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Story alchemy 12/23/11

Join Vivienne Cannan as she discovers her inner story teller.


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A visual representation of the workshop created by Sonja Niederhumer

I have never been truly confident in my own story-telling circles. Always inclined to charge ahead, I would miss out crucial parts of my stories and at times even forget the punch line. Clearly I was an ideal candidate for a four-week workshop exploring the art of story telling. But would I be able to discover my own inner story teller?

I have always admired people who are able to tell a good story. I can’t say that there is one specific thing that sets these people aside from the rest, but clearly they are different. Determined to discover more about the art of story telling I enrolled in a four-week workshop facilitated by Dorian Haarhoff and Kirsten Pearson which aimed to:

  • explain the power of storytelling
  • give one an understanding of how stories work
  • provide practical tools to work with in the telling of stories
  • help to develop ones ability to tell a good story
  • ignite ones creativity and imagination

The inspiration
The idea to attend a story telling workshop was triggered when I read Daniel Pink’s book: A Whole New Mind. In it, Pink explains his theories behind why right-brainers will rule the future and the importance of the human society returning to story.

Pink explains: “Despite the importance of story, and as central as it remains to how we think, somewhere in the Information Age it got something of a bad rap.” Pink points to the fact that in the Information Age, stories became less dependable and were replaced by facts. But once facts became so widely available and instantly accessible (through the likes of Google etc.) each became less valuable.

“What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. And that is the essence of the aptitude of Story – context enriched by emotion,” says Pink.

“The ability to encapsulate, contextualize, and emotionalize has become vastly more important in the Conceptual age. Likewise, as more people lead lives of abundance, we’ll have a greater opportunity to pursue lives of meaning. And stories – the ones we tell about ourselves, the ones we tell to ourselves – are often the vehicles we use in that pursuit,” Pink summarises.

The Workshop – The Joy and Call of Stories
From week one the environment was fun and welcoming, which allowed the group to quickly bond and share stories. While all 11 of us clearly came from different walks of life and cultures, it was apparent (even in the early stages of the workshop) that this would only enrich the story telling experience rather than hinder it. From the get go, everyone attending the workshop had one common quality – the ability to be open hearted.

Revelations
Over the next 4 weeks, I came to realise that open-heartedness was key to mastering the art of story telling because:

    • By not judging others, you are not judged
    • In listening to others, you are listened to and heard
    • By celebrating the stories of others, so too are your stories met with applause and encouragement

It was incredibly refreshing to be part of a workshop where, despite the obvious expertise and knowledge in the room, people did not try to outshine each other but instead opened up and shared stories in a deeply vulnerable and personal way allowing others to take from their stories and embrace their own.

Finding the story teller within
My “aha” moment showed itself in week two and I have been celebrating ever since. By tuning into a deep and peaceful inner voice, I experienced what it felt like to take on the form of a story teller and be fully immersed in the magical core of storyland. None of this would have been possible without the support, encouragement and open-heartedness shown to me by my audience and fellow story tellers. A story, I have come to learn, is a two-way experience and both teller and listener play key parts in its success. Through this experience, I have realised the power of story telling and the ability it has to connect us all. It provides a platform for people to share and find common ground while also offering amazing gifts of healing, compassion and empathy.

I truly believe that as the planet continues to change and we are forced to find more creative solutions in order to be able to sustain life, connecting to the ancient art of story telling will prove invaluable.

About Vivienne Cannan: Vivienne believes very much in variety, as her working life indicates.  Vivienne is part owner of a successful PR business as well as a life facilitator, business coach and spiritual development facilitator.

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