Easy Ways You Can Turn Play and Work into a Sacred Marriage!
Even if you cannot change your outer circumstances, YOU are always available and are an astonishing tool to make your work feel like play!
The recent World Cup Football in Brazil intrigues me and prompts me to wonder if we as human beings might be ready to consider the possibility to see work and play as equal. Millions of people worldwide watched the football games, spoke about it, and engaged in it. We all were looking at how a group of selected people played together as a team and gained a great deal of money and attention by doing so.
Does your work feel like play?
Imagine what the consequences could be if we equalize work and play.
Watching a Football game
We will use the metaphor of football as a story to clarify the relationship between play and work.
Imagine you are in front of a big screen and you are watching a football play between Argentina and the Netherlands. You feel the joy of the players; they greet each other with respect and dignity. The game starts, you are at the edge of your seat, so exciting, and you seem to have to look at different sides at the same time, so much is happening. You feel the energy of the players. It is full of joy and excitement. The energy is contagious. This is so beautiful—the two teams respect each other and give each other space to play. You like it, what a pleasure to watch. The first half of the game is gone before you have even checked the time. The goalkeepers have done amazing work, no ball entered their goals. You feel fulfilled and happy.
A football match is worth seeing when there is space for playing, when the football players have fun and engage with the ball. Sometimes they visibly work hard in order not to let the ball enter their goal or to make a goal, and mostly that generates less excitement and inspiration in the spectators.
We know they play with a set of rules in their minds and it seems as if the difference is made when players are able to transcend the box of rules and catch the attention of the public. They do something more than what you expect; they create the circumstances for play, for enjoyment, for creativity.
What is needed for a football team to establish this?
Underneath all of this, from my perspective, are again the Harmonizer Souls who hold the space for this to be possible. Michael Newton, the regression hypnotherapist, reminds us of this amazing specific group of souls that are able to transform negative energy. His information arises from his far-reaching research into the afterlife.
A coach can be an amazing Harmonizer Soul, not doing anything the moment of the play itself, though holding space, transmuting negativity, and trusting the strength and courage of the players. And there are many more Harmonizer Souls at work, mostly invisible, who make the play worth looking at and prepare the right conditions. The more playfulness those Harmonizer Souls have, the easier their tasks.
The outer circumstances are important to create space for work to become play, and I am curious what the inner circumstances are.
Dismantling Shame and Self-Judgment
Where are you on the work-play continuum?
I truly believe work and play are equal, and for a while I really thought I was walking my talk. Then recently I discovered how much shame is attached to this experience of work as play, of life as easy and pleasurable, of accomplishments as effortless. Does that resonate with you?
This short story exemplifies my undercover shame and self-judgment.
We are on vacation. I am crafting on a blog article and feeling really happy and excited. I feel how a great deal of inspiration flows through me. It is effortless and joyful. At a certain moment my friend asks me if I want an ice-cream. I get completely confused, I look at her, I don’t answer her question and continue my work. In the moment I perceive how I feel more constricted, there is less energy flow.
A few hours after this incident, my friend gently inquires what happened with me and why I did not answer her when she asked if I wanted an ice cream.
I have no idea, and it takes me hours to realize that what I perceived was shame. Excruciating shame about who I am surfaces. This shame is related to my work, that what I am doing is not okay when it is easy and pleasurable. My work is not worth speaking about when I am not tired and when I experience my work as play.
Brené Brown is one of the TED talks’ darlings, and she provides us with a great deal of research around shame. Work is definitely an area where we are susceptible to shame. Shame appears when we do not fit in, when we do not obey the collective beliefs.
I tap into underlying beliefs, beliefs that are rooted deep into my system. Work is not play, and if your work is play, it will not be serious enough to even mention. Yet I am really questioning this belief. Is that really true?
As I sit with this question, I begin to realize that this belief covers unmet needs. We all have unmet needs, this is inherent to the body-mind we choose to partner with. My needs seem to be about appreciation and recognition. Will I invalidate the approval I so strongly need by playing my work and creating my play?
