Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeHealthFilmmaker Mohsin Mohi-Ud-Din Harnesses the Power of Storytelling to Enhance Mental Health

Filmmaker Mohsin Mohi-Ud-Din Harnesses the Power of Storytelling to Enhance Mental Health

The power of storytelling is undeniable. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves shape how we treat ourselves, which in turn shapes how we engage with the people and planet around us. But what happens when those stories are not nurtured? When they are left to fester and become destructive?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Zaatari refugee camp, where over 80,000 Syrian refugees were living at the time. Armed with just a pistol grip camera and my own savings, I started capturing the stories of 20 Syrian refugee children. What began as a personal project 10 years ago has now grown into a global movement, reaching over 10,000 people.

In states of chronic stress, uncertainty, and fear, our stories can be hijacked by narratives of survival, low self-worth, and isolation. This can have dangerous consequences for our mental and physical health. But when we restory our communities and exercise the skills of storytelling and communication, we are actually practicing mindfulness. We are reclaiming our agency and connecting our minds and hearts with our voices.

One young girl, Fatima, who I met in the refugee camp, was initially unable to speak up or make eye contact. But after years of working with other brave sisters and practicing storytelling, she has found her voice. Now, she gathers women and girls in her trailer and facilitates storytelling exercises for them, using the tools we left behind.

Fatima’s storytelling practice involves communicating with elements in nature that were taken away from her due to war and displacement. She has found a way to manifest her experiences and share them with others, even though she had to return to the refugee camp. She believes that the sea is inside of her now, and she can share her stories with others.

I hope that Fatima’s story inspires others to develop their own creative and storytelling practices for their psychological well-being and agency. Stories are medicine, and storytelling is healing. Let’s continue to share stories that demonstrate the power of resilience and resistance against a world that may try to silence our narratives and self-worth. Let’s put more healing stories out there, for ourselves and for the world.

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