These blogs will try and explore in more detail and link to resources exploring the themes of wellbeing and storytelling both separately and together.
When a storyteller begins to tell a story it is an invitation for the the audience to get closer. If you watch the body language of the audience there is eye contact with the teller and they will often moves towards the teller. They are being drawn into the imaginative world of story, the inner world of storytelling here anything can happen and leaving the outer world, the world of facts and laws, behind. Our inner world is full of emotion, of desires and fears and a story helps gives the inner world become more able to be seen. An old Scottish traveller saying makes this relationship between story, teller and listeners clear; ‘a story is told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart’.
And many stories, particularly those that have survived many generations of telling have much to teach us about survival itself. A central theme of many stories is the same as dilemma that we all constantly face in our own lives – the struggle between the self-centred ego and the compassionate transcendent self that sees beyond immediate personal needs to a wider connection with others and the world. This struggle is timeless in human history and relevant as much now as ever. It is reflected in the the stories of the ancient oral and wisdom traditions of the world and also being rediscovered in the mindfulness based psychologies of modern science. So stories are a tool in self understanding, enquiry and growth that offer clues and invitations on the journey towards wellbeing and peace, towards self-compassion. Stories also tell we need to be more to be more subversive even destructive in creating change and survival. I believe storytelling is a fundamental way we connect with each other and learn about what it is to be human. Stories entertain, educate and enlighten and when brought alive in the telling they inspire imagination, curiosity and well-being.
An anthropologist asked a Sioux leader why people tell stories. He replied, ‘In order to become human beings.’ The anthropologist responded, ‘But aren’t we human beings already?’
‘Not everybody makes it,’ the leader replied.
Adapted from Eric McCollum