness, what I see out of the three is genuine, authentic connection. Me personally, I grew up with Asian parents, didn't get exposed to any of this. And I kind of continued on a track that wasn't really mine. And I landed a job in investment banking and I just did not fit in. I just thought that like, hey, I'm just not mature enough. Maybe I want this later. And then one day I decided to take a risk and ended up going to this thing in the desert called Burning Man. And I was like, oh my God, there's all these people just like me. And it opened this other world and it made me feel a sense of belonging for the first time. And that's what I'm hoping that psychedelics, consciousness, and technology can bring. It's like the sense of connection because there's so many people on antidepressants in this modern world because they feel lonely, they feel misunderstood, they feel like they don't belong anywhere. And I'm hoping that with these three new emerging tools, people feel a sense of connection, people feel a sense of belonging, and people feel a space where they can express themselves and be a part of something bigger. And that's what I'm hoping from all of this is like genuine human connection to grow from like these three powerful new tools.

[00:50:15.573] Topher Sipes: So I want to know how the intersection between these things can better serve not only our relationships to ourselves, one another, but also the wider ecological world. And for example, the one thing that comes to mind the most is water. Most of our body is composed of water, most of the planet is covered with water, and the available fresh water is something that we all depend upon, no matter what. And so, I'm actually reminded of an experience I had last week that's in relation to all these topics. I live in Austin, Texas, and we had a lot of rain recently. And I know a spot where I was able to visit a local creek and sit behind a short waterfall. And I closed my eyes and I immediately noticed a rainbow strobing that was appearing behind my closed eye vision. And I realized that this was the sunlight being refracted through the waterfall and then projecting onto my eyelids. And then I could also control the hue of the experience based on how tightly I closed my eyes. The more tighter I closed my eyes, the darker it was, the more purples and reds showed up, probably through all the blood. And then the lighter I clenched my eyes, the more greens and yellows and oranges showed up. And it reminded me of sound self. Speaking of rainbow strobes, it took me back to that. And I was already meditating there, in that waterfall, and it felt like an intersection of all these things in it. And it was also It was a reminder that a lot of these things that we're exploring and we're seeking are both within us and around us in our environment as well. So how can we remember and reconnect with things like water for humanity and the wider ecosystem's sake for the future?

[00:52:23.527] Kent Bye: Cool. And finally, what do you each think the ultimate potential of immersive technologies and psychedelics and contemplative practices combined together and what do you think all these intersections could enable?

[00:52:40.084] Robin Arnott: There are certain experiences we have through our lives that just remind us of what we are and wake us up, and psychedelics offer those, especially on higher doses. I think also ceremonies like weddings and funerals offer those. The death of a loved one can certainly There's nothing that'll wake you up more and bring you more into alignment and recognizing the truth of your mortality and mortality and recognize, you know, you have to love and you can't not love than losing someone and never being able to say that to them again. So there's certain experiences that will shatter us and give us the opportunity to put ourselves back together. In a way, that's more alive more aligned. I think the ultimate potential of these technologies Especially when used in tandem intelligently in tandem with one another is to give people more opportunities to shatter and put themselves back together And hopefully safer opportunities as well

[00:53:39.042] Swan: For me, freedom from dependency of external propaganda and biases. Because I feel like there's a lot of messages like ads, for example, that has an agenda, like buy more stuff, get more stuff, spend your money here. And I think with technology, consciousness, and psychedelics, you become more aligned where instead of seeking happiness externally or buying the next big thing, you actually find happiness in yourself and basically accepting who you are and basically what your purpose in life is instead of just buying a bigger house, getting the next big thing, finding something more intrinsic, something more meaningful, and kind of leaving a better imprint on the world. than just being a consumer. Be a participant. Don't be a spectator. And that's one of the big messages I hope can come from all of this.

[00:54:35.022] Topher Sipes: These things can help us play more gracefully with ourselves, with one another in the world. And so I think it's important to keep play in mind, too, amidst the serious. And also to play with death ritual, for example. So I know that combining these things can lead to a creative practice where one faces one's own mortality and coming out the other side of that. It's a much more grounded, stable, and healing cathartic space to emerge from, to re-engage with the world with new life and new play.

