Storytelling as Face Time

Told stories grab the attention of the listener through body language, eye contact, and the intuitive interaction between the teller and the listener. No electronic devices or evaluation forms are in the way. The storyteller is giving precious time to the listener in a very personal way. Face to face.

When one listens in this way the whole person is engaged; mind, body and heart are synchronized. The story becomes a journey within. No pictures, no explanations, and no media presentation intrude on deep listening. The listener is in co-creation with the teller.

Another reality arises. The more fanciful the story the more able we are to feel our way through it. Talking pigs, giants, witches and fairies are not in our daily reality, thus we freely associate with the images and characters as within a dream. A fairy tale may not be real, but it feels true.

When a fairy tale is told to a group all are sharing a simultaneous experience but each listener will have a unique reaction. “Let go the storytelling bird, one story told, many stories heard.” However, listening together can help transform a group into a community. The fairy tale characters enter the group as guides to pathways of recovery and change. They offer new ways for clients to identify both obstacles and gifts in their personal journeys. Hope is given a voice.

The following quote describes storytelling with small children, but in my 26 years of professional storytelling with audiences of all ages it captures the intimate “face time” reciprocity between teller and audience.

“Storytelling is a shared experience, a mind dance, a shared moment of emotion and thought between storyteller and child. As the story unfolds, each reacts to the other — the children are animated by the storyteller’s voice and gestures, the storyteller by the children’s faces and body posture…But the storyteller shares more than this enjoyable time together…The story we tell can become an expression of what we feel, a window into our own heart, a gift that reveals part of ourselves. The life we breathe into the story is our life; the story we tell is our own.” ~ Charles A. Smith, “Nurturing Kindness Through Storytelling”


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