Joy Ignites Success

To Play or Not To Play- Part 2

By - Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Stops Us From Playing?

Many adults, with many good reasons, resist playing.  Play has been judged harshly by our work oriented society.  Many of us have grown up with such messages as 'stop playing around, get back to work', 'you're acting like a child', 'aren't you ever going to grow up?', and 'there's no time to play'.  We have also been told there's a right and a wrong way to play and there's a time and place (which never seems to be here or now) to play.
In every workshop I’ve ever done, there is a quiver in the room when I say ‘let’s play’.  For some it’s a quiver of excitement, for many it’s the anxiety that gets produced when they feel like they may be put on the spot or embarrassed.  Because of its very nature, play often asks us to step out of our comfort zone and risk feeling foolish.  We are afraid of losing control, making mistakes, comparisons and failure.  We use the excuses of being too tired, too old and too busy to play.  
Almost every impediment to play revolves around fear.  Most of it imagined.  

What are the benefits of playing?

When we allow ourselves to take play breaks, even small ones, or play with whatever is showing up in this moment, we are pausing the programs and beliefs that typically drive our behavior.   When I pause to play with an object on my desk, I find curiosity is evoked, I feel a sense of spaciousness in my body, and a desire to share my findings with someone.  These are just some of the benefits of play.  In just a moment, we can shift our state of awareness.  We all know what a one week vacation can do for us.  We might think of playing in the moment as a way of taking that vacation and chunking it down into bite size experiences that we can embed into our daily routines.  What if we measured play as ‘an activity of daily living’ instead of the ability to brush one’s teeth?  
But just reading about it doesn’t give you the felt sense in your body.  So, I invite you to stop a moment, find a toy, or use any nearby object and pretend it’s a toy.  See how it moves, and what it’s designed to do.  Then, do something different with it.  Pretend you don’t know what it’s supposed to do or try doing it the opposite way.
What do you notice in your own body and thinking?  

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About MSI

Melanie Smithson Institute is dedicated to enriching lives through embodied education and training; using movement, play and releasing to connect with innate wisdom and joy.  

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