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Ep. 37 – The Mindful Metaverse – Caitlin Krause, TRIPP

What does wellbeing and mindfulness have to do with the metaverse? In this episode, I talked to Caitlin Krause, the Chief Wellness Officer of TRIPP to find out how they’re supporting mental health and wellbeing with XR and other emerging technologies.

Resources referenced in this episode are listed below the transcript.

Creating Cadence Transcript – Ep. 37

For season 7 of the Creating Cadence podcast, we’re going back to the future, to explore current trends with emerging technology such as the metaverse and AI. I’m also talking to people doing fascinating things with these forward-thinking tools.

 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:21:00] 

Hi, and welcome to Creating Cadence, a podcast for life and work in motion.

I’m your host, Mich Bondesio, a writer, speaker, coach, and consultant. It’s my aim to help high achievers stuck on the treadmill of hustle culture to transform how they live, work, and approach business.

So that they can activate more of their potential and perform better in every part of their life at a cadence, that’s more suitable to them, despite this fast-paced world that we live in. 

This is episode 37. The second of season seven, published in September, 2022.

I’m recording this intro while I digital nomad in France. So apologies for any background noise that makes it through the editing process. I have no control over what happens outside of the confines of my temporary accommodation and makeshift recording studio.

So for this season, I’m looking at emerging technology and its implications for our near future.

Together with my guests, I consider how we can incorporate it as we transition in our work and wellbeing. And as we establish new ways of doing business and leading our lives .

In the previous episode, I did a quick recap of what I originally covered in season four.

And I also looked at some of the trends related to emerging technologies, both predicted and unexpected.

Finally, I introduced you briefly to my guests for season seven.

In this episode, you’ll get to meet Caitlin Krause, the new Chief Wellness Officer for a company called TRIPP, spelled T R I double P. 

TRIPP aims to create the mindful metaverse. They envision a world where emerging technology can support mental and emotional wellbeing. And they’re making this happen through a host of exciting projects and products that are either already available for use or are in development. 

Now, aside from her new role at trip, Caitlin Krause is also a metaverse fluency advisor and strategist, as well as a globally recognized experience designer, learning expert, author, and keynote speaker.

Additionally, Caitlin is the founder of Mindwise Consultancy, where she guides leaders towards mindfulness techniques as applied to technology.

She also teaches a course on digital wellbeing and healthy relationships with technology at Stanford University. 

You can find several links with more info about both TRIPP and Caitlin in the transcript for this episode at creatingcadence.co (see below).

I had such an interesting chat with Caitlin, and I’m sure you will enjoy this as much as I did.

So if you’re ready, let’s dive in.

Illustration of computer generated face in a virtual world

Welcome to the podcast, Caitlin, it’s lovely to have you here. And I’m so excited to hear more about you and what you’re doing in the metaverse. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:03:13] 

Thank you so much Mich, it’s great to be here. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:03:17] 

Caitlin, I’ve heard you described as a scientist and an artist and on your website for Mindwise, which is the company that you founded before you started working with TRIPP as their Chief Wellness Officer, you described that your mission is creating and advocating for wonder and wellbeing in a tech driven world.

You’re also the author of two books Mindful by Design and Designing Wonder. And your bio lists you as a metaverse fluency advisor and strategist. And for my audience, lots of people won’t understand what that is at all. It’s like an entirely new job description. So please let’s start by you telling us a little bit more about you.

What’s your background and why, and how did you get into the wellbeing and tech space? 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:03:58] 

Wonderful. Well, when I started Mindwise, I was interested in deconstructing this notion that mindfulness is something abstract. I’d been studying design and storytelling and also have a background in programming and technology, and, really wanted to both foster wonder and awe and bring people into better states of connection.

So, what does it mean to have inner connection with ourselves? And also, how do we use technology as a bridge to really foster better human- human connection with others? So Mindwise was started with three A’s as its anchors, really to foster, better awareness of ourselves and our physical bodies and our senses. 

