Ancient and modern methods to wellbeing

Daniel has been contributing his poems and blog posts to the Wellbeing Web for two years, we recently spoke together about the many things he does that aid his wellbeing. Our informal chats revealed the intriguing blend of ancient and modern techniques, and pastimes which Daniel uses to keep positive.

The first of our chats took place during our trip to buy essential oils and joss sticks that might help our respective current mood.  Among the blends we chose was myrrh, known from ancient times for its medicinal and spiritual healing properties. When we next met to conclude our discussion we burned the myrrh.

People have been orating and writing poetry from ancient times as their muse inspired. Daniel’s recent such musings, ‘Road of Joy’, was his latest blog post. Daniel combines poetry, the ancient means of expressing thought and feeling with the modern art of blogging. Previous discussions had us pondering how and in what way we considered thought and feeling.differed, hindered or helped us in our wellbeing. Lets see if of the things Daniel engages with give any hints if we reached a conclusion.

I like spending time with close friends, playing and listening to music, meditating, consulting the I Ching, reflecting on Zen,Tao and Buddhist philosophy. In addition I take part in a variety of skill based and healthy living courses at Inkwell and Swarthmore Education Centre,  this last twelve months it has included; creative writing; short stories, poetry writing, web design, group Alexander Technique sessions, and art classes. Workshops at Leeds Mind have also helped me with my confidence and to work on relaxation techniques.

Knowing very little about consulting the I Ching, I asked Daniel to describe the practice and how he feels this helps him.

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book which traditionally is consulted by use of either throwing coins or willow sticks to determine which of its 64 hexagrams to read. It is similar to the way some Christians use bibliomancy when seeking guidance. After opening the bible  at random any text found there is taken as a guideline for resolving a particular issue that may be troubling the person.

I use coins when I consult the I Ching, I feel this works on the principle of synchronicity, enabling and revealing advice and information from the book in a way I find profound.

Daniels musical interests include his playing keyboard in the band Burning Skies Revolution

and he explained what about this is enjoyable, and how he deals with any ‘nerves’ when performing at gigs.

 I find playing a musical instrument raises my spirits, which is cathartic. Socializing with other band members during the nine years we’ve been together is beneficial, and it’s helped me not to watch too much telly.

As a kid I liked listening to electronic music and had a keyboard bought as a present. Earlier this year it was highly enjoyable to see the band Icebreaker, who play electronic music, at Howard Assembly Rooms, and I reviewed it for the Wellbeing Web see here,

I can read music  a bit but mostly play by ear.  Jamming at our weekly rehearsals or on other occasions when me and my mates are just relaxing is fun.

Public performance isn’t something I ever envisaged the band doing, it only happened because we stood in at short notice for another band. Although I get nervous before a gig, my confidence is helped by both the social support of the other band members, and by keeping in mind that I’ve done it sucessfully on previous occasions.

Daniel acknowledged that like most of us keeping active and remaining positive are beneficial for our wellbeing, but that it’s not always easy to remain upbeat. I asked Daniel when the ‘going gets tough’ which of the things he lists is he best able to hang on to.

I’d say it’s the things I can easily access at home, or close to home  that help me if I get down. Contact with my friends who live nearby, and the meditation on ancient philosophies and techniques which I can do at home are my mainstays. In recent years however access to modern technology via the internet and my smart phone have also  helped.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Discussions with Daniel about wellbeing didn’t reveal a clear divide between thought and feeling, except perhaps that they are flip-sides of the same coin. We might sometimes find ourselves relying more on one side than the other but Daniels use of ancient and modern techniques shows he does much to keep them well balanced.

Sue Margaret



Leeds Mind Peer Support Conference 6th June #peer14

The fantastic Peer Support team at Leeds Mind are presenting a free Peer Support Conference on Friday 6th June. Could your organisation benefit from using Peer Support ? Do you want to network with other organisations involved in Peer Support?

– tickets are free but need to be booked here via Eventbrite.  There are limited spaces so do book quickly!

The twitter hashtag for the event is #peer14


peer support flyer web

Wellbeing Web workshop at Inkwell next Tuesday

Social Media surgeries have been getting very popular in the last couple of years, as places where people who have some information and knowledge about social media give their time to help people who want to learn. For people involved in mental health, either as workers or people with direct experience, there’s now a free regular social media surgery every second Tuesday of the month at Inkwell Community Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton, 3.30 to 5 p.m. And next Tuesday Leeds Wellbeing Web will be running a workshop there!

