I wouldn’t be surprised if the notion of “play” isn’t exactly on the forefront of most people’s minds these days. With all the challenges facing us in so many areas of our lives, it almost seems “tone deaf” to even talk about “play”. And how are we to effect spiritual healing through “play”? Let me tell you a small story.
Last week, I talked about the new puppy that has done a “takeover” of our home. As one would imagine, her energy level is simply off the charts. It took her a mere two or three days to cajole the older dog to engage in full out play with her. He simply couldn’t resist his instinct all her invitations to play, and eventually they both were having long sessions of all out, football like scrimmages on the living room floor. The quiet, brooding, meditative seven year old came back to life. I didn’t know that he still had it in him to engage in “play” with such joy and abandon.
Then, another thing happened. One morning, I gave her her newly discovered, favorite, dog-bone shaped, mini-biscuit. I walked away, thinking that she would be busy for a while. When I returned a few minutes later, she was sitting in the exact same spot that I had left her, in the position that is her invitation for us adults to come play with her. The treat had been set aside in the corner of her play pen, untouched. Silly me. I then realized that her favorite treat wasn’t the dog biscuit — the opportunity to play was her favorite treat!
And so, I wondered. Where do we “adults” lose our propensity to engage in “play”? Is it that words and phrases like “leadership” or “responsibility” or “accountability” or “parenting” or “setting a good example” and so on make us forget our playful nature? All of us, in our formative years after birth discovered the world around us through play, didn’t we? We would play, sleep, eat, drink, and do it all over again the next day, wouldn’t we? So, what happened somewhere along the line that we largely forgot our sense of play? Why is it that we forgot the connection of play to our well-being and health?
Or did we really forget? Maybe we simply replaced physical play with other kinds of play. What is “play” anyway? One way to define play is its outcome – how do we feel after the experience of play? If we feel lighter, more joyous, more at peace in any or all of the three – the heart, body or mind – after engaging in any activity, then we have engaged in play. Any creative activity that engage us in a manner which heals our heart, body or mind, can indeed be a form of play. Don’t you think so?
The painter with her colors and brushes and crayons and pencils and stencils and canvases is at play. The photographer with his cameras and landscapes and portraits and lenses and perspectives is at play. The amateur cook dabbling in the kitchen with recipes and spices or baking new creations is at play. The dancer, the musician, the writer, the poet – all are at play because their heart is lighter, their mind is healed with their activity. Any action can become play, if we approach it with a light, joyful and playful attitude. And yes, even ‘spiritually focused’ activities like meditation, yoga, prayer and more, can become play. Why not?
In the Bhagavad Gita (“the song divine”), it is said that this entire world is a creation of the divine energy at play. It is further said that the deepest and highest form of love is manifested as a result of this play. If one were to believe this to be true, then we can realize that play has tremendous (healing) energy. Imagine what our life would look like, if we were to open our heart and accept the invitation to play. In loving play, we could all experience deep bliss, deeper awareness and the deepest truth in all of our being, all over again.
P.S. Join us on Sunday, July 19 at 9amET on twitter for our weekly community gathering in #SpiritChat. We will toss around some questions and answers, and experience the healing energy of play. I hope you can join us. Namaste – @AjmaniK
Hydrabgea in bloom – a wonderful example of nature at play!