Promise to ignite your curiosity as we unravel the intricate ways in which mindfulness, AI, and digital well-being intersect with our insightful guest, Caitlin Krause. You'll acquire a fresh perspective on how we can navigate the future of work, understand the implications of AI, and prioritize our digital well-being. Unravel the complexities of the digital world, and learn how to design a lifestyle centered around well-being. Caitlin, with her extensive experience at Google, Meta, and teaching at Stanford, provides fascinating insights on this journey.
Ready to venture into the Metaverse? We're exploring its potential impact on our well-being and the immersive possibilities it offers. Discover the profound potential of virtual meetings, where avatars enable us to engage more fully. We share intimate revelations from our own VR experiences, emphasizing the critical importance of taking breaks and remembering the human element behind each avatar. We also explore the captivating states of awe, wonder, and flow in connection with AI and creativity. It's an exhilarating journey as we uncover how AI tools can enhance our experiences and the importance of incorporating elements of poetry and nature into our lives. Join us and Caitlin as we explore these fascinating territories.
This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on November 7, 2023. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/navigating-mindfulness-ai-and-digital-well-being-with-caitlin-krauss-an-exciting-exploration-of-metaverse-and-flow-states-in-the-future-of-work/
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And for me, Metaverse is interesting because it's all anchored in space and place and we are 3D creatures. We live in 3D worlds.Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories podcast. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host. As you know, we are already in season 3, more than 130 episodes and today my guest is Caitlin. Hi Caitlin, how are you?Caitlin:
Hi Joeri, I'm doing really well.Joeri:
Guys if you don't know Caitlin Krauss is a leader in XR and digital wellness, founding Mindtwice, where she combines technology with well-being. She instructs on digital wellness at Stanford and consults for organizations like Google and Meta, and has authored several books on mindfulness and design. With over 20 years of experience, she aids in navigating the complexities of the future of work, emphasizing empathy and creativity, and also works with the digital therapeutics, contributing to the trip board and virtual world society. You did a lot, Caitlin. Yeah, we're doing a lot. If there are things I forgot, don't hesitate to tell them. But something that I really like when I was preparing our conversation is that you bring something I haven't talked about at all on my podcast, which is mindfulness, and then also the combination of AI and mindfulness. So, yeah, I'm curious have you ever experienced, in mindfulness, storytelling and design? How do you see AI fitting in your daily rituals of mindfulness?Caitlin:
Well, I think it's really interesting, first off, that mindfulness has picked up a lot in the past. I think around the 1980s mindfulness became a word on the scene so we could talk about it a lot, you and I, because right now there's a need for more attention. Mindfulness, in definition in a Western way, means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. So a lot of people say, well, paying attention to what? And it's kind of funny, right, because I could pay attention to anything. I could pay attention to washing the dishes when I'm washing the dishes, which sounds really mundane. But how much of our life do we go through and we're sort of on autopilot. And I became interested in this because I really felt like going through life. I'm a global traveler. My parents were in the Foreign Service. Growing up I was moving around a lot. I was always noticing details and everywhere I was saying like, oh, you know, in certain ways we can believe this is a simulation. In other ways we can say, you know, even if it is, it's very curious, inducing and interesting once we wake up to the wonder that's all around us. So mindfulness first became popular as a therapy technique in the West because a lot of people were not really attending to their inner world of emotional landscape and what was happening. You know people having post-traumatic stress, people having stress and burnout and a lot of people said, wow, you know, when I start paying attention to things like my breath and my awareness and my appreciation for things like our friends and, you know, our ability to actually be present in our world, their appreciation for life started to grow and maybe initially stress level went a little bit up. Because you find if you're really attending to the present moment, you can be like, oh my gosh, you know there's so much that might feel overwhelming For me. My studies of mindfulness really led me to look at technology in a different way and be intentional about how I was using it. And to directly answer you about AI. I feel like there's so much connection now because even