Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Bernard L. De Koven
Bernard L. De Koven

Playfulness Is a Spiritual Practice

Playfulness is a reverse martial art. A peaceful art, the art of peace itself.

"Prayer wheels in Samye" via Wikimedia Commons
Source: "Prayer wheels in Samye" via Wikimedia Commons

Play is a thing of the spirit. Playfulness a spiritual practice. Toys and games are like prayer-wheels, more or less. More like player-wheels: tools to hold your mind to, to free your soul.

Play is without purpose. It is how we engage with our bodies, minds, each other, the world — for the fun in it, the joy of it. Even if we were playing with money, truly playing, it is not so much for the money as it is for the freedom from money, for a connection to community. Even when we are playing to win, the real victory is in being part of, or just bearing witness to, a moment of shared transcendence.

Being playful is what we do to stay in play, stay open, responsive, light, ready to engage or disengage as the moment dictates. Like playing with a puppy or small child. Kind of a reverse martial art. A peaceful art, the art of peace itself.

Being playful, the "very understanding of the purpose of games is redefined. Games are no longer about winning or even about cooperating. They are all and only about celebrating our capacity for having fun together." (see my article New Games — an Historical Perspective).

Playfulness is a practice that shapes our souls. It connects us. It is an act of belief in ourselves, the vehicle whose wheels are powered by our faith in life, bringing us to places of wonder, moments of joy. It is almost the last thing to leave us before we leave all together forever.

About the Author
Bernard L. De Koven

Bernard De Koven is the author of The Well-Played Game. He writes on theories of fun and playfulness and how they affect personal, interpersonal, community and institutional health.