Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Wisdom of Play
Category:
Spirit
"The more we feel comfortable with the idea that our personal success hinges on the success of those around us, the easier it is to be empathetic and of service to those we love and care about." —Brady Gill

If mindfulness is being in love with the present moment, then play is the most fun access point to that state. In their upcoming workshop, The Power of Play and Human Connection in the Digital Age, Adam Smiley Poswolsky (pictured right) and Brady Gill (below) create a tech-free “playshop” designed to awaken our creative potential and illuminate the wisdom and grace available when we intentionally bring play and playfulness into our lives and our work.

Adam, a millennial workplace expert and the best-selling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough and Brady, a writer/performer and camp director of Camp Anywhere, a summer camp for grown-ups, share more with Esalen News.

Esalen News: How is play healthy for the brain and our happiness?

Adam: Scientists have shown that the experience of play changes connections of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which regulates emotions, planning and problem-solving. This is why childhood play is so important. Play is an essential part of healthy brain development, positively impacting all aspects of our future lives.

But what happens when we keep building those new connections of neurons long after childhood? Our brain functions improve. We are more creative. We build positive relationships. We feel more energetic and healthier.

Brady: When we are in a play state, we lose track of time and release inhibitions that keep us from being our best selves. We find ourselves feeling safer, able to take risks and make deep and authentic connections with ourselves and others. Playful connection is essential now when digital communication seems to be quickly replacing human contact and our lives are more and more defined by what we do, rather than who we are.

Esalen News: In addition to interactive games, playshops and creative writing, your workshop features elements of improv. What are some of the benefits of improv in our day-to-day lives?

Adam: Improv isn’t just a class you go to on Tuesday nights. It’s a leadership tool. It’s a way to be a better manager, colleague, partner and friend. As a public speaker, I’ve found that improv cultivates vulnerability and authenticity. You are more real, present and in the moment. You are more likely to connect with those around you more willing to make mistakes.

Brady: As an improviser, your job is to always make your fellow “performers” look good by sticking to the key tenant of improv, which is "yes, and." Whatever your fellow players throw your way, you always accept it and build on it. This is a hard thing to do in real life, but the more we feel comfortable with the idea that our personal success hinges on the success of those around us, the easier it is to be empathetic and of service to those we love and care about.

Esalen News: What other unique modes of play help adults?

Adam: There are many forms of play. What we all need to do is figure out what play looks like to us as individuals and then find ways to add it to our schedule or alchemize it with our day-to-day activities.

Brady: While some might find access to play in the more traditional approaches like sports or games, others my find their play by organizing their home, directing a big project, keeping a collection, dancing, reading a great book, storytelling, exploring a new city or even just having a humorous conversation. Everyone accesses play in different ways.

Esalen News: What has your work shown you in regards to what adults are really seeking today?

Adam: I’ve discovered that adults are spending too much time comparing themselves to others. Social media has created a 24/7 highlight reel that we can never truly live up to. We are seeking these Instagram-able peak experiences, but peak experiences actually happen when we’re offline and in the moment.

We have to stop chasing and start being. We are starving for offline, in-person connection and the permission to show up as we truly are, not as some filtered version of our personal brand or how we think we’re supposed to be.

Brady: One of the biggest and most damaging lies in our world is what it means to be a grown-up: grown-ups know everything and don't make mistakes; grown-ups are always striving to work harder to make more money and play is superfluous and only to be indulged in during the almost mythical times when all other responsibilities are done.

The most essential and crucial piece of wisdom found in any program I have led is giving adults the permission to let that go and to play. Most of us are so self-critical that it feels impossible to give ourselves that permission. But when someone gives it to us, we often eagerly accept it and find joy and wisdom in our access to play.

Esalen News: What key actions we can take after the workshop to be more mindful of our tech use?

Adam: The first action to take is to prioritize in-person relationships. When you’re on a hike or playing a game or having dinner with friends, leave your phone in the other room. If you want, take a selfie first but then put the phones away. Folks will be less distracted with their emails, Instagram stories and Tinder dates, and they will be more likely to connect and laugh with each other.

See what happens when you make your weekly check-in meetings at the office tech-free. Chances are, they will be more productive, your team will connect on a deeper level and you will come up with more innovative ideas.

Brady: By prioritizing time in your day for play and incorporating play into your daily routine, you will find more joy, ease, creativity, connection and peace in your life. Take time to think about how you like to play. If that's hard to do, think back to when you were a child and ask that part of you how they most like to play. More than likely, not much has changed.

