Where does Mindful Play​ come from?

May 07 2024

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Drone shot of Holly leaping in a field under dark skies by Joe Rosser

Whilst preparing for my three new Mindful Play Weekends in May, June and July, exploring the themes of PLAY (May 19 + 18), FLOW (June 22 + 23) and SPONTANEITY (July 20 + 21), I've been reflecting on the history and development of these courses. 

I’ve been offering various versions of Mindful Play for 10 years now. The themes of play, flow, spontaneity and connection came out of my MA dramatherapy dissertation research. Participants of my research lab explained that accessing these states during our play sessions was beneficial for their mental health and well-being, both inside and outside of the sessions. 

Mindful Play has since become the foundation of all my performance skills training courses, it’s all the stuff we do to get into the play zone, but without the performance training aspect. It’s the meditation that helps us connect with our bodies, hearts and minds, it’s the breath work that helps us relax and release, it’s the joyful expressive sound-making and movement that helps us connect with each other and it’s the sensory exploration that helps us connect with the world.

Mindful Play also has a big reflection element to it. Through artwork, writing and structured discussion, we savour pleasure and ease and explore what's blocking access to the natural states of play, flow, spontaneity and connection.

As well as running my own weekly courses, I have offered Mindful Play sessions for universities, community groups, businesses and at conferences (check out some of those people here). In 2021, I received Arts Council Funding to write a (currently unpublished) Mindful Play guidebook for group leaders.

In 2022, I took a sabbatical and moved to a meditation retreat centre in Devon. That year had a profound impact on me, leaving me with a desire to slow right down and leave more space for the unknown in my life and in my work. To ease my way back into work, I trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS), which equipped me with a wonderful new shiny toolkit to help people explore their inner worlds.

This is the first time I’ll be offering Mindful Play as three full weekend immersions. I’m delighted to be able to slow it all right down and make space for deeper explorations and richer reflections. I'm looking forward to integrating elements of trauma-informed meditation and IFS.

Book your place for the Mindful Play in-person weekends in Bristol:
• Play (May 18th and 19th)
• Flow (June 22nd and 23rd)
• Spontaneity (July 20th and 21st)

More info and bookings here.

You can check out some of my musings on Mindful Play here.

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