Years ago, Dori made one of the most important introductions of our young company. She introduced us to Helen Fisher. Through the years, Dori has been an informal ambassador for us…introducing us to influential people in her network, cheering us on, and pointing us to sales leads.

 

Dori lives in Holts Summit with her husband, Alvin, and their children. She’s passionate about supporting homeless youth, women at the Rape, Abuse, Crisis Center, and her neuro-diverse niece.

 

Let’s get to know Dori and how she radiates positivity for others.

 

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

That’s easy: my family. Mother Teresa said, “you want to change the world, go home and love your family”. 

What other mental wellness practices did you know about or try before trying Healium?

Well, for me, my brain is always wired. I know the importance of meditation; however, it was always really hard for me to focus and quiet my mind. Healium has helped me with that because it’s not like traditional meditation. Healium provides “eyes open” experiences that are engaging but relaxing at the same time. That’s exactly what I need.  

 

Describe your first or most recent VR/AR experience. 

I really love the Crystal Forest. The feeling of peace and relaxation I experience as I glide through the trees and river feels enlightening.

 

What would you say to someone who is curious about using virtual or augmented reality as a wellness tool?

I would express such joy for them. First, to make the choice to immerse yourself with positive experiences and images is huge. Our VR Healium content is the perfect prescription to counteract the negative impacts social media, news, and everyday stress have on all of us. Especially with the current Covid pandemic,  where stress and mental illness are at an all-time high, everyone could use a little virtual peace. 

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

With Healium, I see the utmost importance to share this with my friends, neighbors, and family…my community. That is how much I believe in it, my own family uses it. 

 

Recently, my mother who has late-stage ALS was able to relive a sensation she won’t be able to have again in her lifetime. One of her favorite pastimes was hiking when she could walk. Through the Healium Waterfalls experience, she was able to float up the side of the waterfall right into the clouds while taking in the picturesque nature views all around her. She is unable to talk but she was making noises of joy and her body language changed. It was an emotional experience to witness. My family and I are her full-time caregivers. After her VR experience that day she was less irritable, she had no issues with eating, and she seemed to fall asleep faster. 

 

How would I simply explain Healium VR to people who wouldn’t otherwise understand the technicalities? Think about how you’ve seen or experienced something that brought on negative emotions or thoughts which created internal stress, anxiety, or added to mental illness. We’ve all experienced that feeling. Using Healium allows you to retrain your brain by being immersed in positive and peaceful experiences. 

 

Finally, I’ll say that stress is ugly. It manifests not only on the inside but the outside too. Healium is a key component of 360 wellness.

Dori Newhouse joins Healium as a sales associate working with our Business Development team. She deeply connects with people making them feel valued and heard. She’s a hyper-networker who cut her sales chops in New York, breaking records selling furniture for commission only. She went on to lead HR at a number of companies. 

 

Help us give a warm welcome to Dori and send her all your positive vibes. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at dori@tryhealium.com

 

Using a wearable with Healium will help you take your mental fitness to the next level. While Healium is effective and relaxing without a wearable, those who want to learn to self-regulate with neurofeedback can use a BrainLink Lite EEG headband to connect with our app and see their brainwave data in near-real-time. 

 

The BrainLink Lite EEG headband can be used with both our VR and our AR app with a Pro subscription. Healium’s app connects to the headband via Bluetooth. Follow the step-by-step instructions below or watch this video to pair your wearable with your VR headset and your mobile devices such as a phone or tablet. 

Note: Currently, the BrainLink can only be used with one device at a time. So you will need to power down other devices that have previously connected to Brainlink when you’re not using them. 

 

Right Out of the Box: Getting to Know Your BrainLink Lite EEG Headband

Make sure you check under the foam padding in the packaging where you’ll find the charger and the drawstring bag. Fully charge the USB power pod that came with your headband. Turn on the BrainLink Lite by holding the blue power button on the side for two seconds then releasing. You will hear two beeps indicating it’s powered on. Put on the headband with the white USB pod on the left side of your head. You’ll then hear two additional beeps when it’s positioned correctly on your forehead between the hairline and your eyebrows. Those two beeps indicate that it’s measuring your brainwave data. If your headbands slips up into your hairline, the Brainlink will lose its connection. It needs to be on your forehead. Place it back on your forehead and you will again hear two beeps when it’s re-established the connection. 

 

Note: If you try to power on your BrainLink and you hear four beeps in a row, that means it’s time to change your device. It’s fully charged after 30 minutes. Again, four beeps means it’s low on battery. Two beeps means that the headband has established a connection. 

 

Step 1: Connect the BrainLink to Your VR Headset

You should only need to complete this step the first time you pair your devices. Healium is available for Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2, and Pico Goblin. Before you can use the headband within the Healium app, you’ll need to pair the headband via Bluetooth to your VR headset. 

– We highly recommend that you turn Bluetooth OFF on nearby devices (phone, tablet, computer, speakers, etc.) before pairing the headband for the first time. Even better, power down the other devices altogether so the additional bluetooth doesn’t confuse the Brainlink on which one you want to connect to. 

– Before Launching the Healium app, go to Settings in your VR headset menu to pair your headband

– Click Settings > See All > Experimental Features > Bluetooth Pairing

– Pair new device: Select BrainLink Lite from the list

If the BrainLink device doesn’t show up in the list, make sure you have Bluetooth turned off on any nearby devices. Move to another area of your home or workspace away from concrete or steel walls. Make sure the battery is fully charged. 