just dissecting the news about AI can be really noisy and almost overwhelming. People can start feeling like, oh I, you know I'm never going to catch up to the next big thing and the next big application that's going to help me in my business and my ability to focus and to really attend to the present moment lets me tune into, well, what's available to me right now. You know how do I feel about it and how can I be more porous. How can I, how can I actually look at this as a learning journey where I'm supposed to be curious, I'm supposed to not know everything and I'm supposed to start integrating in a way that fits my life and makes my inner landscape kind of fit with my outer world. So I know that sounds maybe very philosophical, but I think that AI and mindfulness actually relate really well to what it means to be a human right now.Joeri:
Yeah, Do you use like tools like chatGPT or AI on a daily basis and has this impact on your journey or on your day?Caitlin:
Yeah, yeah. Well, and I guess I'm curious too you're already like kind of backing up Do you have any kind of affinity to things like the word mindfulness, or do you think that some of the listeners here have an integrated practice with wellness and well being?Joeri:
I think it's an interesting topic. I said it's. We don't talk about this on the podcast. Actually, I'm mistaken. I was one lady in the beginning, one of the early episodes where we talked about that piece of that, and, of course, I'm a digital strategist, I'm into web 2, into AI, but I have been asked by companies like EY, ernst and Jung to give a class, a training, about you know, be careful with social media for your well-being, which is also really impactful, like AI can be, like Web 3 can be also. So, yeah, I am curious to hear you about how do you see okay, we talked about AI, but Web 3 is also there and the impact of those new technologies on digital well-being and what are the challenges that you see there.Caitlin:
Well, I think that what's really interesting to me is that a lot of the courses I teach or the workshops that I run are design courses and they're really about designing a lifestyle and operating from a theory of possibility rather than a theory of restriction, because some people will come in and they'll expect a topic like digital well-being to be about well, you know how much do I use this and when do I turn it off at night, and what type of integrated biosensors should I have? And there's a lot of shoulds. And people will come in and say things like I'm a very bad meditator and you know. So it turns into more of a almost like a situation where I feel like our relationship with ourselves needs to be repurposed and almost healed, because people feel very shameful about the relationship that we have with digital devices. So I'm really interested in kind of reframing that. And one of my theories and something that I work with is invitation over prescription, like how do people feel when they're invited to choose and they can decide. Like, right now I'm wearing a wearable, but I might not choose that certain days because maybe I'd rather feel free from being tracked, maybe I feel motivated to exercise when I wear something, or maybe I actually feel a little more monitored and like I'm being observed and that keeps me from really expressing myself in a certain way. So, yeah, so I focus a lot on relationships and with digital wellness. I think that one of the interesting areas to study is the brain and neurotransmitters. Like when do we feel a dopamine spike, you know, when do we actually feel something that is either inducing us to feel like we have more energy afterwards, or sometimes you get into a relationship with digital where you feel like you have to keep repeating a process and it's never ending, so it can become kind of like an addiction. So I think right now is a nice time for people to really really hold not just themselves but the creators accountable. So, you know, we could also talk about gaming and about, yeah, different ways that people can feel as if they have capacity and they have agency, but they don't have to fall into routines that are not healthy for them.Joeri:
Right, yeah, you mentioned that. Okay, gaming we talked about to have free, there is a metaverse, of course, vr. Actually, it's interesting because for what I'm doing, I'm a lot in those two meetings talking to people being meetings, but I also am organizing metaverse events. It's a different feeling. You also now see that Teams and Measured Microsoft works with avatars to put there in meetings, because in Belgium it's already late when we are recording the podcast. So I have been in a lot of meetings already and so the metaverse can be a solution. If you're there with your avatar, it feels lighter for me to connecting On the other side. When I put on my VR headset, I cannot keep it on all the time either, because it also feels a bit heavy. So I'm curious to see how you look at it, because you're also obviously using the metaverse or into the metaverse. So what are you feeling?Caitlin:
