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Narrative Mindfulness: Myths And Stories
By Olusola Adebiyi
Recently I have been faced with the realisation that the myths and stories of the past are not ‘myths’ at all. This will come as no surprise to those educated in the literature of Clyde Ford or familiar with the words of living Griots like Chinyere Nwaubani: founder of the Afrikan Storytelling Festival
Myths are based on universal archetypes that have resonance in our personal lives. What I have come to see is that archetypes and their stories actually apply to my life! “So what? That’s obvious!” I hear you say, it’s the ancestral learning of the Irish system for example. Indeed you are right, but even though I always knew that such wisdom applied to me, being uninitiated, I didn’t know how it applied to me until I reflected on my vision quest and other journeys into unconscious realms.
During a four day fast spent in solitude in a forest, I was blessed with many dreams and visions. The clearest of these was one in which a story unfolded: a story of a pristine little girl who just happened to be with me deep in the forest, (where I actually was) within my protective circle of sacred stones (where I also actually was).
Surrounding the circle were some evil witches, who didn’t want me, but they wanted the little girl. I had a powerful urge to protect her. When they found that were unable to enter my circle of power, they recruited a friend of mine who came ready to betray me. He came with armed troops (their bullets, could penetrate my circle). However behind us was a river (also there in my physical reality) and the little girl and I both knew that if we crossed it they would have no power over us: so we did!
The river is a potent and enduring archetype, known culturally as Mami Wata, Orissa Oshun, or Ochun, the powerful manifestation of the Almighty in the sweet waters of the earth. How then could mere humans prevail against her protective influence?
What did this mean for me? Well everyone in this dream vision represented an aspect of my unconscious and spiritual life. It reminded me to ensure that I keep the purity of my thoughts and actions protected from negativity internal (thoughts) and external (news, conversations, crises etc) influences. In fact my life just after this vision manifested in ways in which holding that story in mind enabled me to triumph and to walk with more consciousness in each day.
This is partly what I mean by Narrative Mindfulness. The other part is reflecting on what has happened in my life so far and then creating a story to define it, give it meaning and to reveal the power in the narrative of my own life.
To illustrate. I went through a bad time a few years ago: money was not tight, as that implies there was some, available! Also a very long-term relationship had ended and I was floundering in grief. So what did I do?
I applied the Mythic Medicine of Narrative Mindfulness by writing an archetypal story based on my current subconscious life (some of which I’ll share with you shortly). I also embodied the story through the African Martial Art form of KaZimba Ngoma. I went on a physical and metaphorical journey of healing and resolution. That’s when I really knew, that the archetypes of story and myth were really about me… and you.
Here’s the first part of the story:
The Legend of The Golden Seed
Tanaka was a poor farmer from a dusty village called Ire (pronounced ee ray) in a dusty land, also called Ire where nothing grew. He eked out a hard living, working from sun up ’til sun down without reward: except that every so often he would find withered yams and dried cassava. He never found enough to quell his hunger pangs, he gave most of what he found to his family, but he ate enough so that he didn’t die. The pain of seeing his wife’s hopeless eyes trying to find joy in the meagre offerings he brought home, was almost as bad as watching his children’s bellies become increasingly distended, swollen by that disease of lack: kwashiorkor. Tanaka, was determined to make a difference and end his families suffering and ranged further and further in his dust bowl of a land. He encountered places he had never been before and strange peoples. However everywhere he went, there was the same grey dust, shrunken shrubs, stunted trees and starving people.
It hadn’t always been like that. His land Ire had been a wonderful place of plenty, not too long ago. A place of rolling meadows and sweet rivers. Fields of golden grain swayed in the wind and the people were strong, intelligent and peaceful. So it had been since the time of the ancestors of the ancestors. And so everyone assumed it would have stayed if not for the evil ones who came with war and a greed for human bodies to work their dark mines in a distant land. The ‘evil ones’ as they were universally known by the people, were defeated in battle after battle. Although the people of Ire were peaceful, they were mighty warriors and the slow meditative movements they practiced daily gave them a formidable power.
Seeing that they could not defeat Tanaka’s people by arms, the evil ones resorted to sorcery instead. Tanaka had heard many different versions of how they cast their infernal spell. It is said that they sacrificed a thousand virgins until the rivers of their distant land ran with blood instead of water. Whatever it was they actually did, Tanaka and the rest of his people would always remember the day when the poison cloud, a roiling fog of pestilence, which shriveled every plant and weakened warrior limbs on contact, contaminated the land. They would always remember the insanely chuckling vitriolic of the head sorcerer’s words.
“If we cannot use your land, neither will you. If we cannot use your bodies in our mines, we will destroy you utterly, reveling in your pain as you watch your people die slowly from starvation. Behold the Durkfume.” He said, horrible twisted arm pointing to the dark cloud of evil destruction.
“Behold your end.” He crowed. “Behold despair.” He screamed. Although those were his last words as a well-aimed spear ended his wicked life, his curse remained and the Durkfume turned the land of Ire into a dust bowl.
So Tanaka and his people toiled and all were alike in their hopelessness except one. Tanaka’s youngest child Imani…
More Next Time!
Peace n Love Sola Story
Director & Lead Facilitator
Narrative Mindfulness Ltd
“Everyone has their Story. Mindfulness provides the blank page upon which to rewrite it.”
f: Narrative Mindfulness