 

Step 2: Connect the BrainLink inside the Healium VR App

– Open the Healium app and log in using the credentials you used to set up your Pro account. 

– After the app loads and you’re in the lobby, look underneath the video thumbnails and click the gear/wheel icon to the right of your name. This opens the general settings for your Healium app.

– Click Add a Device. If you’ve successfully connected the BrainLink to your headset, it will be listed here as an option. 

– Click “Click to Connect”. When successfully connected, it will display “You are connected” and will begin to gather your baseline measurements for 20 seconds. Now you’re ready for some neurofeedback training!

Using the BrainLink with Your Mobile Device and the Healium AR App

– Pair the Brainlink headband via Bluetooth in your device’s Bluetooth settings

– Open the Healium app and select the BrainLink

PRO TIP: If you use the headband with your mobile device and then want to use it with your VR headset or vice versa, you’ll need to ask your phone to “Forget this Device” or power down the device completely to break the connection.

 

Please note that when pairing the headband with an Oculus VR headset, you’re utilizing Oculus’ Experimental Feature which can be tricky. We’re here to help! If at any time you need help connecting your equipment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at hello@tryhealium.com or chat with us via Live Chat on our website.

 

Remember, using your brainwaves to control immersive media is new. It will feel awkward at first but like any training, gets easier with practice. Be sure to adjust the difficulty settings to the easiest setting the first time you use the Healium app.

Our mission at Healium is to allow you to discover the healing powers inside yourself through fast-acting stress relief that allows you to escape your current reality.  Today, “healing” virtual worlds with your body’s electricity just got a lot easier! You asked for a dashboard that allowed you to track your brain patterns and heart rate over time. You asked for the ability to hot change live between brain patterns. We listened! 

 

Using your brain patterns and heart rate to control virtual worlds is new. We’re building the future of media interaction together.  As you use our technology, we want to know what you do and don’t want to see. This newest update is an innovative combination of your wants and our mission to empower you with mental wellness tools that work. That’s why we’re proud to announce our latest app update and its newest features built for you!

 

stress score

Track your sessions with your personalized data dashboard

Healium is an evidence-based intervention for mental wellness. We are proud to introduce the addition of a data dashboard which will allow you to track your individual sessions and individual brain patterns over time. Each session will be tracked in a dashboard that you can access both inside the app with a more detailed version on the web. Track your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly scores so you can see your changes over time. 

 

After each session, you’ll see your scores displayed as a Healium stress resilience score, Calm score, or Focus score. 

 

Data ethics and privacy are something we strongly value. So much so, we spent more than a year researching with experts how we can safely allow you to track your brain patterns and heart rate over time. We don’t sell your data. We don’t have algorithms that are meant to feed an addiction. You’ll find our terms, conditions, and privacy policy here.

 

While seeing your own brain patterns and heart rate is powerful, there are limits to Healium’s technology. Healium is a self-awareness tool and not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition. It’s not a replacement for psychotropic medication or professional counseling which is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 

 

The Healium score is for educational purposes and is indicative of stress resilience so the higher the score the better. The score is a metric for comparison against your previous sessions. Each user will have their own unique score. If you’re using an EEG headband, it’s based on your brain patterns associated with the stress response.

 

The Calm score is based on brain patterns associated with the stress response so the higher your calm score the better. The Focus score is based on brain patterns associated with focus so the higher your focus score the better.

 

In addition, you’ll be able to track your brain patterns…your alpha, beta, gamma, etc…over time, much like your own personal feeling mirror. 

stress scores

trend graph

 

Use the Breath Pacer to Improve Your Mind-Body Connection

 The Breath Pacer will automatically launch when you start a new experience. Connect your breath with the circle. As it expands, breathe in and as it contracts, let it all out. 

breath pacer

 

New pricing model

Just like you pay for a gym membership to keep your body physically fit, we offer a subscription plan to improve your mental fitness. The brain is a muscle and change takes time. Now, you can select the plan that’s right for your goals.

 

For AR only, without a wearable device, our app is free. Enjoy a variety of experiences and magic portals to take with you on-the-go.

 

Healium AR: For AR used with a wearable such as your Apple Watch or the BrainLink Lite EEG headband, the subscription starts at $9.99 per month. See how lowering your heart rate or using your brainwave patterns can influence the AR environment. Get access to your data dashboard after each session and revisit it again on the web or in-app to track your changes. 

 

Where to get it:  For iOS, download our app here or search Healium in the App Store. For Android, download our app here or search Healium in the Google Play Store. 

 

Healium VR and AR: For both VR and AR, the subscription is less than a dollar a day. For $29 a month, you get more than 25 VR experiences to choose from in the library with new content added every 60 days. You’ll have full access to our AR app with the use of a wearable integration as well. Use our patented technology to self-manage your stress, track your sessions via our data dashboard, and become more self-aware that your thoughts have power. 

 

Where to get it: For Oculus Go, search Healium in the Oculus Go store or see our listing here. It’s a free download. Upgrade within the app for access to pro features.

 

For Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2, download our app via SideQuest using these instructions. It’s a free download. Upgrade within the app for access to pro features.

