My research project for my MA in Applied Imagination focused on the relationship between play and personal transformation. As play is such a crucial part of our early development, I wondered if it continued to aid our development as adults. I was interested in how play could help to deepen our engagement with the world - at physical, emotional, psychological and even spiritual levels… If enlightened masters awaken to life as play, is it possible to play ourselves awake?
When I read the Infinite Play Manifesto now, some of it sounds clumsy, but I still feel very much aligned with its spirit:
Infinite Play is the recognition that we are in relationship to everything around us and that we can choose to reclaim that relationship as an opportunity for play.
I was interested in expanding the context of play to include more and more of life. At the time I was working in festivals and parties - running a fancy dress photobooth and making festival wear, while also meditating and studying Vedic philosophy. I loved the playfulness of the festival space and the depth of the meditation space and longed to bring them together somehow. I wanted to find ways to enable deep personal and spiritual enquiry in the spirit of play.
This quest is still alive within me. I feel that engaging with the mystery of who we are and what it means to be human is the most thrilling game there is… and the point of our existence. So now in my coaching practice I help people to play the game of their life a little better, whatever that means to them.
To aid in this, I have been playing with the development of an enquiry process that frames life as a game...
Who’s game is it anyway?
The first move is to get clear on what game you’re currently playing. Who created the rules?
Are you unconsciously playing a game installed by your family or society? Can you win at it? Do you even want to? If not, you are likely a pawn in someone else’s game…
What’s your game?
Once we have untangled ourselves from the rules that have been imposed upon us, the next question is what rules we consciously choose to live by… So what’s your game? What do you want from your life? What does winning at life look and feel like to you?
Once you’ve figured out the rules of your game and what you need to do to win, the final question is around your willingness to commit to playing your game.
So - are you playing hard enough?
Creating your own playing field isn’t just a concept, it requires constant vigilance and effort to keep defining the rules of your engagement with the world, especially when there are thousands of people whose game is to seduce and manipulate you.
The way I see it, playing your game is also playing your part, which is another crucial thing to consider - what part are you playing in the human drama? How are your actions playing into the power dynamics in society at large? Is your win someone else’s loss? Or does your play help to expand the playing field for others?
I think we need to collectively rewrite the game. And I think that starts with each of us becoming sovereign players in life. If we awaken to life as play and choose our terms of engagement with the world, we are less likely to become pawns in life-destroying games and more likely to start expanding the playing field for everyone.
The stakes are high. Our society thrives on rivalry and this combined with our ever-increasing technological capacity is a recipe for destruction. We’re currently playing a game that no-body can win…
So what’s your next move? How are you going to turn this game around? It’s time to get clear on your capacity to transform your reality and remember what you’re playing for. Don’t be a pawn in someone else’s game. Define the rules of your engagement with the world and play as hard as you can!