Day #7: Adding Playfulness to Mindfulness to (En)Lighten the 'F' Up!
Why so serious?
The science showing the many levels of benefits we can obtain from mindfulness practice is trending exponentially. From evidence on the positive impact mindfulness has on our brain chemistry and genes, to the (re)wiring in our brains and effective functioning of our body. Mindfulness helps us level up our performance, as well as our health, wellbeing, and relationships.
These benefits become even more important when we see the science showing downward trends on our levels of distractibility and attention. No longer are attention challenges at dysfunctional levels for developing children. Now, we are seeing adults developing attentional disorders later in life - irrespective of whether they had challenges as a child. Scientists believe our modern and hyper stimulating environment is playing a large role in this trend. Given mindfulness helps train our attention and address these problematic trends, the practice is no longer on the fringe. Mindfulness practice is now quite mainstream.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It makes sense, then, that mindfulness practice is serious business. Businesses, schools and consultants are serious about educating people on the benefits of mindfulness and importance of regular practice. I'm included in this group - teaching mindfulness to corporates in my own business (take a breather here), as a mindfulness teacher at Monash University in the School of Medicine, as an associate with the successful not-for-profit Smiling Mind, and through the social enterprise - The Yoga Squat.
But, with all the seriousness - are we overlooking the value of playfulness in mindfulness?
Playfulness, Playfulness, Playfulness
I have found it so important to my own mindfulness practice to ensure I bring a healthy splash of playfulness. I learned that having too much seriousness when approaching and during my mindfulness practice was setting up expectations for what my practice 'should' be like, and a more stern attitude towards myself if I noticed my mind was busy or silly during my mindfulness practice. These consequences of too much seriousness made it more challenging for me to make the time to invest in practice. I wasn't making it possible for me to just enjoy the practice - opening up to my experiences. Instead, I would slide into a more tense and judgmental state that contrast with the essence of what mindfulness practice should be cultivating. I'm not alone here, either. I have workshop participants and coaching clients who have shared similar challenges.
That's why, when I teach mindfulness I share that bringing playfulness to practice can be incredibly important. Experimenting in each practice whether a childlike curiosity and sense of play can help us (En)Lighten Up! our practice. When we can cultivate this, we have a better chance of establishing a more regular or routine practice. When we have a more regular practice, all the serious benefits and serious challenges we are addressing by practicing, are more readily available for us to obtain.
With that in mind, here's an incredibly playful mindfulness practice I encourage you to have a look at and listen to. Have some fun with your mindfulness if it will help you to soften a serious attitude and (En)Lighten Up!