Pico Goblin coming soon…

 

new look

New look

In addition to new features, Healium is now more beautiful to experience. You’ll notice in the VR app there are larger thumbnails in the main screen. You still have the ability to toggle on and off many of the guided voiceovers. You’ll also be able to select whether you want calm or upbeat music. Additionally, you have the option to select how the Oculus controller is displayed in the Healium app. Choose from a magic wand, a flower, a tree branch, or the standard controller.

 

Mandalynth tracer

The remote control can be used as a visual aid in some experiences, depending on personal preference. For example, in the Mandalynth experience, use your selected controller to trace the Mandalynth and watch your Focus react in near real-time. 

 

New User Interface

Inside the new Healium app, it will now be easier to adjust difficulty settings and change brainwave protocols on the fly without having to exit the experience. Much like a bicycle, you can start on a calm protocol and then shift gears to power Healium with your focused brain patterns.

 

focus to calm

Not everyone’s brain patterns or heart rate are the same so using a simple slider, you can adjust your training level. For first time users, we recommend you start using Healium without a wearable. Then after you get comfortable with just watching the experiences, add your active brainwave input. Start at the easiest setting and gradually add difficulty. 

easy and medium 

We also have an exciting new feature to share with you at a later date. Sign up for our newsletter to get the exclusive insider peek… 

 

Have a feature you’d like to add or something about Healium that drives you nuts?

We value your feedback. We’re building this product for you. We can’t make Healium better without your feedback. hello@tryhealium.com 

 

Columbia, MO, October 22, 2020 – Mass Challenge, a global network for innovators, just awarded Healium $25,000 in a cash prize as one of its top startups. Healium was one of more than 2,000 companies to apply for and selected to participate in the prestigious program that drew applicants from 18 countries.

 

The winners represent the best and brightest ideas tackling some of the world’s most massive challenges. With its Gold Award, Healium was named among the top 7 companies from Mass Challenge’s Texas cohort. The Midwest company will use the equity-free cash to grow and scale its virtual stress management products that are uniquely powered by the body’s electricity. 

 

MassChallenge, the global network for innovators, awarded more than $200,000 in equity-free prizes to seven companies from this year’s Houston-based competition. Arriana Huffington keynoted the live announcement – made during the 2020 MassChallenge U.S. Virtual Awards Ceremony. The winning startups were identified through a round of live, in-person pitches to top corporate executives, industry, and innovation leaders from around the world.

 

“I’m extremely proud of the startups in our 2020 cohort – during the course of the program, they’ve pivoted, adjusted, and evolved in order to grow their businesses. And the numbers don’t lie: these startups have raised $44.4M funding, generated $24M in revenue, and created 297 jobs,” said Jon Nordby, Managing Director of MassChallenge Texas in Houston. 

 

“The connections we made at MassChallenge were invaluable and we will continue to use those resources for many years to come as we grow and scale our company at a time when mental fitness has never been more important. We sincerely appreciate the prize to help more of the world heal with Healium,” says Wendy Moore, Chief Operating Officer of Healium.

 

Wendy sits at her desk with computer, lamp, and Oculus Go headset. She uses her phone to view a colorful flower figure

About Healium: Healium is the world’s first biometrically-controlled virtual and augmented reality product powered by consumer wearables for self-management of anxiety and stress. Based in Columbia, Missouri, Healium empowers users that their thoughts have power not only in the virtual world but in the real world as well.

 

About MassChallenge: MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with seven locations worldwide, MassChallenge equips bold entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo and to create meaningful change. Since launching in 2009, more than 2,400 MassChallenge alumni have raised more than $6.2B in funding, generated more than $3B in revenue, and created more than 157,000 total jobs. 

 

To view the full list of prizes awarded and read more, visit the MassChallenge website.

If you’ve been following our journey as an owner of an Oculus Quest or a new owner of a Quest 2, just waiting for the day we announce our arrival, the day has finally arrived. This version includes the data dashboard–a first-time feature for our users. Try it out and let us know what you think. Let’s get started. 

 

What is SideQuest?

SideQuest is a third-party app that allows you to install content on your Quest that’s not available in the Oculus Store. SideQuest also has an expansive library of exclusive apps in categories such as fitness, adventure, education, puzzle, hand-tracking, and more.

 

We’ve used SideQuest for years and it’s trusted by many developers. Typically, it’s used for pre-release content, alternate versions of an app, custom content, or insightful tools for your VR headset.

 

To enjoy Healium on your Quest, you’ll use SideQuest to sideload onto your device.    

 

What is sideloading?

Sideloading refers to the method in which you install content on your Oculus Quest that is not available on the Oculus Store. If you install anything on your Quest that is outside of the Oculus Store, you’re sideloading. Technically, anyone can sideload content on their Quest–SideQuest just makes it easier and gives you the ability to choose other apps on the platform as well. You can rest assured that our content is safe to install on your device, and we take care of protecting your privacy and data.

 

It’s a very common process, but it does require a few extra steps. You’ll need your Quest headset, the original charging cord, a laptop, and access to your Oculus account. We’ll walk you through it below.  

 

Why do I need to sideload Healium?

By providing access via SideQuest, we’re giving you the ability to try it before it’s on the Oculus Store. We do this because we value your feedback and as an early adopter, you can help us shape the future of our app.

 

Please keep in mind that while using the app, you may experience a glitch in the software. If you can email us, we really appreciate it so we can fix it for you and any other users who might be experiencing the same thing. 

 

When we do have updates to our software, we want to give you the newest version of our app as soon as we have it available. SideQuest allows us to deliver our new data dashboard and updated wearable integrations faster to our users.

