Approach: The Third “A” of Intuitive Storytelling
Attention, Affection, Approach and Allowance.
These are the four pillars of Intuitive Storytelling – and what do they all have in common?
The letter A. Alpha.
The sound of openness.
In Eurythmy – the art developed in collaboration with Rudolf Steiner that gives movement to sound – the “Ah” sound is made with arms reaching up and out to the heavens. It is expectant and welcoming. It is available to the subtle forces of spirit and creativity. It is the sound of intuition.
Intuition is the immediate access to pure untaught truth and knowledge. Intuitive storytelling employs this immediate access while making up and telling a story. It is as if you have storytelling specialists whispering a stream of narrative advice the whole time you are telling a story to your child. “Once upon a time there was a … (hedgehog) who lived in a …(rock wall) and spent every day wondering… (am I a porcupine?) You become like the mouthpiece of angels and the ambassador of the fairy world. You talk and talk, always steering the tale in accordance with the truth that is being whispered to you. It becomes like a dance with the heavens.
This dance of intuitive storytelling – like all living things – breaths. To tell an intuitive story is to breath in and then breath out. Breath in and breath out. Over and over. There is a listening to the whispers: this is the first pillar of Attention. To listen is to use all your senses and pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel in every moment. You might see the stuffed hedgehog, or smell chocolate, or hear the call of a robin – they are all candidates for becoming the next part of the story. But you are not finished breathing in. You see the hedgehog and then use the second pillar of Intuitive storytelling: Affection. You use your heart to gauge if indeed the hedgehog is the right way to go. Does the hedgehog line up with the ‘truth’ of the story. This is a yes or no proposition. If your heart says ‘yes’ then we complete the in-breath and begin to breath out.
Here we arrive at the telling part of storytelling – the actual speaking out of the story. This is the third pillar of intuitive storytelling: Approach. We now approach the story and move forward. We talk. We say “Once there was a hedgehog”. We have made a pact with those whispering storytelling experts, trusting them enough to speak it out loud. Our audience, be they a single young girl or a concert hall filled with families, has heard the words, “Once there was a hedgehog” and have immediately left the bedroom and concert hall and transported to a place where a hedgehog might be. When you continue and say, “who lived in a rock wall” they all immediately form a rock wall and start to investigate the wall on their own.
The magic of intuitive storytelling is that both audience and teller have freedom. We can all create our own hedgehog and wall – but somehow we all agree on the ‘truth’ of the hedgehog and the wall. It feels like something substantial and real and right. If the teller had chosen the robin during the in-breath moment and not the hedgehog – even though his heart told him not to (perhaps he had an intention to tell a story about a Robin – because he thought the springtime theme would be better served by a Robin – so he resisted the hedgehog and stubbornly chose the Robin), the story would have become less substantial and real and right. There would have been a curious question mark in the air. A doubt. But then – perhaps the storyteller felt this doubt as well and made a commitment to stop resisting and follow the pillars properly. The storyteller had already said “Once there was a robin” and then employed Attention and Affection once again to discover that the Robin and the Hedgehog might indeed be friends. “Yes!” says the heart, and the storyteller approached the story with “Once there was a Robin who was best friends with a hedgehog. They saw each other every day. One day the Robin noticed that the hedgehog looked a little sad…”
Approach is the will of intuitive storytelling. It is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the story lands and becomes manifest. Without approach, there is silence and only musings. Only someone alone thinking about a story. No sharing, no relationship – nothing. And an intuitive story must be told. If you allow it to remain in the unmanifest potential, it almost always slips from your grasp and looks for someone else to tell it. A story wants to be told – not to be simmered. It wants action. If the teller does not Approach, the storyteller loses the story. One must act and commit and live into the story. Do something. Take a risk. Live a little. Have some fun.
This is the outbreath. When we breath in we take in the world – take in the whisperings of the heavens as well as a sensory sampling of all that is around us. This is Attention. Then there is a pause, a moment of stillness where everything that was taken in settles a bit and for a moment becomes a part of who we are. Our heart in this moment makes a choice and tells us its choice with Affection. Then we breath out and we take a stand. We Approach. We move ourselves toward the story. Toward the truth. Toward life. This is a very brave act. It truly is. Here is where we risk being called a ‘bad’ storyteller or our story being called ‘boring’. But we take the risk because we want our children, or the room full of people to learn something about themselves, or the world or about life in general. We are willing to risk looking bad in the name of helping and healing.
So intuitive storytelling is much more than just telling a story. It is living your life. It is taking a stand for what you believe is good, true and beautiful. It is risking humiliation and judgment for the greater purpose of making a difference. Making a difference in the way your daughter sees her place in the world. Making a difference in the way your son communicates with his peers. Making a difference in the way a audience understands the plight of a far-away people.
Intuitive storytelling is pure power. It taps into truth and gives you words to express it. You just have to be brave enough to express it. And the good news is that your audience will be grateful. They will recognize that you are giving them a gift and will forgive all bumblings and double-backs and meanderings because they know deep in their hearts that you are striving and taking a risk for them. For them.
Once your story is over, your child will sit in the silence for a while and then snuggle into her pillow and sigh. And that is the greatest gratitude and acknowledgment for a storyteller.
Next month we will explore the final pillar of intuitive storytelling that lives in the stillness after an outbreath: Allowance. Letting go.
I am available to you all for questions and coaching. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to be on the Sparkle Stories newsletter, email email@example.com. Tell us how your stories are going on our facebook page here and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/sparklestories
David Sewell McCann has been spinning stories all of his adult life. Out of his experience as a Waldorf class teacher and parent, he has developed a method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and in collaboration with his wife Lisabeth with their children’s story website www.sparklestories.com.