And then to use that advancement of moving past perceived limits and boundaries. So I started working with leaders on programs that really let them advance and change the story of their mindset practices. 

And then the third A is really about authenticity. Like how do we break down those barriers and really form an authentic connection with others and with our experience with the here and now.

So, Mindwise was happening and metaverse is a buzzword. And I was always saying, okay, let’s look beyond the technology as a device, and really look at our, our tools as something that should animate our senses, should empower us. And, founding that company gave me a chance to really dive deep into the spaces of disruption in terms of business, startup ecosystems, you know, and it led me deeply into the integration of what we might call transformative technology.

So when I discovered TRIPP, I was already on that path of really looking toward tech for transformation and TRIPP, being such a leader in the field, i t was meant to be that we found each other. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:05:52] 

That’s amazing. Before we move on to more about TRIPP, I just want to speak a little bit more about the core skills and expertise that you’ve developed as a result of the experiences that you’ve been involved in.

You know, if somebody was embarking on this kind of career or wanting to study to go into this, what do you think are the core skills that you’ve developed or that are important? 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:06:13] 

So I teach as well. I teach at Stanford a course called digital wellbeing. And, the subtitle is designing healthy relationships with technology.

And I think right now, Mich, you know, you are an expert in the field, really looking at those, uh, those transformations that we have in the way that we approach our skillset. I would tell people if the question is, how can I Futureproof myself for a technology that’s rapidly advancing the answer is in my mind, infuse a lot of creativity, infuse a lot of curiosity into your daily practices.

The brain continually wants to make patterns, and I think that’s beautiful. We, we always want to understand, you know, what is the theme here? What is a context? And then we learn when the pattern starts to break and we think, oh, that’s interesting. Oh, that’s that’s curiosity inducing. So I find it fascinating that we learn through predictive measures.

And we have to continuously coach ourselves into having a curiosity mindset and to stay agile. I know that’s a buzzword, but I would, I would tell people, pay attention to your body, pay attention to when something gives you a feeling of wonder or a feeling of lift, nurture that in your sensibility.

Uh, anything that forms some sort of pattern like we’re in a creating cadence podcast. So you’re celebrating that, that cadence in your lifestyle, and then also integrating what it means to have little, let’s say micro breaks to take a walk outside. You know, if you’re looking down then practice what it feels like to look up and start to notice things like changes in your environment.

I know this sounds really simple, but I’m getting granular because, uh, part of the teaching of courses like digital wellness is teaching students to really use their body as a tool. And pay attention to the signals that we’re getting in terms of our own physical biofeedback. And I, I definitely am an advocate like here at TRIPP, we don’t believe in, uh, people disappearing into a metaverse and losing their physical selves.

It’s all about integrating and using these technology tools and experiences is ways to animate our senses. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:08:34] 

Absolutely. And I love the way that you’ve described it. And it ties in really well with what I do aside from the podcast, which is around my coaching work, which is around intentional productivity and mindful approaches to work and to life.

And I’ve actually just finished the first draft of my own book . On the topic of intentional productivity and we dive into a lot of that. It is about curiosity. It is about those really simple steps. It’s all those things that help to build the strong foundations that enable us to live and thrive in the world that we find ourselves in today.

Caitlin Krause:

[00:09:03] 

Oh, wow. That’s the final stages. That’s great. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:09:06] 

It is. Yeah. Very exciting. You know yourself having written two books what’s involved. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:09:11] 

Absolutely. It’s a creation of love and you want it to have a life beyond yourself.

So it’s exciting, cause I feel like a book, every book is a tool for more conversation because you’re putting something out there that’s gonna lead someone else to reach out and have a dialogue. So, that’s exciting to me. Yeah. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:09:30] 

Hmm. That’s really nicely put as well. Thank you. 

So let’s move on to TRIPP.

