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When the earth shakes, you have to stay still

Strange days have come, a year after the war in Ukraine. The energy crisis has changed the game, and now a devastating earthquake- one that changes the face of the impacted areas in Turkey and Syria. Is this nature’s payback for what we have done against it for the past decades? Let us say this: Nature is not vindictive, holding grudges against us. How could it- we are a part of nature, anyway. So, when almost everything seems ready to fall apart, how can we remain focused and calm?

We need to find the power within ourselves. Keep in mind this popular thought, that under the wavy ocean, there is calmess. The sky is always blue, even if the clouds cover it. Our mind always has a quiet, calm place, hidden behind our thoughts and emotions. The only think we need to do is to find our way to it.

So turn to your breath. Put your headset on, select the Breathing Space and connect with the air you inhale and exhale. Let your breath guide you to this calm place that you have reserved inside your mind, where the grass is green, and life is calm and beautiful. Remember, you can always get there; all you have to do is to select the 3D setting you want and to meditate for some minutes. Your inner stillness is the antidote to all earthquakes and shakes. Let’s go there.

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Time for Resolutions. Or not!

It’s like two waves collide: one is the trend of New Year’s Resolutions and the other is against them. In fact, several voices on the internet positing the resolutions are stressful, not aspirational. We read that resolutions focus on the end of the journey not the road to it. So, when we make our long lists of promises, we usually set high goals, like going to the gym 4 times per week, getting a promotion, buying a house, get a degree. Which, obviously, makes us feel good as we visualize our prosperous future. But, do we set the bar far too high? The answer is usually yes and this is how New Year’s resolutions turn into stressful thoughts.

What is funny is this specific resolution to be more mindful. But, mindful means living and enjoying the present, being there, feeling more, think less. We cannot push ourselves to enjoy the moment, we can only realize the importance of being present: Of reading this blog post now and being aware of the light of your computer and how it makes you feel, to notice the feeling of the chair or cushion you are sitting on, to stop thinking what you can do with your resolutions and focus on here and now. Sometimes, it might feel difficult to concentrate, especially if you are not living alone, at a cottage, or in the mountains. This is where Virtual Reality comes to the rescue: The mind reacts to VR, in the same way, it reacts to the real experience, hence a virtual meditation in the forests of Ireland will make you relax as if you were actually there. This is why so many meditators have selected Solas VR as their mindfulness vehicle and this is why we are about to launch more landscapes and new possibilities, ones that will allow you to interact- like moving pebbles from one place to another- allowing the mind to unwind more.

We don’t make resolutions, but we can make this promise: this year, all Solas VR users will be more mindful than any other. Just put your headset on.

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Setting 2023 Goals: Dealing with Burnout


Burnout could have been the word of the years 2021 and 2022 if it hadn’t been for covid and the metaverse. This situation is defined by WHO as :

“a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.”

This new definition highlights burnout as a serious matter that needs to be professionally addressed, removing the stigma of behaving as a spoilt kid as “you overreact, it’s just stress”. In fact, as we read in the “State of Burnout” report by Infinity Potential, dealing with burnout is an urgent priority as the latest years have induced lifetime high-stress levels, due to unmanaged workload and the struggle to maintain a work-life balance. The same report explains the fundamental causes and effects of burnout, as follows:

Source: State of burnout report- Infinite Potential 

These five points highlight the importance of empathetic leadership and a well-structured organisational support process that will allow the employees to feel secure and trust between employees and employers to be restored. Now it’s the time for managers to show that they care about their teams’ wellness and to introduce new practices that will actively help employees deal with stress. Here comes Solas VR meditation app as a tool designed for the hybrid world, tailored to destress through short, yet powerful breaks, that allows the mind to unwind and focus again. As a stand-alone solution or as part of a corporate wellness process, our app responds to all  aspects of the above key findings:

  • It is focused on well-being, while directly addressing burnout symptoms.
  • It can become the founding stone of an organisational support program.
  • Microbreaks are a proven solution to a lack of focus, especially when they are related to sessions of mindfulness.
  • VR technology is an important player in the hybrid world conversation
  • As a result, Solas VR meditation app becomes a powerful people-first initiative, as it highlights the empathy of management and it drastically supports employees’ efforts to cope with stress and current challenges.
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What to do in times of lay-offs

From Twitter to all the companies impacted by the energy crisis, many people abruptly found themselves unemployed. And while the obvious first move- massive cv sending- there is one that comes first: to find yourself and what you really want to do.