 

How do I use SideQuest to install Healium on my Oculus Quest?

Now that we’ve covered the FAQs, let’s get Healium installed on your Oculus Quest VR headset.

 

There are a few steps that will only be required the first time you use SideQuest. You won’t need to do this every time you want to sideload something.

Quest and Quest 2 headsets

Installing Healium on Your Quest or Quest 2

Before you begin, you’ll need:

–Access to a computer

–Your mobile phone, signed into your Oculus app

–Your Oculus Quest

–Your Oculus Quest charger cord to connect it to your computer

 

1) Make an Oculus Developer Account and Organization

Don’t worry! It is not necessary to be a developer to create this type of account, and it is completely free. 

–On your computer, Go to the Oculus Developer website to sign up for an account. (Note: If you do this step from your mobile device, the Oculus website is not mobile-optimized. If you have any trouble, try setting this up on your computer instead.)

–It’s important that the email you use to create a Developer Account is the same email connected to your Oculus account. If you have a Quest 2, it will be the email associated with your Facebook account.

–After creating an account, you will be prompted to create an organization (Name it whatever you like) Accept the developer Non-Disclosure Agreement and you’re done!

–If you’ve done these steps on your mobile device, make sure you go back to the Oculus app on your phone and enable Developer Mode (step 2 below)

If you have trouble with creating an organization see more detailed instructions here.

 

2) Enable Developer Mode

–On your Oculus phone app, go to Settings in the bottom right corner, and make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is enabled. 

–Select the proper headset and ensure it is connected. There should be a green circle underneath the name. Choose More Settings > Developer Mode and turn on Developer Mode. 

–Restart the headset by holding down the power button and selecting Restart when prompted. 

–After restarting, go to the Library, and there should now be an option for Unknown Sources

 

3) Install SideQuest on your computer

–On your computer, download SideQuest here

–Open and install the downloaded SideQuest file. 

Note: You may receive a warning about this file being a security risk. That’s ok. Allow it to run/install.

 

For Windows Computers Only – Install Drivers:  Download the Oculus drivers here

Once downloaded, unzip the files and right-click > install, the android_winusb.inf file.

 

4) Connect your Quest to SideQuest Software 

–Plug your Quest into your computer 

You can use the charging cord it came with, or if you do not have a USB-C port on your computer, an android USB-C phone cord should work as well. 

–Look inside the headset, there should be a prompt asking to Allow USB Debugging

–Check the box Always allow from this computer and select OK. 

–Looking at your computer, the dot in the top left corner of SideQuest should now be green.

 

5) Find Healium on SideQuest or visit this link.

–Click Install to Headset

 

6) Put on your Oculus Quest headset. Select the dots to open your Apps

–In the upper right corner, click on the down arrow to show all

Scroll down to the bottom to select Unknown Sources 

–This time you will see an app titled Healium or Healium Pro Escapes. Click on it. 

–Congratulations, you’ve successfully installed Healium on your Oculus Quest! 

 

7) Download Healium Experiences and Enjoy!

–When you get into the Healium app, there is a tutorial video to give you an overview of the app, and a quiz to help recommend some starting experiences based on your mood. 

–Just hover the wand over the experience you’d like to download. 

–We’d recommend starting with Awake the Light or Dream Pool. 

 

Healium virtual reality dashboard

You’re ready to boost your mental fitness with the best brain training app for Quest and Quest 2

You’ll only need to download the individual videos one time. After you’ve completed this process, to revisit the Healium app, you can find it in your Oculus Quest or Quest 2 by clicking on the dots to open your apps and in the upper right corner, click on the down arrow to show all, then click Unknown Sources and scroll down

 

Give it a try and let us know what you think. We value your feedback so we can continue to improve. 

 

Post-incarceration syndrome doesn’t start in prison. It starts pre-incarceration with trauma. Mataka Askari grew up in St. Louis in what he describes as a predominantly impoverished community. 

 

“Poverty breeds despair and despair breeds criminality,” says Mataka. “Not everyone there is engaged in crime, however, poverty drives the mindset of ‘let’s see how we can get this money’ so the strongest influence in the community at that time was criminal activity. I had no influence from the other side that would have guided me down the right path. The influence overwhelmed me. I was involved in the criminal justice system since I was 14 years old.”

 

In 1995, Mataka received a 30-year prison sentence for a non-violent drug crime. He spent 23 and a half years behind bars. He’s now using that experience to help others. Mataka defines himself by the lessons he’s learned, being an educator, advocate, and devoted father. He discovered his antidote to trauma and stress: peace. How did he find peace post-incarceration?

 

Mataka explains that complex trauma drives behavior, which leads to high recidivism rates, which leads to people re-engaging in criminal activity. These behaviors are often the result of coping mechanisms born out of the need to survive trauma. 

 

So while in the prison system, Mataka had a lot of time to reflect on his behavior. “Why did I commit a crime? Why was I thinking that way? I was acting out of a form of information that was not conducive to bringing out the best in me.”

 

Mataka picked up a book that would change his life forever: The Autobiography of Malcolm X. While reading this, Mataka realized that he had internalized some unhealthy ideas and images about himself. He started studying psychology, religion, and politics, driven by a process of self-discovery. Through that process, he began to detox from those negative thoughts and ideas.

