I am literally buzzing with inspiration and creative mojo right now. No, it’s not my morning coffee (I’m a decaf gal). It’s a creative energy high from spending an evening guiding a group of 20 beautiful people through one of my Art Night Out classes. Many of the attendees claimed not to be artistic. And yet, they all went home with amazing artwork that they made in community with each other. And they all experienced some aspect of creative play.
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, and shame.” – Brene Brown
I love this quote because it so succinctly and effectively summarizes my beliefs about the importance of creative play. If you have attended one of my classes you know that they are not the traditional “paint night” classes where everyone creates the same painting. They’re messy, force you to step outside of your comfort zone a bit, and demand that you keep an open mind. That’s because I have a specific intention in mind. I want you to experience at least some of the benefits that come from straight-up creative play. And by creative play I mean making art just for the fun of it. I’m talking about the benefits from the experience, not the finished piece. I believe the juice is in the journey, not the destination.
So today, I want to share with you five (of the many) reasons that creative play is essential to your health and the health of the planet.
“Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your soul.” – Alice Walker
1. Creative play lets your soul speak. I’m referring to my subconscious mind as my soul here. You can sub in any word you want. The point is that when you allow yourself to stop thinking and relax into a playful mindset (or a non-mind mode), your subconscious mind finally has the opportunity to express itself. I hear all the time that people are surprised and amazed by what shows up in this process. This can be very cathartic and offer a huge emotional release. So often we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we never allow ourselves time to process, digest, decompress, or listen to what our soul is trying to tell us. Much like meditation, creative play can do this for you – and it often feels more accessible that sitting on a cushion following your breath. get out a notebook and some crayons and let your soul guide you for a while. It works wonders for everything in your life.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
2. Creative play connects you to your inner child. Children are creative geniuses. Think about it – kids spend most of their time slipping between imaginary worlds and reality with ease. When posed with a problem, the sky is the limit! Need to move a car with a flat tire? Why not tie ropes to a pet pterodactyl to come and lift the car to where you need it to go? I’m not saying you toss out the pet dinosaur card in your next corporate brainstorming session, but creative play has been proven to boost your problem solving skills. And I’d add that a playful approach to problem solving can make all the difference no matter what your age. Just as a child can become lost in a game, so adults can become lost in a problem solving state once they have left their preconceptions behind.
“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that…” ~Alan Watts
3. Creative play connects you to the natural world. The natural world is nothing if not creative and generative. Procreation is the name of the game for most species. We live in a Universe that is Creative by Nature, meaning that it is constantly changing, evolving and creating new things. Each human being is a unique expression of that creativity. We are made of the same stuff. We are innately creative beings. We were all born with the potential to be creative, to participate in the remaking of our world. And it’s not limited to just the birds and the bees. Allowing yourself to regularly experience creative play opens the floodgates to this natural flow of creative energy. Chances are you’ve experienced being in this “flow” at some point in your life. Tap in and allow yourself to be inspired, energized, and rejuvenated.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
4. Creative play builds self-confidence. Creative play demands that you take risks, be vulnerable, make mistakes, be flexible, and dream big. Trying and failing, expressing yourself, and working through challenges all result in confidence building – even when you play alone. The benefits are compounded when you engage in creative play with others. Human beings are born with enormous potential, but we need mindful observation, imitation, practice, experience and interaction with others and our environment to develop that potential into skills we use with confidence. This is especially true for creativity and imagination. By engaging in creative play, you are building those creative muscles and training your brain to be adaptable, trust your intuition, and lean into your innate creativity.
“There’s nothing in the future we need rush towards, all the answers we seek can be found right here, right now, as we become more conscious and mindful of how we are already participating in a universal symphony of innovative activity, every moment of our lives.” – Christopher Chase
5. Creative play connects you to the present moment. Most people don’t realize how creative they already are (and have the potential to be). I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I’m not artistic.” or “I’m not creative.” I believe this is because we live in a culture that celebrates creative productions, not the creative process or each being’s creative potential. Creative play releases endorphins just like exercise. When you allow yourself to engage in creative play, you retrain your brain to value relationships and process over achievement and productivity. You are reinforcing the idea that by slowing down and mindfully attending to (and honoring) the present moment, we are able to solve most of our problems. You are also tapping into an innate intelligence that is supporting you every step of the way.
Feel like you need some more creative play in your life? I’d be delighted if you’d come play with me! Check out my upcoming classes, camps and retreats to enjoy these and many more benefits of creative play!