Saturday, December 14, 2013

Elisa Pearmain's Forgiveness CD a True Gift

CD Review 

Forgiveness: Telling Our Stories in New Ways

A two CD program of stories and reflections for healing your past and living peacefully in the present. $22.50 (includes shipping and handling) from 

Reviewed by Linda Goodman

            I took my first Elisa Pearmain storytelling workshop, sponsored by the Connecticut Storytelling Center, in 1990. At that time, she was already being hailed as one of the wise women of storytelling. This two CD set further cements that reputation.

            Pearmain says that her favorite definition of forgiveness is this: giving up all hope for a better past. “Forgiveness is first and foremost a form of self-healing….Research now confirms that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression and improve physical health,” she states on her CD insert. These are not words spoken by an amateur. Pearmain, in addition to being a respected storyteller, is a seasoned Psychotherapist with a private practice in Concord, Massachusetts.

            The sixteen stories on this CD come from various cultures around the world, and each illustrates a facet of forgiveness. Each story is followed by a reflection or insight. Some are also followed by exercises and meditations to help the listener internalize the wisdom taught by the tale. Several of the stories are personal stories, two from Pearmain’s own life. 

            My favorite story from this collection is Prince Dhigavu, a Buddhist tale about a prince who seeks revenge against the murderer of his parents, only to realize that his vengeance will beget only more vengeance in an unending cycle that can be stopped only by surrendering his hate to the love he has for his people.

            I also appreciated hearing Her Story in Motion, Pearmain’s personal story of her first real love, which began with joy and hope, only to deteriorate into an abusive relationship. Dance theater became her healing salve, helping her to banish the shame she harbored through sharing her pain. Positive audience reactions affirmed the value of her sharing her story. Her creativity allowed her to heal herself. “Is there a personal story you would like to share?” she asks at the story’s conclusion. She encourages those whose memories cause flashbacks to seek the help of a therapist.

            Pearmain makes therapy an art form as she tells each tale with a sensitivity that reveals rare insight into the frailty of the human condition and the power of forgiveness. She has harnessed that power as a gift for story lovers everywhere, but especially for those desiring to let go of the past and live a more peaceful and compassionate life. I will listen to these stories again and again for the wisdom, the hope, and the healing that they offer. This is an important work that stands on its own for the caliber of its stories and Pearmain’s telling; but it also goes beyond the traditional story realm to that healing place where magic can truly happen. 

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