SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Happy World Storytelling Day 2019 - "StoryCare is inseperable from Health Care" - Dan Yashinsky

Happy World Storytelling Day!
"storycare is inseparable from healthcare" ~ Dan Yashinsky

What is the story you choose to carry within you - that cares for all of humanity? Tell me. Share it with me.

There is an Italian version and a Scottish version, yet I like what is retold by Dan Yashinsky in this version from the Arabian Nights. ( Taken from the Diving in the Moon - Honoring Story Facilitating Healing Journal 2016 of HSA)

Mine is:
The Happy Man's Shirt.

A king had a son who was so sad that all he did was stare at the wall of his bedroom as he lay in bed. (Many heads nodded at this description. “The bed is your enemy,” one patient said to another.) Finally an old wise woman came to the palace and told the king that she knew what could heal his prince. “Go,” she said, “and search your kingdom for a happy man. Borrow his shirt. When your son wears the shirt of a happy man, he, too, will remember how to feel happy.”

The king left his sick son and began to wander through the land, searching for a happy man. He asked the captain of the army if he was happy. “Yes, your majesty,” he replied. The king asked: “Is there nothing you want?”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind being the general.”

“Then you’re not truly happy as you are,” the king responded.

He kept searching. The priest wanted to be a bishop. The merchant wanted to be even richer. He quickly found that nobody was happy with what they had or who they were.

Then one day he came to a forest. Just on the other side of a large hedge, he could hear someone chopping wood and singing a truly joyful song. The king’s heart beat faster. He called out: “Who are you?”

“I am a simple woodcutter,” came the reply.

“You sound so happy,” the king said.

“Yes, stranger, I am happy. My family and I live here in the woods, and we have everything we need.”

“Is there nothing you want?” “No, friend, I am content with the life I am leading.”

“Then please help me,” the king replied. “I am the king and my son the prince is ill with a terrible melancholy. A wise woman told me that only if he wears the shirt of a happy man will he be cured. Can you lend me your shirt?”

The man on the other side of the hedge didn’t answer for a long moment. Then he walked around and stood in front of the king wearing only a ragged coat. “I would like to help you, your majesty, but I cannot. You see, I am so poor that I have no shirt.”

And this is where, like Scheherazade, I stopped the story. What, I asked my listeners, do you think happened next? What did the king do?
Here is where the story stops and most others will laugh away at the man not wearing a shirt. The King enlightened will go back to his palace. 
But let us pause here and ask a question. By asking a question here the story becomes increasingly interesting. Dan Yashinsky goes on to say that we are constantly looking for answers but what if we stay with the question, then the answers emerge from multiple spaces.
Do you wish to share with me what will happen next?
Do you want to imagine how this story may end?
What does a King / a Father do when he realises that the cure he was looking for was actually not outside but within?
Does this remind you of Poh in Kung Fu Panda who finds out that the SECRET on the scroll, was in
fact NOTHING?!
To read the ideas that came up for Dan's group. You can go here and read it

As for me I stay with the fact that
It is what we choose as Meaning to give it



Friday, March 8, 2019

Indra's Net - what makes a Healing Story?

The Story of Indra’s Net

Let us travel into a far, far land, even upto the heavens. There you see Indra's palace. It will take you a while to drink in the splendor of the palace from outside. Be ready and sure that you want to step inside; and when you are sure nd ready to enter that palace, remove your slippers outside, fold your hands in gratitude and enter. 

There within you will be astonished for the roof of the palace is adorned by a net, a net that stretches beyond your vision, perhaps even beyond infinity. Each of it's fine threads meet at a node and every node carries a jewel, a gem. So what you see is a net studded with a million jewels, each the size of a walnut. They glitter and shine and reflect their perfection and their completeness.
If you step closer you will see that each of these jewels are connected to the one next to and beside them by a thin gossamer silken thread. Do not be deceived, they may look fragile, but these threads are strong and have held these jewels together for ages. Even if one breaks, another thread is formed to connect and hold the jewel in place.
Now step even closer and you will see yourself reflected on the surface of one shiny jewel and that image will be caught by another and another and then you will see your reflection in every jewel, reflecting and being reflected, till you can see no more, but the reflection exists till it reaches an infinity that you cannot see but it exists even then!
Then you need to step back and think about these reflections, are they not but illusions? Every reflection appears to have a reality but in essence they are but illusory.
Then when you reach out and touch the web, you will see how one act of yours can disturb the entire web. One act of yours sends ripples through the Universe, the Web!
This is the Net of Indra. The web that connects you, me, us and the entire universe.
( A beautiful imagery that has been reimagined by me. This story is told in the Avatamsaka Sutra and is found in both Buddhist and Hindu mythology)

Why do I feel so passionately about people having access to stories and storytelling which is the shared act of telling and listening? 

