Play - the most overlooked piece of my wellness puzzle, and maybe yours...
I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the line—amidst landing that stifling career in my twenties, taking on the responsibilities of owning a home, bringing two little lives into this world who would be utterly dependent on me, and getting chronically sick—I forgot how to play.
And when I say “play," I don’t mean treating yourself to a massage or meeting up with a friend for tea or trying out a new gym. No…while no one would disagree that those are all beneficial to a healthy lifestyle, they don’t fuel your soul and lighten your spirit as much as the act of genuine childlike play.
No, I’m talking about the first three of what the medicine men (or women) of tribal societies call the FOUR UNIVERSAL HEALING SALVES - dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence. When these are remembered or relearned, those challenged by sickness very often begin to heal.
Think about it for a moment…
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop storytelling?
When did you forget how to be imaginative, creative, and spontaneous?
Remembering how to play has been a top priority for me lately. It’s not something that comes naturally for this Type A, driven, control-minded person. Honestly, with the exception of a few magical moments over the years, I cannot recall feeling truly free to play since my early twenties.
So, I’ve made it my summer goal to relearn the art of play. If this is something that resonates with you then read on for some ideas to get you started:
MIMIC OTHERS If you have kids (or students, grandkids, neighbors, nieces/nephews), join them outside and just do what they do. Play cops and robbers, climb on the jungle gym, draw hopscotch on the driveway, blow bubbles, jump rope, pretend and imagine and have fun!
PLAY GAMES Hide and seek, Marco polo, chase, board games, kickball...
FIND A GROUP Check out your local Meet Up pages for recreational groups. What sports did you enjoy when you were a kid? What hobbies light you up? Hiking, biking, ball games, photography, painting, gardening, fishing… The possibilities are limitless. Find or create a group with others who share these interests.
GO OUTSIDE Walk, run, cycle, swim, jump, dance, explore, picnic, stargaze, camp… Unplug (from all electronics) while you do it, and for as long as you can, and allow your innate creativity to flow.
BE BOLD Try something new that makes you uncomfortably excited. Paragliding, bungee jumping, zip-lining, belly dancing, hula hooping, aerial yoga, and white water rafting are just a few that come to mind.
Play is not just for the young. Science now proves it. Free-spirited play allows our bodies to fall back into the parasympathetic nervous system - the state in which we're able to rest, digest and heal. The evidence is clear that making time for play improves your health and wellbeing.
What do you think? Can you create time for play?
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