Have you had your play today?
I take a daily (almost) vitamin. I eat right and sleep consistently. I try to pay my bills on time. I’ve recently reduced caffeine drastically, and as a yoga teacher, I’m pretty active. I do a lot of things RIGHT. But finding time to just play is still a practice. What does that mean anyway, to “just play”?
Remember the “definition” that play is doing something for the joy of it, with no apparent intended outcome. In my life, there is ALWAYS something more that needs to be done. How about yours? I’m fairly confident, I’ll never complete ALL.THE.THINGS. Sometimes this feels overwhelming (and disheartening). Can you relate? Who has time to play when there are so many commitments, opportunities, events and things to do?
But PLAY IS IMPORTANT for our health and well-being. Just to recap, here are the properties (according to the research) of play:
- Seemingly purposeless (done for its own sake)
- Inherent attraction
- Freedom/escape from time
- Diminished consciousness of self
- Improvisational potential
- Desire for continuation
When I review this list, I think play seems easy. Like, I can do that! Buy my life is filled with what seems like the opposite of play… How about yours?
I actively, INTENTIONALLY cultivate intention and purpose over purposelessness. Much of my daily tasks are acts of obligation, commitment and responsibility rather than voluntary service, and I pride myself on being a woman of my word. Additionally, many of my tasks lack attraction (i.e. have you heard my latest toilet story?). But the other side of this coin is that play is something we can CHOOSE. And I have a lot of choices. So where is the play? It’s IN THE CHOICE!!
Mindset is important. Its more than being an optimist, it’s about actively monitoring, cultivating and choosing the thoughts my brain thinks. I call it Reframe from Love. I try to see (witness) a situation from the best possible scenario as if all the players are choosing their actions from a place of love. Its not as easy as it sounds, but it works!
So when I look again at my life and reframe from love, I can set aside the critical judge and see how CHOICE rules my daily activities. I choose to live with intention and purpose but a HUGE part of that intention includes PLAY. Play is the mindset that allows me the FREEDOM to improvise, make mistakes and try something new, & (drum roll, please!) NOT DO.
Freedom to improvise. Yoga is my favorite place for improvisation (cooking is my second!). I often start my classes with a little check-in with the students who’ve arrived. “What do you need today? What are you aware of? What are you interested in experiencing?” The responses feed the choreography for each practice. Sometimes I feel like I’m on an Improv Show. But this freedom keeps the practice alive for me. Where can you improvise and let it be a form of play?
Freedom to make mistakes is helpful when improvising 😊 But really its helpful for anyone interested in learning and growing. It’s why you hear me say, “it depends” to many of your yoga questions. Until we get clear on the purpose, the intention and the WHY, the answer will always depend. The only way I know how to get clear, is to explore my options, and exploring can get messy! But it is full of opportunities for learning, growing, and getting clear. I am definitely interested in learning, growing and being part of the process for others in transformation too.
The freedom to NOT DO. Learning to say, “No” is probably the hardest freedom for me to practice. But I’ve learned that for everything I say “Yes” to there is a “No” to something else. I don’t want to say yes to some thing that keeps me from saying YES TO MY EVERYTHING! What are you saying Yes to… or maybe more importantly, what are you saying No to?
Stuart Brown, MD, explains that “the self that emerges through play, is the core, authentic self.” Which makes me wonder, if we don’t play, how will we discover (remember) and share are truest selves? I don’t think we can. So, let’s play. Let’s connect and let’s grow.
Freedom is a privilege. Choice is accepting responsibility for that privilege in how I chose to live. I choose to believe that EVERYONE is doing the best they can given the resources and circumstances they have… including me!
So, now about that play date… when are you available?
I am so very grateful that so many of you commented on how last week’s invitation to rekindle play hit home. Some of you even shared how you are reframing your mindset to embrace play and joy. I love hearing your stories. Remember, play is part of our self-care. It is neither childish or selfish. Play is a way to connect and love ourselves and each other.
May you breathe deeply, move freely, labor lovingly and live vibrantly.