       I believe every human has to be nurtured within a Storytelling Culture. It creates Empathy and Compassion between the Teller and Listener. The listener then becomes a teller and the chain continues. Stories are tools in the hand of the Storyteller to create a bridge of sharing and understanding. We are all Storytellers and we are all Listeners. 
·         Storytelling creates a most wonderful, non-threatening, compassionate space to be in…why should we all not have access to such a warm, genuine and inclusive space?
·         Even when we share stories of conflict, trauma and despair, the shear act of Telling helps us let go of our constrictive space and enter a space for healing…
...That is the power of Storytelling

Every story has the power to heal.

Healing is a process of repair and mending that happens within us, as we integrate various aspects of the outside and inside world to make ourselves feel balanced once again.

That implies there was or is something that is potentially imbalanced in us. If this imbalance is physiological, then we have to resort to medicines and massages, but when this imbalance is socio - emotional then story medicine could work. (There are also story workers who have delved deep into how story can even heal physiological issues...Nancy Mellon in her book Body Eloquence)

A Story provides us provides a possible way to look at life and our own stories. Yet many times the seeker looks at the pointing hand and fails to see where it is pointing and then the point is lost!

 A story may provide us POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS to our problems. It may provide us the tool to make the CHANGE. Yet above all a story helps us navigate the emotional pathway to wellness.
~~A story which helps us travel on an emotional journey or that which helps us view ourselves through it's lens can be termed as a healing story. Many Sufi tales are considered healing stories, yet it's mystery I am told may be revealed only to a spiritual mind and many others who hear or tell it, barely discern word from meaning.

A healing story is also one that stays with us as images to be recalled at times of need. I always feel Imagination can be a curse or a boon. When imagination drags us into the depths of despair then we are cursed and when it helps us fly high on wings of joy then it can be a boon. Stories need to help us navigate these pathways and channelise our mind to retain images that will help us fly on wings of clarity.

When is a story not yet useful?
This is a question that must be addressed. It is the white elephant in the room. Can a story always help I am asked many times. Not really.
A story doesn't help when I feel unheard myself
A story doesn't help when I feel I am filled with untold stories
A story doesn't help when I want to speak and tell my own stories.
A story doesn't help when the listener is not yet ready.

That is why many storytellers prepare the space for listening with small or sometimes elaborate rituals. In the healing space some preparation may happen with words chosen specifically to bring the listener into the story or through a single tone sound of the bell or the meditation bowl.

Yet only when the Listener is ready to receive the Gift of Story will they truly embark on a journey of healing.

Ready, Get, Set, Go.....

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Joy Ride - a short story

Joy Ride

The door closed silently as he watched mesmerised. Everything looked bright and shiny. Mother pushed him to the seat, but he clung on to the central rod and watched mother’s hands glide down the metal rod running along the roof. He lifted his hand and pointed to the rod. Mother lifted him up and he held on, swinging from the rod like spiderman. A wide smile broke out on his face as he hung on, oblivious to the announcements that were made rhythmically. The seats were all full and mother had to just stand there next to him till their stop arrived, but she did not mind.

The metro train glided smoothly into the station and doors swooshed open once again. Mother signed the name of the station to him with her fingers as they stepped carefully across the open automatic door and onto the Indra Nagar platform. He had so many questions to ask. She signed back patiently, knowing his curious, alert mind needed to be kept engaged.

He would not move from there till he could see the end of the last coach disappear around the edge. They watched as it left in a flurry of silent movement. Finally they turned and walked out of the station and stopped a passing auto as they still had to reach school. This was their routine almost every day since the new metro rail had come; a joy ride to reach his school.