When I talk about play, people often think I am referring to being silly or something so light it is inconsequential.
Silly is good. Levity is useful. However, I am really referring to an open-ended creative process. My definition of play is a curious exploration without a known outcome. So, with this definition, a person cannot create anything original or solve a problem without engaging in the process of play. And, one of the conundrums related to play is that the more one strives and grasps for an outcome, the harder it becomes to arrive at this outcome.
It’s a beautiful conundrum really. Because, it requires us to open, trust, be guided by something that is, or at least feels, different from our typical mind process. We get to experience the freedom of life without grasping.
The creative process allows us to enjoy the ride.
A key, the key, to play is a form of listening that is about tuning in. We are asked to LISTEN. Listen to the play that is happening. Listen to the musical note so deeply that the next note presents itself, listen so presently that your hands move the paint in a way that surprises you, listen to your body with the trust that the next move is there, listen to the idea that “makes no sense”. FLOW.
The way I see it, conscious play opens up new neural pathways.
When we allow ourselves to be in a fluid state of creation, right smackdab in the present moment, we are going where we have not been before; in fact, deep in the creative process, we don’t really know where we are going. And if we are going where we have not been before, we are enlivening neural pathways that were otherwise unused.
When the creative process and flow-based play is brought into the workplace, the possibility and connection that is fostered leads to stronger teams and efficient solutions.
Being in a state of play makes our minds more fluid and agile; we ready ourselves for a state of flow; we listen more trustingly to our instincts. All of these things set us up for being stronger, healthier, happier, more intrinsically powerful humans.