Izzi Tooinsky: The power of play | TheUnion.com

Izzi Tooinsky: The power of play

Izzi Tooinsky
Other Voices

Every once and a while I become amazed by some natural phenomena that indisputably supports the quality of our lives.

First it was natural eating and problems that arose from processed food. Then it was discovering the benefit of quieting my mind through simple meditation. Now, comfortably into my sixth decade, I’m shocked and delighted to be undeniably struck by the power of play.

Play. It’s as natural and necessary as sleep, touch, companionship. Play. It’s as ubiquitous as children, laughter, family. Play. It’s as accessible as water, light, soil. Play. It’s a great and humble activity that springs from our species like fruit from trees.

It has been known for ages that play reduces stress, fosters learning, and promotes problem solving. That’s why virtually every indigenous culture throughout time has encouraged hours and hours of play each day. The developing field of brain research affirms this indigenous wisdom in study after study. It proves that play has a powerful and positive effect on the brain’s structure and function, enhancing brain growth in the young and even creating new brain cells in the elderly and in victims of debilitating head traumas.

“How much do you play?” The answer is almost always, “Not enough.”

On a social level, the simple act of playing improves self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and personal and group decision making.

Play is not just for children. A wonderful quote from George Bernard Shaw goes, “We don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.”

Play is a lifelong ingredient in a well-lived life. If someone we know is miserable and at odds with themselves and those around them, ask this simple question; “How much do you play?” The answer is almost always, “Not enough.”

At that point it’s our responsibility as elders and guides to reach out our hands and offer, “Then let’s go play.”

Izzi Tooinsky lives in Penn Valley.

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