It’s been described to me in incredibly simple terms as a mindfulness app, but like something you’ve never seen, felt or heard before. So, it’s my understanding that TRIPP’s overarching purpose as a company is to build a more mindful metaverse. And in the Medium article that you wrote, where you announced that you were becoming their chief wellness officer, you defined it as a versatile device, agnostic, adaptive, and robust solution for people’s needs to have meaningful experience that affect inner wellbeing and have outward lasting effects.

So for the person on the street, what does that mean? What does TRIPP actually do and how does it help people? 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:10:12] 

So for the person on the street, really TRIPP is positioned itself as a category leading global XR wellness company. And it has innovative technologies that deepen your connection to yourself. It facilitates mental wellbeing and enables personal and collective transformation. TRIPP has different visuals, flow inducing experiences, and someone might be.

Let’s say using a headset and wanna have an open eye meditation that would have colorful images and music that induces a better state of flow. The real question right now, I think for people is how does their, how does their lifestyle really invite a TRIPP experience that meets their needs? Because TRIPP is cross platform, really versatile in the ways that someone can experience it.

And that’s why. I think if people expect it to be a lazy river experience, where they’re very passive, it doesn’t need to be like that. TRIPP actually has a lot of experiences that are in shared social environments. So this is where we get into metaverse. And I definitely wanna talk more about that, because the shared spacialized social elements of XR, almost like gameplay, with your mind and your body, means that you could have a TRIPP social experience in live time with other humans in the metaverse. Or, you could decide I’m in the mood to do something that’s very personal and individual. And then you could go in and just have some very simple guided meditation with breathwork and decide if you wanna close your eyes or if you wanna open your eyes.

 So this is, um, it’s something really interesting to me because moving into the XR space with meditation, a lot of people had said to me, oh, I thought meditation is better when I’m on my own with just my physical senses. And I shut my eyes. 

And I think form fits function. That might work for a lot of people. And I’m somebody that loves to meditate out in nature by myself. and I also love to go into a TRIPP experience and have some type of meditation that has guided imagery or some type of colorful overlay. Because again, it’s shaking up my expectation and leading me on a journey where I wouldn’t have that on my own.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:12:40] 

That’s fantastic. I’ve actually been experimenting with the mobile app over the last couple of days to see what TRIPP’s all about. And I think it’s absolutely amazing. I’ve been meditating myself on and off probably for about five, 10 years. It first started when I was experiencing burnout and then I used the Headspace app. And since then I’ve used the Calm app. And I’ve done visualizations and plenty of conscious breathing exercises on my own. As you described, there’s lots of different ways of doing it. And it’s lovely as part of a toolkit to have different tools that you can call on depending on how you’re feeling. And I really like the visual element of the TRIPP mobile app.

I don’t have a headset, so I’m experiencing it in a very 2D way. To give my listeners an example, you could be sitting in a metaverse space where you are doing it, as you say, with other people. And I listened to one of the talks that Nanea (Reeves) gave, where she was saying that what they’re finding in certain communities is that people feel more open to sharing in a space where they’re an avatar with other avatars, than they would potentially in a physical space with real people.

And so it’s leading to some breakthroughs and it’s helping with healing in lots of ways. And I think that’s amazing. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:13:51] 

Yeah, I do. I do too truly. And Mich I know you had a previous podcast where you mentioned identity formation and the influence of avatars. And I think there are all kinds of ways to induce and to invite creative freedom.

People having less attachment to one fixed persona could be great both for leadership and empathy building experiences. And also for people to feel, just that sense of levity where they’re more open-minded. Studies have shown that in VR specifically, and also in these types of spacialized environments, people have less attachment to one fixed identity. It’s been shown to be helpful for reducing phobias or, you know, everything that you can deconstruct, you can break down, that type of attachment to let’s say stress and anxiety.