 

After being released on August 24, 2018, Mataka knew he didn’t want to live his life in his 40s like he was living in his 20s. “I did not want to live in arrested development.”

 

Being out of the prison system brought some unexpected challenges. “I started experiencing some things that I did not experience before I went to prison.” Mataka noticed. For example, one night, he and his wife Erica went out to see a movie. “I kept looking around to assess my surroundings and I see some people in hoodies. I started thinking something was about to go down in this movie theater. I told Erica and she said, ‘Mataka, they’re wearing hoodies because it’s cold in here.’ I had paranoia from being in an unfamiliar environment.”

 

Mataka also had difficulty sleeping. He couldn’t fall asleep and when he did, he had a hard time staying asleep. Slight sounds would startle him. 

 

Erica researched and discovered post-incarceration syndrome (PICS). When she brought it up to Mataka, he rejected it. 

 

“I’m a Black man from the north side of St. Louis–I don’t want to hear about no trauma or mental health issues or none of that. I came from a community where if you came across a problem, you pushed through it to the other side.” Mataka explained. But the more he experienced it, the more he wanted answers. 

 

Mataka noticed more symptoms. He had hypervigilance. He felt a chronic sense of helplessness due to living a lifestyle without many choices in prison. Living in a cell for so long gave him a sense of security because he knew his space and didn’t have to worry about seeing around corners.

 

He had an exaggerated startle response. Mataka explained that in prison, there were unspoken rules. You don’t get too close to people. Out in the real world, people would brush past you or invade your personal space. It made him feel unsettled.

 

“I felt like something was out to get me. Did I have old enemies or would I fall back into the same cycle of behavior and self-sabotage again and go back to prison?” He had to come to terms with his PICS.

 

He had been dealing with those feelings for a long time. He turned to literature once again for answers and understanding. He turned to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual)  to study trauma and stress-related illnesses. Mataka started reading about sanctuary trauma, multigenerational trauma, cultural trauma, and complex trauma.

 

“I realized that I lived in a society that normalizes trauma. We operate on a facade where we create this impression, but then when we get away from societal view, we start engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms and it brings toxicity into your life in the form of relationships with your partner, your parenting, even into your employment. When we don’t know how to identify and deal with trauma in a society that normalizes it, then we operate in a state of dysfunction and you can only do that for so long before things blow up.”

 

He illustrates his point by comparing it to an illness. “If you have a cold and one symptom is a fever and your fever gets to 105 degrees, you know you have to treat the symptom because it has become so bad that the symptom is a threat to your life. But it’s not the underlying cause. So when we see our lives taking a turn for the worst and we engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms and self-sabotage and expressions and outlets–these are symptoms. What is the cause? The cause is trauma. The things we still remember in our minds is what’s driving our behavior 10, 20, 30, 40 years after they happen.”

 

Now, armed with a wealth of information that gave clarity to his own experience and others, Mataka began to think about how to establish optimal mental health away from the trauma and stress. 

 

“The antidote to stress is peace,” Mataka explains. 

 

We live in a society that is so overwhelmingly stressed. On top of that, we have unresolved issues that trace all the way back to our childhood. We just accept it as normal and deal with it in our own way.

 

“If you have these issues, this brokenness–what are you going to convey to the generations that come after you–your children, your grandchildren? We have to interrupt the cycle and introduce ways to achieve peace and bring our best selves to the world,” he explains.

 

Mataka recalls how much joy and escape that reading brought to him, especially when he was locked up.

 

“You know what I noticed? Life does not allow you the leisure time to read that prison does because you have life responsibilities. But let me tell you what I understand: In prison, there are still drugs. You can still engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. You can get high but when you come down from that high, you still have the same problems so it drives you to look for relief. But for me, the thing that got me through to make myself a better person was reading. I realized that with a book I could take my mind anywhere I wanted to take it. I could achieve ‘highs’ but when I came down from that high, I brought something with me: the ability to take my mind to a different place and bring back the information with me to make myself a better person. That’s what got me through it.”

 

Mataka has a solution to help bring forth peace. It involves reading, visualization, and even integrating technology. 

 

“Peace is achieved through conjuring up or having images in your mind because we think in words and pictures. We have our intelligence and our imagination. What’s the root word of imagination? Image. Visualization. How can we put in our minds the imagery that brings that natural peace inside of us to the surface and allows us to reach a relaxed state to combat the stresses and traumas of life?”

 

“Trauma isn’t just psychological. It alters your brain and your biochemistry. Scientists have shown how it impacts your brain structure, your digestive system, your overall health; and it’s been proven that people who live under functional trauma live 20 years less than people who don’t live under functional trauma.”

 

Mataka Askari in a virtual reality designed image

“If you have devices, like Healium, that give you visual imagery of peace, then that peace allows you the stability to move forward. These things are necessary because when you have these images or these devices that can assist you in achieving a state of peace not only does it do more for bringing out the best part of you and putting you in a state of relaxation–it extends your lifespan. What Healium has been able to do is tap into this technology that allows us to combat the most toxic thing that faces the family right now: trauma and stress.”

 

Further driving home his point about how images impact your brain, Mataka reflects on the current state of our media and maintaining a healthy media diet.

 

“The media gives us images. These images have dominated and saturated our minds in such a way that they pull the best part of us down and have us believe that it’s going to be impossible to change. So we just accept it and we move through this life thinking we’re incapable of doing anything and we accept things that we know are not right and we compromise ourselves. Any time you compromise yourself and you are not able to be you, it acts in a negative way on your being.”