[00:55:12.865] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[00:55:18.105] Robin Arnott: Yes, remember to breathe. That's a question, your question that you asked, what is the ultimate potential of these technologies? You've asked that at least 800 times. What is the ultimate potential of, how do you describe it, virtual reality, immersive technologies? What is the ultimate potential of that to you?

[00:55:41.263] Kent Bye: So, to me, there's a part where you can connect more to yourself, connect more to other people, connect more to the planet, but also to connect to all dimensions of reality. And so I feel like right now, going into a different context and being able to discover things about your fundamental character of who you are and why you're here, each immersive experience we go into, we get to see how we maybe have new behaviors we've never discovered before. But maybe over time, we'll get the sense of like, you know, after doing hundreds of VR experiences, this is kind of a consistency of who I am. And maybe by going into those static states, you have this deeper sense of identity and what you're here to do. And so for me, I think that the possibility of achieving these flow states to really be in that deep flow and an alignment, an alignment where you are connected to your meaning and purpose, and that meaning and purpose is also connected to the deeper unfolding of the cosmos, of the culture, so that you have this synchrony between your deepest gifts and what you have to give to the world and being able to actually live into those gifts and for them to be received. And so I have always thought that these technologies are reflecting of where we're at as a society and culture. And that in a lot of ways, if you look at the immersive technologies, whether it's VR or AR or AI or psychedelics even, there's all these ethical and moral dilemmas that we have to look at our operating system and kind of upgrade it in some ways. I think economics and the way that we exchange value, the way that we redistribute wealth and access. I mean, there's so many issues of the haves and have-nots that we have in this world right now that it's a little bit on this breaking point, both in our culture, but also we have these reality bubbles that have been created. So we already have filter reality bubbles in social media. What does it mean when you start to control every aspect of somebody's reality that they're experiencing? So there's a lot of fundamental philosophical concepts and ideas that we can restructure all of our society. And I feel like that there's a diffusion curve that happens with all emerging technologies. So you have people here on the frontier of the cross section of psychedelics and numbers of technologies and meditation. You know, these are independently, these have been individual strains that have been thousands of years old. And as they start to come together, then we have these new opportunities to start to modulate and create these cultures that can then propagate and grow slowly over time. But that consciousness transformation, both on an individual and collective level, they have a propagation and it follows kind of like the Diffusion curve of the innovators and early adopters and and the early majority late majority in the laggards And I think you can think about the way that memes and concepts and technologies Get out there is that there's going to be these types of transformative technologies and paradigms that are going to still go through that diffusion curve and so the question then becomes well, how do you organize all these different phases of where people are at and That to me is one of the biggest challenges in that I can see the potential and that we're on the frontiers, but then it becomes the question of like if you're into Buddhism, then once you become enlightened, then you have the responsibility to spread it to everybody. And so I feel like that there's some fundamental ways in which that we're getting away from just seeing ourselves as these islands and silos, but that we're fundamentally interdependent and connected and rely upon each other. And I feel like that there's a lot of cultural shifts that I'm seeing right now with all these immersive technologies that are all about having a shared experience. And once you have that shared experience, then you can start to connect to each other. And if we only are connecting to each other based upon these ideological concepts that are an abstraction and a construct, then it creates a separation between people that they can't connect to each other. In fact, they start to kill each other. And I feel like in some ways the virtual reality technologies is like this phenomenological turn to be able to really focus on what does it mean to be the essence of a human. And that the more that we kind of tap into those deeper aspects of our character and these qualities of presence and these experiences, that it could start to be like this lingua franca of being able to connect people rather than to separate them. So I feel like that there's a lot of potentials of how that's going to play out, but that's at least where I see it right now. And why I've always been in this technology is because I feel like it's the most highly leveraged technology and industry right now to have an impact and be able to help shift the culture and the consciousness. And I feel like each conversation I have and each embodied experience is a philosophical argument toward the new paradigm. And I think we have to think about that in some ways. Soundself, and Microdose, and Audio Trip are all philosophical arguments to a new paradigm. And that people have to have an embodied experience. And we don't know which one is going to flip people over into getting what this new paradigm means. But every conversation that we're having here, everybody that's listening to this gets one step closer into understanding what this new reality that we're trying to create is going to be for everybody. That's what I see as the ultimate potential.