So, when you go into these states that tend to be interesting liminal states in the brain, promoting wonder and awe. Suddenly they say that’s why people who have an experience in a headset or with some type of technology, their mouth drops open into the shape of an O. Uh, I call that wonder face, because it’s showing that in our body, we’re so open in those experiences. And that’s not something that you’re teaching people to do. That’s something that the body is invited to do through this type of experience. 

So, you know, no wonder TRIPP has nearly 6 million experiences that people have had in wellness sessions in less than four years. And to try to change wellness at a global scale. I just feel like it’s really inspiring to think about all the people that might not have said, oh, I’m a meditator or, oh, I do this practice, but they come in curious and then figure out that it has a potential to really make their life better.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:15:44] 

Absolutely. And from what you’ve just described, there are elements of supporting creativity, productivity, and wellbeing. Mm-hmm and it can be applied in all of those circumstances. And what I really love is that you have the means to interact with TRIPP in lots of different ways. So you are meeting people where they’re at.

So if they’re not quite in the metaverse yet, they can still get to know this technology and understand how it can help them and utilize it. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:16:08] 

Absolutely. And there’s no one way it’s more invitation over prescription. A lot of people recently have been like, I’ve been rereading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.

And a lot of people interested, you talk about creativity and flow states and how people get into what they might consider their most optimal state, whether it’s for work or play. Or, you know, we think about sometimes these these priming states for executing something that’s a deliverable. And really, I think it’s about a lifestyle choice, you know, how do people want to use technology and, do they see it as possibly being part of their creative toolkit?

That’s what I wanna offer to leadership and to people who might be in a different state of let’s say work redesign and they understand that metaverse is a buzzword, but they might not yet have encountered how you have spacialized storytelling. How you can use, um, I love to use objects as the chance to have a memory palace. Or a chance for people to share a story. And you know, this is where it gets really exciting with TRIPP and some of our enterprise offerings, because leaders start to understand that they can have a different way to approach collaboration in an XR space. And, it’s natural then for us to use wellness as an anchor, because when your body’s in a state of wellbeing, you’re more open to that creative ideation and to the ways that your team can collaborate and work better together.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:17:39] 

Absolutely. That’s fantastic. So I know that the company has also delved into things like NFTs. We won’t go into that specifically now, but I will share links to those resources in the show notes so that people can find out more about that. But are there any other plans that the company has in the future that you can talk about?

Caitlin Krause:

[00:17:56] 

Gosh, there are so many plans. I feel like this is exciting. It’s an exciting time to be at the company. I will say that there are different applications that affect improving quality of sleep. Applications that are lifetime interactions. 

So recently, in the past year, TRIPP acquired the community platform called Evolver that has people in social metaverse interactions. And now Evolver is turning to the name ‘TRIPP Together’ where people can have sessions and live time together. And, you know, really have that community of practice. And at the same time coming out are new enterprise offerings that really offer leadership and learning and guidance both in synchronous time and asynchronous components.

And I know that’s another one of your passions to talk about. The blend of async and synchronous. And that’s where I get really excited, because if we can take these cohorts of both workforce trainings and leadership programmings, a lot of the future of TRIPP involves that creativity toolkit that’s associated with people having agency in the metaverse and myself, you know, one of my passions is to do that live time guidance and that, uh, hero’s journey serving as a mentor for other people to teach that metaverse fluency. 

So you’ll find coming up at TRIPP, more of those live time experiences baked into a real, overarching experience where someone doesn’t have to see TRIPP as a solo journey, but as a, a real transformation opportunity for their whole workforce to take place, and to engage with.

So that’s, that’s a little bit of a teaser. I would say a lot of generative, animations, graphics that are really linked to biofeedback and, you know, people understanding their body in different ways. And just really animating our senses. We wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t a lot of fun. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:20:02] 

I’m sure. And I think what’s great as well is that it’s backed by data. So you’re gathering data all the time that is helping you to prove the positive benefits of people using it. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:20:12] 

Yeah. That’s important to me too. You know, having that integrity, I think it’s also part of why I love being part of the teaching at Stanford, because I have access to some of the research there. And then, and then you’re part of a network of people who want to, not keep the research studies in a walled garden, but to look at some of the applications with these products that can be based on real quality research.

