Introducing the MasterClass

Our MasterClass allows students experience firsthand the reciprocal relationships among listeners and storytellers, and the direct effect of listening on storytelling.

Each week, students present stories, and then once they are done, receive my critique on their use of the “what happened?” story method, story structure, sensory detail and guidance on alternative directions for the story.

The MasterClass gives you a chance to try things you might not have thought of before.

It’s an opportunity to be witnessed and have your story witnessed by others. Being witnessed by others allows us to see ourselves in a different way. Become a master listener and a master storyteller. Achieve mastery of listening and storytelling.

Our MasterClass includes:

  • 8, 90-minute online streaming sessions
  • A structured curriculum
  • Tailored, written materials
  • In-class coaching
  • Additional video materials

Your fellow listeners and storytellers are select group of 8-10 people who satisfied the entry requirements.

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Give us 6 weeks

And we’ll take you from where you are to where you want to go.

So what will you learn?

Why Story? Why Now?

The Storyteller’s Call to Action

Week 1

The questions “Why story? Why now?” wake you up to the urgency of the quest. It is the call to action. You’ve woken up to the preciousness of this human life and there isn’t a moment to waste. You want to live in a genuine relationship with yourself and tap into your true potential.

  • Orientation and overview – Murray will provide an overview of the course, a sense of what you might expect, as well as tips and ideas for how to get the most out of the course.
  • Basic Buddhist tenets – We’ll discuss the four noble truths
  • You and other course members will share yout reasons for participating in the class. You’ll answer the questions: Why story? Why now?
  • Basic meditation training – We’ll practice counting to 21. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Creating sacred time and space

Week 2

[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen – Joseph Campbell

We study the Buddhist notion of refuge by reading “Finding A Refuge” from Dzigar Kongtrul’s book It’s Up to You.

We understand what it means for each of us explore our own minds to discover something new about ourselves  and areas within it which are unknown, unlooked at, and which we may habitually avoid because they seem scary. Listening and storytelling shines a warm light in those areas, allowing us to face them and even befriend them. In order for this to occur, we need the safe cocoon of a refuge to protect us from any harm.

We explore the fundamentals of creating personal sacred time and space:

  • The centrality of setting intention
  • Guidelines for creating a space of one’s own: shrines, altars, journals, books, boxes, shrines, rooms, a room of one’s own. This journey is not about anyone else or for anyone else. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself and creating your own unique spaces.

Murray will guide you through meditation training in which loved ones, people, and animals, past or present, are invoked for refuge and support.

Participants will map out stories about people, places, or animals where they seek refuge.

Embodied Listening

From the Open Heart

Week 3

We’ll discuss listening from a Buddhist perspective.

Drives and strong emotions can lead us to destructive behavior both towards ourselves and others. As long as these impulses remain unexamined, they continue to cause suffering and damage. But by keeping the lion’s gaze on self awareness and self knowledge, we are able to interrupt our habitual clinging to negative emotions and transform our lives.

When this has been established as our sincere intention, we need to be able to give form to our experience by telling it as a story, either to ourselves or another. A prerequisite for this telling is learning how to listen open-heartedly to oneself. To be able to find within the content of our stories the rich connective tissue that connects us to all other living beings, the desire to enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness, be free from suffering and the roots of suffering and to be connected to a sustaining non-material source of happiness.

Obstacles to Listening – Basic Categories

In the obstacles to listening segment we we learn how to hone our listening, scanning for various types of obstacles. These may include internal obstacles such as thoughts, feelings ,and emotions; physiological obstacles such as hunger, thirst, and pain; environmental obstacles such as loud noise and temperature. Relational obstacles arise when there are differentials in power and also in affiliations, such as family, friends, workplace which are rife with pre-existing assumptions and biases.

When Listening Challenges Us Most

Here we look at situations where listening challenges us most, such as people with opinions radically different from our own, family members who push our buttons, and people and situations where strong emotions such as resentment, jealousy and envy arise. In the next section we learn how to story these charged situations as way of taming our emotions.

How to Let Go of Obstacles

Here we emphasize basic listening meditation practice in which we use steady posture and breath awareness to observe thoughts and feelings, and without judging them or spinning our wheels on them, we let them go..

