Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dragon Mind

Dragons have been hanging around me for years -- usually hidden in the shadows. Recently though, they've emerged full force. I take that as a good omen for myself, for my country. II wonder if it's because they feel our yearnings for them and the wisdom they bring.The fury will naturally evolve into creative power. There's a link to Hexagram I - the Creative -- translated by Richard Wilhelm in this post.

"Water Dragon," Deviant Art
Have you seen those Chinese prints that show a dragon bursting forth from a tsunami-like wave? This image represents the Taoist belief that chaos is the wellspring of creative power, good fortune, and prosperity.

To learn more about the Creative, Hexagram I, click on ichingfortune.com

What a perfect image for these times!

The wave can be understood as the implosion of all the old, violent, and corrupt structures that have created such dark times and the dragon as an image of the inscrutable new reality that is bursting to break through in our country, across the globe, and in the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

We each have a role to play in the restoration -- to live with integrity, passion, and purpose; to hold faith in a more perfect vision; and to do our part to create families and communities built upon caring and compassion.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

FEELING ANXIOUS? Where does your personal story intersect with the world story? This is your place of power.

Although it feels like things are spiraling out of control, we're not powerless to use the chaos for our own purposes.

Friday, June 23  
(THIS WORKSHOP IS FULL. If you're still interested, e-mail me and I might schedule another.)
8 pm eastern

Space is limited. Register at julietbrucephd@gmail.com
One of the principles of my story practice is that there is a point of intersection between our own lives and the larger one playing out on our planet. When we find that point of intersection, we can step inside and make healing changes in ourselves. As we heal and make ourselves whole, we heal and make whole the energy flowing through our world.

Today, as we enter the deeper waters of the Sea of Chaos in America, I am reminded of this blog post and healing workshop I offered during the Gulf disaster. I used this principle of intersection between self and world to bring an infinitesimal but real bit of healing to the world. I'm beginning to think of how to bring healing story practice to Trump's unraveling.

It was a beautiful sign to me this morning, the day of Comey's testimony and what I believe is the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration, that the background music on Morning Joe this morning is Paul Simon singing, "These are the days of miracles and wonder..." 


Monday, June 7, 2010

A Healing Story for the Gulf, its Wildlife, and its People

Ancient healers understood very well the power of words, images, dance, music, and especially the dynamic conflicts and characters in stories to heal and comfort suffering people. They often diagnosed illness by observing what parts of a story most resonated with their patient and then told a special curative story to mobilize the sick person's inherent healing capacities.

Contemporary healers, artists, and creative people can do the same for our planet and all its creatures. Through the metaphors of artistic expression, we can imagine into being a better story than the one that is playing out now. 

What exactly is a healing story, you may ask. Healing stories are metaphors for the universal human struggle to create meaning and growth out of misfortune. They're as old as humanity itself and are often called hero's journeys; they're expressions of our natural resilience -- of hope, transformation, and redemption. In this kind of story, a personal or collective disaster inspires someone to leave their ordinary life and go on a difficult quest for the solution to the problem. After many trials and defeats, overcoming dangerous obstacles and adversaries, they succeed in claiming the healing knowledge, elixir, or object, and bring it back home for the good of all. These times call for heroes.

 We all feel helpless and sickened about what's happening in the Gulf. Once the oil leak is stopped, it will take years, even decades, for the ecology, wildlife, and people of that region to recover. But we're not helpless to create unexpected and amazing change through storytelling. The purpose of this workshop is to activate collective energy for restored health to the waters, wildlife, and people of the Gulf.

Here is a healing story exercise for yourself and the Gulf: What stands out for you about this event? What aspect of it do you most resonate with -- the loss of home for its animals, the poisoning of the water and the beaches, the careless disregard of BP? The resonating element in the event might be triggering unconscious pain from a deep internal wound that hasn't fully healed. In writing a story, poem, or free-write about that aspect of the story, you are also writing about a wounded part of yourself.

This exercise is not about writing a wishful but inauthentic vision of what you'd like to see happen in the Gulf. It's about finding that place in yourself that intersects with that larger story, and writing whatever your soul and spirit send up from that place. That's how real healing happens, both personally and for society.

In Chaos Theory there is a term called the butterfly effect. This means that small actions in one part of a giant system can affect the whole system. So a butterfly flapping its wings in New York over time could create a fresh wind over the Gulf of Mexico.

Many minds moving with the same intention can create miracles. Think back to the grassroots momentum that put President Obama in the White House, against all odds. It began with hundreds of tiny Camp Obamas, where people were asked to tell a better story for our country and for their own lives. The sharing that happened at those storytelling camps galvanized a movement. Together, possibly we can change this awful story too.

What if millions of people across the country let their imaginations loose to create healing stories for the Gulf? What unimaginable possibilities might arise? Mobilization of millions of citizens for the greatest environmental clean-up in the history of the world? A new and more profound commitment to taking care of our environment? What’s your wildest dream for our land and its waters?