So your thoughts about metaverse and then well-being yeah, I mean gosh, there are so many good parts of that question. And don't let me forget your second one, because I have a way my brain actually operates it with a mind map, so it's very. So we can always circle back to that earlier question, and I think you bring up so many good thoughts about metaverse. The first thing I would say is cheers. It's evening where you are, it's morning where I am, middle of the day, and our bodies go through different phases through the day. And for me, metaverse is interesting because it's all anchored in space and place and we are 3D creatures. We live in 3D worlds. You know how many listeners and how many people in our network have been maybe a little bit dulled out by the 2D interfaces. It's so great. I really believe in disrupting workplace expectations and working from anywhere. You know I'm a big fan of remote work and I feel, like you know I've been more conscious of well, do I remember each call? Like, do I remember each call during the day? I tend to take a lot of notes manually and do different things tactilely because that's the way I like to process. But sometimes I don't know. If you feel this way, we can go through a day and if you have eight calls in a row, you can think back and you're sitting in the same spot. So you can be like wait, who did I have that conversation with? When did that happen, and that's because our brain actually anchors our experiences, with our learnings, in a place and time, because we think in 3D. So what I find really compelling is that when you're in metaverse, you can use objects to tell a story. You can share different collaboration experiences with people. Some of this is for fun and some of it can be for work. When you're interacting, your brain has more of a salience and more of a. It's like a memory palace where we can recall things, maybe a little more vibrantly. I think studies are showing that this is true because we're in the environment and we're really there and we're present. So I tend to call virtual reality a virtual immersive space, and this reality the physical reality, because both are real experiences for our brains. We can't really multitask your time that you devote to being in metaverse. So far we can't clone you and bifurcate you, so that time is a gift and it's really dedicated to being present there, and when Yuri is present there, he can't be on a call simultaneously until your AI clone takes your calls for you. Yeah, so my point is sometimes I'm with other avatars in the metaverse and I remind them each avatar is, if it's co-present and it's not an NPC. It's representing a real human with real emotions, real dignity, a lot of freedom to choose who we want to be and choose the world to go to so we can actually reframe a lot of our stories and our mindsets in there. And then for me a perfect time is usually like 20, 30 minutes. You mentioned the headset gets heavy for you, it does for me too. Then I want to come back out of it, do a little facial exercise and come back to my daily pattern and I'm more refreshed.Joeri:
Yeah, it makes it's make total sense what you said about remembering your remember experiences in 3D. If it's in 2D or just watching a screen at the end of the day, with all those meetings, it takes a way more energy and it's more difficult to remember. Of course, then you have AI with all these tools and so on, but it doesn't really feel like. You know, if you are like me and you want to generate stuff, you want to inspire people, you want to create stuff, then it takes a bit away the energy. But when I'm, you know, in the metaverse and organizing stuff and being there with your headset and really feel like connecting with people from all over the world, it's actually a different feeling. And then with these avatars, of course, because you know I've also met a versus with your real face, if you can call them metaverses. But then if I am in those metaverses, I have the same feeling like zoom Even. It's sometimes it's a bit worse because you cannot turn off the camera because you're in a metaverse, so you see those people. So the avatar gives you kind of, I would say, peace of mind or rest that you can turn it off, like after our call. I will be in our recording. Now I will be in a mastermind, but it will be really late for me and at a certain moment I just want to turn off the camera because it begins to be really late, and so, yeah, I really follow what you're saying there. But there is also, then, the aspect of digital identity. You know that you're there with your avatar. Is this really the person that I think she or he is? What about authorship? What about, yeah, the idea of an avatar in a virtual world and then the real human? You know what are your thoughts about that?Caitlin:
I have a lot of thoughts. I think you know the word sovereignty is really important to me and I think you know this is the Web3CMO podcast. You know we're telling stories and I feel like that sovereignty and that, especially the digital data and the way that you can layer that tech stack with Web3, is actually a perfect compliment, because then you have more of a distributed network. You, I believe in relational trust. You know, I think that we need to operate having a hopeful view of society and you know, sometimes, when I lead social experiences, I ask people like you know, let's make collective norms together for how we operate, because when you bestow that trust, then you have that high expectation that the group will lead each other. You know there will be bad actors, but I think right now is the time to talk about that and talk about things like well, you know, when you're in worlds, you're actually giving a lot of what my friend Britton Heller calls biometric psychography, like you're going to be in a world and the way that you move and the way that your body performs is part of your identity stamp. But how could we use this? You know, how could we use this with blockchain technology? How could we get groups together that believe in these layers that are non-binary. It's not physical or digital, it's actually how are these layers interacting? And you have the same integrity. It was the Ori and you have the same rights, but you might have different applications of how you express that identity. That's what I believe you know it doesn't have. Your avatar does not have to have fidelity to your physical base. You know the idea of you having colors for your moods, or you know different ways to express yourself where your friends can read them, so that when your eyes are tired and you're, you know you're not like oh, I need to make eye contact all the time. So that's one thing and I think you know. For me I did want to mention, because I know you ask this every day I do have a relationship with how I use things like chat, gpt. I think of them as almost like translators, like there are different languages and right now you can automate certain parts of your code. You can actually do things to help your environment be more, more polished. You know, using some of the tools and right now it's it's the human kind of playing the editor role, or playing the role of giving the intention and having a AI do a lot of the heavy lifting with some of the builds that make both these three dimensional worlds and avatars and behavior patterns even more beautiful. So I don't want to stop appreciating things like the beauty and things like our emotion when we're experiencing this Cause right now. If, if we feel like we're just automated bots giving the best prompts to the AI, then I think that's kind of taking away Well, I was good, I was going to say our humanity. Maybe that's a little bit heavy. I don't think it's. You know, it's not that dire. I just feel like right now, there seems to be a feeling of malaise, like the world is either really positive about what's happening or really really negative. It's like, well, I like to just be curious about these things, have consideration, like yes, you know, there there are some things that we need to be concerned about, but that's why we're asking all the right questions and kind of getting messy with this right now.Joeri:
Yeah, you're also doing research and I hope I pronounce it in the right way. Like on all inflow states, I hope I pronounce it in the right way. Can AI tools, in their generative nature, enhance our experiences of all inflow and maybe explain for our listeners what it is, and perhaps also for me, because I'm not an expert in that domain either?Caitlin:
So I'm researching on flow states and what I want to get across AW. Awe actually relates to wonder and some people have said that AW and wonder are emotional states. They fire pretty quickly in the brain and if there's a spectrum of how things fire, things like AW and wonder occur completely opposite to things like anger. So emotions like anger have really high valence. People feel them. They might react in certain ways. This is why certain posts that are online get a lot of attention if they incite us in a certain way. And, amazingly enough, wonder and AW are the other side. They're the side of going into a state of complete openness. I don't know if you've ever had an experience where you just completely lose yourself. It might be when you're hiking or it might be when yeah, it's.Joeri:
You know, sometimes, indeed, when I'm doing an activity and I don't have, like, my mobile on me, I'm not distracted by notifications. When I go running or when I go, like, I say, hiking or swimming, or even and I know this is not the best way to do that but when I'm doing yoga and I'm like in this yoga nidra or in a position normally you should empty your mind, but it's not easy for me as a busy entrepreneur Just to, or I try to, meditate. Sometimes it's, I get relaxed, but it's difficult to get my mind empty. But at that moment, yeah, I feel like. I think my brain is working on a lower how do you call this? You know it's on a lower rhythm and so, therefore, I get like this feeling, I imagine.Caitlin:
Well, and I love how you explain that and express it, because I feel as if you and I have kind of this mind mesh. Sometimes we've shared before this call. We both have really busy days and I think when you get into that state, some people would say, oh, you know, come back to your breath, or you already harness that mind, you know, attend to what's happening, and I actually believe in mind wandering, and wandering Like this is a state of flow, state where you follow the wave of your thoughts. You might lose attachment to identity, losing track of time and place, and also feeling a real sense of what some people describe as the beyond, and it doesn't have to be spiritual, but it's just a feeling that there's something more and bigger than what's contained in this place and time and across history people have had these moments of awe and wonder and again, sometimes it's with nature that induces it. Sometimes it's actually just just looking at something, like some people will have that when they see their baby or when they're, you know, in a moment, and something just comes across you. Some people get goosebumps when they feel it because it's a feeling of being very large and very small all at once. And I'm really interested in it because when you start to study flow states and how people enter creativity, there's a strong link between having a relationship with awe and wonder and flow and having creativity not forcing an output but having kind of tuning with the creative mind. So there was a researcher called Mihai ChickSent Mihai. I can put some links that we can put in the chat notes.Joeri:
He did a lot of scientific research on flow and flow states and then now people are applying that research to athletic performance and, of course, you use the word optimized, you know, to optimizing in business. We can use it for things like this I'm interested in optimizing, you know, for workplace and also for things like relationship, well-being and imagination, because if we can tackle all three of those and use them toward more ingenuity, more bounce, then we meet this AI moment, we meet this Web3 moment and humans feel like they have more capacity. So, yeah, so that's what I've been doing. I've also been integrating poetry, which is why I reached for this poetry book, because I love poetry. I think the world needs more poetry and it just it started kind of flowing out of me as I was doing a lot with AI and with creativity. This is a book called Digital Satori that really talks about human evolution and how we, how we're interacting in this digital age with our own creativity and with nature.Joeri:
Isn't it fascinating how we can talk about all of that and then also about these tech aspects, and that it all actually can come together. I guess, katie, we could talk for hours about these subjects and, like I said, it's one of different subjects on the podcast and I guess that people listening to this would say, okay, this is a refreshing episode and they want to hear more from you. Katie, where can they find you?Caitlin:
I love that. Thank you. Yeah, it's so refreshing to talk about this. So for the listeners, you know everyone who's curious. I'm teaching at Stanford. I have my own company called MindWise, so I do a lot with design and agency. You can find me at katelincrousecom that's my website. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm there so we're going to put some notes in the chat. I publish a lot, so you know I have books out Designing Wonder about designing XR spaces. I wrote Mindful by Design about mindfulness and design and technology, and then Digital Satori, if you're curious about poetry. And I would say to everybody as a closing, what I've been also investigating recently is the power of our breath. So our breathing actually is autonomic. You know we do it naturally, but sometimes in moments like this I know Yuri and I have mentioned we have full days. I know a lot of listeners have full days and sometimes just taking a deep breath and just inhaling and filling your lungs with air and then exhaling a little bit slower just kind of reminds us to come. Come back to the present moment. You know we're full beings, not just neck up. So thank you for having me on today.Joeri:
I can add to that. What I sometimes do is here I go from one place to the other of a one meeting to the other, just close my eyes, like even if it's for 10 seconds, and just say release, and just let everything go, so that I can just take a few breaths and then again charge myself for the next thing of my day. So thank you, caitlin.Caitlin:
Oh, thank you, Yuri and all the listeners. It's been really wonderful to be here.Joeri:
So, guys, as Caitlin mentioned a few times, you will have show notes, you will have a blog article. Every link that Caitlin mentioned will be there. If you are not yet following the show, I think this is a great moment to do this. If you think that everything that Caitlin said can be really interesting or helpful for people around you, be sure to share this episode with them and, of course, I would like to see you back next time. Take care. Bye.Caitlin:
Bye, thank you.Joeri:
I take your best to new heights and you're ready to harness its power, but feeling lost and overwhelmed. Therefore, join my W3X Wattfree mastermind. Send me a personal message for more info. You can find me everywhere on social media. There's only one person with my name, Yuri Bilast. Talk soon.