Sense-Based Storytelling

Week 4

“True alchemy lies in this formula: ‘Your memory and your senses are but the nourishment of your creative impulse’.”  ― Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov

You’ll receive detailed introduction on the narativ storytelling method, learning how to work with the basic question “What happened?”, relying on sensory facts – in other words, we can only say that something happened if it could be perceived by the five senses. You have to be able to see, hear, touch, taste, or smell it.

Participants are given the opportunity to practice sense-based storytelling and receive critique and guidance when they veer into interpretation, opinion, judgment etc.

What Happened Storytelling in Action

Saying what happened allows us to see the meanings we impose on things. Sense-based storytelling allows us to recognize and let go of interpretations opinion and judgments that cause us confusion, conflict, and anxiety. Students are encouraged to relate stories from their lives where the “What happened?” method has benefit their lives, relationships etc.

Creative Inspiration

Week 5

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

Sowing the Creative Seed

The creative process began the moment you asked the questions: “Why story? Why now?”

The questions planted a seed. The more attention you give the questions, the more you water them, the more air they have, the more you’re engaging and re-minding your creative mind.

In this session, you will continue to break you free of the habitual ways of telling your story, and to discover a new narrative that unleashes your potential to transform your life.

We will study the various stages of creativity including preparation, incubation, inspiration, and verification, showing how each of these have a place in story creation

Living Creatively

“My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”  ― Miles Davis

Like spiritual seeking, the creative process is a quest to transcend everyday reality and tap into the bliss of making something new. You bring creativity to every aspect of your life, every conversation, relationship, meal.

Obstacles to Creativity

In this segment, we harken back to listening with an open heart. Fear and anxiety have a crippling effect on the creative mind. Rather than expanding into newness and possibility, the mind becomes rigid. This contraction of the mind is based on past experience, when it may in fact have been adaptive.

This contraction may have become habitual, which though painful nonetheless provides some measure of comfort and familiarity. Just as curling up into a foetal ball, where one has no flexibility in the body, the mind becomes small and shortened.

The anxious (fear-based) state may feel so familiar that you may not even realize that you are in its grasp.

We bring our meditation practice to bear on these mental states and learn to mobilize our open hearts to face them gracefully, with equanimity.

Enhancing Creativity

“Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.” ― Carl Gustav Jung

The homework for this section is a continuation of an exercise introduced in the first class, namely to play in a non-conceptual space in which words are not used. Painting, sculpting, making collages from cut up pages of newspapers and magazines, cooking meals, and playing music are all among the non verbal ways of expressing one’s creative impulses.

Writing Your Story Down

Week 6

“I write to know what I think.”― Joan Didion

Writing as Letting Go

Flying in the face of the latin truism “vox audita perrit, litera scripta manet” (the human voice perishes, what is written remains), we visit the paradox of writing to let go.

It’s a great gift to be listened to openly and unconditionally by someone who is not seeking to fix or change you or your situation. They are simply there to listen, as a witness. But this is not always possible. As long as your intention is genuinely to let go, keeping a journal of your listening obstacles is an effective way of getting them it out of your system. The cardinal rule is not to use the writing as a way of holding on to or reifying your thoughts and feelings.

Writing as Clarification

Oral storytelling is inherently dramatic. It offers multiple advantages: intonation, volume, emotional expression are all ways of enhancing the telling. Through their facial gestures and body language, live listening gives you feedback about what to clarify, repeat etc.

Listening to a recording of your story, and transcribing it word for word, you’ll begin to notice gaps, where more detail is needed to drive the story forward and develop the characters. In this way, writing continues the excavation process, stimulating sensory memory, bringing forgotten details bubbling up to consciousness.

Writing as Refining

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” – Justice Louis Brandeis

Crafting the arc of the story, making sure that the beginning lifts it, and that it moves skillfully to its resolution. In the crafting you are evaluating the quantity and quality of detail.

Refining the story, you have the satisfaction of making it as good as it can be.

Writing as Presence

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect – Anais Nin

Writing is a physical act, involving the whole body: posture, freedom from tension, the way you hold the pen or type.

Writing the story out is a way of embodying it, and laying down the memory pathways for re-telling.

Presence: The Act of Telling

Weeks 7 & 8

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

When is a story ready to be told?