So bringing our story practice back to the present, what most stands out for you about the whole situation of Trump in the White House? What most angers you, makes you sad, resonates in particular with some part of yourself. For me, it's the crushing oppression of stupid white men -- yes, that's an old wound in me that I'll probably be attending to for the rest of my life.

Pull out three or four words that immediately rise to consciousness. 

Choose one word that has the most energy. 

Set the timer on your phone and give yourself 7 minutes to free-write from that word. 

Read your piece to a trusted friend who is wise enough not to judge discovery writing. Or, if you like it enough, read it to your video camera and post it to a small FB group. It must be witnessed and felt by someone to have its full power.  

It's out there now in the world's energy -- a tiny healing flow, a flapping of a wing. 


Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Blossom Where You're Planted -- POSTPONED UNTIL FALL

A unique webinar to guide you safely into the deep layers of your life where your conscious destiny can take root.

Susi Wolf and I are are story people: we write stories, tell stories, gather stories, read stories in the energies we encounter, elicit the stories of others, and share their stories in deep story sanctuaries. Always listening for the new story that wants to emerge in our small healing communities, we're looking forward to offering them to you in this very special online workshop on 6/22.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Change a Toxic Cultural Narrative, One Community at a Time

There's light at the end of the tunnel.
Here is a powerful communal storytelling process adapted from Michael White’s Maps of Narrative Practice.[1]  It is based on storytelling work observed in the 1970s by cultural anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff with a community of elderly Jewish immigrants in Los Angeles.
            Many of these people had migrated to the United States from the shtetls of Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century and had lost their extended families in the Holocaust; a number had outlived their own children. The result was a sense of isolation from the rest of the community, a sense of invisibility, which manifested in depression, deeper isolation, loneliness, and frail health.
            With help from a community organizer, these elderly citizens created a community in which they could recuperate, be re-energized, and regain their sense of existence. They did this through telling and retelling, performing and re-performing the stories of their lives. It was in these small story sanctuaries that these old people had the opportunity to become visible on their own terms. Meyerhoff called these experiences definitional ceremonies—the storytellers got to define themselves and be witnessed.
            In the 1980s and 1990s, Australian family therapists White and his colleague David Epson, who had been using narratives with families, began to experiment with Myerhoff’s definitional ceremonies. In White’s and Epson’s practice, the therapist maintained his/her central role and elicited the stories through interviewing the clients and their selected witnesses.
            In the process described below, the therapist or facilitator steps back from their central role as interpreter and expert. After explaining the process to storytellers and witnesses, the facilitator does not intervene except to gently keep the process on track and focused on the central storyteller’s sharing. I call these storytelling and story listening experiences ceremonies of engaged witness.

1.      Tell a story, recite a poem, or use the fairy tale exercise to write a story. This builds a safe container and creates a focusing theme for participants in this experience. I often use myths and fairy tales, as they release people from “reality” into connection with their imagination, intuition, and inner lives. Also, these old stories are metaphors for present experience and, as such, are not invasive. I’ve never seen it fail: people universally and viscerally respond to fairy tales and classic myths.
2.      Invite a collective response to it. Each member gets to say what sensory images, phrases, or dramatic moments stand out for them. This is the creative question. Not why. Rather, what resonates. Anyone can share. No one has to.
3.      Invite private writing time. Each person finds their own private “studio” space, and when they’re settled, ask each to write down five words that come immediately to mind. Invite them to choose the word that most captures their imagination, and make that the first word of an improvisational piece of writing. Give them five to fifteen minutes for this exercise, deciding at the outset how much time you’ll have and affirming that everything they need to say will come out in this time. I often play meditative music during this period to create safety and privacy within the group.
4.      Invite reading for whoever wants to share with the group. Again, everyone is invited. No one has to.
5.      Invite each witness to tell what they heard in the reading, without interpreting, analyzing, giving advice, or judging in any way. Ask the listeners to reflect back only what they heard and felt—their direct emotional experience of the piece that’s just been read. This is the critical and catalytic part of the process.
6.      Listeners, focus your feedback on the following areas without being rigid or judgmental:
·         Images, rhythms, shifts in tone that stand out and the felt sense, atmosphere, or mood you get from the piece of writing you just heard;
·         What matters to the storyteller or the character they’ve written about;
·         Go further. What areas or memories in the listeners’ personal life that they may have forgotten are lit up by hearing this. (This last step is not necessary but heightens the catalytic process in merging storyteller and witness stories, and moves everyone upward and outward into a larger story.) 
7.      Invite the reader/storyteller to retell the retelling. Reader gets the last word: Ask what stands out for them in what they’ve heard from the group.
8.      Finally, translate the metaphorical expression of art into concrete reality by asking the teller questions: “What does this look like in your life?  What is life asking of you now?
      The importance of this last step cannot be overestimated. It’s the bridge out of metaphor back to “real” life. It grounds the creative experience in concrete action, while at the same time helping participants come forth from the vulnerable place within that may have been opened in this process.
 To book a constituents' workshop or professional training, please write me at julietbrucephd@gmail.com.

[1] Michael White, Maps of Narrative Practice, p. 165.