 

By removing your exposure to these negative images and replacing them with empowering, uplifting, and positive ones, you can begin to reprogram your brain. Mataka goes one step further and stresses the importance of nurturing all of the senses as well. 

 

“Multiple senses bring information to the brain. We taste, smell, feel, hear things that can help us bring peace to the brain, and transform your internal being.” Mataka says.

 

He focuses so heavily on starting within because you can’t help others until you heal yourself. The health of the individual is necessary for the health of the community. You can begin to transform the people in the environment in a positive way. However, the opposite is also true.

 

“Remember MLK said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ One thing that’s toxic has the ability to make the whole environment toxic if it’s left unchecked. So if we’re operating in a toxic way, what do you think we’re bringing to the world? We owe ourselves peace and the ability to live our lives in the best way possible. We owe our families the ability to get the best of us. We deserve an opportunity to be happy.”

 

What does the future hold for Mataka Askari? Being a devoted father to his daughter is a huge motivator for him. He wants to empower her to have her own legacy. It’s that kind of forward-thinking that has enabled him to transform his life.

 

“I want to be the best father for her. Not just financially, but I want to equip her with an understanding that does not allow her to fall victim to self-doubt or influences that make her question her worth or her value for things that have no merit. I want my daughter to bring to this world the best part of her so that her legacy can be one that is enduring.” 

 

Mataka and his daughter

His philosophy for his daughter and his community to thrive is through a strong education. “I’m a huge proponent of proper education. The word education comes from the word educe which means to draw out. It’s not necessarily a bunch of pouring in of information that makes you think along a particular path. But what it means is having a system set up to have your greatness and potential to be drawn out and unleashed onto the world in the best way possible. So I’m a proponent of whatever unlocks, uncovers, unburies, and removes every obstacle out of your way that impedes your ability to be the best you. It’s scientifically, theoretically, and otherwise impossible to be the best you when you’re under trauma and stress.”

 

At the beginning of Mataka’s story, he talked about how he had internalized unhealthy images and ideas about himself. He knew that to bring peace, he had to detoxify himself from those negative images and replace them with healthy ones. 

 

His antidote to stress is peace. Mataka leaves us with something to reflect: “Even with all of these things that we’re out here doing–running businesses or helping feed families–the most important thing is, what legacy are you leaving? How are you leaving the world? Are you leaving it better than when you came in?”

 

Listen to our interview with Mataka in Episode 5 of The Healium Podcast below or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

You can connect with Mataka Askari on Facebook and/or through email at matakaaskari@gmail.com.

“How should I act this time?” was my primary thought when I had to tell a family they lost their loved one. “Unemotional or Sad?  Brief or Expansive?”. Every emergency physician recognizes the need to fill a role, and present themselves in a way to meet that role.  

 

It wasn’t that I didn’t have natural feelings, at least for the first few years. I cared. My feelings just weren’t the priority. Someone just lost their spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend. Their pain needed to be my focus.  

 

With time, something happened after regularly putting away my feelings. I became great at it. What was once a voluntary choice to temporarily feel numb became an involuntary more regular state. I was not just more distant from the grief that came with an unexpected death, though. I became more distant from the joy of saving a life, from the compassion for those who were suffering.  

 

Because it was so gradual, I didn’t even notice the change. So many times in the Emergency Department I see people experiencing the consequences of progressively trying to distract from their own feelings. Taking a pill or a drink can progress to repeated intravenous injections and ultimately overdose. Often heart attacks and strokes are due to severe obesity, which has been demonstrated to often be associated with previous trauma leading to a craving of more pleasurable feelings. I had no idea the same distraction from feelings was happening within me, with the same emptiness.

 

I also did not recognize these feelings, or lack thereof, as abnormal because it was present in so many of my physician and nurse colleagues.  We thought the newer folks just hadn’t “matured yet.” We came to work, did our jobs, and just acted how we were supposed to act. Isn’t that what everyone does? I was the highest productivity provider in my department, and patients and staff genuinely liked me. 

 

I was not a workaholic, and I made sure to exercise and eat well. So I must be fine, even though the dispassion was no longer limited to the workplace and would extend to the home.  

 

I later learned that compassion fatigue, sometimes described as burnout, was an inevitable consequence of the job, no different than addiction an inevitable consequence of regularly taking narcotics. Even the World Health Organization considered compassion fatigue an occupational phenomenon, with a high-risk of burnout. It’s no wonder that physicians have such a high rate of suicide, and even hospital infections have been associated with nurse burnout.

 

kids on bikes

So what helped me realize that this wasn’t the way it needed to be? It started with kids. I continued to feel natural empathy with children. Fortunately, the walls I had created were not enough to block the sadness I would feel when I would see a child with a severe injury, who was abused, or who was just in such emotional pain they attempted to take their own life, sometimes successfully. These situations would continue to make me feel everything from nausea to tears. It was the one reminder of the feelings I had otherwise suppressed, and with those reminders, hope that I could find a way to feel again.  

 

Following those feelings, I began to do more non-profit work with kids as a Big Brother and eventually a certified foster parent. I also started focusing my own interests on preventative health & wellness more, publishing some books in the area, and helping launch various technologies meant to help maintain the body and mind.  

