The healing power of stories

Deepa Kiran

There is an old saying
“In many Shamanic societies
if you came to a medicine man
complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed,
he would ask one of these four questions:
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”

Stories and listening to stories is much loved the world over. It is used extensively by teachers, psychologists, shamans, and doctors for healing. We explore some of the healing aspects of storytelling.

deepa Storytelling and healing
Do you remember as a child what you felt after listening to a story? May be you sighed, smiled, hugged or just felt lost and afloat. And maybe you went into your own storyland, which you’d either share or enjoy by yourself. Putting it simply, the act of listening to a story usually leaves us ‘feeling good’. And anything that makes you truly feel good must be healing you!

There are many reasons why:

Valuing another’s time
The act of sitting down and telling a story, tells the listener, “Hey I would like to spend time with you. I would like to have a conversation with you.” This acknowledgement holds much significance for any individual whatever their age, gender, and cultural background.

Listener the co-creator of art
Story listening is an active creative process where the listener has to creatively visualize and imagine the story in her mind. So along with the storyteller, the listener creates the story in her mind. She creates her own unique work of art. It is day dreaming, except that the listener has the license for it and it is channelized by the teller.

Art for art’s sake
This act of creation again is highly gratifying for the listener. Creating this art doesn’t bring marks, applause or any other reward except the joy of creating it. That is the primary purpose. As we are aware, ‘art for art’s sake’ is often recommended as a calming, meditative, reflective, and healing activity.

We looked at the healing possibilities in the telling of stories and now let us look at what is healing about stories themselves.

The author is the founder of Story Arts India. She is a storyteller, education consultant, writer and voice-over artist. She holds her shows and workshops for children, teachers and all grown-ups across the country. Read up about her work on She can be reached at

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