Let’s try something together. Breathe in deep for the count: one, two. And breathe out slowly: one, two, three, four. Right now your heart rate is slowing. Repeat 10 times and your racing mind will follow suit. That’s one of Chris Connors’ tips for an everyday mindful moment. Better still if you can focus on nature, he says. Look at the sky, a tree, the sea if you’re lucky. “Nature is always present. It doesn’t have any other place to be.” Oh, and turn off your notifications.
It’s late spring and Chris’s Northern Irish voice is soft and calm, each word considered and purposeful. In the glow of Ibiza’s morning sun – his home for the last eight years – he remembers growing up in war-torn Belfast. “That experience set me on a quest for peace,” he reflects.
Sometime around 1999, travelling among the monasteries and ashrams of China, India and Japan, Chris stumbled upon meditation, a “simple act that challenges our complex mind”. For him, it has become life practice. “It’s not just about feeling well; meditation guides you through emotional turbulence and physical challenges,” he says. “But there wasn’t anything like that when I came back to London.” So he did it himself – not just becoming a meditation teacher and embodiment coach, but carving out physical spaces for mindfulness too.
Fast forward 20 years to the first weeks of the UK’s lockdown, and Chris is guiding virtual meditation sessions for thousands of people at a time. “Once over, I’d have had to persuade people to meditate, but now people are realising they need to support themselves, and this tool really works.”
It’s in this context, as we collectively wake up to the benefits of meditation, that OPO was born. Co-founded by Chris and joint-CEO Elliot Cox in September 2020, it’s a network of immersive wellness experiences that help you find stillness in everyday noise. Accessed via an app, its portals bridge the gap between mindfulness and real life – “blending realities” Chris calls it – bringing together soundscapes studied by neuroscientists with guided meditation and the views around you. The effect is greater than the sum of its individual parts: a science-backed shifted state of mind.
“We wanted to make meditation accessible and inspiring; not a chore, not too abstract,” Chris says. “It’s not about drifting off into another world but immersing you in this one.” OPO’s eye-open technique encourages you to observe. Simply find a marker on the map, go to it, and tap the icon to open the OPO journey – a meditative soundscape proven to destress your system and help you prepare for whatever life throws your way. It’s all about recognising the wonder around you. First shifting the way you see the world, then breathing in and enjoying the view. “When you’re meditating internally, you’re observing the inner world; with this technique, we help people root themselves in real life.”
In London, Chris often meditates on the park benches of Berkley Square, surrounded by its “cathedral of trees”. “There’s lots of traffic and noise, but when you’re a meditator you’re able to just be with all that,” he adds. But OPO isn’t all about navigating a treasure map of portals; anywhere, any time you can tap into morning meditations that boost serotonin, 12-minute sessions designed to refresh the brain or decompress before bed. Domus Stay guests enjoy exclusive access to sleep programmes and sound frequencies that regulate the circadian rhythm and combat jetlag.
There’s a boundless appeal to OPO – more so as portals open across the world. And in the app’s birthplace of Ibiza, where the soul is pulled by the magnetism of Es Vedrà, they feel like a natural extension of the landscape. The island has long embraced conscious culture – from the feasts and rituals of the Phonecians to the hippy era and the Balearic beats of the 80s. Today, exploring OPO’s constellation of portals in Ibiza is to embrace an even deeper connection with those pine-carpeted hills and rugged red-clay cliffs – no matter whether you’re touching down on the White Isle for a week away or for life.
“There’s something about the frequency of Ibiza that brings together the beauty of nature and sound,” Chris thinks aloud. Amp up the energy with an sunrise meditation at secluded Cala Nova or let your gaze drift to Formentera from the shores of Las Salinas. It’s perhaps the soundscape at Cala Conta that has the most profound effect on OPO users, however. Chris walks us through the experience: ambient house beats inspired by Café del Mar as the sun makes its curtain call on the horizon. “Most people, when they sit there, tears roll down their cheeks,” he smiles. “It’s beautiful and heart-opening. A very soulful experience.”