[01:00:46.070] Swan: On that note, I guess my ending message is nurture your inner child. Go play. Go create.

[01:00:52.997] Topher Sipes: How can we follow more of your work, Swan?

[01:00:54.879] Swan: Oh, yeah. You can find me, swanvr, on Instagram, Twitter, and stuff like that. Just swanvr.art.

[01:01:02.342] Topher Sipes: If you'd like to follow my work, I'm at TopherSipes.com, T-O-P-H-E-R, short for Christopher, or Topher underscore Sipes at Instagram. If you wanna play VR at Originator Studios, if you're in the Austin area, that's OriginatorStudios.com.

[01:01:18.643] Robin Arnott: If you want to learn more about what I'm doing, follow Andromeda or enter Andromeda on all social channels. I don't really have the time to be as active on these spaces since starting the company, but... So you're not going to see me tweeting much on Video Dreaming. At Video Dreaming is my very occasional Twitter though, and also following Soundself on Twitter and Soundself on Facebook.

[01:01:42.032] Kent Bye: Cool. Well, I had a chance to play Microdose VR here, the latest build. It looks amazing. And I just look forward to the other work that you continue to do with Andromeda Media. And I look forward to seeing how all these intersections continue to come together with the psychedelics and virtual reality and these contemplative practices. So I just wanted to thank each of you for sitting down and joining me today on the podcast. So thank you.

[01:02:02.756] Topher Sipes: Thank you very much, Kent. Thank you.

[01:02:04.957] Swan: Yeah, this was very enticing. Thank you. Cheers.

