The Importance of Play
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw
Everything I ever learned about play I learned from my cats and my kids.
Truth here...I was horrible at playing. I lacked creativity, focused on the end result being perfect, wanted to "achieve" something all of the time. Play was something I just could not understand. I was a failure at playing.
Playing is a skill. It's the freedom to do something without an end goal. It's being light-hearted enough to simply enjoy the process. It's being open to new things, new ideas, new experiences - open not only with your mind but your heart. It's being present 100% and savoring every little thing. It's being a little bit wild and crazy and LOVING every second of it.
I used to know how to play. I think we all did once, but life has a way of suppressing the "play" in us. The weight of work, family, social, economics, and politics have scared the play away.
"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play then in a year of conversation." Plato
So what do we do to get it back? It's going to take some work. If you are like me, you think most moments you should be doing something productive - accomplishing some task. You have to let that go and IT IS HARD! You have to think of the moment as perfect in and of itself without imagining an end result. You will need to ENJOY the process. Let's take art for example. I don't like to get my hands dirty but in relearning how to play (with my kids no less - the greatest teachers of all time), I committed to using oil pastels and then actually using my fingers to spread the color around. My hands were incredibly messy and it felt AMAZING. I laughed, giggled and rubbed my entire arm with it. I didn't care what the end picture was because the beautifully tactile experience was so freeing. All at once "play" made sense.
Play makes us more creative and creativity makes us happier, more fulfilled and more focused. It also makes us more productive. Why? Because it opens up the possibilities and it gives us back that part of ourselves we thought was lost - the child within. During play we open up, we laugh, we get dirty, we feel light and carefree.
Watch a child or a cat play - they are so happy, so free, so unaware of the norms, the weights, the rules of society and what they "should" be or "should" be doing. I love the light in their eyes, the soft loose smile on their lips, and their relaxed bodies.
"At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling." Unknown
Playtime is important for all of us - not just children (although I can quote a dozen research projects showing how play develops more intelligent, proactive, creative, fullfilled and happy children too). If it does all that for kids - why not adults? When was the last time you played? Got messy? Savored the process over the result? Colored in a coloring books and went outside the lines? You didn't see that last one coming did you?
My challenge to you this month - a month focused on PLAY - is to reconnect with your inner child. I challenge you to color outside the lines, get messy, be free, let go and be wild! Jump on a trampoline, cannonball into the pool, have a water balloon fight, do some messy art and let yourself PLAY.
Come play with me on the mat!
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I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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