What is Narrative Release?
For decades, Dr. David Drake has been exploring the connections between how we tell our stories and how we live our lives, both individually and collectively. In teaching Narrative Coaching and facilitating Threshold Retreats around the world over the past twenty years, he has developed a deep understanding of how humans actually change.
He observed that it is easy to remain stuck in a ‘narrative grip’ that keeps us from moving forward. Sometimes we struggle to release from old stories that no longer serve us, and sometimes we struggle to release into new stories that we dearly want.
The journey of change starts with allowing ourselves to be aware of our present experience with acceptance. From there, we are more able to pause, relax and open to the change we are seeking. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a process that offered you the safety and scaffolding to do this work — for yourself and for the clients you serve?
Dr David Drake developed Narrative Release for this very reason, including as a guide for moving through periods on his own journey that were challenging him to grow. It is the spiritual philosophy that underpins all of his work, and he is ready to share it with you as a profound space for your own healing and development as a practitioner.
If this sounds like a journey you may be interested in taking, keep reading.
In the blog below, we’ll discuss…
- The difference between letting go and releasing into
- How breathwork supports the Narrative Release process
- An example that demonstrates how Narrative Release works
To start, let’s hear from the founder of Narrative Release, Dr. David Drake.
A Note from David
I vividly remember sitting on the floor in my living room, looking out at the ocean . . . The wonderful life I had worked so hard to create had come undone through a series of unfortunate events AND I recognized that, even with all my training, I didn’t have enough of what I needed.
I spent a couple of weeks deconstructing my narratives, my experiences, and my selves. . . and emerged with profound insights about my life, about change, and about the way forward.
I used what I discovered and recovered to develop Narrative Release as a way to deepen practitioners’ capacities to do the same for others in their work. The Narrative Release Program is a sacred space that offers the purest form of my work, and I am blessed to be co-facilitating this retreat-like experience with a dear colleague, Carolyn Sargentson.
Releasing from vs Releasing Into
As you breathe in and out, your body expands and contracts. You can use your breath to help you notice and work with your stories. For example, you notice that you hold your breath at a certain point in telling your story, and focus on your exhale to release what you’ve been holding on to. Stories are not static scripts stored in your head; they are living somatic processes.
If you want to work more deeply with your clients, you need to start with doing the same for yourself. At the core of the Narrative Release process includes practices that enable you to break free of the narrative grip which impedes the full expression of who you are.
It starts with releasing from old narratives such as “I need to fix others in order for me to be loved.” This frees up breath and energy that enables you to release into new narratives such as “I allow others to be themselves and myself to be loved as I am.” This frees up the breath and energy you need to grow — and increases your capacity to do the same for clients.
Why is Narrative Releasing So Important?
The process of Narrative Release can have a great impact on both your personal and your professional life. It is a deep collective inquiry and a profound personal journey that will bring you greater strength and freedom in your life and work.
Personal Impacts of Narrative Release
Participants in our first cohort found that they were able to heal old wounds, find greater acceptance and peace, strengthen their authentic resilience, work more openly and courageously with clients, and more. They developed and embodied greater awareness, compassion, and authentic resilience to BE with others — especially in threshold moments. You could have this and more to empower you to breathe and move more freely and openheartedly through your life.
Professional Impact of Narrative Release
You can’t be a guide for others in places you haven’t been yourself. In this program, you will experience many of the issues your clients increasingly face related to grief, shadow, attachment anxieties, and more. While there will be rich resources in the online resource center, the focus of this retreat-like program is not on teaching you but inviting you to do the work on yourself. In doing so, you will not only develop a greater respect for and understanding of what it actually takes for people to release themselves to change.
The Process of Releasing Narratives
The first step in the Narrative Release process is often to realize you’ve been holding your breath. This is a natural reaction to being in the grip of a narrative. However, you often need to gather more breath and resources in order to have the energy you need in order to do the work at hand.
That is why the first release is an exhale through which you release down from the narrative you were holding on to gather more breath and resources. You can then inhale more fully as support for releasing up into the new narrative you are seeking. Once you’ve done the work for yourself, you are more able to do it for others.
Here’s an example:
The emerging issue: I feel burnt out and ineffective at work.
- Where do you feel most at peace?
On my porch in the early morning.
- What shift do you notice when you are there?
It’s quiet, both outside and inside. I’m detached from my computer and my phone. And I feel spacious and hopeful for the day.
- How could this help you right now?
There are so many stimulants competing for my attention at work. I can’t focus on one thing at a time, and it weakens my presence with clients. If my mind were quieter, I’d be more available to clients, do better work, and feel more restful throughout the day.
- What would make this possible?
Developing healthier boundaries and not giving everyone access to me at all times.
- What would this help you release?
The narrative that I keep having to prove myself, otherwise I will be left behind.
- How do you see yourself now?
I feel energized about coming to work now that I have better boundaries and more quiet time.
- What is opening up for you?
I’m feeling more comfortable with setting boundaries and more open in myself as a result.
- How can this serve you?
Better boundaries will give me more spaces with peace and quiet so I can be more productive.
- What is important to you about that?
This will enable me to provide them with the support they need to make meaningful growth.
- What support do you need?
I will set up markers in my space and calendar to preserve my boundaries and ask for help.
Engage Your Own Narrative Releasing
The example above shows how simple and powerful the process of Narrative Release is for you and your clients. However, sustaining these changes is often more challenging than we often realize, which is why it’s important to take this journey alongside supportive peers.
The Narrative Release Program is a highly immersive and practice-focused learning experience designed to give you the space and support you need to do your own Narrative Releases so that you can embody what it takes to do the same for others.
What more could you do through your work if you trusted that everything you needed was right in front of you?