Exploring Story and Narrative

Humans are natural story tellers. Story telling is one of the oldest form of transferring knowledge, wisdom and lessons as well as entertainment. The quality of our stories and story tellers can have a profound effect on our psyche, opening up profound ways into different worlds, altered realities and most of all bring us in touch with our own story and heart space.

It is said that within all of us is a story or even a book, and actually we are all players in our own story and by extension part of the story of our family and friends, our community, society and even the world. What part we play, how comfortable or content we are with that story will have a profound effect on our happiness and effectiveness.

Stories have been told for eons by the fire side, by the wondering minstrel, to the modern day film, multi media, TV and theatre. In fact in many ways we are spoiled how many stories and mediums for story telling is available to us today so much so we can sometimes loose site of our own story.

Personally, for all the ways a story can be told, I still find that one told by a good narrator still pulls me in to a world of the characters in ways that other mediums can’t. It can literally have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up in deliciousness of the narration. Furthermore my own imagination is stimulated and active to follow the story to fill in the visual or auditory gaps left when listening to a single narrator. No doubt we are all different in the preferred medium for story. Nonetheless, however you like your stories to be told, it puts us back in touch with something very ancient, very timeless. Suddenly we are engrossed in the success or struggle of our hero or heroine, in the characters who build the story or with our main protagonist.

In indigenous tribes and in times past in the western world, story was used to teach. We are innately able to absorb story like we are unable to absorb simple instruction. Often story would be used to teach children about the world, its ways including the dangers or the ways of being strong, courageous or even magical. Fairy and myth stories have often been dismissed as pure fantasy and rubbish for little children, yet in them is a richness that draws the listener in. Many who have studied these tales and revisit their component parts find that in all of them there is a moral, a lesson, a warning or teaching that is deeply in bedded within them. They often put us in touch with architypes that have stretched across the eons.

For some even working with these stories in ways of personal development can be profound for understanding their own role in their own life. Suddenly discovering they have perhaps forgotten to be their own hero or heroine in their own story or finding themselves stuck on the hero’s journey as they were unaware that they were even on one of their own. Sometimes working in this way can make sense of life from a subliminal tangent, revealing aspects of life and themselves that would otherwise remain obscure in the daily noise of ordinary life.

Stories which are real, real experiences and events bring us directly in contact with the world around us and again we find ourselves walking with the hero or heroine of the story, this time, perhaps even more profound and even more gripping as it is so real, perhaps even touches us closely because there is something which we can profoundly relate to within the story. We learn through the actions, discoveries of others. Sometimes, they will even help to finally provide the words that were needed to start to verbalise one’s own personal story, may be unlocking emotions or memories which have been parked for a long time and perhaps have been jamming the way forward in life. Gently and remarkably we all become ever so slightly unwrapped by the telling of a good story whether it is real or made up. This is one of the reasons that where a story ends is so important. As it finishes we are left wondering what drew us in, we are left with feelings we perhaps did not have or were not aware of before listening or watching. The desire for either a happy, messy or sad ending can be palpable depending on what the listener is seeking at that time. It is up to the story teller, who knows their story and why they are telling it, to decide where and how they wish to leave their audience. As the audience one is to some extent putty in the hands of the story teller, and perhaps as adults this is why we have to know a little bit about the story teller and the story before we enter into it. Yet as children we didn’t need to know, we just listened to the story that was read or given to us, unaware of how it may shape or mould us from the imprint it leaves.

As adults, story provides us with an opportunity to once again enter into that soft space of being putty in the story teller’s hands and maybe even find ourselves reshaped by a story. Sometimes it is a risk worth taking, and we always of course have the choice how much a story might reshape our views or beliefs.


Tanya Adams

Tanya is a trained Shamanic Healer and Reiki Master who draws from the teachings of Tao, Celtic and south American teachings.

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