It’s the end of the year and we could all use a break, right? Time to relax, recuperate—maybe even form some better habits for the year to come.
Time for Maloka. Created by celebrated wellness authors and philanthropists Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz (of Just Sit and The Well Daily), Maloka is designed to teach and reinforce healthy meditation and mindfulness habits. Take it easy on your own private island, and watch it transform into a lush oasis as you make meditation into a consistent habit. Your spirit guide is also along for the journey—and will grow and evolve alongside you, as you become a healthier and more mindful person.
Having charmed people on App Lab earlier this year, Maloka makes its way to the Quest Store today for its official release. We sat down with Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz to talk about melding VR and meditation, the path from App Lab to the Store, and what makes mindfulness so important in the modern world.
What drew you to VR as a medium for mindfulness and meditation?
Sukey Novogratz: At first we were extremely resistant to any tech as a medium for mindfulness and meditation. We thought that meditation should only involve a person and their breath—until our friend and co-founder, Xander, brought us two Quest headsets and made us try them.
Elizabeth Novogratz: Within 30 seconds we were sold. As soon as we were in the headsets, we realized that there are no distractions. You’re in the present, and half the battle of what keeps so many would be meditators from meditating was won. We started work on Maloka that same week.
How did Maloka come about? What sparked the project?
EN: We were giving a meditation workshop at TEDx in Attica (Prison) and after the conference, Xander (the same co-founder mentioned above) told us that we needed to bring what we were doing in the workshop to virtual reality.
How does Maloka incentivize meditation? And does providing these incentives help people build better habits?
SN: Maloka is designed to make meditation accessible, fun, easy, and consistent. It’s a game but it’s also a mindful universe, where one can meditate, take sound baths, and do embodied breathwork—all while growing their island and evolving their spirit.
For every meditation the player is rewarded with plants, and other objects to enhance their island. The spirit guide requires Tamagotchi-style attention—meaning the spirit guide grows as one meditates, and shrinks as one fails to meditate.
Maloka released this past summer on App Lab. Did you learn anything or did anything surprise you, coming off that initial release? Did Maloka change at all as a result?
EN: The App Lab launch really gave us a running start with Maloka and allowed us to learn so much from our early fans. For example, after launching with our immersive visually guided breath meditation, we learned that players wanted more areas beyond their island to explore or just sit and relax. So we launched an immersive sound bath and a light embodied movement experience, and in the process created lobbies for each where you can customize your experience or just hang out and take in the stars.
Why is mindfulness so important?
SN: Mindfulness is the cornerstone for mental health.
Awareness, mindfulness, meditation are practices that allow us to understand and know ourselves. They are what allow us to wake up and be present in the world. Without them, we’re on autopilot and sadly missing out on much of our lives.
What's Next For Maloka?
SN: We're building a community here of like-minded folks investing in their well-being, so we look forward to supporting them on that journey with more social features and the ability to extend the experience beyond VR. Mental health, mindfulness, and the metaverse are all having a moment so we'll be playing in that space with joy, and continuing to partner with leaders in the field to bring more magic to Maloka!
Ready to embark on your own mindfulness journey? You’ll find Maloka on the Quest Store—and it’s free at the moment, so there’s no better way to wind down during the holiday season and get a head start on those 2022 resolutions.