(“ok……..so WHY is this all so important again?”
…because its FUN!
Any more questions?! OK….)
We were meant to move! MoveMENT! Our great Creator made us with joints and muscles and a whole support system through our nerves, circulatory and respiratory systems to enable that to happen. When we become couch potatoes or worse, when we’re forced to stop moving because of illness or injury, things start breaking down REAL fast. Atrophy (muscle breakdown) begins in as little as 2 days. If you’ve ever sustained an injury, surgery, or illness that has contained you in bed for any length of time, you likely understand this firsthand. All our bodily systems, all the way down to the cellular level, require movement to make things work efficiently.Moving in play or creativity takes us out of the sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight sliding us into the more calm, parasympathetic nervous system. As a culture, we typically are stuck in that fight or flight mode, where creativity (and a sense of peace!) is blocked. We need more space to hang out in the parasympathetic; our balancing system that helps nurture rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation.
Finding a passion of movement that you LOVE – that feels like PLAY – keeps you tied into a more centered space for nourishing your body. It receives the movement it needs to operate efficiently, and YOU receive the energized JAZZED feeling of doing something you LOVE to do.
Our brains are the most plastic (reformable) of any of the animal species. Even late in life, new pathways can be formed in the brain after brain injury, ie: stroke, traumatic brain injury. Those pathways occur through movement, placing ourselves in various sensory experiences that fire up brain responses- especially when we add JOY and meaning to it.
Studies done by Dr. Stuart Brown, play researcher at the National Institute for Play, has shown that “3 dimensional play” fires up the cerebellum like no other, sending impulses to the frontal lobe. Contextual memory is developed. Rat studies have shown that those kept isolated without play/game experiences limit their exploration when threatened, suggesting that play is important for our own SURVIVAL instincts. He is currently in conjunction with Stanford University, in which their Design School is recognizing the need for play in the corporate world to foster greater innovation in their ideas (as well as memory retention for those long meetings).
Play, at its very basic level, sets aside our monkey minds/our stink brains, giving it a rest from the stress we create for ourselves. Like laughter, tears, and SLEEP, it gives the peanut gallery a MUCH NEEDED rest!
But moreso, it puts our focus into the alpha/theta waves – the more relaxed and creative center. I’m sure you’ve all been in the mindset of anxiety, grief, or STRESS, in which it feels as though you’re locked into a corner without hope or answers. In this state, it seems almost RIDICULOUS to suggest play, of all things! “Who has time for that, when all this serious, important stuff is happening in my life”, right?!
Yet, when we give ourselves a rest, a chance to let go, take time to LAUGH or CRY or just BREATHE, enlightenment comes. I’m often amazed what GREAT ideas come out of my just waking moments – so much so lately that I have to keep a notebook by the bed. THESE are those theta brainwaves at work. They are full of creativity and innovation. Removing ourself from the situation quite often helps us to re-vision, re-imagine more hope and solutions – if not JUST for the needed rest and distraction.
Our psyche speaks to us in symbols and metaphor. It’s deeply hidden in the unconscious of our right brain. It won’t speak to us with language, words or rationality. Using art/dance helps to tap into that language to give us a clue beyond the language that turns repetitive circles in our brain.
We have been created by The Great Creator so by definition we are all creative beings. Which, by the way, does NOT mean we are all cut out to be Picasso’s. It is my opinion, though, that many of us have more ability than we give ourself credit for because we stopped VALUING it past childhood, so we stopped “practicing”. To me, it suggests rather, that we have creative ingenious ideas hiding within ALL of us. Everyone is DIFFERENT, therefore, what we produce is divinely creative! Whatever it is that you do – it opens avenues of endless pathways when we dedicate a PRACTICE of fun, explorational, NONJUDGEMENTAL creativity. When we tap into this creative, imaginal space, it connects us more deeply with the Divine.
The ancient, aboriginal Hopi Indian tribe’s (which preexisted Judaism and Christianity by thousands of years and still exist today) primary source of healing was through the Great Dance. It is never planned, always spontaneous, often happening in the mysteriousness of the evening around a campfire by the women, the shamans, of the tribe (and invited men). In the dance, they’d ignite the kudalini energy within (renamed in all religions/faiths, in Christianity, the Holy Spirit) – located within the 1st chakra – which they’d send out in “shakti spears” of energy to those in need of healing, generally those thought to “think or talk” too much! (Do you know any of those?!) As we’ve progressed through time towards traditional religions, more rules/restrictions appeared, which is an attempt to “tame/regulate” the natural intuitive wisdom/energy in plants, animals and women – the conduits to the Other World.
Humans have an innate desire for connection; to belong. We’re social creatures – even if we’re not outgoing, we have an innate desire to feel “a part of”.
Bringing people together in community, to a space in which we feel safe to let our guard down, explore, be silly and share vulnerability, breaks us open and connects us on a much deeper level. It takes away the shame and isolation that results from comparing, competing and perfectionism which are the major stumbling blocks of our creative genius. Instead, it breaks down the walls of insurmountable pain/shame and opens the door to possibility and enlightenment. Remember the old adage “misery loves company” VERY TRUE! Misery wants an ear because it EXPANDS when joined with another. And keeps you stuck there. Pain and discomfort, when experienced within a sacred, safe group whose ears hold compassion and lack of judgement can completely squash the shame, and ignite hopeful, creative answers and innovative life styles.
More importantly, however, playing in creative mediums is a direct connection to your core. Your Truth. And THAT connection, to core, to consciousness, to spirit, to Inner Child……is pure JOY. Inspiration.