Storytelling for adults is gaining popularity as a tool to promote healing.
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It’s a calm, breezy evening and participants gather in a welcoming environment with soft lighting and comfortable seating. The storyteller invites everyone to take a few deep breaths and settle into the space, emphasising the importance of relaxation. As the storytelling unfolds, there is a palpable sense of connection and empathy among the group. Participants listen attentively, offering nods of understanding, gentle smiles and supportive gestures to affirm the storyteller’s journey. Soon, the story becomes a thread in the tapestry of shared experiences and the participants reflect on the stories shared, highlighting moments of inspiration, courage and resilience.

Storyteller Geetanjali Shetty Kaul.

Storyteller Geetanjali Shetty Kaul.
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Geetanjali Shetty Kaul’s storytelling sessions, Secret Passages held in Mumbai every month, follow this gentle rhythm. “The main purpose is to empower individuals to discover their true potential, navigate life’s challenges and create meaningful narratives through the transformative power of storytelling,” says Geetanjali, who started Secret Passages seven years ago. The sessions are held offline as well as online.

In recent years, storytelling has emerged as a powerful tool for healing and therapy, gaining popularity as a medium for addressing mental health issues, trauma and personal growth.

During the pandemic, storyteller Sarita Nair conducted a series of sessions for the employees of a corporate firm, which saw rounds of lay-offs. The stories narrated the theme of hope and an underlying message of ‘this too shall pass’. “Many times, we tie our self worth and identity to our careers. We fail to recognise that work is just one aspect of our personality and our position is a label we carry in that specific role. These stories help shed the labels we carry and reflect on who we truly are as individuals,” says Sarita and adds: “This further enables us to face any situation where our careers are compromised, either due to personal reasons or a collective problem that has affected the times we live in and our world in general.”

Storyteller Sarita Nair during a storytelling session in Mumbai.

Storyteller Sarita Nair during a storytelling session in Mumbai.
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Sarita has been conducting storytelling sessions, integrating performing arts, for adults and children under her organisation Heritage Stories and Performing Arts (HSPA). She organises performance-based storytelling sessions called Pratibimb for those in the age group of 16 years and above. “At the end of the sessions, we ask the listeners what part of the story resonated with them. Sometimes, these stories act as emotional triggers; the participants are given a way to express themselves through words or art to experience closure,” adds Sarita. Interestingly, many of these storytelling sessions, when done with teenagers or a younger age group, lead to conflicts happening within the child, which could result from any disturbances in the family or peer group. “As a facilitator, I try to act as a bridge between the child and the parent and help them understand how to address the issue,” says Sarita, who conducts offline and online sessions.

Sowmya Srinivasan

Sowmya Srinivasan
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According to Sowmya Srinivasan, a professional storyteller, psychologist and an educator, storytelling as a medium of healing is backed by science. “This process leans heavily on Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and his work on the unconscious mind. “Storytelling is also highly person-centred and takes a humanistic approach to counselling and therapy as explained by Natalie Rogers. My sessions are deeply influenced by American psychologist Martin Seligman’s research on positive psychology,” she says. Sowmya’s group called Soul Story Mandala is a “safe space” where participants share their connections, challenges and their insights from the story or picture book. “The idea is to offer a story, children’s picture book or magical thinking to reflect, reimagine and re-story,” says the Coimbatore-based narrative practitioner. “Though I bring the story and the process into the circle, the participants bring their knowledge and history into it, and thus we all become co-creators,” she adds. Her sessions, designed for 16 years and above age group, are of one hour and 15 minutes in duration and engage the participants through music and art.

Storyteller Sree Karuna, founder of Chandamama Kathaa.

Storyteller Sree Karuna, founder of Chandamama Kathaa.
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Every full moon night, Sree Karuna, founder of Chandamama Kathaa, hosts her online storytelling sessions for adults called In The Moonlight Of Stories where she along with a group of professional storytellers across different geographies come together to narrate stories, sometimes a folk or mythological tale or personal story. Some sessions revolve around a theme. The Visakhapatnam-based storyteller is hosting a special session on March 25 with the theme, Colours of Women, which will highlight stories that celebrate womanhood and will be narrated by a team of storytellers such as Deepa Kiran, Usha Venkatraman, Pankhuri Agarwal, Ameen Haque and Maia Ganatra. “The idea is to give participants a platform to explore moments of struggle, transformation and strength within the narratives. And sometimes, stories don’t offer a solution; but encourage one to reflect on it and promotes healing and well-being in diverse ways,” she adds.



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