Why Play? Why Stop? Play more! Here's how!

Feb 21 2022

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Text by participants of The Mindful Play Inquiry February 2022

In session two of The Mindful Play Inquiry Online, we began by exploring our favourite kinds of play when we were kids and our favourite kinds of play now. We pondered on why people play and what might stop up playing as adults.

Then we dived into a non-verbal, physical play session. At the end of playtime, I asked the group to reflect on the quality of their play throughout the session. They were invited to share some actions that supported them finding their way into the play zone.

After the session, I took their chat box sharings and crafted them into three poems: What Does Play Do For You? What Stops Grown Ups Playing? and What Can You Do To Get Into The Playzone?

I'm publishing them here because I think they are beautiful and I hope they will inspire further investigation of why and how we play as adults.

What does play do for you?

Play keeps me grounded to the essence of my true self.
Play makes me feel alive!
Play reconnects me to being here and present.
Play gets me out of my head and into life.
Play makes life enjoyable,
Sparking joy, fun, laughter, release.
Play takes away my worries and heaviness,
and connects me to the people I'm playing with.
Play keeps me smiling, makes me happy, sets me free!
It’s the balance, the yin to life’s yang
If I didn't play, I would be dead.
Play keeps me alive, again and again and again.

What stops grown ups playing?

There’s not enough time!
There’s not enough space!
We need to be “grown ups”
We have to be serious, not silly!
If we are not serious,
We might lose our jobs!

Play is a waste of time,
It’s not something we should prioritise.
It’s something to be frowned upon,
We need to get on with our chores!

We’re too self-conscious
What would people say?
We’re too boring,
We fear people’s mockery.
We’re too depressed,
and we might hurt people’s feelings.

We’re dominated by The Thinking!
The Thinking! The Thinking!
Who’s going to give us permission to play?
And where are our playmates?

What can you do to get into the play zone?

Drop into breath,
Connect with the body,
Pay attention to sensations and sense perceptions.
Notice, be interested,
Be curious, explore.
Be attentive, receptive and breathe some more.
Feel where the breath wants to move in your body,
Just do that, the play will follow.
Be here now and follow what comes,
Sloooow right down
Experience sensations,
Follow the smallest tingle,
Find something joyful,
Put some fun music on,
Move and shake,
Breathe out release,
Let it all go.
Be attentive to other people,
Smile, connect,
Wait for the moment of discomfort to pass,
or drink water and reset.

Massive thanks to the participants of The Mindful Play Inquiry for their thoughts and permission to share on here.

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