Practice Series: Remember the Pure Joy of Play


The theme for this month's Practice Series is PLAY

As adults, many of us view play as a frivolous pastime and a distraction from the serious business of living. As a result we tend to split play off from daily life and relegate it to weekends and vacations once our work is done. But play is the most pure expression of our unbounded true nature. When play gets pushed to the margins, everything—our hearts, spirits, relationships, and, yes, even our work—suffers.

We’re launching our month of play with a practice designed to connect you with the pure joy and freedom you had as a child at play. Remembering the ways you loved to play as a child can begin to tickle and unleash that play drive until it becomes irrepressible—no matter how buried it’s gotten over the years. This 5-minute reflection exercise will help unearth that part of you that’s ready to burst with giggles and wriggle with delight, because it KNOWS life can be lived as play.


  1. Find a comfortable spot and take some deep, relaxing breaths all the way down to your toes.
  2. Think of times as a child when you were lost in play. Scan through different ages, seasons, and places. Maybe you were playing in snow, rain, or on the beach. Maybe you were alone, with friends or family, inside the house or out in nature.
  3. What were some of your favorite ways of playing? What did you love about them? How did you feel when you were playing?
  4. How does it feel now just to think about it?
  5. When is the last time you played that way?
  6. Extra credit: Play that way this week.

Tell us: What was one of your favorite ways to play as a kid? Please share in the comments below! 

“Dancing in the rain” photo by Fred Mancosu, Flickr (CC)

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Gwen Gordon


Gwen Gordon is an Emmy-winning writer and creative director who began a life of play building Muppets for “Sesame Street.” She has been an artist-in-residence in settings ranging from the MIT Media Lab and Xerox PARC to San Quentin Prison. Gwen earned her master’s degree in philosophy and is a pioneer in the field of adult developmental play, publishing and teaching widely on the subject, including for the films “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” and “The Story of Stuff.” She blogs for Huffington Post and is producing a PBS special called "NOW Playing." Gwen is in the process of developing programs and coaching services for people who are interested in unleashing their playful true nature. Sign up HERE if you’re interested.


'Practice Series: Remember the Pure Joy of Play' have 3 comments

  1. Anna Befort

    July 6, 2015 @ 12:03 pm Anna Befort

    I loved to climb trees as a kid. I’d spend hours sitting in tree branches watching the world, writing poems, and imagining stories. Guess it’s time for me to climb a tree this week!


    • July 6, 2015 @ 9:46 pm Gwen

      What a great place to write a poem and imagine a story. If you don’t end up finding a tree to climb this week, you might tap into the same joy by finding a new vantage point for writing and imagining. The top of a hill? A rooftop? A hole in a tree? btw: I loved climbing trees as a kid too!


  2. July 12, 2015 @ 4:08 pm Wendy McCulley

    What I loved best as a kid was having my feet squishing through anything, which, on a farm, included a lot of material; the sand of the driveway, the mud of the ditches, the chaff of the corn, the clover of the fields, the creek that ran through our property. I have always used my body to make contact with nature. My play this week, per your prompt, was to walk down to the river and bury my feet, first in the soft, fine sand at the edge of the water, and then into the water to enjoy the sensual suctioning of my feet into the river bed.


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