One of the ways that I work with clients is through story. The story gives way to the metaphor that can then be applied to the client’s life for both a moment of awareness and the pathway forward. The focus on the story comes from my book Rooted in Water where I noted that story could connect us to our environment. I call this narrative ecopsychology and I see it as the basis for my coaching practice.
Recently I discovered Yoga Journal. The June 2013 issue includes a great example of the use of a story in practice. Lynda, an inner-city yoga instructor on the East Coast, was having a tough time teaching the young women in her after-school program, and after one particular session, she had a dream of a woman mounted on a roaring lion. When she woke up the next day she realized she had dreamed of Durga, the Indian Warrior Goddess. Telling the story of Durga to the restless young women proved to be spellbinding for the instructor and the students alike. In cases like this, story provides inspiration for decisions, models for behavior, and a deeper way to connect to an experience. Durga, in particular, is called on when abundance, strength, protection, or transformation is needed. “She invites us to turn to her in crisis and promises to move mountains to rescue us from every form of evil—including the evil we, ourselves, create!” (p. 56)
Whether you want to channel the energy of Durga or invoke the power of the story in your life, here are the suggested steps:
- Sit in a quiet place
- Visualize the image in front of you, and yourself surrounded by the story
- Greet the image and ask for guidance
- Journal without thought until there is nothing more to say, then review it
- Release the obstacles blocking your path. Inhale the energy deep into your being then exhale. Embody the presence and power of the image.
As I consider my own experience I turned to focus on writing my second book, Ethics and the Earth Missionary, and I had my own vision of a bear. Following the bear’s guidance, I discovered Artemis, the Goddess of the Wilderness. Part of the outline for creating a personal code of conduct and a code of ethics for the field of ecopsychology came from the metaphor and the lessons of those stories.
Part of what makes me unique as a coach is that I capture my own process and I walk my clients through it while maintaining the integrity of their own stories. To be guided by a story I:
- Sit and read all I can about the story and its deeper meaning until I’m full
- I note what parts of the story mirror my own life or otherwise resonate
- I identify the lessons I can learn from the story and apply it to my own life
- I journal about my experiences so I have the wisdom of the moment to turn back to when I need it
Notice your own approach. What story is guiding you right now and how do you embrace it?