Why play is vital to our wellbeing….
The beginning of a beautiful friendship….
I’m between the legs of a man I barely know, in fact, I met him this morning. I am strapped to him so tightly I have no option but to completely surrender to his control of my body. I can feel the rush of warm air whipping around me, there is no door, no seat and the floor is bare of any comfort. The air is getting thinner and its harder to breathe now. As we climb up into the clouds I begin to feel my body tense, my throat tightens and every one of my senses spark and crackle.
Dawn of reality….
In the next moment, the absurdity of my situation is realised and all I can do is laugh. On what planet was it ever ok to get into an aircraft with complete strangers, climb up until the ground below vanishes from sight and then just fall out of the damn thing into the pillow punch of the elements?
Skydiving is the most ridiculous of endeavours but oh my, it was just the most extraordinary experience! Not till my feet were hanging over the edge of the side panel did it actually dawn on me that I was about to do something in complete rebellion of every single fear and flight response my body was able to muster.
This is play, ok it’s a bit extreme, I’ll grant you that but it’s play nonetheless.
When brave meets fear….
When you are brave and meet your fear, assess it, thank it and then move past it, you create the perfect platform from which to experience one of life’s special gifts – complete and utter joy.
We become blocked by the fears that we’ve invented or decided as truth and in doing so, elevate the challenge to understanding the true intention behind fear. Fear is our body’s claxon, telling us to pay attention to our environment, to assess the risks and to act accordingly. It is not the stop sign that we often believe it to be.
Finding your play….
One of the best ways to begin to re-learn the message that our fear response is trying to communicate is through the act of play. If you have trouble recalling what play is – go back and ask your 7-year-old self, what does play look like? What was fun? What was thrilling? Our child-selves felt fear all the time and we can carry some of that fear around with us well into adulthood. Just about everything we did back then was new and unexplored, so it was all a bit scary. Back then, we just said it was exciting because we hadn’t yet developed the neural capacity to make rational judgement about new experiences. Mostly though, our child-selves mustered a lungful of brave and did it anyway. And here we are now, all grown up and having to be reminded how important it is to our wellbeing to play.
Experiencing fear when we get back on the ice rink for the first time in 20 years and then really feeling the joy of realising it is as thrilling as we remembered it; or getting back in the saddle for the first time in a decade and nourishing our body with the rhythm of a gentle canter; or delighting in the sensations of moulding a beautiful pot on the potter’s wheel for the first time. Whatever form our play takes, the challenge, the thrill and the joy of overcoming the fear nourishes our body, mind and soul and re-aligns our instinctual selves so we know again that fear, is just telling us to pay attention.
Be brave and go play somewhere new and exciting, your joy is waiting!
Safety first, please do not go jumping out of any old aircraft, the crew who looked after me that day were completely nuts but were true professionals to the core! If this is your kind of play, I can highly recommend Skydive Jersey