Photo by PhotoClub
I was lucky enough to take Laura Packer's masterclass on Storytelling as part of the Storylights Fairy Tale Festival. This was weeks ago, but one set of practices I learned, that is still evolving in me, is the practice of authentic appreciation.
Authentic appreciation wasn't a new idea for me. I tend to be a "gusher", because for me appreciation is the art of reinforcing the positive and I kind of get off on it. It gives me a happy to authentically reflect to someone that they've worked hard, or they've been kind, or they're being inventive. But Laura Packer teaches this skill at a level I had never known.
In the workshop we storytellers paired off and practiced listening to each other tell versions of a familiar fairy tale, with appreciation. This entailed very mindful listening with a focus on noting all the positives we could find: creativity, expression, voice modulation, and anything else that struck us as positive as we listened to each other.
A magical thing happens when you listen with this attitude: you witness creativity itself. You can see the thoughts forming and filtering, see the slightest hint of the words in the speaker's eyes before they leave her lips, sense the oncoming emotion in her body language. It was an entirely new level of getting sucked right in to the stories, and for the tellers it was a new level of flow, of creating in the moment. It was so safe, so nurturing, that many of us were startled at how creative we could be, and how gratifying it was as listeners to create the conditions for that creativity-just by the practice of appreciation.
There's a sacredness to creating safe space, but to create an even more nurturing space through authentic appreciation takes storytelling up a notch. It feels a little like a birth. Every story, no matter how old, is told by every teller for the first time in that moment. You as the listener are the witness and with only your mindfulness and willingness to appreciate, you have the honor of catching the freshly created story.
It's a practice I will be committed to now for life. It has already done much more for me than just improve my relationships or my telling and writing. It has opened up new sacred spaces in listening, which I'm only beginning to explore.
Want to explore what you could learn from Laura Packer? Here.