We often think of the seriousness of spirit as the opposite of play. But what if play is a central aspect instead?

Little monks at play / Photo: Sukanto Debnath

A colleague of mine came up with a wonderful project for her thesis: develop an adult play center.

No, she doesn’t plan to have a jungle gym, at least not that I know of.

But she will offer classes ranging from dance to making art, a cafe where people can just sit and chat (not sure about the allowance of computers), and a free space for people to do anything they’re playfully inclined to – keep your mind out of the gutter – like tumbling or playing hopscotch.

The idea is that we all are so caught up in work, family, and all of those daily to-do’s, that we rarely take time to truly play. And play, is in fact, a central part of life.

Sure, many adults might consider going to happy-hour play time, or taking trips to tropical islands as adult amusement. But what about just jumping on a trampoline or counting the stars? Sometimes, I think these forms of play can be even more fulfilling for adults than kids. And they can actually be an easy way to connect to nature, self, and spirit.

Along those lines, I recently ran across an article by William McKenzie about the role of play in different spiritual faiths. Here are a few excerpts of what religious leaders had to say:

Taoism

Amy Martin, Executive Director, Earth Rhythms; Writer/Editor, Moonlady Media:

Taoism refers often to the folly of striving, the appetite of acquisition that can never be sated…to be like a young child, in a natural state of joy, capable of wonder, seeing only love, is the highest state of man, says Lao Tze…The success of books like “1000 Places To See Before You Die” speaks of a widespread desire to experience more of life, to see the places that are so uniquely of this earthly existence, to experience them with the senses, seeing, hearing, feeling and even tasting what the Earth has to offer.

Christian – Baptist

Larry Bethune, Senior Pastor at the University Baptist Church, Austin

…The Bible reflects nonetheless a playful party tradition in the sense of joyful, self-forgetful celebration. This tradition of the feast which Jesus extended was rooted in the Sabbath tradition of the Hebrew scripture, a day of rest, re-creation, worship, and celebration, a day of grace rather than productivity, a day to be rather than do. Biblically speaking, our need for rest and play are deep-wired into our beings from the beginning of time.

Hare Krishna

Nityananda Chandra Das, Minister, ISKCON Kalachandji’s Hare Krishna Temple Dallas

In the Bhagavad Gita chapter 6.19, it is understood that leisure is a part of a balanced life, “He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.”…Our recreation becomes an offering to God if our thoughts are of God and/or our purpose is His purpose.

Now that I feel officially sanctioned to go play, I’m off!

How does play fit into your idea of spirit? Share your thoughts below.

Community Connection

Need more religious backing to enjoy a bit of play? Check out Yogis At Play: Spend 10 Minutes Doing Something Fun. Or if you plan to sit by the fire and play some tunes soon, check out Carlo Alcos’ article, Learn How To Play the Greatest Campfire Songs of All Time (For Free).

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