Ever played a game of ‘Word Association’?
If not, the basic idea is that one person says a word, and the next person says the first word that pops into their head in association with the word that was just said, and so it continues…
Let’s try it out for a second:
If I say “PLAY,” what’s the first word that pops into your head?
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It’s probably safe to guess that many of us would make two major associations:
Of course, play IS fun (at least it should be) and children DO play (at least they should), but the way that most of us tend to think about play also points to where and how we’re getting it wrong:
Play is not *just* for fun AND it’s not *just* for kids.
Play is not some kind of ‘rehearsal’ for life as an adult. It’s also not an optional ‘extra’ that we should only make time for once our ‘real’ work is done.
As children, play is how we learn to navigate the world, negotiate our surroundings, get to know ourselves, build trust in others, and experience our mutual boundaries and interconnectedness.
And, as Dr. Stuart Brown says in his TED Talk on the vital function of play, “What’s unique about our species is that we’re really DESIGNED to play throughout our WHOLE lifetime.”
Play is an essential cornerstone of what it means to be human.
It is so fundamental that if we don’t engage in enough of it, we become stunted – or worse (as Dr. Brown explains in his talk linked above).
When we understand what play really is, it makes sense that (when combined with movement) play can be medicine for our all-too-often “disused” bodies, and (when done in groups, in a safe, supportive environment) medicine for our all-too-often dysregulated nervous systems…
Which is why I can’t wait to get back to teaching Up & Down workshops with my friend, colleague, and playmate, Elia Mrak in 2024. It’s been more than a minute since we last jammed together, and I, for one, am looking forward to sparking up that unique, in-person energy again!
Up & Down workshops are a LOT of play and fun, but they’re also MORE than that, and that ‘more’ is where the Up & Down concept comes in. Learn more about them here <<
With plenty of social engagement (hello, ventral vagal of the parasympathetic nervous system!), they are literally textbook examples of what we’d do to demonstrate polyvagal theory, live and in-person. There’s a reason we call Up & Down THE workshop for nervous system regulation!
It is also true that play can be downright foreign or even terrifying for some, but given that we are wired for play, it’s best to practice! And Elia and I are masters at making this happen (seriously: our past workshop participants rarely want to leave at the end of the day – it is clear they are tapping into nectar that they are desperately thirsty for).
Experience the joy of connection with others who share a similar passion for health, healing and happiness, break free from familiar patterns of stress, habit and routine, tap into the science of the nervous system, plus the art of human movement…
All in a few full days of learning, moving, and, yes… PLAY!
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For further inspiration, a few more meaningful quotes on play:
“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” – Dr Stuart Brown, MD
“People tend to forget that play is serious.” – David Hockney
“This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan W. Watts
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Brian Sutton-Smith
Learn more, get on the interest list, or purchase past Up & Down recordings, HERE <<