And now we have the beginning of more longitudinal studies, cause VR and XR is relatively new. So we’re taking best practices and research and then continually going back and saying what does this feel like? And, and also, what do all of those people that, that use our products and use our metaverse experiences?

What do they want? So we’re listening a lot to desires from the public and also the best research that we have behind our design. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:21:04]

Oh, that’s excellent. Well, thank you for sharing more about and giving us a teaser. 

So, uh, let’s move on to some more general thoughts that you may have on web three, the metaverse and future developments.

Any thoughts on the dangers we might be facing as we move more into this? Uh, what are the opportunities that we should be looking out for and where do you see all of this going based on your experience? 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:21:25] 

This is a great question, in part, because I love sci-fi. We didn’t talk about this, but, um, yeah, I love sci-fi. And at the time of this recording, we’re coming up on Mary Shelley’s birthday. So Mary Shelley was born August 30th. She wrote Frankenstein, considered to be the first sci-fi ever. And I think, you know, a lot of, a lot of technology and sci-fi itself have these warnings underneath, like what will happen?

 I would say in Frankenstein, the warning is that the creature really wanted to be loved and wanted to be given a name and wasn’t named and wasn’t embraced. So you create something and you don’t think about the long term of really seeing it through and really giving that, that creature a chance to thrive.

So I think that’s one of maybe if that were a warning, it would be, you know, as we create technology and improve technology at a rapid pace, keep the human focus. Focus back on humanity, focus back on the relationships that the technology’s building, and really stay intentional about things. I see opportunities like data, you know, how people can use their own data and understand more insights about the wellness and their physical body. That’s gonna be a big priority in the future is we have even more of a cadence that invites us really take control over our own lifestyle and make choices with intention.

So, that would be one of my future insights and also predictive measures is that the human intentionality is gonna be really important as I say, okay, do I want an alert to pop up on my phone? You know, that’s a really simple example, but it can really scale if we don’t have some of these intentions in place beforehand. 

With the interoperability of web three and some of the opportunities to approach things like blockchain technology in new ways, distributed ledgers that let us, you know, it’s really a way to in my mind, authenticate along the way. To really authenticate a chain of relationships and transfers.

So. Yes. You know, metaverse, there are big opportunities here to distribute, understanding, and distribute knowledge. And I think it’s then an even bigger invitation to us to get really creative. And also, let’s say considerate, like the word consideration about maybe other stories that are not our own. You know, how do we make this accessible for everybody and not just a small population? So, you know, as, as these opportunities get bigger, I think the consequences also get bigger. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:24:07] 

I agree. And I think you’ve raised some really pertinent points there, you know, about accessibility and around opportunities to leverage our own data and becoming more intentional about how we engage with these tools. That’s all really great. Thank you. 

So the final question that I have for you is around your own personal practice when it comes to things like supporting your productivity, creativity, and digital wellbeing. Aside from using the TRIPP app, which I’m presuming you do, what else do you do in your day to day or your month and week to support yourself?

Caitlin Krause:

[00:24:37] 

Wow. Well, again, these are really lovely questions because they let me think about my practice and be intentional. If you were to see my studio here, I have a VR studio that also couples as an art space. So, I love to use my hands and really get messy with creative tools and art projects that are very physical and manual.

So I have a practice where sometimes if I’m storyboarding or sketching out an idea, I’ll use a lot of, let’s say colorful markers or pens, paints. If I have a choice and I’m setting up the studio with VR tools and virtual reality headsets, I also have a yoga mat on the floor, so I can choose to go barefoot it’s in a, it’s in a circle so that I can understand the barriers just using my feet if I want to.