“It is easy to say when you are from the outside”, you’d think, and perhaps it is right. But, don’t you need a sober-minded friend to hold you back from making a mistake?

You will find online several lists on what to do when you are laid off, but that consent on one thing: try to make lemonade out of this bunch of lemons that you didn’t ask for, but here they are. Take some time to digest what happened and what it can possibly come out of this. Was it the job of your dreams? What are your strengths, and in what areas can you better yourself? What do you really want to do with your life?

Check the job ads but be patient, don’t allow the panic of the moment to draw you into sending CVs to jobs that are lower than your standards. And, focus: on the present and the future- the past is the past.

Try mindfulness– even if it’s the first time in your life. Find new ways to empty your mind, send away any negative and stressful thoughts, and start over. As they say, many things can be fixed just with a restart. So is yourself. And, your career. 

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Does the war in Ukraine impact your productivity?

The short answer is yes.

As we have already discussed in a previous blog post, the Covid-19 pandemic raised an unprecedented wave of burnout and emotional instability symptoms as a response to the loss of control and insecurity. As the world around us is changing, we need to find new anchors that will redefine our ruined safe zone. The war in Ukraine intensified these feelings and, now, more than ever, the impact on employees’ productivity is obvious; lack of concentration, irritability, a cynical approach to goals etc. Insecurity is promoted to a business problem.

There is a vivid discussion amongst managers on how to cope with this new status before it explodes. And, there is a consensus for a two tiers approach:

  1. The new new leader

Transformational leadership is the best approach for turbulent times: managers need to be empathetic, flexible and humane so that their team members will feel safe to express their feelings and fears. There is no room for “This is not my problem” behaviours, as distancing from employees becomes a source of extra insecurity. The empathetic leader is open to new working conditions- eg WFH- allows some personal space or/and time off for psychological issues, remains patient and approachable. And, what is now a new tool in the toolbox, managers can encourage their team members to care for their mental health, through discussion, visitations to consultants and mindfulness.

2. The employee

On the other hand, employees need to acknowledge the challenge and try to focus on its source. Psychologists insist that throughout our lives we strive for this sense of control- from the first day of our existence as humankind. We have been trying to rationalize natural phenomena, we built huge buildings to come closer to God, we make decisions that secure the boundaries of our safe zones. And yet, lately, two devastating events shook all our beliefs. The pandemic made “healthy” our salient identity and the war underlined how fragile our world is. What we need is something we can lean on and this is always found within ourselves.

Here comes mindfulness, as the solution to these urgent problems. Either as employees or as individuals, now we need to create some space between the world out there and the world inside us. Our thoughts are just thoughts, they do not determine our lives. Our emotions will go away if we sit with them. These techniques seem easy- in fact, they are- but guidance is called for.

We, hence, understand why Solas VR mindfulness app becomes every day more popular amongst corporations as the solution to keep employees close to the team yet working on their inner balance is now a strategic goal.

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Businesses after the pandemic: how priorities change

There has been a lot of discussion about the after Covid-19 era and how businesses will need to adopt and adapt as society and value systems change. This pandemic is expected to define a whole generation, the way 9/11 did, as a deep shock in terms of what we thought it was given.
The corporate world has been challenged, also. Remote working, grieving employees, stakeholders, at large, that didn’t care about consumption while their world was falling apart.