 

What was fascinating is how many more tools we seemed to have to help optimize our bodies compared to our minds. I had learned one way I could break down some of the emotional walls I had built up was through regular meditation. At first, I would meditate on my days off and I found the effect so powerful I wanted to start also meditating on days I worked. When working 12-hour shifts I did not know where to find the time, as there was so little before and after my shift, and especially in between.

 

I tried doing just a few minutes here and there by briefly retreating into the call room. I felt some benefit, but not nearly as when I would have my longer and deeper sessions. I wondered if there was a way to have more impactful sessions in a shorter period of time. I was fortunate that this period in my life coincided with the advent of digital products meant to support relaxation and meditative practice. I tried different audio programs such as Headspace and Calm that would help time your breath and or give you guidance. I also used wearable and EEG biofeedback products to help optimize my ability to more quickly be in a deeper calm state.  

 

These were all helpful, and I made significant progress. Wanting to continue to do so, I came across research demonstrating the most powerful mental effects were being found in solutions and tools that combined biofeedback with visual immersion through augmented or virtual reality.

 

Healium is my current tool of choice, and disclaimer: I found so much personal benefit I became involved with the company. [Dr. Khaleghi joined Healium as Chief Medical Officer in August 2020]. Healium is used worldwide in areas of situational stress as a drugless tool to quickly downshift the nervous system. 

 

While compassion fatigue and burnout may be inevitable effects of constant focus on other people’s emotional and other needs, there are ways of mitigating or potentially even eliminating to avoid the harmful effects on one’s self and their patients. I am grateful that I was able to use the little empathy I had left, with cutting edge digital tools, to find my way back to enjoying helping patients and doing my work. 

 

MurdocMurdoc Khaleghi, MD, MBA is Healium’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Khaleghi has launched more than a half dozen successful health technology companies entrusted with more than $100 million in profitable investment.

If you spent a considerable amount of time working from home, you probably found yourself adjusting to a new routine. After setting up your workspace, establishing new boundaries, swapping slacks for sweats, you might have actually found yourself enjoying this new way of working.

 

But now many employers are shifting to return to the office. It’s time for everyone to come together again in a new way. You might have noticed your anxiety is high, while your focus is at an all-time low. You’re facing a hurdle you’ve never faced before. 

 

How can you foster a safe, productive working environment even after following the CDC recommendations? Try creating the comforts and feeling that you discovered while working from home, but in the office. Here’s how:

 

Woman sits relaxed in an office chair while using an Oculus Go headset

Take frequent breaks

When working from home, did you find yourself taking more breaks? Being just steps away from the kitchen for a snack, stopping to connect with your partner to catch up, or reading a book to your kid gave the day a different pace. Invite that feeling into the office by taking those restorative mini-breaks at any time. Talk with your leadership team about your needs.

 

You might find there’s more flexibility at the office these days. Simply asking and advocating for what you need could result in your increased production. A win-win for you and management!

 

Outdoor breaks, weather permitting, will be especially important so you can safely remove your mask and get some fresh air. Exposure to nature decreases cortisol levels. When it’s too cold to go outside, create a space inside, preferably near a window, where you can be socially-distant but still get the value of sunlight exposure. Sunlight boosts vitamin D levels and wards off depression.

 

Wendy views the Healium AR app while using her Apple Watch

Use our mobile AR app as mental health armor

By simply using your own mobile device, you can take a mental health break on your own time with your own equipment.

 

Healium will make improving your mental wellness a fun game instead of a boring task. Hatch butterflies, light up the galaxy, grow cyberdelic flowers, and more. 

 

Continue with video call meetings to prevent conference-room gatherings

Zoom fatigue is real. However, it’s the safest alternative right now and it can give you a sense of security knowing you won’t need to gather around a conference table for a meeting or invite clients to the office.

 

Many clients are enjoying the ease and reduced travel time that video calls afford them. A win-win for all.

 

You’re probably a pro at maintaining a professional appearance on a video call. Ask your boss if staff can bring that “work from home” feeling to work by temporarily relaxing the dress code, especially if you don’t have in-person meetings at your workplace.

 

Did you know that you can use a Snapchat filter on your webcam for video calls? Steer clear of the distracting ones, but a subtle makeup filter can help you feel more confident and professional on video calls when you’re forgoing it around the office. We’ve even created our own makeup filter. Download Snap Camera on your computer and search for our filter by using this link.

 

Ask for extra mental health days in your paid leave policy

Many corporate policies allow for one mental health day or personal day a year. Consider advocating for a temporary update in your workplace policy to include more than one.

 

You might find that your employer is more flexible at this time. Ultimately, most employers want you to be happy and productive. If they don’t know your needs, they won’t be able to meet them. Don’t be afraid to ask. 

 

Utilize Slack channels to connect with coworkers through special interest groups like sports, foodies, gardeners, etc.

If you don’t already have an instant messaging platform, as your IT department if you can set one up now. These channels will allow for social conversations from the safety of your socially-distanced workspace.

 

Bonus: these collab channels can help reduce the number of emails in everyone’s inbox.

 

Additionally, employees who need to work from home can still easily participate in the conversation and workflow.  

 

There’s no roadmap to navigate this situation. However, many companies are trying to be more adaptable and meet the needs of their employees. Don’t be hesitant to advocate for your needs. A few small changes might make the biggest impact on your productivity, workplace culture, and overall well-being. 