Um, yeah. And so I, I really try to gamify a lot of the day. One of my phrases is to invite gravity and levity, so to take things seriously, but yet invite that levity that lets yourself feel animated. So, you know, these are the little things and having access to natural light, being able to take micro breaks.

I’m a firm believer in having a cadence where I do get up and I stretch. And I think about my physical body and the way that I, I tend to hunch my shoulders. So that’s just a little tip for other people who are maybe programmers or writers, I really focus on my shoulders, my physical body.

At one point while I was writing a book, I actually had an eye problem that turned out to be, I wasn’t blinking enough. And that sounds very simple. But people listening to this podcast, if you’ve ever had that kind of dry eye syndrome from either looking at tech a lot, or, you know, not thinking about your eyecare, I now have a little sign that says blink and breathe.

And very simple, but I’ll find myself just pausing to take three deep breaths. You know, what does it feel like to breathe in, take in the fullness of air and feel the turn of the breath and just exhale, like a wave and just set an intention. As I breathe in a second time, just to celebrate the quality of air and the quality of my body breathing.

And as I exhale. With a third breath, I usually set an intention of re-centering and how I wanna greet this moment right now. And as I exhale, I invite myself to arrive. To arrive back at this place in time. You know, how grateful am I that I get to re-presence myself, remind myself of what it means to show up in the moment and not just view myself as a vehicle for some type of output. 

So very simple, but that’s, those are among the practices that I foster each day in my own physical, virtual body that’s integrated. Cause I realize we have, we have just one reality. You know, VR is not some alternate reality. It’s one reality. It’s just whether we’re using the physical or whether we’re using some type of digital tool as a layer, but we only have one time and that time and our presence is in my mind, the greatest commodity.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:28:11] 

That’s so important and so beautiful the way you’ve described that. And I was breathing alongside you while you were doing that little demonstration and feeling a lot calmer. Thank you. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:28:20] 

I do too. It works for me too. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:28:24] 

What you’ve demonstrated there as well is that these don’t need to take a lot of time. You don’t have to spend any money doing them. They’re so simple and they really just help reset, rebalance, ground you again. And these simple practices, distributed throughout your day, really do help with fostering creativity, supporting productivity and our wellbeing as well. 

So thank you so much for that.

Before we end off, where’s the best place for listeners to find both you and TRIPP online? 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:28:50] 

Sure. Thank you, Mich. This has been just a wonderful fluid conversation where I’ve enjoyed every minute. People who wanna find out more, they can go to trip.com where there’s access to both a lot of our products and things that are part of the TRIPP mindful metaverse.

Uh, you can also find out more about me through that page and also at caitlinkrause.com, where I have a lot of resources and also the research that backs up a lot of my practices. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:29:19] 

That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for your time. Caitlin. I’ve really enjoyed hearing more about you and TRIPP, and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the exciting wellness opportunities that are available to us in the metaverse.

Caitlin Krause:

[00:29:30] 

Ah, thank you. It’s been a pleasure and good luck in the next few months as your book is coming out and I look forward to future podcasts. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:29:38] 

Thank you so much. 

Caitlin Krause:

[00:29:39] 

Take care, everybody. 

Mich Bondesio:

[00:29:41] 

Thanks for listening.

In the spirit of embracing new technologies, this interview and episode has been recorded and edited with the help of tools, such as Zencaster and Descript, both of which employ AI as part of their functionality. And I have to say, I am super impressed at the effectiveness of this software and how easy it is to use. 

Any resources referenced during this season can be found in the episode transcripts at creatingcadence dot co. 

If you’re not already signed up to the fortnightly Cadence newsletter, which is a free accompaniment to the podcast where I share more thoughts and resources, you can do so at creatingcadence.co/subscribe. 

And you’re welcome to drop me a line with your questions or comments, please write to hello at creatingcadence.co.

Until next time, keep moving forwards with courage, curiosity, and cadence. 

Bye for now.

Resources & References

Caitlin Krause

Caitlin Krause Headshot Cropped

References Mentioned

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