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The Importance of Playing Up

The Importance of Playing Up

David Cronin
9 January, 2018

The Importance of Playing Up

My story is all about play. As well as spreading the Laughteryoga message, Ia€™m a playwright, songwriter and performer, and I also teach drama for over thirty years. Ia€™ve discovered that asking people to play drama games is really an invitation to laugh a lot more than they usually do. And when people laugh and play they see their vision & values clearer. They can then start to steer their own story, to take control over their lives.

We are programmed to play. It is how we are meant to be. Not just as children, but all our lives. It is how we learn best, in fact the only way we learn. Science can now show that Play is as necessary as sleep. Play deprivation has real consequences, such as increased anxiety and stress levels.

As humans we play all the time. The task is to be aware and play in healthy forms, (Not shame, blame, name or same games!) For more insight about the importance of play, watchA Give Your Child PlayfulnessA by Dr. Karyn Purvis and the TED Talk by Dr. Stuart Brown entitledA Play is More Than Fun

I first discovered the many ways we can play when I read Dr. Browna€™s amazing book entitledA Play a€ How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. He defines different play a€˜personalitiesa€™. His Five Step Play Process and Seven Play Properties make clear how what seems so simple is really quite complex.

When my children were born, being a new parent without a€˜traininga€™, I knew I needed help. Besides reading books, I went along to hear some experts speak. One bright professor impressed on me not only the vital importance of play in a childa€™s development, but also how easily this ability is eroded. It can disappear early, especially in todaya€™s fast paced world. Some people never reclaim it. They distance themselves from play as a€˜silly.a€™ But that word comes from the old German a€˜selig,a€™ meaning a€˜holy.a€™

There are two things to emphasize about play. The first is that it involves the whole brain. MRI brain scans show that it is not just some parts that are used when playing. The whole brain lights up! This means total integration, that is, total availability of all functions for problem solving and creativity. Secondly the purpose of play is to learn by doing. So the process is the point. Play should be, must be open ended. A a€˜resulta€™ is not necessary.

Call it creative, but ita€™s all about the journey, and not the destination. That is, to be absorbed in whatever is in that moment, the present. This may sound simple, but in practice it is the opposite. Why?

Because we are accustomed to playing and/or watching competitive games, and these have a set structure. They have a defined space, a set of rules, and usually a fixed time. From an early age children are brought into this competitive world of sport. But the world of play is a far more varied one, with a wide spectrum available.

Like Laughteryoga, play needs no special training. a€˜Rather we let our natural self guide us and we enjoy being who we really are.a€™ Dr Madan Kataria.