 

 

Meet Chrystal, Owner, Stylist & Makeup Artist of Chrystal L. Hair & Makeup. She’s a force in the industry, providing not only style but education as well. Using All Hair Academy, podcasts, and social media courses, she provides resources for other hairstylists who want to learn how to work with multiple hair textures and attract a more diverse clientele. 

 

We reached out to Chrystal to be a model in our Healium promo video.

 

She quickly became a customer after trying Healium virtual reality during our film production. When she reached out about getting her own kit, she had some ideas of her own about how to implement it into her own business. Read her review below.

 

How did you discover Healium?

One of my friends asked me to be a model/actress for a commercial Healium was creating. I briefly knew about it from a class I attended years ago.

 

Chrystal wears her virtual reality headset while standing in front of green bushes and trees

photos by Carly Buntin Photography

How long have you been using Healium?

Almost 2 weeks. 

 

Which Healium product are you using? Virtual reality or augmented reality?

 Virtual reality with my Oculus Go and augmented reality for my phone. 

 

Are you using any wearables with it? BrainLink EEG headband or Apple Watch?

Apple Watch with augmented reality.

 

What are you hoping to achieve by using Healium? (example–improve focus, self-manage anxiety, etc.)

I am hoping to use it to calm my anxiousness and help me relax with the guided meditations. When quarantine started, my anxiety increased unexpectedly. When Wendy approached me about partnering with Healium, who knew that I would actually enjoy using the product and not just modeling it!

 

What other mental wellness practices did you know about or try before trying Healium?

I have tried:

> Yoga–fail

> Medication–semi-successful

> Breathing exercises–fail 

 

Describe your first or most recent VR/AR experience. 

I had a very rough week transition back into work post-pandemic, dealing with the anxiousness of the unknown. I’m a hairstylist and makeup artist, so my work requires me to be in close contact with my clients. Also, dealing with the everyday stress of being a small business owner, mother of three, and wife; I literally wanted to retreat to a dark corner and hide out forever.  I knew this was not an option but I needed to escape. I went to my room, plugged into the Healium beach virtual reality experience for about 15 minutes and I was calm and ready to tackle the rest of my task. It was an amazing experience.

 

What would you say to someone who is curious about using virtual reality as a wellness tool? 

Try it, I promise you will not regret it. The instant change in mood and calmness is like no other wellness option I have tried. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require any prior experience or training.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am looking forward to using it in my salon space to give my guests a new experience of relaxation. I’m always looking for new ways to innovate my industry and if this tool can help a client feel relaxed, then that’s a new level of service I want to be able to provide. 

A woman sits in the salon chair getting a deep conditioning treatment while wearing a virtual reality headset

While Healium is not a treatment for anxiety or depression, it is an effective self-management tool in both acute and chronic stress situations. Our virtual and augmented reality app is accessible, easy to use, and widely available. Available for a free download for anyone with a mobile device, the Healium AR app can be quickly deployed for a quick mental health break and used anywhere. Healium VR, with its immersive content, has a more transportive effect. It’s an evidence-based intervention in three peer-reviewed journals.      

 

A question we’re frequently asked is “how long does it last?” In a world of chronic pain, stress epidemics, and burnout, it’s an understandable question. We’re all looking for safe, alternative solutions to these troubling issues. When we created Healium, we too were searching for a low-risk solution without medication. 

 

CEO Sarah Hill likens the effects on your mental wellbeing to the feeling of a walk in the park or a warm bath. It doesn’t last forever but after a stressful day, it’s welcome virtual peace. Let’s take a deeper look into which situations Healium can be used and how long those benefits can last.  

 

 

Use Healium in moments of acute stress

Downshifting the stress response in the moment is important whether that be a difficult work situation or your neighbor’s annoying music.  For Beth’s daughter who was experiencing a panic attack following a car accident, using the Healium AR app provided relief. “She could breathe, she could swallow, she was calm, smiling, laughing and we were both at a state of peace.”

 

While using Healium doesn’t cure or treat anxiety or panic attacks, it can help the user self-manage their stress. In Beth’s case, the effects lasted long enough to help her daughter learn how to self-regulate herself into a state of calm. 

 

Use Healium to self-manage chronic stress to build mental resilience

Anxiety, addiction, and pain are the 21st-century epidemics. With up to 90% of doctor visits attributed to stress, it’s no stretch to conclude chronic stress leads to poor health. Fortunately, your brain is a muscle that can be trained to be stronger in the face of stress.

 

When using Healium, the effects can last up to five days if you continue to use the experiences. To help build mental resilience, Healium is best used consistently over time. 

 

Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Jeff Tarrant, says, “one thing that we want to do with our work is to help people build that resiliency so that over time they can hold onto those positive benefits for longer and longer periods. In that regard, it really can be mental training. You’re training your physiology and nervous system to be able to sustain these positive benefits for longer periods of time. “

 

The data dashboard will show longitudinal data for a single user over time increments such as one day, one week, one month, and even a year.

 

As you train your mind with mental fitness, your practice can help build mental resilience. Just like in physical weight training, it takes a while to build strength and muscle to work up to the heaviest weights. You can’t lift the heaviest weights after your first workout, but with continued use, you can build strength and muscle. Think of Healium as your dumbells to learn to self-manage your stress and anxiety. With regular use, it can make you stronger. 

 

For a deeper answer to this question and more, listen to The Healium Podcast, Episode 2 and 3.