The Importance of Play in Your Life

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Remember, as a kid, the days when we hid in the woods and thought we were the next great explorer? Remember the wonderful feeling of seeing “new kittens” or a baby bird in a nest? Those gave us a sense of wonderment. We felt the call of the wild and the mystery of life – waiting for every new adventure to teach us a new part of life.

Today, we think of play as something children do.

But this has not always been the case. For centuries, there was little distinction made between children and adults. They performed the same work, sang the same songs, and played the same games. With the rise of the Merchant Class in the 17th century and afterward, however, the work ethic became central to the serious adult and play was eventually relegated to childhood. Even today with everybody becoming a slave to their phones or tablets, play is becoming extinct. This, I believe, is the exact way we lose the pathway to our Soul.

Play has profound implications on the path toward soulful living.

Many of my clients, when asked, “How long has it been since you’ve played?” will look at me like I have just entered the world of seriousness. Play dislodges the rigid and fixed attitudes that keep us locked into thinking and feeling patterns inhibiting the expression of Soul.

In Greek mythology and Eastern Indian folklore, for example, the gods are playful creatures, and life is a stage on which they express the characteristics inherent in play: spontaneity, creativity, variety and fun. What adults today often call play is eating, drinking, and watching television – containing none of the qualities exposed by the various mythological gods. These passive activities can even block our connection to our authentic selves by training us to believe that passivity is okay. We learn only to fill ourselves up and watch the world go by, while we wonder why our lives don’t feel fulfilled.

Play – REAL, soulful play – means engaging in life and connecting with people in a positive, even exciting way.

After playing, we feel full of life, relaxed, and filled with a kind of empowering good feeling or even love. Have you ever sat and watched little kids play – where they laugh and giggle over the silliest things? THAT is real play!

How long has it been since you played? Just yesterday I recommended to a client that she go for a walk – notice the trees around her, sit and have a conversation with a tree, connect to nature. We stifle ourselves and reject ourselves when we don’t allow our inner selves to come forward. We just take life way toooo seriously in my opinion.

Some people say, “I’ve got too much to do.” Do you though? OR is this simply an excuse? If you leave the dinner dishes and go for a walk with your family, the dishes will still be there when you return. If it’s a beautiful day and you’re trying to decide whether to take some time for yourself… realize you deserve it. Sometimes it is us that puts pressure on us. Make a date with yourself. Allow yourself to return to your authentic self.

Years ago I ran a book club and the book of choice was by Lynn Grabhorn called Excuse Me… Your Life is Waiting. She talks about the fact that as a society we are simply “existing – not living.” Even though that book club was a lot of years ago, I believe society is still at that point. I think we’re not allowing ourselves to ‘feel’ free. We have been the people who have ‘caged’ ourselves. It’s now up to us to take back our power and release that cage.

Design your life by choice… not by chance.

As David R. Kinsley says in The Sword and the Flute: “To play is to be unfettered and unconditioned, to perform intrinsically satisfying actions: to sing, dance, and laugh. As players, then the gods are revealed to be delightful, joyful, graceful beings whose actions are completely spontaneous, unconditioned, and expressive of their transcendent completeness and freedom.”

Let’s go and haul out our calendars right at this exact moment… and for the next year, on at least ONE day per month (or more if you choose), let’s write the word PLAY. If it’s not on the calendar, it often doesn’t happen. Let’s choose to make it happen.