Deep Play

This is a post I wrote a few years ago but it felt a good time to repost with the work I am currently doing.

Play is a natural part of a child’s life, it is the way they make sense of the world. So if that is the case is there a connection between play and spirituality? I’ve been exploring this recently and will post more about it over the coming weeks.

One suggestion is that there is a key link between spirituality and Deep play or what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow. Deep play or Flow is differentiated from general play by the intensity of the engagement and has 3 key strands within it.

  1. Absorbtion – the child looses a sense of time and the world around them.
  2. Non Attachment – the child becomes detatched from a fixed sense of self and from material things.
  3. Transcendence – a sense of stepping out of yourself while playing

This description of Deep play could equally be a partial description of spirituality.

So if children are born with an inate sense of spirituality and play is an intrinsic part of a child’s experience then is there a need for more opportunities for deep play in work with children? Recognising of course that you can’t force a child into deep play or predict when it will happen. But in our programmed lives the space for deep play is often squeezed out.

At home I give the boys as much chance to create deep play as I can – sometimes it occurs sometimes it doesn’t. But within a home environment there is the space to do this. What I haven’t fully worked out is how I create the same space in a junior church group or other.

If you have any ideas or thoughts let me know!

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