Meet the Creative: Gemma Bowden - Co-Creator and Chief Energy Officer at The Owl and The Coconut

Stop, notice, create.

Sharing Mindful Art for vibrancy, The Owl and The Coconut - a Manchester based mindful arts organisation, founded in 2014 by Art Psychotherapist and Cognitive Behavior Therapist Gemma Bowden and MBCT Mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist Louise Taylor, works to promote wholehearted living and social change. With a team of of creative therapists and artists, The Owl and The Coconut deliver projects that promote collective community, social inclusion, self-care and enhanced wellbeing.

We caught up with founder Gemma ahead of Float Fest where she will be hosting ‘The Art of Peace: Mindful Art Workshop’ to find out why self-care is essential, the beauty of community, and why mindfulness is at the heart of The Owl and The Coconut.

What is your company, what do you do and what makes in special?

We are The Owl and The Coconut, we are a mindful arts organisation. We deliver mindful meditation and art making workshops. I am one of the founders of the company and the CEO: Chief Energy Officer. We are a not for profit organisation who fundraise so we can offer our sessions to all. So barriers of finance and poverty do not stop people trying out meditation or art making for wellbeing.

Why did you want to be a part of Float?

Celebrating and promoting self-care and wellbeing is amazing! We can’t wait to attend Float and meet so many super like minded folk.

Can you sum up The Owl and the Coconut in one sentence?

Stop. Notice. Create.

What comes to mind when you hear the word wellness?

Self care for world change. If everyone was cared for and looked after there would be more happiness, trust and connectivity in our society and around the world.

How does your work encompass wellness?

Everything we do is about wellbeing. It’s the key to all! Wellness is a human right! From mindful meditation to mindful art making we promote insight and creativity.

How important is mindfulness in the work that you do?

Mindfulness is at the heart of all we do, from when we set our admin time to when we deliver mindful meditations to groups of people.

What is the most rewarding aspect of running The Owl and the Coconut?

Building a community. Since opening our Mindful Arts centre The Nest in Levenshulme Old Library earlier this year we have really been able to put down roots and take stock of who we are and how far we’ve come. Over the years we have build a community of like minded people. Familiar faces are always there to great us and join in our events. We have never adversities for a volunteer or team member because people seems to be drawn to what we do and reach out to join us. I am really proud of this.

Most rewarding is seeing the change and impact of 8 weeks groups have on people. It’s like seeing butterflies opening their wings. And how beautiful they are! We call our centre The Nest because that’s exactly what it is, a nest to come to a be nurtured at, to rebuild yourself and to fly away stronger than ever!

What can people expect from your workshop and what would you like attendees to get from it?

Our workshop at Float is a ‘touch anchor’ mindfulness practice. This involves selecting a stone, being lead in meditation into sensing into and feeling the stone. Then mindfully decorating the stone, perhaps using works or images to express what that stone might embody for you or be there as a reminder for like “I am worthy”, “I am loved”, “It’s all ok.” The stone can then be taken from the workshop and placed in a pocket or somewhere you’d see it every now and then. To serve as a reminder. To help you to repeatedly Stop. Notice. Create.

What do you make of the impacts of social media on wellbeing?

I like it’s like anything, social media is best used in moderation. I like eating biscuits but if I eat a whole packet I feel like sh*t.  Same goes for social media. I enjoy social media. I like learning about things and seeing what my friends are doing. It’s great for The Owl and The Coconut we get to link up with loads more people and from places all over the world! Like with our YouTube channel and an online project we did called 30 Days of Free Mindful Art.

What is the best advice you have every been given?

I am very lucky to have a family that are not afraid to take risks! So when I’d just had my son and decided to quit my secure full time well paid job to jump into the uncertainty of creating my own Not For Company no one batted an eye lid! My family are social activists and in our own ways we all do things that positively impact the world around us. Seeing them taking positive risks and none of my three siblings working 9-5 jobs is very encouraging.

Best place in Manchester?

The Nest mindful arts centre of course! My office here is filled with crystal lamps, incense sticks singing bowls and never ending chi tea! And when I’m not here I’m playing with my son, husband and our dog in one of Manchester great parks. I love a good tree hug.

Grab your ticket for Float here.

Jenna Campbell