As children, play helped us stimulate creativity and release endorphins; it also nurtured critical thinking, personality development, and improved brain functionality and adaptive pathways. The benefits of play are far-reaching, but we tend to give up play as adults for more serious pursuits such as careers, relationships, and families - all of which are valid. However, making time for play as adults is truly a necessity—it allows us to tap into our creative minds and unwind from tight schedules and hectic lives. What if we could tap into play, and in turn, our creativity, in order to enhance not only our life experiences, professions, passions and relationships, but also our spirituality? It’s here, in this creative pause, where we’re able to settle into the present moment to find deeper spiritual meaning and connection.
Find Joy Through Play
Sometimes just observing children playing, listening to their self-talk or conversations with friends can transport us into their imaginative world, and in turn, cause us to stop and enjoy the moment. Play is more than just fun—it’s a spontaneous altered state. It empowers us to tap into our inner-child; to be flexible and creative thinkers and free-spirited beings. It provides an opportunity for pure joy that doesn’t require perfection or structure. Play is light and free-flowing and it unleashes our imagination and reconnects us with ourselves and our child-like ways of thinking and being. It’s this natural, altered state of play that opens us up to infinite possibilities.
Our imaginations invite us to breathe, dream, and be fully present to the wonder of it all. It can even become a spiritual practice of its own—but we have to choose it. Spirituality doesn’t have to focus on rumination or taking on a serious posture while contemplating the deeper questions. What if it could also encourage asking questions without needing definitive answers? Children are excellent teachers for this. They’re always wondering about the world: Why is the sky blue? Why do lions roar? What makes the earth spin? An imaginative spirit keeps them open to possibilities and grounds them in the present moment. Are you feeling disconnected to your creative and spiritual selves? Fear not! It is possible to foster reconnection again.
Embrace Creative Expression as a Spiritual Practice
Play can cultivate and encourage creative expression, that can take on many shapes and forms. However, if it’s purpose is more important than the act of actually doing it, it’s probably not play. There’s something to be said about creating just to create, versus creating for perfection. Remove any pressure from your play and creative expression—allow yourself to be fully present and enjoy the moment. In this way, artistic expression becomes accessible to anyone and everyone, because the creative process is focused on the journey of discovery, rather than how the final product should look. Whether you’re reconstructing a spiritual practice or diving in for the first time, here are some tips for creative expression to build connection:
- Move your body. Breathe, walk, yoga, pilates, hike, bike, surf, snorkel, jump. Moving your body in new ways reinvigorates the senses and opens you up mentally, physically, and spiritually to something new.
- Use your imagination. Live out your fantasies, let your imagination run wild, and make art. The process of creating can lead to a path of spiritual discovery. Color, draw, write, paint, craft, act, do improv—embrace all forms and see where they take you.
- Write down your dreams. Try keeping a dream journal to see what your imagination is telling you in your sleep and reflect on stories, images, or themes. In many ancient traditions, dreams were even believed to be prophecies from Spirit, and some think they can be potential portals to a spiritual world.
- Get outside. Walk barefoot on grass, meditate in the woods, or run on a beach—go wherever nature is most accessible to you. Nature is inherently grounding and healing; it allows you to connect to forces greater than yourself.
- Explore near and far. Travel opens the heart, broadens the mind, and fills life with amazing stories to share. If extensive travel isn’t an option at the moment, seek out inspiration and explore your own neighborhood or city. Its vibrancy just might surprise you. Consider taking an unfamiliar walking route, or try a new restaurant, park, or neighborhood. Pay attention to the streets, landscapes, and new and unfamiliar faces.
Creativity and play are effective ways to reconnect, celebrate, and nurture spiritual connection. They allow you to experience Spirit through your six senses—sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste, and the extrasensory intuition and perception of knowing without knowing why. Creativity invites you to see the world anew everyday. The act of creation itself expands time in unexplainable ways. Embrace wonder and seek out the magic happening all around—and then, turn inward (because it’s in you, too). Nurture your soul with imaginative and creative practices and journey forward to find deeper meaning and purpose.