I’m embarrassed to say I got through three natural births and managed to remain as confused as ever about the way one is supposed to breathe during labor. I did, however, get an inkling of what the right technique could do the third and alas, the last, time. At some point in labor I guess my breathing accidentally fell into the right rhythm and I realized in amazement that it wasn’t all a conspiracy to further confuse and browbeat pregnant women.
This breathing routine thing was working, and even though I didn’t know exactly what I was doing I could actually feel the pain retreat and quieten! I was almost looking forward to the next contraction but the baby didn’t give me any more practice time and was born before I could test and master my new-found powers.
Every New Year’s Eve since then, I’ve been promising my mind to treat it to this never-forgotten feeling of power and a special sort of calm elation by learning meditation and doing breathing exercises but have been too busy, lazy, and impatient…
Now a wonderfully inspired team led by game designers Owen Harris and Niki Smit have created a virtual reality experience that goes straight into my wishlist (it’s still in beta) and looks like exactly my kind of shortcut to learning to breathe right. The game promises to teach us yogic breathing techniques that can relieve stress, anxiety and mild depression. All while exploring a beautiful underwater world.
DEEP was first developed in 2014 by Dublin-based Owen LL Harris, whose self-professed mission is to ‘bring about an increased awareness of the value of playfulness in everyday life’. He is passionate about VR as a new medium by which we can connect to each other and be creative and productive together in new ways. Besides being a ‘playful human’ Owen is also a human suffering from occasional anxiety and depression and has been using meditation and breathing techniques to cope for many years.
All of these interests and passions seem to come together in DEEP – a meditative VR game designed as a digital zen garden for the play-hungry minds of VR and holistic living enthusiasts alike.
Breathe in. The lights around you glow and intensify. Breathe out. The glow diminishes. Take a deep breath. You rise up and glide across the seascape.
Equipped with a VR headset and a strap-on custom controller to measure diaphragm expansion, we learn to control our breathing and at the same time use our breath to control the seascape we are exploring.
DEEP is still ‘a work in progress’ and can as yet only be experienced at festivals where it has been collecting accolades and award nominations. It was last shown at Tribeca Film Festival.