Children and play
Have you ever observed how children wake up and just play? How they start their day quietly exploring, happy and content in their own company?
It’s something we adults can learn from. For most of our lives we’ve been domesticated away from playing when really, the practice of quietly playing can set you up for the day, and regular breaks to play or just watch the clouds in the sky can make SUCH a difference in your day.
Whether you like to play Angry Birds (like former British Prime Minister David Cameron), Candy Crush (like PSU CEO Neroli Jones) or build Lego like Soccer Icon David Beckham, play doesn’t just reduce stress and contribute to overall wellbeing, it’s an incredibly rich mindfulness tool.
Let’s keep this quiet play separate from physical play – we’re talking about starting your day mindfully, but in a way that is light and playful.
Physical play is a separate topic, here we’re talking about mind play rather than body play…
Play as a mindfulness tool
There’s a huge amount of psychology research material around the importance of play for both children and adults, but much of it focuses on the benefits and positive outcomes relating to stress, relationships and wellbeing etc.
What hasn’t been well documented is how play relates as a mindfulness tool. When I play candy crush in the mornings I just love it. It’s a quiet part of my day where I’m just me, not a wife / mother / grandmother / CEO and business owner – just me and the game. Each level of the game has a purpose, and for each game I set an intention and I celebrate the outcome. As I play I observe myself – why am I choosing to make that move? What is motivating me? Am I playing for more of the positives or fighting the negatives? What elements in this game can I see reflected in my day – ie is this game about precision and alignment or is it more about expansion and conversion?
And as I play I am stimulated by these questions as well as by the colours, the spatial reasoning and the wisdom that comes with my observations. Every next step I take in that game clearly adds up to a result and each one is completed with utter joy. I learn from the losses and I know when I’m stuck on a level for a spell that it will be reflected somewhere else in my life – somewhere I feel ‘stuck’ but with that awareness can now ‘unstick’. Play reveals thought and can be incredibly illuminating in a way that thinking something through often can’t reach or quite connect to.
At the end of my play I’m ready to be a part of the world and later when I meditate, I already have insight into the intention I will set for the day that is mine to create.
So you see, I don’t switch off when I play, I switch on…
What do you play? Please write in and share what starts your day and why it’s so great?
Personal Life Coach; Founder and CEO Paradigm Switch
Recently our CEO Neroli Jones, had the privilege of attending a prestigious HR summit in the Gold Coast which proved to be enlightening on many levels, one being the growth and acceptance with which meditation and mindfulness has been accepted into the workplace.
What might once have been judged as all a bit too ‘out there’ or ‘kooky’ within this environment has now become widely embraced as a proven technique to manage stress and enhance productivity.
INCREASE YOUR PERFORMANCE BY CALMING DOWN
The term “stress” was coined in 1942 by neuroscientists and was identified as a common life event placing physiological overload due to undue pressure. This potentially leads to long-lasting effects on our health and behaviour. Source
Think of an ocean that can be choppy on the surface, but is always calm underneath. In a similar way, stress works on the surface, on our frontal lobe of the brain provoking the fight/flight reflex. If we are to bypass it, we need to delve deeper. Sadly, we live most of our lives on the surface. This is where meditation comes in, allowing us to access this calmer part of our brain, by shutting down the limbic brain and frontal lobe.
Stop being busy by staying on the surface
While our fight or flight activation was important for survival, traditionally it was intended to be used only once a month or so. However today, in 2017 we tend to live there far too frequently - just like having our foot on the accelerator continuously, without using the brakes! Meditation helps us to take a break and heal.
With meditation our mind forces the body to slow down, allowing it the time to heal. Meditation lowers the body metabolic rate by 24%, while sleep lowers it by only 8%. When we meditate we cause the heart rate and lungs to slow down, as well as dropping our body temperature. This means less wear and tear on our body organs and cell mechanisms, less toxic chemicals are produced, more energy is saved and the natural processes of repair and rejuvenation are allowed to flow easily.
MEDITATION GIVES US PERSPECTIVE
As meditation is soothing our overheated metabolism and slowing down body function, it allows us to look inside and see how we have allowed ourselves to speed up in the first place. We are given a new perspective by becoming aware of our roles, how we have been taught, trained a
nd conditioned to act in set patterns without perhaps questioning them. Meditation first teaches us to be aware, and then gives us the capacity to slow down, take control, and focus.
Meditation promotes mental clarity and coherence, as shown when we have an MRI that can measure transcendental consciousness - a state of restful alertness or meditative state. The body is allowed time to repair, the mind can focus and our general state of wellbeing is brought back into balance.
It is no wonder the workplace has joined the rest of the world and is implementing the power of meditation. What works on an individual level is just as effective in a workplace.