Now that the storm calms down, managers and CEOs are called to revisit their priorities and practices. As Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy recently put it: “The profound multifaceted crisis we are facing has made it even more obvious that business and society cannot thrive if employees, customers, and communities are not healthy.” But, as we were forced to learn during the previous year, health is not only about fever and cough; stress levels and burnout incidents skyrocketed and a massive explosion of depression diagnoses is expected in the near future. Humans reached their psychological and emotional limits as they experienced, many of them in first hand, the harsh reality.

These voices preaching about the value (or even necessity) of mindfulness as a habit are finally heard. Each one of us needs to find some inner peace that will become the fuel and the refugee in this effort to cope with the new reality. Taking some time off- even some minutes off- letting the noise go and focusing on our mere existence through breathing can restore our faith to life and make every day easier. At work, corporate wellness practices emerge as higher priorities, as security empathy and understanding are becoming key leadership practices.

What we read, what we learn and what we believe converge at this: we (as members of a society) have given far too much attention to what happens outside. Now it’s time to take care of our minds and souls and find new (or very old) ways to cure our wounds. After all, there is always a calm, safe place in our minds. Perhaps now it’s the time to visit it.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

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The dark side of mindfulness (and how to get back to the light)

If being mindful means understanding our thoughts and emotions here and now, then when our thoughts and emotions are negative we get to feel them more, right? And, if this is the case within a work environment, that means that unhappy, unsatisfied employees will feel these emotions multiplied? A recent research supported that this can be the case, indeed. In a sample of 1700 employees, they found that for employees whose jobs frequently required them to display inauthentic emotions, greater levels of mindfulness consistently led to lower self-control and lower overall performance.

This is important, right? It is like being mindful surfaces the blunt truth, whether we like it or not- but, since the benefits of mindfulness at work are solidly backed up, we are called for to find new ways to face this truth.  Some voices support that we could target our mindfulness training towards employees that have relatively low demands for faking emotions- excluding immediately all first line employees. Obviously, this doesn’t solve the problem, it just hides it under the table. First line employees are the ones under ultimate stress and they need new way to let some steam off and remain calm and balanced. Disqualifying them from mindfulness is like punishing them for the job they have chosen and condenming them to eternal stress and ultimate burnout.

The road to the truth is, as always, longer and more demanding. Mindfulness practices, according to the same researchers should focus on “deep acting — that is, the practice of actually changing how you feel to match the needs of your organization — can be an effective strategy for displaying the required emotions without negatively impacting job satisfaction and wellbeing. For example, nurses tasked with unpleasant and tiring work might focus on their patients’ experience and imagine the pain and fear their patients may be feeling, inspiring compassion instead of frustration.” This mindset is helpful for everyone, it turns negativity into meaning and it can contribute in lower burnout rates. From this perspective, the key to the new way of thinking is mindfulness itself: through training and culture, managers should invite their teams to face their true emotions and work on them until they are converted into aspiring thoughts. The purpose of humans- even at work- is to find meaning in everything. Let’s do it, then.

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Staying Mindful when you are working remotedly- repost from

This article is taken from

It’s no surprise that online work is depleting our energy and resilience. The evidence shows that many of us are working longer hours, suffering chronic stress, and burning out at levels the world has never witnessed. At the same time, we’re longing for and losing our social connections and sometimes experiencing profound loneliness and grief in solitude. To regain energy, find renewed pleasure in our work, and truly connect with colleagues and friends, we need to find ways to block out the noise in our virtual reality.

One way we can do that is through cultivating mindfulness — online.

Mindfulness is the choice we make to be present in the here and now: This moment, in this meeting, with this person or group of people. Research shows that most activities of our working lives, from working on an independent task to team meetings and one on ones, benefit from being conducted with mindfulness. By pausing, checking in with others, or starting meetings with a few moments of meditation or reflection, stress levels drop and we feel more connected to our purpose and to others in the room. We listen better and feel happier.

