A virtual guide to rebalancing your inner universe.
John SharpWriting and Research
Ethan D Silverman
Barbara B. Morris
Harmony is a physical installation providing a scaffolding for an individual to enter a virtual space for chakra-based meditation.
Adapting Tantric philosophies into an immersive virtual reality experience, the participant chooses which energy center on which to meditate and is guided to activate that center. The device offers a gong bath and subtle visual feedback of the individual’s heart rate, which corresponds with the chakra color.
This piece counters growing fears of mechanization, isolation and disconnect in the digital age by utilizing the medium to provide a space for exploring consciousness, offering an opportunity for the mind, body and spirit to become more harmonious.
The chakra system, more than just an assemblage of energy centers located in the body, is a profound system for spiritual growth and a reference to our embedded sacred architecture. As we go about our every day life, our chakras can be either open or closed, sliding between a scale of being excessive and deficient. If a chakra is blocked, or in a closed state, then it loses its ability to receive or transmit energy on that particular plane. On the other hand, if it is too open, then has the characteristics of chronic fixation.
Inspired and based on the chakra system expounded by Anodea Judith, Harmony provides a platform to aid meditation and the opening of each of the seven chakras, allowing the user to assess which chakras are deficient.
Traditional meditation techniques tend to have a certain focus that aids the meditator to awaken the body’s natural healing mechanisms. For example, the use of a mantra, a set of words recommended in the holy Vedas, is used in the Vedic tradition. In the case of Harmony, the participant is guided to notice their heartbeat, the center of their energetic system which, due to its unconscious regulation and subtle workings, often remains unnoticed. The experience amplifies the individual’s heartbeat visually whilst their eyes are closed, creating a pulse behind their eyelids. A gong is continuously played in the background, creating a rhythm which the participant can use to synchronize their own flow with.
I guide the participant on a different journey dependent on the choice of the chakra. The reason behind my decision to use my own voice for the guided meditation is twofold. Firstly, it allows me to create personal engagement with each of the participants, hence humanizing the experience, rather than the ubiquitous impersonalization so rampant in technological experiences. Secondly, it is a first step to developing relationships for my healing practice.
It is worth noting that this experience is not intended as a destination, but rather, the first foray into what I hope will be a long and fulfilling journey for my participants’ spiritual journey.
I would specifically like to thank:
The team at Evoke Neuroscience, particularly James Thompson and Angel Frett for their generosity, help and support with the project and code related work with bluetooth heart monitor.
Siri Rishi Kaur of Beloved Yogi Harlem for allowing me to record her beautiful playing of the gong for the meditations (and for letting me play, too!).
Adiel Fernandez for support throughout, and the amazing 3D printed cover of the Oculus Rift.
Robert Yang and Pierce Wolcott for always being on hand to help with code related problems!
Additionally, these beautiful people: Jorge, Rosannah, Emmi, Daniel, Namreta, Ayo, Peter and good ol’ Mum, for countless reasons.
Stephanie Alexandra Rose Burgess
Stephanie is a British digital media artist and consciousness technologist living in New York City, completing her Master's Degree in Design and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design. Her academic background comprises of the study of philosophy and photography at the University of Nottingham. Striving to push artistic and technological boundaries within the realms of spirituality and digital communications, she seeks to uncover invisible and intuitive underlying systems. Stephanie is an avid practitioner of yoga and meditation and uses these as a guiding tool for getting to know herself, her creative direction and those around her more completely.