Playfulness as a Practice

*Playfulness as a Practice* : Originally published on The Interdependence Project Blog

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I think there's something wildly playful about embracing how completely and compellingly alive we are. Have you ever practiced the mindfulness exercise of sitting in concentration and asking your senses to come alive, one by one? If not, I highly recommend pressing the power button on your computer right now and giving it a whirl. Right now. I totally dare you.


Even in the stillest of rooms, colors, shadows, and floor tiles can pop when we invite them to. The noises of the street orchestrate symphonies when we deeply listen. Undetected scents emerge from the ether when we focus single-pointedly on tasting the air with our noses.

In a sense, we're playing with our space.
Simply by bearing witness completely with what is, the extraordinary IS-ness of the ordinary moment comes alive on our screen of awareness.
This is one of my favorite games to play, and play often. In public, in private, with friends, and alone. It packs up nicely and can be taken just about anywhere. No dice or avatars required.
I call it the tasting game.

I've always been delighted by the concept of play, and most recently intrigued by what an integral part it plays in our well being, learning process, and relationship to our world.
Plato said "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Einstein called Play "the highest form of research," and studies have shown time and again that information and concepts are more readily absorbed and effectively retained when material is presented playfully and engagingly, via storytelling or hands-on interaction.

So, in a culture that lauds us for our work -- our gross domestic product -- it's interesting to see how we've compartmentalized playfulness. In many ways I feel like it's been skimmed off the top of our ordinary experiences an placed in the jar of "otherness" -- that thing we do or embrace when we're not being productive. It's also interesting to witness the form that jar has taken now that we're all adult-like and how many of us only crack open the Play jar when we need a distraction, a technique for avoidance, or an escape from reality.

I think that one of the beauties of practicing mindfulness is that it allows us to be receptive to what the world is offering; and when we're truly receptive to what the world is offering us, we have an opportunity to engage in the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we all tipped the jar over and infused our reality with a little more sense of playfulness; even -- and especially -- the challenging bits? What if we set the intention to open our view a bit and look for the moments of play and spontaneity that are already there, waiting to be witnessed?
In fact, just to up the ante, I dare you.
I Double Dog dare you to intentionally create more Play as a Practice.
Starting with weekly assignments of creative engagement.

This week, I dare all of us to engage in a Scenery Scavenger Hunt....
-Choose a word,  image, color or texture that you connect with. {ie: bird, biscuit, lavender, bumpy}
-Keep your senses peeled through the week for your chosen focus.
-Every time you run across something that represents or reminds you of your focus, take a picture or make a note.

{For example: snapping a photo of Bowery and Bleeker with a note indicating you smelled fresh biscuits here, the stranger you met who's dog is named Biscuit, the storefront window of Moishe's bakery -- however your focus permeates your daily life.}

-At the end of the week, compile your experiences and photos.
-Create a scrapbook, either online or tactile.
-Give it a jazzy title, such as "My sweet week of Biscuit"
-Share it with a friend.

And share your experience HERE:

#Playfulness #Mindfulness #DailyPractice