By Michael Stone
Unless rooting and opening, unless listening to what is near but beyond us,
We will forgo the soul’s birthright to blossom.
— Mark Nepo
For the past few months I have had the extraordinary privilege of interviewing shamans, medicine men and women, and indigenous energy medicine people from around the world for this year’s Shamanism Global Summit. One common theme that has emerged is that our reality is a function of our beliefs, perceptions and the stories we tell.
It is very clear to me, and to them, that if we want to change the direction we are headed and build a global future that supports a world that protects the children of all species for all time, we must change our personal and collective stories.
It seems like every day we are being bombarded with stories of bad news from every corner of the earth. Wars, bombings, climate calamities, economic and social disasters — it appears that we are headed over a social, economic and environmental cliff and soon all will be lost.
People thought Columbus was crazy until he had the courage to test the prevailing story of his time, the story that the earth was flat! Seems like a silly story now that we know the earth is roundish. What new story wants to emerge now that could transform our lives and the future of life itself? How can we move from global lack and separation to universal love and interconnection?
There's always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story.
Everything's got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.
— Terry Pratchett
What if we knew we had the power to change our story? Would we have the courage to go against the prevailing worldview of lack, divisiveness and destruction? Would we let go of our complacency, complaints and collusion with the forces of stagnation, separation and eco-suicide? Well the truth is out! We can change the direction we’re headed, by changing our story.
The wisdom of the earth and the universe is awakening within us, and our collective story is transforming before our eyes. If we keep them open to the miraculous and stop holding on to the outdated structures, institutions and systems that need to fall, new ones can emerge.
So how can we support the manifestation and transformation of our prevailing reality into an earth-friendly, egalitarian, and interconnected species of earth caretakers and protectors of the web of life?
Science now recognizes the truth — that reality is a function of perception — and perception is based on our beliefs and the stories we tell others and ourselves. Changing our narrative to one that is more empowering transforms our reality. Healing is about rewriting our remembered past narrative into a hero or heroine’s journey and reclaiming our power as storytellers.
To heal the sicknesses of our time, (greed, separation, aggression, disconnection from nature and the web of life…) we must change the fundamental story of our relationship to the world. This will give us an entirely new future. We need to create a larger context for living, one that recognizes our interconnection with all life.
Stories live us, not the other way around!
— Dr. Jerome Bruner
To change the story of our time we must start with changing our own personal narrative. Where do we start? Right where we are! We start in the present and become aware of the remembered past and imagined future stories that are shaping our actions. Our stories, not our genes, shape our brains, determine our biology, and dictate the quality of our lives, or the lack of it.
So the first step to wholeness as a storyteller is to begin to deconstruct the stories that are living us. It’s not that easy because the people we interact with on a regular basis, our community, hold our stories in place. We begin by honestly inquiring into and identifying what they are and how they are impacting our lives. Then we have the task of living into our new story and demonstrating the truth of it to our community through our actions and conversations.
Recognizing that it’s all story begins to give us some freedom and access to loosening the binds and boundaries of our current behavior. Journal writing is a great asset in recognizing how we have become victimized by our stories of the past. Approaching the task like a person writing a novel, we can identify the character we call “I” or “me” by writing down our story. What were you born into, what happened to you, how did you get to this, what is this?
Taking apart each area of your life as a story makes it more fluid and flexible. Start with your complaints. See if you can go a week without complaining. That will bring up your story and you can begin to deconstruct it by asking, “Is this real?” No, it’s a story and you are the storyteller, which means you have the power to change your relationship to that which appears real!
Our stories have a cost and a payoff. What are they? Write down and explore what keeps you bound to this story. Expand the story to a larger context, into a hero’s journey, an epic transformation, a rebirth. Get over your old self and imagine a new one! Language is the medium with which we paint our lives and generate our reality.
Language is very powerful, it does not just describe reality.
Language creates the reality it describes.
— Desmond Tutu
Our stories live in our words and language and are inscribed in the cellular memory of our body. Our bodies react to the stories we tell ourselves. Our health, or lack of it, is a function of the stories we have been telling ourselves and others. In rewriting the narrative of our lives, we bring all of our senses to bear witness to the new story. We must hear it, see it, feel it, smell it, taste it and sense the emergence of its reality in our lives.
The ancient story of the human race is embedded in the cellular memory that has been handed down to us by our ancestors. The story goes on, generation to generation, beautifully unfolding and evolving toward union and oneness. The fact that some 50 trillion cells in our body have cooperated for millennium, giving rise to a single human body instead of a chaotic war of selfish microbes, is a miracle.
When we listen with our mind, we understand more of life.
When we listen with our hearts, we feel more of life.
When we listen with our whole being, body and spirit,
we are transformed and joined with life itself.
— Mark Nepo
Listening is a transformative act! When we realize that we never really have been listening, something new is possible. Rather than listening from our heads we begin to listen from our hearts. The head voice is simply our Dominant Identity Story, the sole purpose of which is its own survival.
It is always reinforcing the “I” that we think we are, but the soft gentle voice of the heart knows who we are at a soul level… We are the wind against our skin, the brightness of the morning sun, the gentle waves lapping at the shore line, the first buds of spring wanting to burst forth into the fullness of their blossoming.
We are the storytellers and it is time to reimagine our own story as we embrace our divine nature, as we listen to our celestial calling, as we attune our heart with the heart of the earth.
Let’s join together in dismantling our disempowering stories about ourselves and the world and begin to believe that what the prevailing story says is impossible is actually our birthright; that we can have peace on earth, goodwill toward all life, and love for our own beautiful and powerful hearts.
“One can’t believe impossible things.” said Alice.
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always did it for a half an hour a day.
Why, sometime, I believed as many as six
impossible things before breakfast.”
— Lewis Carroll
Michael Stone is the host and producer of the Shift Network’s The Shamanism Global Summit and KVMR’s Conversations, which interviews leading-edge thinkers, authors and activists in the areas of Environmental Restoration, Social Justice and Spiritual Fulfillment.
Michael is the founder of Mastery of Management International (MMI) a global Organizational Development Consulting firm whose purpose is to “bring heart and meaning into the world of work”.
Michael also leads classes, teleseminars and workshops on Embodied Shamanism, Moving Meditation and Spiritual Fulfillment. Michael is the author of Living a Shamanic Way of Life. He teaches to thousands online and is on the faculty of the Shift Network.
Click here to visit Michael’s website, Well of Light.
The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in:
2017 Catalyst, Issue 15: Shamanism Summit