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The Power of A Story April 17, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“The discrepancy between faith and the facts is greater than is generally assumed. The art of biography is more difficult than is generally supposed.”


– Brother Juniper in The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (b. 4/17/1897)

A funny thing happened on the way to the studio as I was getting ready for a virtual class the other day. A Psychology Today article about “Meditative Story” popped up in my news queue and I couldn’t click on the link fast enough. Created by WaitWhat co-founders Deron Triff and June Cohen, in partnership with Ariana Huffington’s behavior change tech company Thrive Global, “Meditative Story” is hosted by “meditation guide” Rohan Gunatillake and features “an original musical score that rivals the best in filmmaking.” Intrigued? So was I. And, it turns out it is exactly what it sounds like:

“Meditative Story was created to help people find an alternative way into mindfulness through story that has nothing to do with the traditional world of meditation. By taking what typically occurs on a cushion and introducing that same wisdom and that same state of mind, through mesmerizing narratives—interspersed with meditation “prompts” and breathtaking music—we’re seeing the kind of response from our listeners that speaks to a breakthrough in the world of mindfulness practice. Something very special is happening.”

Sound familiar?

It did to me – and I had a lot of mixed feelings about it.

For over a decade, I’ve combined storytelling, music, and meditation in classes around Minneapolis. For over a decade, people have said they haven’t experienced a class like the classes I teach. And, during that same period of time, I’ve told people I’m not the only one who teaches like this. What I don’t always explain is that storytelling, wisdom, and mindfulness have a reach history that goes back millennia. You just have to go deeper.

Take a moment to consider the source of what you consider to be deep wisdom. Depending on your personal history and culture, any number of names might come up for you, including (but not limited to): Patanjali, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, the authors of the Torah and Talmud, Jesus, Mohammad, Saint Paul, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Julian of Norwich, Saint Teresa of Avila, Guru Nanak, Saint Ignatious of Loyala, Joseph Smith, and Bahá’u’lláh (just to name a few).

All storytellers; and those names cover quite a few sacred texts. One text whose title is particular telling is Upanishad. The Upanishads are actually a collection of texts full of stories, in the Hindu tradition, that explain and explore the Vedas (more sacred texts). They are classic existential texts on mindfulness, God, and everything in between. The Sanskrit word “Upanishad” literally means “sit down by,” but is often translated as “sitting near devotedly.”

Think back to those names of ancient storytellers, even the ones I neglected to mention, and you will start to realize that every story you’ve ever heard or read is just a written down account of what a teacher told their students/disciples when said students/disciples were sitting near their teacher devotedly. In fact, many Buddhists texts start with the words, “I have heard….”

What stands the test of time, what gets passed down through the ages, is the story.

Meditative Story is backed by a lot of heavy hitters, a lot of money, and a significant amount of research. But, after “seven months, 28 episodes, and more than three million downloads” they have “proven” what we already know: stories make a difference.

Kiss My Asana is all about making a difference.

So, for Kiss My Asana 2020, I am planning to tell you seven stories. I’ve got years (and years) worth of stories. What I would like to do, however, is tell your favorite story.

You can submit a story by emailing me or sending me a comment below. It can be a favorite story you’ve heard me tell. It can be your favorite story to read or hear. It can even be a personal story – over the years many of you have shared bits of your personal history with me and it has left an impression. Pretty please, could I tell one of those stories? You know…the one about your mom, or the friend you met at the Y, or that time you realized you had a calling, or the spouse you met at the Y. You can include a pose or a song that you think would represents some part of the story and off we will go.

Founded by Matthew Sanford, Mind Body Solutions helps those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. They provide classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. This year’s yogathon is only a week long. Seven days, at the end of the month, to do yoga, share yoga, and help others.  By participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon you join a global movement, but in a personal way. In other words, you practice yoga… for 7 days

What’s your Kiss My Asana story?

You don’t need to wait until the end of the month, however, to consider how you might participate. Start thinking now about how you can add 5 minutes of yoga (or meditation) to your day, how you can learn something new about your practice, or even how you would teach a pose to someone close to you – or even to one of your Master Teachers/Precious Jewels.

To give you some ideas, consider that in past years my KMA offerings have included donation-based classes and (sometimes) daily postings. Check out one of my previous offerings dated April 17th (or thereabouts):

30 Poses in 30 Days (scroll down to see April 17th)

A Musical Preview (scroll down to see March 17th)

A 5-Minute Practice

5 Questions Answered by Yogis

Answers to Yogis Questions

A Poetry Practice

A Preview of the April 17th Practice


“The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, ‘Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.’ And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out have lots of adventure.”

– Thornton Wilder, author of one of my favorite books and one of my favorite plays

“Both Sides of the Story”