I recently saw a wonderful video by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. The video, which you can watch below, deals with the topic of rumination. This is when your mind goes over a worrying thought repeatedly, without being able to let go of it. We've probably all experienced this at one time or another. When it happens, our minds have a hard time letting go.
Gretchen offers this solution: Break the cycle of rumination by distracting yourself with an activity that you find enjoyable. I couldn't agree more, Gretchen! There's a name for this kind of activity. It's called PLAY. In my second book, The Way of Play: Reclaiming Divine Fun and Celebration, I make the case for play as a spiritual path: "Meditators dream of attaining the single-pointed focus that young children experiendce naturally when they play. Spiritual aspirants long for hte rapture that defines moments of pure delight. Instead of working at spirituality, we can make far greater strides if we play at it."
One of the spiritual benefits of play is that it consumes our attention, drawing it away from unproductive thoughts and feelings. Another is that we "lose" ourselves in it. When we're engaged in an activity we enjoy--whether it involve physical activity, creative expression, connecting with nature, relaxation, or some other form of play--all our cares seem to dissipate, perhaps because the part of us that tends to ruminate just turns off for a while.
So, play can be our meditation, our therapy, and our teacher. It lets us break free of old patterns of thinking so that new ones can emerge. We celebrate the playful spirit that abides within each human being. Granted, it may be dormant in some of us, but it's not hard to find. The feelings that our favorite forms of play elicit in us get etched into our consciousness. When we think back to our greatest experiences of delight, of love and joy, and of inspiration, we are transported directly to our playful spirit, which is just awaiting this simple invitation: Won't you come out and play?
I'd love to hear from you: What are your favorite forms of play? If you have any great stories about the positive impact of play in your life, I'd love to hear them, and perhaps even share them in my Heaven on Earth newsletter.