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Articles    H3'ed 3/9/13

Day 2 of Australia 2013: Story is Healing

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These are our moments of change and transformation.   These are the moments we need to understand and cultivate.   Change is not rational.   Change suddenly happens because suddenly we have passed a moment at which we cannot not change".   Change is like the avalanche.   Much leads up to it.   Each snow fall contributes to the avalanche.   No one snowfall causes the avalanche, though it's tempting to think that the last, most recent snowfall is the "cause".   Who are all the people who contributed to our transformation over the course of time?   What are all the experiences that contributed?


Rocky offered five questions about the story you are living:

1.   Is the story based in how things actually work in your current life where you live?

2.   Does the story help preserve you life and health?

3.   Does the story help you to achieve your short and long-term goals?

4.   Does the story help you avoid unwanted conflict?

5.   Does the story help you get what you want?


Rocky told about Jim who ended up with a brain tumor on his eighth cranial nerve which controls hearing.   The surgery and ensuing radiation therapy wiped out his inner ear and took away his sense of balance.   His hearing was reduced and his face disfigured.   Jim had been an Olympic hopeful in swimming.   Suddenly he found himself with no balance.   He went home and prepared to die.   He stopped going to work.   He dissociated himself from his family.   The blinds were closed, the house was dark.   He was in a downward spiral.   His physical therapist, doctor, and friends all opposed his story that his life was over as he knew it.   His doctor had been telling him to get on a stationary bike that set in the living room for 6 months.   The doctor said that the bike would get him his balance back.   A friend came over and made him take a bike ride.   Jim was wobbly for a time, but in 20 minutes, could stay upright and was riding a bike.   Jim's heroic moment was getting on the bike when his friend came to get him.   All the conversations that had preceded that moment were a part of that moment.   All the people who had those conversations with Jim were part of that moment.   Recovery and restoration of string against massive odds became Jim's new story.


Rocky told two more stories: One woman is a 55 year old woman who loves music, plays and teaches the piano.   She begins having some stiffness in her hands and decides to go the doctor who ran lots of tests, since her insurance would cover those tests.   The test came back that she had Rheumatoid Arthritis.   Her symptoms were mild and would go away with mild anti-inflammatory agents.   However, now she believes her life is over.   She goes home, cancels her students, and stops going outside.   Contrast this with a 29 year old woman with juvenile arthritis since was nine years old who has gone to law school and written a book.   The room lights up from her smile when she enters a room, even though she was in a wheelchair.   This woman had horrific disease but almost no illness whatsoever, because she didn't accept the story the doctors told the nine year old girl that she was going to be an invalid and would be wheelchair bound.   Part of the process of reflecting upon our stories is to discover what aspects of our story came from someone else.


Everything is story.   We story all day long.   We can change the meaning of what has happened to us and our ancestors.   In the context of aboriginal Australia, what is happening is a change from stories of conquest and victimization to stories of resistance, reclamation, recovery, and empowerment.


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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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