We’re wired for play from the day we’re born.
As children, it’s how we learn to navigate the world, negotiate our surroundings, get to know ours and others’ bodies and understand our limits. Play therapy works for kids, but it also works for big people too…we just have to let it. 🙂
When we can truly play and let go of being a proper ‘adult’, it means:
1 – We know we are safe on a biological and cellular level.
Safety at this level enables us to let our guard down and gives us an opportunity to connect with others and ourselves. A hallmark of being trapped in a state of chronic stress and traumatic experiences is disconnection from ourselves and others. When we bring on a little more biological safety to our cells, we get better at connecting to those who are good for us and are there to support us.
2 – We can know the environment is safe, which further reinforces our body/mind perception of safety.
Not only do we need to ensure that our internal self (at that cell level) senses safety, we must be able to orient to the external world and know that it is no longer a threat. When we can do this, our awareness and capacity to truly SEE what is around us improves dramatically, which will increase our capacity to discern REAL danger from danger signals that come through present events that are triggered from the the past – events that are not actually dangerous. It will also help us be able to sense and trust the signals of safety from those who are supportive and want to help us. A true win-win.
3 – We get more tuned to be in the ‘healing’ mode of our DNA.
This is because to play freely means we are not in survival mode anymore and when we are not in survival mode all systems move towards restoration, repair and relaxation (which is how we want to live most of the time!).
4 – We can tap into our higher human capacities.
When all of the above are happening, greater cellular safety and connection to the environment and those who are supportive, we are, as I mentioned, likely to be way less in survival mode which benefits our higher brain centres. When this happens our capacity to learn and retain valuable and important information is increased and our creativity pathways are sparked up and more available.
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So you see, play is essential!
Stuart Brown’s TED Talk ‘Play Is More Than Just Fun’ has had more than 1.8 M views and he has devoted his entire life to studying play and why it is essential human medicine. Check it out when you have a chance, it’s a good one!
Why am I talking about play and how important it is for our health and well-being?
This year I’m teaching my profound and highly play-based movement workshop called Up & Down at a few different locations worldwide. This workshop was founded by myself and my friend and colleague Elia Mrak. What we teach is more than just play and it is more than just improving movement, though we do that too!.
In these workshops we do a deep dive into what it means to break free from our familiar patterns of stress, habit and routine. We do this by blending the science of the nervous system (as I’ve described above), plus the art of human movement, into a few full days of teaching and learning.
The common end result experienced by our participants is sheer joy and a profound change at all levels of human experience.
Elia and I would love it if you’d come play with us!
Click here to learn more about this powerful work.
Elia & Irene laughing while on break at Up & Down Vancouver, Dec 2018.