But how can we be mindful in an online working world? How can we be truly present for others when we couldn’t be (physically) farther from one another?

What we learned from 2020 is that online and remote working doesn’t have to be a barrier to our capacity to deliver leadership presence, empathize and connect with colleagues, and build strong workplace communities. Contrary to popular misconceptions, you don’t have to retreat to a mountain top or a meditation cushion to practice mindfulness. You can do it while working from home by:

  • Pausing and noticing where your thinking mind is
  • Purposefully bringing your awareness to the people and context that are with you virtually
  • Suspending your own narratives, agendas, judgements, and ego to offer your full online presence, evidenced through eye contact, warm and responsive facial expressions, and minimized multitasking

You can apply these three principles of mindfulness to managing and leading online. 

From doing to being: Offer your presence. Action is the hallmark of managers. It’s what they’re noticed for and measured on: Doing, achieving, producing, organizing, controlling. New remote and hybrid working environments have thrust managers into excessive patterns of “doing.” But sometimes, who and how you’re being can be more important than your actions.

To cultivate trust and motivate and inspire others, pay attention to how you’re being with them. Are you rushed or distracted? Is your mind on the next meeting or your to-do list? To enhance the quality of your leadership presence with others, take a moment to reflect on your physical and emotional state when entering a new meeting. Through your virtual presence, what energy will you convey to this set of colleagues or clients? Will you bring the tough conversation you just had with someone else into this new one? Will you offer a sense of calm and reassurance?

Another’s presence (or lack thereof) is noticeable. When someone is speaking, are you using the moment to check your email, send a text, or schedule a meeting? You may think that none of this shows in online working contexts. But just as in a face-to-face meeting room, virtual participants know whether and how you’re truly present with them — emotions and attention can be broadcast, felt, and contagious across virtual boundaries. Even in a big online town hall, the audience can sense if the speaker is truly with them, and the speaker knows if most of the audience is elsewhere.

Lead by example when working remotely. Try to have your camera on and ask others to do so if possible. Ensure others can feel your presence by establishing eye contact, and use your body and posture to convey interest and empathy. If you know you just can’t help but look, turn off those enticing email notifications.

Shifting your focus to how you’re being doesn’t mean that things don’t get done. And none of these shifts in your awareness and attention take more than a few moments. But they do have impact on you and on those you’re working with.

From future to present: Be here, now. Managers are taught to relentlessly plan for the future. Yet always having your mind on next month’s targets or next year’s profits can mean you miss life today. You forgo important opportunities for connection and empowering others if you’re in your mind, planning “the next step” or worrying about something that might not happen.

Take a moment to step back from the busy-ness and view your tasks with perspective — looking down from the balcony. What or who is important right now? Ask yourself: Am I postponing life, thinking that all the good stuff will come next month, next year, or when lockdowns and pandemic restrictions end? Postponing life can exacerbate unhappiness and stress. We hold out for when things will improve but don’t see all the beautiful small things around us now: A fun meal with family, a morning walk or run, the sharing of a special moment or a celebration with colleagues.

Next time you’re in a virtual meeting and notice your mind has wandered off, catch yourself. Bring your mind to where your body actually is — this present moment, right here, right now. Take a few seconds to anchor your awareness in the now by drawing on your senses. Look outside if you can, and take in any sky or green that may be visible. Relax your shoulders and your jaw. Breathe out. These momentary connections with your physical senses are the gateways to being more present. Sharing some words of gratitude for people showing up and for what exists in the here and now can help others to pause and pay attention. They may notice they’ve been ruminating and can choose to tune in, not tune out. Practicing mindfulness techniques like these has been demonstrated to lift moods, foster well-being, and improve overall psychological health.

From me to you: Enabling connection and community. When people are talking, where is your mind? Is it with them? Or are you waiting for a gap to jump in with your opinion or experience? Can you suspend your own agendas and ego needs to hear what people on the team need? Try deepening your listening. Try listening without wanting to “fix” people or (perhaps silently) insisting they get over things. Deep listening is generous. Encourage the person speaking to discover and voice a way forward. They will appreciate and be empowered by it, finding their own path or solution.

