“It has been said that next to hunger and thirst our most basic human need is for storytelling.” – Kahlil Gibran

While it’s true that the Coronavirus has brought some dark clouds into the lives of millions of people, each of those dark clouds also has a silver lining. And one of those silver linings is the undeniable fact that families now have more time to be together.

For some families, however, this extra time is good news/bad news. Theoretically speaking, having more time to be together sounds great. But practically speaking, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

Confined to a small space, with few breaks from each other, and the stresses that come from so many unknowns, it’s not uncommon for family members to get impatient with each other or simply space out on TV, Netflix, and video games.

Is there an antidote to this phenomenon? Yes, there is – and it’s thousands of years old – storytelling!

If you are a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities is to protect your children from harm. In many ways, of course, you are already doing this. (Hand sanitizers! Social distancing! Masks!). But physical health is only part of your job. The other part is to protect your children’s metaphysical health – their state of mind.

That’s where storytelling comes in.

Family storytelling (aka Wisdom Circles) has many benefits: it strengthens relationships, provides comfort, defuses anxiety, builds trust, entertains, imparts values, transmits wisdom, and gives everyone in your family a voice – especially the children.

That’s why I’m inviting you to create some special “storytelling time” with your family. But instead of merely reading stories from a book, I’m inviting you and your family to tell stories from your own lives. Memorable moments. Obstacles overcomes. Lessons learned. Cool experiences. You know, the good stuff.

Simply put, a Family Wisdom Circle is a chance for you and your loved ones to unplug from the world and simply BE together — no news, no video games, no TV, no internet, no bills, no dishes, no worries, no problems, no viruses — just sacred time, in each other’s company, to share from the heart.

Here’s what Tanya Kubitza, a Whittlesea resident, had to say about a Family Wisdom Circle she recently had in her home. Interested? If so, here are ten guidelines to make sure that your family Wisdom Circle is as good as possible.

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. Light some candles to create the meeting-around-the-fire feeling
3. Decide on who plays the role of “facilitator.”
4. Let everyone know that storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Each storyteller gets five minutes to tell their story
6. When people aren’t telling a story, their task is to listen
7. Turn off the TV, cell phones, and devices
8. At the end of each story, have a conversation — unpack it
9. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows!
10. At the end of the circle, ask your children to suggest topics for next time.

There is no storytelling without story listening

 

 

 

Mitch Ditkoff, is the President of Idea Champions, the Founder of Wisdom Circles, and the author of two books on the power of personal storytelling, Storytelling for the Revolution and Storytelling at Work. CONTACT: mditkoff@alsiraat.vic.edu.au