[01:02:08.356] Kent Bye: So that was Topher Sipes. He's a visual artist, a performance artist using virtual reality technologies, as well as working at Originator Studios, a VR arcade in Austin, as well as Robin Arnett. He's the CEO of Andromeda Entertainment and the creator of Soundself, as well as Swan. She's a flow artist, as well as a creative director of marketing at Andromeda Media. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, Well, they're really at this cross section, an intersection between psychedelics, psychedelic culture, virtual reality technologies, and meditative practices. I think this is a through line that you can see is embedded into all of these variety of different experiences that they've created here. sound self where you're doing this toning meditative breath that is activating and having this kind of audio reactive interface with your voice that is changing the visuals that you're seeing and trains you into this deep psychedelic trance state. Then Microdust VR, they're actually showing the latest build there at the Awaken Future Summit and it's an amazing particle effect where you just go in and you just look at all this amazing particle effects that feels like you're within a psychedelic journey. And then the last experience that they were showing there at the closing night party was called the audio trip, which I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but hope to try it out soon. And it looks like a great little slight tweak from something like Beat Saber or audio shield or soundboxing where rather than punching out, it's a little bit more of like how you're moving your body and it's created by a professional dancer. So it's much more about invoking these flow states of dance. So there's a lot of different nuggets that are spread out through here. Some of the things that really were interesting, some of the things that Topher was saying about how he's been doing all the studying with the flow genome project and just looking at things like the breathing physiology. So looking at like holotropic breathwork, vagal breathwork or prana breathing, all of these are using the breath to be able to invoke these different altered states of consciousness. And a theme that also came up over and over in this conversation was death and mortality and these rituals that we have around death, but also just a little bit of humility of going through the loss can awaken us in a variety of different ways. And Robin are not talking about listening to the music of East forest and imagining what his funeral was going to look like, but also thinking about these different rituals that we have. and bringing this more of this ritualistic culture into these communities in the sangha. That was another big theme in terms of finding ways that you can find the others and find other people where you can start to really meditate and find your community of practice to be able to go deeper within whatever practice that you're working on. And that there's something about this synchrony that happens when you have groups of people operating at the same time and just imagining what's going to be possible with these different types of group rituals once we start to use the technology in these different ways to invoke these synchronized flow states with people. And it was super interesting to hear a little bit of the inside stories about some of these anecdotal experiences of these group flow processes in collaboration with folks like East Forest, where they were playing with people's heartbeats and biometric data to be able to start to turn your body into this music. And again, Swan was just talking about how fragile it made her feel to recognize and to hear her own heartbeat and to think about her own mortality. The other thing is that the consistent thing about all of these variety of different technologies is that they're very focused on the body and embodiment. And a lot of ways we think about technology as serving the mind. But I think in some ways, a lot of these virtual reality technologies, immersive technologies, as well as psychedelics and meditation, it's all about like being in touch with what's happening inside of your body. And a lot of ways tapping into your own innate healing capacities. And so in some ways, as we have this whole psychedelic renaissance that's happening in the background, we have this psychedelic underground that's been, you know, fostered at Burning Man and people using recreational psychedelics, but really starting to prove out the therapeutic use cases and benefits of psychedelic drugs. But they're somewhat risky in some sense, and some people could have a variety of different risks that are associated with them. And so Robin was really talking about how they could potentially start to use these virtual reality experiences as a bit of a assessment or primer to help people prepare themselves into having some sort of altered state of consciousness, where you have to surrender some degree of control and enter into these experiences where you have something that's like a simulated psychedelic type of experience. And so there's the priming aspect of how virtual reality technologies could start to be used. But then there is the integration aspect, which is after you go through this experience and you need to have some sort of process to be able to make sense and integrate whatever you just went through. And in the absence of that, they're talking about how, you know, you can go into an experience and then three weeks later, you could be exactly where you were before. if you don't do any sort of long-term integration, or you could be a completely different person if you do the right type of integration practices. And so, thinking about how these immersive technologies could help off-board people of having some of these altered states of consciousness and these different transformative experiences, and then find different ways to build up the capacities that they might need to be able to help with the integration process. And so, whether that's through some of these immersive technologies, whether it's in flow states or the audio trip or sound self, these are all the palette of experiences that Andromeda Media is really starting to cultivate in order to serve this very niche field of helping to prepare and onboard people for psychedelic journeys and experiences and then help do the integration process afterwards. So, uh, just finally, another theme that seemed to come up over and over again is the wounded relationship that we have with our technology and whether it's us having blue light and staying up late up at night, or this different levels of addiction that we're trying to find a way to repair this wound that we have with all of our technologies. And that all the technologies have been super focused on the mind. And so what does it mean for us to be moving into an era where the technologies are more focused about helping us get reconnected to our bodies and our embodiment? And as Robin says, how can we start to think about how do we reorient all this technology to be more in service to ourselves and our deeper soul aspect of who we are and why we're here. And that hopefully that these technologies could help to connect us to other people in a more genuine and authentic way. And that there's so much loneliness and feelings of being misunderstood that other ways to take the spirit of what happens at something like Burning Man and start to infuse it within the technology to be able to have these types of real authentic communications and connections. either mediated through technology or maybe it's a function of these sanghas and groups of people coming together to do these different types of group flow experiences that Mikey Siegel is experimenting with within the context of consciousness hacking, which they're going to be having a whole session here at Esalen coming up here in June. And also whether or not we want to look at things like weddings and funerals, these different rituals that we have and other ways to help us get into more deeper touch with the truth of our own mortality. You know, it's not about seeking happiness externally, but we want to really accept ourselves to really help understand who we are, why we're here, and to be a participant and not just a passive spectator. and that hopefully we'll be able to engage with a whole other new levels of play, how to play with each other, play with death rituals, to be able to face our own mortality and to be able to engage life and to play in completely new and different ways. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for joining me on the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can donate and become a member today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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