It's Day 25 my playful friend. How are you feeling on the other side of your BRIDGE? Where did it lead you, and what did you discover over the past 24hrs? Were you able to BRIDGE a couple of play types, or a connection with your core self? Did you find a moment to create a bridge with a new way of playing?
For me, I find bridges by way of my play tools. I discovered a few years ago that I feel at ease with others when I am playing games, or when I have a hand-distracting activity of my own while we sit and talk. What I once felt awkward about wanting to do - doodle, or knit during conversations - is what play just yesterday led me to discover about how task positive brain function helps you be more present.
This morning I woke up at 9am feeling pretty off. I had a weird sequence of dreams that had left me really stuck in an analytical mind mode and not at all in a good mood. I decided that I could use some first thing in the morning playing and that I would use walking (rather than my usual biking preferences) to BRIDGE and nest my kinesthete, explorer, and observer play types. I particularly need a play focus this morning in waking up to my self-critical brain on full blast at 9am. BRIDGING from my play lessons of yesterday and knowing that all I need to do to quiet this unhelpful self is to activate my Task Positive Neural Network with a (playful) focus. My focus became this idea of what I will now and forever be calling "urban hiking", with the reward at the end being a really hot coffee on a cold day. I strategically chose a distant donut shop (because duh if you give a hiker a coffee, they're going to ask for a donut-especially on a grey fall morning) and started my excursion.
This did a couple of things for me:
I got myself right in to a state of play as remedy for an emotional morning. What this did was kick on my TPN (task positive network) and got me away from the self-criticism of the DMN (default mode network). By understanding how my neural pathways function, I can build a practice of enabling a mental state of ease where I can more freely work with hard emotions, playfully.
I nested my play with other practical goals of exercising, and entertained multiple play types with one activity.
I worked with my emotions over the course of the walk, using it as playful observer space in my imagination to walk through the weirdness of my dream space
When I was a kid, I used to play a game of walking around my house with a hand mirror. I pretended that I was navigating my house by walking on my ceiling. Sometimes on a long walk, I play a similar imagination game where I envision my own overlaid world that is happening concurrent to reality. Here, I can re-imagine this walk that I am on as a quest for answers about whatever is bothering me. After 5 miles and a few discoveries in my local neighborhoods and in my imagined reality, I find myself back at home feeling very much unlike the me who woke up in my bed this morning.How could I be? I spent 5 miles walking around the liminal place and I am no longer who I was when I set out 2 hours earlier. I found a BRIDGE with play to a state of mental and emotional ease.
When I got home, I was also inspired to BRIDGE across time and revisit my initial influencer Dr. Stuart Brown's TED Talk about the nature of play. Stuart Brown is responsible for the creation of the original 8 play types, with my addition of the 9th play type the observer. He is a deep well of knowledge about the biological, psychological, sociological, anthropological and historical benefits of play. Check out the video below to see my days story, where I share a few minutes of the TED Talk that got me hooked on this subject.
Born to be WILD
Running with the inspiration re-found with Stuart Brown and his noticing of Play in animals, today I am asking : how will you play WILDLY? As we grow older, we become less and less in touch with the natural world around us and the WILD ways in which it ebbs and flows naturally. If the nature of the world is inherently Playful, where can we remember this nature and allow ourselves to be more WILD in Play, in our lives? This may be an expression of movement for you, or the seeking of something that contains a quality of WILDNESS. However you choose to play today, let your WILD side explore and see what comes naturally. Bridge differences like the polar bear and the husky through playful exploration with the world around you. This is your permission to be carefree and experimental and WILD.
I can't wait to see what you come up with today! I will catch you back here tomorrow for Day 26 of the #playyourwaychallenge.
Have some great virtual examples of WILD playing? Tag me @eastonsmith on IG! I love to share as many examples as I can each day for everyone following along.