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Play in Everyday Life

September 27, 2016

MiSPP is beginning a new chapter in student engagement that will take a clinical approach to programming.  Each month, students will have the opportunity to engage in activities on campus to deepen their understanding of one of the key Humanistic values to compliment and deepen their academic experience.  September’s theme is “Creativity.”  President Blau writes about the importance of play in a creative life.

President Diane Blau

Often one of the first activities to disappear in the life of a graduate student is play. Certainly the element of free play, if not already set aside when one reaches adulthood, is absent in daily life.  Yet play is an essential ingredient in the embodiment and promotion of creativity.

If I conducted a research study asking MiSPP students, “How do you play”? I suspect I would be met with “Play?  How am I supposed to fit that in?” However, as a young child, play was one of our first forms of unique expression and self-realization.

In this month of September when creativity is being highlighted at MiSPP, I invite you to consider what the experience of play means to you. Take a moment and recall your favorite play moments as a young child and how they felt for you. “Play is the free spirit of exploration, doing and being for its own pure joy” (Nachmonovitch, 1990, p. 43).

Can you see yourself engaged in play? Be there.

If you are a parent, especially of a young child, you are witness to this process all the time: being present in the moment, feeling free to be engaged and expressive, to contemplate, to be in process.

Watch a young child play and notice the suspension of time, the letting be and dance that unfolds. It has its own choreography generated moment by moment by exploration and discovery, examination and evaluation, inspiration and inspection.  This occurs in a non-linear universe of experimentation and innovation. Fuel for the soul, and a necessity for life.

I invite you to recapture these experiences and allow them to emanate from the core of who you are. Being at play, feeling free to express yourself, being present and in the moment are all qualities that enhance your creativity and as such, your health as a person and effectiveness as a clinician.

It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.(Winnicott, 1971)

Nachmonovitch, S. (1990). Free play. The power of improvisation in life and in the arts. NY: Putnam

Winnicott, D. (1971). Playing and reality. London: Tavistock