In our executive development work, we have found that virtual meetings can reduce barriers for people to speak and to have their voice and presence heard and felt. For example, tools like “raise hand” indicators and simultaneous chat functions enable different ways for people to offer insight and signal their contribution. Further, that everyone has one equal-sized window with only a headshot in a virtual meeting can diminish stereotypes, hierarchies, and power differentials as certain physical and status markers are removed. As a mindful leader, be aware of who is present, and pay particular attention to inclusion. Welcome and seek people’s input, especially from those who usually don’t say much.

Endorsing expressions of openness and vulnerability can help cultivate a culture of appreciation and psychological safety. As a leader, you might offer some vulnerability about where you are right now, which will open the space for others to express how they really are. You might be juggling the needs of a sick child or a parent in aged care. The circumstances of online working have sometimes meant we’ve had to get more real. People are tuning in from their living rooms and bedrooms. They have families, pets, and other competing needs to accommodate. We’ve had to take off our office masks, our make-up, and our constructed work identities and allow others to see us more fully. This has surely been a good thing.

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How to find inner peace: our PRT 🏴‍☠️ model

“I found myself in desperate need for quietness and safety. I was so stressed, yet all my efforts to focus on my breath were in vain. I ended up ever more frustrated and quite disappointed by myself and everything around me”.

This statement comes from an executive as a response to their latest experience with mindfulness. It wasn’t the first time that we listen to somebody coloring the experience in dark shades. So we sat down with our research team trying to find a very simple, yet effective way foe everyone to make the most out mindfulness.

The PRT 🏴‍☠️ model

If you find it hard to remember just make a mental connection with the Brackbeard or Jack Sparrow, the famous PiRaTes. They have nothing to do with our model, but the might come handy under pressure. Yet, the PRT model describes the 3 things you need to have for your meditation practice to actually work:

Place: Spatial boundaries are significant in many ways. When you try to relax and get in touch with your calmer inner self, you need the safety of a place that nobody will judge you or interrupt you. You can alwaya discuss it with your colleagues/ friends/ family, explaining to them briefly why it ia important that they respect your privacy during meditation. It is possible  that the first couple of times you will still have in mind that someone will interrupt you but as time will prove you wrong you will feel this warm and soothing sensation of safety.

Ritual: During a busy day it is really hard to transit from stress to focus effortlessly. Yet, remember that our mind tends to combine rituals with specific activities (when you lie to the bed the body begins the sleeping process). Do the exact same with your mindfulness practice. Have a glass of water, remove your shoes, sit on a comfortable place. Turn off your phone, prepare your device, put it on.

Time: You don’t need hours to meditate. Especially when at work what you need is a 5-10 minutes microbreak that will allow your mind to pause and relax. Reserve a time slot during your day for this and don’t postpone it, as you wouldn’t do if it was about meeting the most important person in your life. Well, guess what: this is exactly what you do when you give 5-10 minutes to get in touch with yourself.

The PRT model is an easy way to set boundaries and prevent yourself from bumps during practice. Getting the habit to apply the PRT model and you will soon realize that this minor change, actually changes everything.

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The power of mistakes: a mindful resolution

Welcome 2021! May you be mindful and serene; May you present us with new challenges and allow us to make mistakes, thus this is how we grow. It’s the wrongdoings that build our character and open a new door to our inner self.

For this new year, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Because, ” if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something”, in the words of Neil Gaiman. Throughout trials and errors you push your limits, you meet yourself, you challenge your boundaries, you find new ways to do everyday stuff. But, the only way to keep going is to accept that you need to make mistakes.

And then, the moment you silence your inner critic and you allow yourself to explore and expand, magically you don’t make mistakes anymore. You learn lessons, yes. And this is how you become more.