Social Presencing Theater meets Storytelling: Re-authoring futures through the body

Sarah Bhandari, one of our supporters shared this wonderful reflection on the workshop by Ivanina Reitenbach und Nadja Roder-Winkel:

What does it mean, this small innocent word “beyond” that implies a whole paradigm shift and another age to come?! What is Beyond Storytelling?

The term “storytelling” itself already expanded its horizon of meaning drastically in recent years. Today it includes not only an ancient tradition of wisdom and knowledge transfer within communities but also corporate branding strategies and marketing campaigns. Sometimes romanticized, sometimes abused, the term “storytelling” flatters in trendy new clothes through all spheres within society and thus is about to lose its value by inflation. Has it become one of todays’ buzzwords in our for-sense longing world? Anyhow, there is no need for bitter- or sadness, evolution keeps on flowing and consciousness growing. So, what is the new emerging now, “beyond” the story telling?

This overarching question was the call of the conference and invited for exploration. The contributors were providing their individual and unique answers, without anyone ever explicitly indicating to having found the truth. Instead of telling a new, next story to believe in, the space for answers was held open. Open to find one owns’ answer, to experience one owns’ answers.

My personal answer got highly inspired by the workshop led by Ivanina and Nadja.

In a smooth and fluid combination of meditation and movement, of silent, peer and group reflections, We become aware of our body – and the abundance of sensations within. Invited to go further, We expand our focus to the outer world – the ground, the air and these other highly sensitive entities, (called persons) - all together in that same space. In a nonverbal interaction of encountering by position, gesture, eye contact, We practice to simultaneously sense our inside and outside. A room full of stories. Silently told by going away, sitting down, approaching, accompanying, breathing deeply, relaxing, opening. Bodies speaking to each other in their own language, feelings arising and sinking, minds trying their best to be mindfully.
I understand:

I: ‘I’ is much more than I’ve thought. ‘We’ is much more than We’ve thought.

II: ‘We’ are influencing each other all the time.

III: there is always a silent story underneath.

Next level. In groups of four, We individually visualize a realistic challenging situation in our life and express it through a body position. The others respond to it – equally through a body position.
Bodies having conversations again, this time with a topic. And honestly, these were horror stories. Crampy, closed, frightened, stiff, etc. Did my position really cause these positions?
Having experienced the effects triggered by one owns expression of the challenging situation, one now can adjust the original position towards the challenge and transform it.
Ok cool, looks better, feels better, better thoughts follow.

I understand:

IV: others reflect my position in their individual way.

V: I can adjust my original position, which effects my inner attitude.

Next level, We are getting warm in this practice. Same group, same realistic challenging situation. But this time, We gained resources – Curiosity, Compassion and Courage. Coming back to the last adjusted position, I let each virtue be embodied by a group member and place them where it feels right according to me. That’s how it feels to be an empowered ‘I’, my virtues/the group members serving me, all controlled by me. Great. But now, my “virtues” become alive, meaning that each of the group members places themselves where he/she feels to be at the right place as this specific virtue in this challenge system. Moments of adjusting movements until everybody has found a new spot that feels right to all within the system. The energy changes completely. Everybody is invited to say one word or sentence, that translates the current sensations into words. ‘I am here’, “I see you”, ‘safe and alive’, ‘I am strong’, ‘there is joy’, etc. The power of these embodied words weave a flying carpet and the limitations of roles dissolve: I and the WE is getting empowered simultaneously, reflecting back, spiraling up. WOW. We are flying in coherence and limitless.

I understand:

VI: it is less fun and less energy, if I control the others positions

VII: bodies can find consensus very quickly without exhausting discussions/ or compromises

VIII: coherence within myself and the group feels BEYOND.

Thank you Ivanina and Nadja. This was both healing and encouraging.
Our bodies told ourselves new stories and inner collective wisdom was expressed almost without any words spoken. We need more of that. Everywhere, let’s go beyond!