I first went to a social media surgery about a year ago, knowing virtually nothing about blogging, tweeting etc. but wanting to learn because of a growing interest in Leeds Wellbeing Web. It was actually a really nice experience. An experienced blogger took me aside and worked with me one to one for about an hour, answering my naive questions, and generally being extremely kind and patient. The surgery next Tuesday at the Inkwell is being run by Leeds Mind and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and their blurb says ‘our surgeries are a safe space to learn about how to use the web and social media to communicate, campaign or collaborate. It is relaxed and informal, offering a friendly helping hand and no jargon’. Whatever you want to learn about – WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the millions of other things out there, chances are someone will be able to help you work it out, or at least point you in the right direction. If you want to know more about the event as a whole go to:

Tuesday would also be a great time to come along and meet members of Leeds Wellbeing Web (see above planning what we’ll be doing on Tuesday). We are cheerful amateurs, learning all the time about this, but we do jointly have a vision for a living online space where people with experience of mental health issues (as we all are) can talk to each other about what it is about this city that helps us to survive. We’ll be there from 3.30 to 5 to talk about how we came to set the Wellbeing Web up, what we’ve been doing, and what we plan to do next. You can sign up for the workshop at:

If you want to know more, or want to volunteer as a ‘surgeon’, contact Sarah on 0113 3055989 or e-mail

DSC00234I was tired after watching Christian and Vicky work so hard

Keeping well on a shoe string in Leeds

Using social media is a relatively cheap source of entertainment, and may aid well being, however how many people on low income can afford a smart phone, buy computing equipment, pay for an internet provider etc. My annual ‘pay rise’, this year £2.04, won’t go too far towards paying for any of them.

I was able to use work and public library computers to pick up emails and the odd internet surf, only investing in a laptop two years ago. In an idle moment I created a Twitter account but never really saw how useful it was, and how many passwords can you remember and remain sane? Anyway as part of a Current Issues course I’m taking, it was suggested that Twitter was a useful resource, so…..I’ve started tweeting again! perhaps this time I will get to grips with it!….how safe is it? within a short few days I received one unpleasant message and a ‘web attack’, I thought I had chosen to follow reputable people and sites, I’ve had some supportive feedback too, nothing quite like someone valuing your opinion, even when they don’t agree! for giving a buzz,…stimulates discussion, so necessary when you are temporarily or permanently housebound.

Perhaps a Dropbox or a MOOC will be my next  free venture in keeping me well? that old rocking chair and knitting needles looks tempting though.

A real and Facebook friend ‘liked’ this Leeds Forum, it’s got lots of information, events and news about Leeds.

armchair reporter!

Dancing….for a short while*

Have you ever been tempted to dance on the the supermarket? I have been and have done it in my zanier moments! perhaps some doubted my sanity but it felt liberating!

Audre Lorde in her approach to inspiring  people to speak their truth, counter balances that ‘revolution’ by light heartedly stating the need for frivolity, I have found that important in my well being.

Social media can give us a space to speak our truth and to share things we consider news worthy and inspiring. I remain cautious though about some of its uses, overwhelmed by its apparent complexity, in truth  it’s nothing more than pressing the correct buttons,

Should I tweet, hashtag, have a Facebook account, a twitwheel, Pintrest, Youtube channel or blog?…who might my intended audience be? will they trample on my truths and experience? Do I choose  to sign petitions by tick box. press a ‘like’ button or type in a  word, often ‘jump’ ..’see what happens’ …in my experience nothing… except  bumping up the numbers of that particular site, with what purpose? are there any assurance that you are linking to reputable sites? some that appear so, often have commercial or political backers who’s principles and aims differ significantly.

However, I found the following quotes which friends recently liked and linked ….the first by Audre Lourde…

“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you.

They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal.


And the speaking will get easier and easier.

And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had.

And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them.

And new ones will find you and cherish you.

And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party,

because, as I think Emma Goldman said,

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

…and here is a ‘LIKE’ , which I really did like but as suggested, copied and pasted instead

From Amy Smith

“Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the 3 hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry and Help me. Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you might have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in. To all of my friends who are going through some issues right now– Lets start an intention avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. If I don’t see your name I’ll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy & paste this status to give a moment of support to all those who may have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will!!! I did it for a friend and you can too. ….COPY AND PASTE THIS ONE, NO SHARE BUTTON, BECAUSE KINDNESS IS AN EFFORT, GIVES FROM THE HEART;NOT A PRESS OF A BUTTON”


* ‘Oh Very Young’ Cat Stevens