Allegedly, there’s an old Chinese curse that states “May you live in interesting times.” And the burden of navigating the unpredictable is certainly felt by all those who attempt to create positive change in an increasingly chaotic and challenging world. In fact, burnout is a real and significant problem within the activist community and can cause even the most committed change-makers to abandon the causes that they have worked so hard to support.
So how can we remain calm, positive, and empowered when everything around us seems designed to cause stress and worry? At our TimeBank, we believe that emotional and spiritual wellbeing has a very important role to play in building a better world. And that by finding tools to improve our own resilience, we can better help those around us to do the same.
Last year, we realised that we were lucky enough to count a number of health practitioners, complementary therapists and healers among our members. And amongst themselves, they began to discuss ways in which they could use their skills to support our community.
The outcome of that initial meeting was TimeBank Mycelium; a loose collective of practitioners brought together by their desire to achieve positive social change. Gathering at Wold Close, a creative retreat centre run by art therapist, flower essence therapist, and TimeBank member Linda King, the group laid the foundations for some important work that continues to underpin everything that we do at Marfleet Community Centre today.
Taking its name from the root-like, interconnected fungal structures that thrive in nature, TimeBank Mycelium was envisaged as an underground network of energy workers gathering throughout the year. Although their first meeting was experimental, the group soon solidified into a concrete force for positive change, using techniques such as meditation to send healing out into the community of TimeBank and beyond.
So far, TimeBank Mycelium members have embarked on creative projects to mark various seasonal festivals, such as Imbolc and the Equinox, and collaborated to create a flower essence — a type of complementary medicine that captures the healing properties of plants, designed to be distributed throughout the community as needed. Last year, the group also hosted a wellbeing retreat for TimeBank members, recognising that those who help others are often among the least likely to ask for help for themselves. By promoting wellbeing across the board, TimeBank Mycelium hopes to address issues such as burnout from the bottom up, laying the foundations for a sustainable future.
Recently, the group began compiling a resilience toolkit including techniques and practices such as breathwork, journaling, gratitude practice, ho’oponopono, blessings, spells, and nonviolent communication — a wide array of resources drawn from a multitude of disciplines, all brought together as a means of strengthening communities. Now, TimeBank Mycelium is exploring ways to share this toolkit, with ideas such as wellbeing events and workshops, taster sessions, and even a wellness flashmob taking shape. If you have any thoughts on how we could expand these efforts further, please get in touch for a chat.
So far, TimeBank Mycelium encompasses a broad range of practitioners, with everyone from acupuncturists and essence therapists to sound, art, and play therapists involved. Speaking to Jo Huntsman, a kinesiologist and energy medicine practitioner who is also a member of the TimeBank, she explained the dual purpose of the far-reaching project.
“There are two main aspects of what we do,” Jo said. “One is enriching our own community - the mycelium - and creating as rich a compost as possible to live in by supporting each other and creating activities that bring a sense of wellbeing to us, and a sense of being supported in roles that can be quite lonely. And then there is this possibility of the mycelium fruiting and creating events and opportunities within the community.” Meanwhile, member Elaine Tague, who teaches yoga and somatics, added that the group serves as a “safe space to share ideas with like-minded people.”
Some members of the group attend regularly, while others drop in on a more casual basis — with as many as 18 present for some sessions. And TimeBank Mycelium looks set to keep growing too — much like its equivalent in the natural world. According to Jo, anyone who is a health practitioner and a member of the TimeBank is welcome to join the meet ups, which happen on a monthly basis. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
And TimeBank Mycelium isn’t the only wellbeing project that’s taking root in our community. Beginning in March, we’ll be hosting a series of Wellbeing Tuesdays at Marfleet Community Centre, offering taster sessions for anyone curious to learn more about a range of practices. The first session will be focused around somatics, a type of gentle exercise and bodywork that emphasises internal perception and experience. There will be a general session for those with no mobility issues (you must be able to get down and up from the floor) from 9.30am - 10.30am on Tuesday 5th March and a seated somatics session from 9.30am - 10.15am on Tuesday 9th April. Sessions will cost £4/£3 respectively, but are available to TimeBank members in exchange for 0.45 credits.
Our director Kate will also be running two sessions on kundalini yoga, a practice that combines physical movement with breathwork, chanting, meditation, and singing to achieve an overall sense of wellbeing. The first, on March 12, will serve as an introduction to kundalini yoga, although practitioners of all levels are welcome. And the second session, on April 16th, will focus on exploring the positive, negative and neutral mind.
To find out more about any of these projects or to discuss any ideas of your own, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.