Throughout the course, we’ve practiced letting go with ease and equanimity. Creative storytelling occupies a space of tension between open imagination and the limitations of language. At some point, you are ready to declare your story finished. Letting go means that you’re ready to conclude and share the story.

In this important segment we consider when and how you declare your story finished, whether you want to tell it, to whom you want to tell it and your intention(s) for telling.

We explore Buddhist principles to address any resistance to finishing, such as “my life is ongoing, my story is continuing, how can I suddenly cut it off?”

Learning by Heart, Not by Rote

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” – Charlie Parker

Part of letting go implies the willingness to immerse fully in the present moment of telling. To have this kind of freedom, you need to remember the story arc, from the beginning through the middle to the end.

This kind of presence is exceptionally difficult to achieve when you’ve attempted to memorize the written version of the story, as if it’s a script, in other words, by rote. With this approach you’re focusing on not forgetting rather than fully experiencing the bliss of telling. You’re connecting to the words as words rather than as energy being passed from you to your listener.

We differentiate learning by rote from learning by heart.

As the phrase implies, learning by heart, is about incarnating the story in your heart, remembering its emotional journey as you experienced it.

Memorizing key phrases, details memorizing the map with certain key phrases deepens my understanding of the passage and fixes it in my heart.

As you’re running in the park, taking a shower or making dinner, you find yourself going over and over the story in your mind. Take a pause. Consider the richness of the words, the way they are put together, the use of literary devices, and new meanings and sensations that you may never have noticed or understood before.
The story becomes part of your core. It fills you, changes you.

Success Stories

Murray’s Storytelling Classes benefited me as a teacher, improved my writing, taught me a new way to listen and tell stories. But this is just a part of why I kept going back and signing up for a new session. The process in class changed how I see the world and my place in it. I am more grounded and at ease, less serious and more committed. Murray models aliveness, participation and compassion. I went to Murray’s classes for 3 years and when they start again I am going back.

Susan Calhoun Moss

We have some great bonuses for you!

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Bonus #1

Recorded guided meditations

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Bonus #2

Weekly calls

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Bonus #3

Lifetime Access

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Our Program is for you if...

Success Stories

With Murray’s excellent facilitation, I was able to go inside myself and discover stories that were amusing and moving. I learned how to speak more clearly in front of a group of people and how to guide an audience into the narrative of what I wanted to say with a style that is easy to understand. But most of all, I found a voice and confidence that was more powerful than I could possibly imagine.

Work with Murray. Enveloped in his extraordinary listening, you will be one of the fortunate few who will be guided by a true master.

Craig Harwood, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, & Writer

Got a question?

No, this is not therapy. The MasterClass is not an attempt to fix something that’s wrong, nor an attempt to replace treatment for anxiety, depression, phobias or any kind of mental illness.

The course is not concerned with commenting or interpreting anyone’s behavior or inner feelings. The course offers guidance on how to apply the listening and storytelling method to each person’s individual path and its up to each individual how they put it into action. While many past students have experienced the method as therapeutic or healing, this is of their own choosing, and is a by-product of applying the principles of the course to their lives.

Absolutely not. The course is for anyone who wants to learn the skills of listening and storytelling. The course focuses on personal storytelling, teaching each individual to excavate craft and tell stories from their own lives.

Each of us have a multiplicity of stories to tell about ourselves. Seeing your life as not interesting arises as a result of critical self evaluation, judgment and opinions. One of the central aims of the class is to teach students how to listen to themselves openly and non judgmentally so that their creativity can flow

This class is for anyone who wants to gain self knowledge and have more freedom, ease and creativity in their lives. While the class is inspired by Buddhist principles, it makes no attempt to convince anyone to follow Buddhism.

Each MasterClass group is composed of 8-10 fellow listeners and storytellers who have satisfied the entry requirements.

Each online streaming session is 90 minutes long.

Online streaming sessions are held in the evenings at US Eastern Time.

Registration for the MasterClass is $1,270 and includes:

  • 8, 90-minute online streaming sessions
  • A structured curriculum
  • Tailored, written materials
  • In-class coaching
  • Additional video materials

Don’t let cost be a barrier. If this isn’t in reach for you financially, contact Murray and we’ll see what we can do!

Enroll Today

Dislodge the stories that bring you pain and suffering and replace them with those that renew your vitality every time you tell them