Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Hey, Lovelies! Happy October!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Astra Rebecca Lozano, and I’m the creator of Yay! Neuroplasticity Coaching. After healing from a lifetime of debilitating chronic illness and trauma by using neural retraining, fun, and play, I now get to help others do the same!
Welcome to the bi-monthly blog The Pursuit of Play: a strange journey to health and wholeness through laughter, fun, and whimsy!
Over the next few months, I will be discussing the science of play and how to access it in your daily life. Along with that, I will be hosting FREE Pursuit of Play/ Fun Challenges on Instagram LIVE every week on Tuesday at 11 PT/ 2 ET to help you get those wheels of play turning (for more on this week’s challenge see bottom paragraph or find me on IG @yayneuroplasticity). And if that’s not enough fun for you, within the next couple of months, I will be hosting "Play on a Whim" classes - as your Healing Hostess and attending Playologist, I will help guide and support you in finding your personal brand of whimsy, silliness, and fun through both the technical and conceptual sides! Hooray! Here’s to more healing tools and a wacky healing community!
Ready to learn some stuff?
Grown Up Play
There has been quite a bit of research done on the importance of play when it comes to children’s brains, but what about adults? Isn’t that just as important? Heck yes, it is!
It has been proven that play is not only beneficial for children, it is also critical for adults. Joseph Chilton Pearce, human and child development and author said, Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold. Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain function, jumpstart creativity, improve memory, stimulate the growth of the prefrontal cortex, and has been shown to trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells. Sounds amazing, especially in correlation with neural retraining and healing from limbic system dysfunction, right?!
Using Play To Propel You Forward
So after hearing all of this, what is it in adults that keeps us from playing without inhibitions?
One thing that may often stop us is that we, as adults, get very set on who we are and the types of activities we do and do not like. The very essence of play is to experience lightness and freedom. Who wouldn’t want that in our days?
Adding play and fun into your daily neural retraining practice can be the thing that propels you into your dream life! It definitely was for me. I had very extreme symptoms, so to rewire those, I combated them with extreme play and fun, and to my own amusement, it worked!
I look at it like this: with neural retraining, we are swinging the pendulum to the side of extreme positivity because our limbic systems have swung it to the side of extreme negativity for so long. Play is no different. If we want more play and fun in our lives, we must swing the pendulum to the side of extreme whimsy.
So Many Ways To Play
Stuart Brown, MD, author of the book, “Play,” outlined the five play archetypes that he observed during his years of research. In his TED Talk, entitled “Play is More Than Just Fun” he discussed in depth the following five types of play:
Rough and tumble play is a great way to learn for everybody, but there is no question it is immensely important for children’s cognitive development. Kids learn boundaries (Don’t sit on your sister, Joey!!!!), healthy risk-taking (sometimes learned the hard way), and physical mastery by learning what their bodies are capable of. There is also the social aspect and developing emotional intelligence as a result. We need a little rough and tumble, too, to stretch ourselves and our boundaries. Think of things like diving, tug-of-war, and any kind of game with a ball! And I bet you can expand on that *wink wink.*
No, there are no ritual sacrifices involved here. Some people are all rough and tumble, and some would rather engage their cerebral cortex when they play. Chess, board games, and activities or sports with set rules and structures are all common examples of ritual play. This sort of play sparks our creativity as we design, and engages our brain as we strategize a winning move. It is, above all, social in that ritual games and activities bring people together for a common purpose or goal. Yay! We won! Or even if we didn't - wasn't it great?!
This kind of play is when you use your imagination. Can you remember the unbridled fun of childhood when we let our imaginations run free? Things like coloring, storytelling, painting, drawing, crafting, and acting, as well as comedy and improv all expand our imaginations through play.
Why does everybody love trampolines? Because bouncing and flying is fun, helllllo! Dr. Brown defines body play as a spontaneous desire to get ourselves out of gravity. How much fun is this form of play?! Yoga, Pilates, hiking, whitewater rafting, riding roller coasters, mountain climbing, surfing, and snorkeling all fit the mold of body play.
Remember the lego set or nano-pet you got for Christmas one year? Of course you do! Object play can be anything from building with Legos, to playing with Jenga blocks, to building fortresses (way cool!), and you might as well toss snowball fights into this category, provided you have snow, of course. Manipulation of objects, building, and designing all fall into the object play category.
The ways you can play are only limited by your imagination! But beware of the side effects. These may include (but are not limited to): improved cognitive functioning, being able to deal with stress with greater ease and fluidity, creative thinking, childlike exuberance, and laughing more often. Experiment to find what works for you! You’ll definitely have more fun. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Ready for a Fun Challenge?
Now that you took the whirlwind tour of the five types of play, I’ve got a surprise for ye! This week’s Pursuit of Play Challenge is all about imaginative play. Are you ready?
This week, I want you to walk and talk (with extra stars for dressing) like a pirate for 5-60 minutes. (You might find you’re really good at it!) Carve out a time in your schedule to really connect with your inner swashbuckling scalawag and see where your imagination takes you! I triple dog dare you NOT to laugh!
**Starting on Tuesday the 20th at 11 PT/ 2 ET, tune into IGTV (Instagram Live) for our weekly Pursuit of Play /Fun Challenge! On the 20th, we will be exploring object play by building blanket forts! Whaaaat?!