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Episode 07

Rituals for Digital Life—Tiu de Haan

How can we design rituals in the form of “moments of meaning” for ourselves to enable focus, deep work, wonder, rest, and healthy transitions from one mode to the next? Tiu de Haan is an expert in creating contexts to help us deeply connect to ourselves, to each other and to our innate creativity.

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About the guest

Tiu de Haan is a ritual designer, creative facilitator, idea doula and ‘serendipiter’. She curates and creates experiences designed to shift your perspective to see the wonder in the world, helping people to birth their creative ideas and design their own unique path filled with moments of meaning.

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Episode notes

Tiu describes intention as a “narrowing of focus and clarifying of the path”. She talks about the importance of this while also describing a very different mode of being which is much more exploratory, imaginative and open-ended. Menka suggests that perhaps we can use intention to enter into either mode, and Tiu agrees that we can and offers a powerful distinction: setting a goal vs setting a context. Both are necessary, she explains.

Why is it so hard to be intentional in our digital activity? In exploring this question, Menka and Tiu talk about how easily we get into routines (repeated behaviours) that we may even become addicted to, and how rituals can help shift this. A ritual creates a pause in our routine activity, elevating a moment into something bigger and more meaningful. Tiu describes ritual as a “container for emotion, reflection, transition, and sometimes celebration” - a subject she has talked about in more depth in her TED Talk.

In designing rituals Tiu offers practical suggestions including making them multi-sensory - for example, having a certain scarf to wear, music to listen to, essential oil to smell - in order for our brains to strongly associate that moment with a certain meaning. Menka asks about how to apply this approach to our digital lives, and the conversation turns to boundary setting, Zoom calls, shutting down tabs and windows at the end of the day, and many other practical ideas that can be experimented with easily.

Tiu then talks about her pioneering work in designing Virtual Reality experiences, and the potential this offers in supporting wellbeing and creativity. She shares her insights about an Oculus experience in which people connect as light beings, as a radical alternative to Zoom meetings! Here technology is not a barrier, rather a means to deep connection.

Serendipity is another passion of Tiu’s and she suggests three ways in which technology can help ensure an element of randomisation and lead us towards surprising results, critically challenging the usual homogeneity of our digital experiences. One of these techniques is simply to use our social networks to ask more genuine questions, even when it makes us feel uncomfortable doing so.

Finally Menka asks Tiu to choose a Digital Habit Lab card and she picks the “Put a post it note on your phone” which is a really simple way to create a mindful pause when picking up our phones, reminding ourselves of our intentions.

Bonus Content

Tiu shared some advice on ways that you can use the Pomodoro technique as part of a digital ritual.

Tools and Apps Mentioned

Resources Mentioned

  1. The Art of Possibility
  2. Tiu’s TedX Talk— Why we Still Need Ritual
  3. Mindful photography (Menka’s project).
  4. Tiu’s Morning Practice that she’s “addicted” to: Morning Pages
  5. “Isness”. Research on multi-person VR experiences to design peak-mystical type experiences

Get in touch

Send us feedback, suggestions, or questions about anything you’ve heard or would like to hear:

The Digital Habit Lab Podcast is produced by Menka Sanghvi and Jonathan Garner. Thanks to Jack Fletcher for audio engineering chops and music.

Show Contributors

  • Tiu De Haan
  • Menka Sangvhi