“What does [community] mean to us? How do we find it? Why is it so important?”
In a time of isolation, finding a sense of community is vital now more than ever. That is part of the reason why fourth-year student Natalya Malarczuk has created “Soul Circle Community,” a virtual platform that allows for any individual — regardless of background or belief — to come together and find a space to “heal, create and connect,” according to the project’s website.
Malarczuk was inspired while scrolling on Instagram and finding a yoga teacher who, in an effort to connect people during this pandemic, was hosting an online, guided meditation “women’s circle.”
She wondered, “what if we had something regular where I could connect people in some sort of community and find a way to inspire [them]?”
From that, the idea of an online meditation community was born.
She describes some of the basis behind this idea on her website: “Many students are returning to homes that may not be supportive of their identities or even safe for them to live in.”
“Although I can not help them get out of their situations, I want to help them process it,” the statement continues. “I believe that through storytelling, sharing, and building support, these individuals could find relief in their own strength and cope with a painful but temporary situation.”
So how does it work?
Every two weeks, Marluczuk will post modules centered around a theme that promotes healing and coping with this difficult time. The first theme is “community,” and some of the questions posed for individuals to consider can be found at the top of this very article.
For the next theme, the focus is more spiritual: “the divine feminine and masculine,” and what role it plays in society and in our personal lives.
“I wanted this to be a ritual, where people can get in touch with their grief,” Malarckzuk said. “I was thinking of doing things that are very self-explorational.”
Under each module, Malarckzuk posts media such as readings, podcasts, films and even playlists. She has included personal journal prompts and prompts for individuals to make more creative pieces in response to this media.
“I wanted to make it very consumable in a way that’s therapeutic,” she emphasized. “I don’t want it to feel like a chore, I don’t want it to feel like an obligation, I want it to feel like ‘me time.’”
Through the guidance of her yoga professor, Malarckzuk will also host a guided yoga class in which she will record herself doing poses that she will voice over.
To acheive a sense of community requires communication on top of this shared outlet, however. That’s why, through the “forum meets instant messaging” app Telegram, Malarczuk will be hosting regular check-ins. During these check-ins, the community can discuss how they are doing and support each other. She also hopes to host regular Zoom meetings so everyone can chat face-to-face.
Malarczuk recognized, though, that this time called for more than just a need for connection.
“My biggest goal [is] to help people cope with this situation, but also to find a way to make the most of it,” she described. “I think there’s value in sitting with yourself and just spending time with yourself. It could be a really good opportunity [that allows] us to get to know what we need and who we are.”
That is why everything on the website is optional.
“There are a lot of options to explore how you want to find your personal truths,” Malarczuk wrote on the website. “As for the media, feel free to click and browse and find what interests you. I recommend them all, but consume whatever calls out to you.”
As mentioned before, everyone is welcome and no one is judged. “All you need is internet access and a drive towards self-inquiry and fostering a space of communal support,” reads Malarczuk’s website.
If you’re interested, check out the website at soulcirclecommunity.wordpress.com, and reach out to Malarczuk through the contact tab or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.