Adam and Brady will be teaching The Power of Play and Human Connection in the Digital Age at Esalen the weekend of March 20–22, 2020.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

The Wisdom of Play

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Spirit
"The more we feel comfortable with the idea that our personal success hinges on the success of those around us, the easier it is to be empathetic and of service to those we love and care about." —Brady Gill

If mindfulness is being in love with the present moment, then play is the most fun access point to that state. In their upcoming workshop, The Power of Play and Human Connection in the Digital Age, Adam Smiley Poswolsky (pictured right) and Brady Gill (below) create a tech-free “playshop” designed to awaken our creative potential and illuminate the wisdom and grace available when we intentionally bring play and playfulness into our lives and our work.

Adam, a millennial workplace expert and the best-selling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough and Brady, a writer/performer and camp director of Camp Anywhere, a summer camp for grown-ups, share more with Esalen News.

Esalen News: How is play healthy for the brain and our happiness?

Adam: Scientists have shown that the experience of play changes connections of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which regulates emotions, planning and problem-solving. This is why childhood play is so important. Play is an essential part of healthy brain development, positively impacting all aspects of our future lives.

But what happens when we keep building those new connections of neurons long after childhood? Our brain functions improve. We are more creative. We build positive relationships. We feel more energetic and healthier.

Brady: When we are in a play state, we lose track of time and release inhibitions that keep us from being our best selves. We find ourselves feeling safer, able to take risks and make deep and authentic connections with ourselves and others. Playful connection is essential now when digital communication seems to be quickly replacing human contact and our lives are more and more defined by what we do, rather than who we are.

Esalen News: In addition to interactive games, playshops and creative writing, your workshop features elements of improv. What are some of the benefits of improv in our day-to-day lives?

Adam: Improv isn’t just a class you go to on Tuesday nights. It’s a leadership tool. It’s a way to be a better manager, colleague, partner and friend. As a public speaker, I’ve found that improv cultivates vulnerability and authenticity. You are more real, present and in the moment. You are more likely to connect with those around you more willing to make mistakes.

Brady: As an improviser, your job is to always make your fellow “performers” look good by sticking to the key tenant of improv, which is "yes, and." Whatever your fellow players throw your way, you always accept it and build on it. This is a hard thing to do in real life, but the more we feel comfortable with the idea that our personal success hinges on the success of those around us, the easier it is to be empathetic and of service to those we love and care about.

Esalen News: What other unique modes of play help adults?

Adam: There are many forms of play. What we all need to do is figure out what play looks like to us as individuals and then find ways to add it to our schedule or alchemize it with our day-to-day activities.

Brady: While some might find access to play in the more traditional approaches like sports or games, others my find their play by organizing their home, directing a big project, keeping a collection, dancing, reading a great book, storytelling, exploring a new city or even just having a humorous conversation. Everyone accesses play in different ways.

Esalen News: What has your work shown you in regards to what adults are really seeking today?

Adam: I’ve discovered that adults are spending too much time comparing themselves to others. Social media has created a 24/7 highlight reel that we can never truly live up to. We are seeking these Instagram-able peak experiences, but peak experiences actually happen when we’re offline and in the moment.

We have to stop chasing and start being. We are starving for offline, in-person connection and the permission to show up as we truly are, not as some filtered version of our personal brand or how we think we’re supposed to be.

Brady: One of the biggest and most damaging lies in our world is what it means to be a grown-up: grown-ups know everything and don't make mistakes; grown-ups are always striving to work harder to make more money and play is superfluous and only to be indulged in during the almost mythical times when all other responsibilities are done.

The most essential and crucial piece of wisdom found in any program I have led is giving adults the permission to let that go and to play. Most of us are so self-critical that it feels impossible to give ourselves that permission. But when someone gives it to us, we often eagerly accept it and find joy and wisdom in our access to play.

Esalen News: What key actions we can take after the workshop to be more mindful of our tech use?

Adam: The first action to take is to prioritize in-person relationships. When you’re on a hike or playing a game or having dinner with friends, leave your phone in the other room. If you want, take a selfie first but then put the phones away. Folks will be less distracted with their emails, Instagram stories and Tinder dates, and they will be more likely to connect and laugh with each other.

See what happens when you make your weekly check-in meetings at the office tech-free. Chances are, they will be more productive, your team will connect on a deeper level and you will come up with more innovative ideas.

Brady: By prioritizing time in your day for play and incorporating play into your daily routine, you will find more joy, ease, creativity, connection and peace in your life. Take time to think about how you like to play. If that's hard to do, think back to when you were a child and ask that part of you how they most like to play. More than likely, not much has changed.

Adam and Brady will be teaching The Power of Play and Human Connection in the Digital Age at Esalen the weekend of March 20–22, 2020.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Wisdom of Play
Category:
Spirit

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About

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The Wisdom of Play

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