"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

28 February 2011

Old Stories / New Stories: Transformational Storytelling for Peace and Well-Being

Friday 4 March 2011

Event: Day Workshop: Old Stories/New Stories:
Transformational Storytelling for Peace and Well-Being.

Facilitator: Michael Williams, Ph.D..
Venue: Meeting Room, Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2JL.
Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Workshop: 10am-4.30pm.
Event Description: During my time working in Israel and Palestine last year, I heard many stories of fear, anger and revenge leading to violence, imprisonment, injury and death. Such stories get repeated and often go unchallenged, becoming embedded in the tellers' personal and cultural history and belief systems. They become the 'scripts' by which we choose to act. They harden into the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are and why things have happened to us. The challenge, I believe, is to revisit these stories, their meanings and their emotions, to explore alternative tellings, to empower their tellers with 're-authoring' their scripts, to renew and revise their meanings and, where necessary, discover other more peaceful and healthy possibilities. The 'truth' of one's experience lies not in any one story, but rather between the various versions which could be told.
This workshop invites participants to work with a story from their life experience which they would like to re-examine with a view to exploring alternative versions. Through storytelling, listening, dialogue, artwork, and role-play, participants will engage in the process of re-authoring one's own stories. Old stories are made new, tellers are empowered and transformed.
Transformational storytelling draws on my experience as a storyteller, peace educator and counsellor. It is informed and inspired by the work of Paula Underwood, Richard Stone, Nancy Mellon and Alida Gersie, among others. Although I work with a therapeutic intention, participants must take responsibility for their own well-being. This workshop should not be viewed as a substitute for professional therapy or counselling. If in doubt, please feel free to consult with me before registering.
Michael Williams, Ph.D., is a storyteller and education consultant based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has worked with adults, young people and children for more than 30 years as a qualified social worker, teacher and therapeutic storyteller and workshop facilitator. He has recently completed a tour of the Holy Land working with Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis as part of the international ‘Healing Words’ storytelling group from Emerson College.

Cost: £20/£15 (Concessions). For a Registration Form:
Contact: Neill Walker, mesp2011@hotmail.co.uk, 0131 331 4469.

21 February 2011

"Art" by Tanya Davis

Tanya's such a beautiful soul. Her music touches me so deeply. Her video 'Art' is such a testament to the power of art to heal. Enjoy.

20 February 2011

Transformative Storytelling and Journaling - Sunday 6 March

A Lapidus Scotland event with Michael Williams, Jayne Wilding & Allison Galbraith
Sunday 6th March 2011 at the Maggie Centre in Glasgow
The Gatehouse, Western Infirmary, 10 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6PA
Workshop fees: £24 each (Lapidus members £18 (concessions by donation) Further information: 07968487994 or 0141 332 0547 (Christine) Full details at
Transformative Storytelling Day (PDF document)
The day includes workshops exploring the transformative power of storytelling, the Russian fairytale 'Vasilisa' who travels from childhood to womanhood, the experience of living in the foothills of the French Pyrenees for three years and our personal relationship with animals.

More at http://lapidus.org.uk/groups/scotland.php

15 February 2011

Stories for Health Day, 12 March 2011

Join us at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday March 12th for a 'Stories for Health' day of workshops and performance.

Details of the workshops and performances can be found by clicking on this link: www.storiesforhealth.org

The event is a fundraiser for 'Stories for Health', a non-profit-making organization with a desire to promote understanding of Storytelling as a Healing Art. We work at developing different projects based around this theme and aim to be inclusive of all art forms.

11 February 2011

Storytelling Leads to Better Health

This week the New York Times carried a report from the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled "When Patients Share Their Stories, Health May Improve" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/health/views/10chen.html). In it the author describe how a recent study showed that listening to and telling stories--particular personal stories--helps to improve a patient's health. In a study of patients with high blood pressure they discovered that "listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications."

According to Dr Thomas K. Houston, leader of the study, stories help patients makes sense of what is happening to them. He states, “We learn through stories, and we use them to make sense of our lives. It’s a natural extension to think that we could use stories to improve our health.”

And, according to the more than two dozen respondents who have already replied to the story, most would agree with Dr. Houston. Here are just some of their comments:

"Storytelling lies at the heart of how patients communicate with their physicians and nurses." (a doctor)

"I want to add that the arts in healthcare is just that at many levels and much of it is about storytelling, narrative and ways understanding the ‘new’ story unfolding. It helps process at emotional, intellectual and I believe, the Soul/Spirit level." (a coach and counselor)

"This is nothing new. Aristotle told us this in “Poetics,” that the art of storytelling is what gives us a shareable world. Health, dis-ease, illness, death–we have been telling each other stories of these since the beginning of time. Perhaps what is new is that US-based medicine is catching on that human communication through narrative is important for health and health care." (Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Washington)

"People make sense of their own experience and the world around them through storytelling. A narrative gives a sense of control that is a valuable resource in the healing process." (organisational psychologist)

"This is not surprising at all – storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human. I have long believed in the value and power of the story in medicine and healing." (a doctor)

"Story telling is CRITICAL in helping patients with cognitive impairment and brain aging in general. It provides a great release and helps in the treatment of depression much less verbal communication skills." (Doctor specialising in Alzeihmer's)

What these and the many other comments reminds us of is what many of us know intuitively: storytelling transforms and heals. We've been doing it for as long as humans have gathered to share their experiences. Neuroscience tells us that we're 'hard-wired' for story, that we make sense of our experiences by reforming them into narratives.

I've even read that there's some evidence to suggest that brains of soldiers suffering from PSD are actually having difficulties processing the horrendous experiences into narrative form. Once transformed into story, these experiences can be assimilated into the memory storage area of the brain rather than remain caught in a horrible loop of pain, fear and haunting devastation.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that PSD or any other illness can be cured just like that by telling or listening to a story. But a growing body of anecdotal and now empirical evidence is supporting the idea that the sharing of stories helps us feel better and improves our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

I look forward to your comments and stories.

06 February 2011

Storytelling at Christ Church, Morningside Edinburgh

Story Telling with Michael Williams

Sunday 6 February

10am Eucharist and 11.15am in Church Centre

Michael Williams PhD is a professional story teller, coach and educational consultant. He is also the editor of ‘Therapeutic Story Telling’ – part of the All Things Healing online community.

Michael has practiced in many fields of work down the years, including the academic world, but he is concentrating now on being involved in extending the practice of story-telling both in this country and abroad. Recently he was in Palestine and Israel. His time there made him even more deeply aware of the transforming power of sharing stories experienced by individuals and groups within that fiercely divided country.

Now forget the credentials! Just come to meet the story teller and find out that the stories are at the heart of the matter.

04 February 2011

"Taught by the Pen" 2011 Festival

Saturday 19th Feb
Nelson Hall, Macdonald Rd Lib 2pm to 5pm
CHILDREN'S DAY with story teller and peace educator Michael Williams

Radio Ramadan Edinburgh Presents:
"Taught by the Pen" 2011 Festival
in Association with Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh
The aim of this mini festival is to bring together Edinburgh communities to share culture, traditions, writings and history of the Muslim people that have contributed to our lives.


"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.