I could easily start this blog post out by offering, “Six Top Tips to Breaking Through Personal Barriers,” but it is a much longer story than that. Over the next few months, I will share steps to the process (A.K.A. Spiritual Toolbox tools) that I have taught with the most success, but the number one point to make, as with any Spiritual Toolbox tool is this: approach them creatively.
I don’t mean paint your way to happiness (although this has been known to work). I mean think out-of-the-box, and find approaches that resonate with you. If straightforward meditation isn’t your thing, try mindfulness, yoga, staring at the ocean or coloring books. If a gym membership doesn’t excite you, do some gardening or take a hike. Pretty much everything we do can be approached creatively – and, when you tailor something to work for you, it’s much more likely that you will continue working with it.
Contrary to popular belief, Breakthroughs do not have to come on the heels of Breakdowns. And, while they can spontaneously occur using any of the tools I share, combining them is flat-out guaranteed for growth. That leads me to the first tool to begin your journey of Breaking Through Personal Barriers: Welcoming Play.
Somehow, many of us have lost track of play. Seriously. When was the last time anyone reading this blew bubbles – unless you were at my recent workshop?
Breakthroughs occur when we are at our most authentic, raw selves. Our guard is down, and we are immersed in something intense, whether it is challenging or joyful. Having fun opens the Breakthrough channels for several reasons: first, there is no judgement – of others, how we think others judge us, and how we judge ourselves. It puts us back in that free, safe and innocent childhood space where letting go and being present was the only thing we knew. Second, when we laugh and play, we not only lose track of time, we lose track of conscious thinking – our brains react in beautiful ways, and our body responds with surges of wonderful chemical responses. There is an opening; an unclogged direct channel to the heart where wisdom resides – and the place where Breakthroughs are born.
Steps to Welcoming Play into Your World:
- Give yourself permission to have fun: many times we take life much too seriously, or don’t believe it’s “okay” to have fun. If it wasn’t okay, why would dedicated “play” time make us happier, healthier and more creative?(1)
- Understand the infinite ways: “Play” has a broad definition – in his book Play, author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, ‘…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” This might seem surprising until you consider everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming,’ writes Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play.
- Approach it Creatively: Call up the most playful experiences you can remember from childhood, and adapt them to your grown-up life: Did you have an imaginary world? Walk outside and name the rocks. Were squirt guns your thing? Go buy a few and find someone to squirt – who will want to squirt you back.
- Be “In-Joy”: Be playful with your partner, sing to your pet, make art, skim rocks, blow bubbles, catch fireflies, play with a child, draw in the sand, blow bubbles, play games, play an instrument, toss a ball, watch funny movies, splash water or roast marshmallows – and, remember to laugh.
- Surround yourself with “fun” friends: You know who they are – the ones who always can make you laugh, no matter what, with or without a glass of wine.
- Use Your Imagination; then Express it Creatively: What do you daydream about? Where would you like to travel or spend time? What are your favorite colors and sounds? What would you like to do that you’ve never done? Integrate these dreamy awakenings into your real world.
- Repeat Daily: Play is an essential practice that facilitates Breakthroughs. And, as they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Yours in having fun,