Dr. Libby McGugan is just one of our clients with a very exciting project under development. Libby has spent her past years within the medical sector and has been inspired by patients who have retrained their brains. Now, Libby is focusing on helping us all ‘Live Inside Out’ through her real world and virtual world seminars, talks and workshops.
We managed to grab a few minutes with Libby to discuss her virtual journey and the future of iO-reality.
What has your journey consisted of that led you to having your own virtual space?
“I didn’t plan to have my own virtual space – the opportunity just unfolded naturally. I had moved from my job as an emergency medicine consultant to learn more about how people were managing to thrive against the odds in the face of health challenges that most of us would consider unthinkable. Despite the evidence and what medical history tells us, they were breaking down barriers that far exceeded expectations and were too precise to be down to chance. I began learning from them about their approaches and linking it to recent research in neuroscience and new understanding in psychology. As I see it, it all points to one thing – a basic understanding of the human system – how the mind and body work. I began to give talks around it and the feedback I got from people about their own experiences made it clear that this understanding has the potential to help a lot of other people. It also seemed like a good idea to find a way to embed this information into technology to make it more widely available, so I had thought about creating a digital game around it. Through the TEDx community, I met Martin McDonnell from the VR company, Soluis. He helped me see just how awesome VR is and the potential it offers to take the idea to another level – my first experience of flying over Iceland was the clincher! Looking into how it transforms people’s experience in burns management and brightens up people’s day when they’re living with dementia, it became clear how much VR can be used to help people feel better – which to me is the whole point of medicine”
What is your favourite benefit of virtual reality?
“There are so many, it’s hard to choose… mostly it’s just fun! It’s completely immersive and helps us get out of our own heads when we’re feeling overwhelmed, in pain, needing to feel better, or just feel like a thrill. The potential to transform someone’s experience, even for a while, is immense and makes a real difference to people. For me I see it as a tool to enhance our own experience, not to replace real life. It also opens the door wide open for education – powerpoints are great but to fully immerse in an environment that normally we could never reach (like the human body) takes experiential learning to the next level.”
Do you know anyone who has experienced these benefits of VR?
“A while back, I sent a pair of google cardboard to a friend, Paralympic skier Jo Willoughby, while she was in hospital facing a pretty tough time, and suggested she try google expeditions. When I recently asked her about her experience this is what she wrote:
‘VR entered my life during a period when my body was experiencing sepsis. My mind, body and spirit were being attacked on all sides by infection, negative medical expectations and fear. High temperatures and rigors made any form of escape impossible. Physical escape was indeed impossible at that moment, as I was bound to my bed by my body and numerous drips and Hickman lines.
Mental, spiritual and emotion escape was not impossible. That escape came with VR. I had previously been a para-Alpine ski racer; a generally outdoors person. The introduction to VR with the right app gave me access to the world. Suddenly I could escape my restricted reality and enter a realm that set me free. My body’s capabilities or incapabilities did not matter or count. I could hike a mountain, ski a slope, be in a forest and simply live. For me, as a disabled person suffering medical crisis, VR was and remains invaluable in my recovery as it allows me to go where I want to go and be the person I am, despite physical restrictions.’
So my favourite benefit of VR is transforming someone’s experience for the better.”
Where does iO-reality plan to go in the future?
“The aim of iO-reality is to help people understand the system behind the human mind and body – to make sense of their experience, feel more in control and live their potential. There are two branches to io-reality:
The Virtual branch once fully developed will offer immersive events, guided experiences, inspiring stories, gaming and virtual physio. Where better to understand the human system than from inside the mind and body itself? It all happens in an amazing island setting where people can attend events together and socialise, or have some solo time, tranquillity and focus on their own. The first event – The Awesome Human – takes people inside the mind, brain and body to begin to understand the human experience from the inside out. It takes place over successive days so people have space and time to absorb the talks, try the other experiences on the island and live real life (it’s not intended to have people be in there all day!)
Future events will include guest speakers and innovators in the field to share their expertise.
We’ll also be running virtual workshops for private teams and groups on the subject of understanding the human system and how to work with it to get the best from their experience. Once fully developed, the virtual physio wing is aimed to help people in rehab, particularly around spinal injury, so I’m looking for funding for that. (Anyone reading this who can help… it would be gratefully received!)
And of course, the work will continue in the real world with ongoing talks and events, such as Inside-Out Evolution personal events and Wellbeing for Business Leaders courses. I work in collaboration with other teams who have expertise in psychology and behaviouralism, music and leadership to offer immersive courses. One of the collaborations is with Horseback UK where you can experience the concepts in action through horsemanship, which has a profound effect on people.”
Want to get in touch?
You can contact Libby at [email protected]. Alternatively you can visit her website or tweet her for more details.