This morning after a crazy week of work and travel, I got up on the rooftop and did not do a serious playtime instead since I have been very over focused with work and having to be in certain places at certain times , I provided myself a little balance. Balance in one’s life is something that you constantly have to evaluate and play within. If you are doing lots of active things to balance out your experience of life you should cultivate stillness. If you are sitting on your butt all day working on a computer you should be spending a good amount of time moving around. If you are very serious all day, always directed in your activity, driving yourself with a purpose to balance yourself out you should spend a good amount of time bringing an unfocused playfulness to your day. If you are always around people spend time alone, if you are always talking take some time to be silent and listen.
This balance in a human sense has so much to do with playfulness. Here is a great collection of Ted Talks about Playfulness. This is so very interesting. My experience with people over the last 29 years of playing Tai Chi, Meditation, and many other Internal Arts of Ancient China is that the hardest thing to get myself and others to do is to play. It is the intent behind our interaction with a task which is to blame here. A person can come into any activity and shut down its usefulness by being too serious. In a very real sense, it truncates the experience before it even gets started.
Let’s say I am playing like I am some animal like a bear, a tiger, a crane as soon as I bring in the idea I am doing this so I can be healthy, or to be the best, or so I can add to the list of forms and things I can say I know, or worries about if I am doing things right, I have instantly limited the moment of play. As a child playing that he or she is a crane they just play, there is no reason necessary except that it is fun to be a bird! To learn how to give up preconceived ideas of how we engage activities in our lives yields a wider scope of interacting. In other words, your experience of life gets bigger, funnier, brighter and happier if you drop the preconceived notions of how we should interact with life and let go and play. That my friends is all the reason you should need to engage play. To let that play guide your activities in life so that you can bring balance to your experience of life. This is a huge part of your human birthright. Yet so many of us, myself included, get caught in a self-defeating cycle that we need to be better, faster, more perfect, make more money, when in truthfulness what we are looking for is to feel life freely moving through us. Yet I know that many students walking into play Tai Chi, or to engage Chi Gung, or Meditation justify their attendance by saying “Play is not the reason I am here, I am here to learn, this is serious business! ” It is serious business, however, the moment you act as if it is “serious” business it loses its ability to transform and you lose the ability to access vast areas of the mind. The vast portions of your mind that you lose deal with your own survival on this mudball rocketing through space, your own ability to engage your life creativity. My Teacher, Sifu Fey, is always saying you both have to hold the material we learn as if it is the most important thing in the world and the biggest and funniest joke played upon humanity. Not one or the other, both at the same instance. You always want to feel the guitar string of your experience strung between these two ideas then anything that you chose to do becomes more alive , more fulfilling, healthier, and more fun. All too often, we have eliminated the playful side of that balance, we are strung between seriousness, and disengaging from life. We move from one moment to the next trying to be serious and focus our minds the exact same way.
This morning among other activities, I imagined I was in the most beautiful place I have ever been, I let the breeze move me about freely, I imagined smiles cascading through my body, I moved like I was in very thick air, I drew circles and pretended I was moving gears that were connected to distant stars and galaxies, I walked around like a big ole bear sniffing the forest air. It was a little over an hour of playfulness that lightened my whole being. This is the art of play.
So here is my challenge to you. Go outside and move around and pretend you are a bear, or a deer, or a tiger, or a big crane, or pretend that if you draw a circle with your hands and arms that you are stirring the whole universe, or walk very slowly saying to yourself that you are walking in thick air. I can hear some doors closing already in some of you. See what I am talking about, we would think nothing of seeing a child outside pretending to be a tiger, yet if I were to ask a group of adults in a park to pretend to move around like cranes looking for a fish I would run into static. This is where the magic is however, it is the play we most need to do. How will you allow yourself to play today?