There’s a certain way of relating to life that I try and come back to again and again. It’s something that we often lose as adults along the way as life gets filled with overflowing and endless list of “to-dos.” It’s not our fault, our brains are wired to make life routine, getting us disconnected from the wonders of everyday life. Hafiz, a 14th century poet and mystic, sums up this way of relating to life best:
Has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of Don’ts
Not the God who ever does anything weird
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me”
If you’ve followed my writings, you know that I believe bringing back a sense of playfulness into our lives is a critical factor in our mental health. Play is important to with ourselves, in relationships, at work or with parenting. This isn’t something we can just think about because the reality is for many of us; we don’t practice it much and it goes against the grain.
The first thing is discovering what playfulness looks like in your life.
In order to get a sense of this follow this short practice:
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Bring the word “playfulness” up into your mind.
- Notice the thoughts or images that arise with it.
There are layers to this practice. For me, the first thing I saw was playing a game with my kids. Then I did the practice again and I saw spending time with friends, and as I did it again I saw that playfulness even applies to the difficult moments in my life.
Learning how to relate differently even to our difficult emotions can be thought of in the form of dancing with them as Hafiz writes. We can learn to pay attention a difficult feeling such as stress, anxiety, anger and fear with a sense of warmth and openness.
Then what happens? Our mind says, “No, no, no” let’s get away from this and tries to find refuge in alternate ways of avoidance (e.g., shutting down, drinking, smoking, anxious thinking, etc…). When this happens we can think of this as if we’ve just swung our partner out and now it’s time to gently and gracefully bring him or her back in and “be with” the feeling that’s there.
This is a deeper layer of play and we can practice this graceful playing and dancing with what’s difficult in just small moments as we’re able. This is ultimately a path toward creating a more integrated and healthy self and gives us a sense of self-reliance.
So, take this as an opportunity, a space in your life right now to get a sense if you’d like to bring more playfulness into your life? What would it look like and can you give yourself the opportunity to bring it into even the difficult moments?
Even bringing small moments of play back into your life can make a big difference.
As always, please share your thoughts, questions and stories below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.