Let’s go back to the football play. We have the most fun when the players really enjoy and play on the field. We approve of them more when they play than when it feels like hard work for them. So maybe we will get more approval when it seems that we don’t need it anymore, when we play and enjoy ourselves.
We can continue.
Have you ever judged an artist who is completely embodying a certain scene and playing with great pleasure?
Have you ever judged a builder who sings an aria and joyfully puts one stone on another?
Have you ever judged a teacher who skillfully uses stories in order to transmit geography and clearly has a lot of pleasure in what she is doing?
Those people are inspiring, we almost automatically feel joyful when we meet them.
We need pleasure and joy, we need to see and be seen in our happiness.
And the way in which our soul wants this partnership to happen is really through play. Through play the soul can look through the eyes of the body-mind. Through play there is a dance happening between your soul and this sacred body-mind, and you learn how your hearts can beat as one. Through play there is space created in this body-mind, spaciousness feels like pleasure. Play stimulates the production of joy molecules like endorphins that chemically create bliss in our bodies.
Dismantling our shame and self-judgment are a foundation on which we can apply simple steps to affect our outer circumstances.
Five easy tips: S.M.I.L.E.
One word and five easy tips to offer you more play in your daily work. Let us start at the beginning. You are the only one who is with you all the time when you are working. You are in any moment able to make simple new choices to include more play in your work.
S = Smile
M= Move your sacred body
I= Inspire and Expire, breath
L= Listen to your needs
E= Eye contact, eyes are the doorway to the soul
Smile is the key word and our first tip. You can try it in this very moment. Experience how it feels when you smile, your belly opens up instantaneously. Let go of the smile and feel the difference. Your energy field feels more contained, there is less spaciousness.
Move on a regular basis, each time you remember. These movements can be very subtle, and still your physical body will love it and cherish you with pleasure.
Inspire and expire—we so often forget to deeply breathe in and out. The air is free and available in abundance for each of us. Consciously breathing nourishes your physical body and charges your energy field. There is more playfulness. There is another meaning of inspire, which will effortlessly accompany your breathing. You inspire, you become inspirational.
Listen to your needs. Everybody has needs, and whatever we do is to meet those needs. When you learn to listen to your needs, you create the ability to find new strategies to fulfill them and add play to your current work situation.
Eye contact, as eyes are the doorway to the soul. Do you remember the last time you looked someone in the eyes and how that filled you with pleasure? We often are scared to look someone in the eyes, and maybe we can give it a try and see if that brings more play in our work.
The sacred marriage between play and work is an invitation for you to access more of your potential through this amazing partnership between your soul and this body-mind, which is at your disposal to experience life in this human reality. The ‘I’—that is really ‘you’—dances and radiates.
The foundation you need to explore this play-work continuum is time to carefully examine your beliefs around the meeting of play and work. Discover the shame that often accompanies these beliefs. Dare to become shame resilient and question these beliefs.
Your outer circumstances might not yet be ideal to experience joy at work, yet there is always the presence of YOU and a great deal you can do through this amazing simple tool S.M.I.L.E.
After all, play is contagious and inspiring.
How do you add more play into your work?
Simply S.M.I.L.E. !
The next article will be about how to build Cathedrals and change the perspective of our work. You can subscribe to the website and become part of our laboratory for new structures and navigation into the unknown.
August 25th, 2014
VEERLE DE BOCK is a physician, healer, facilitator, trainer, coach and author of the trilogy, Becoming What is Changing. She spent nearly three decades of her life as a physician specializing in geriatric care, including a 21-year career as department head in an Antwerp regional hospital. In 2003, she began her study as an energetic healer, teacher, process facilitator and supervisor at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, and since 2007 has been leading many other trainees to master these same skills. In 2010 she was trained in the practice of Dynamic Facilitation by Jim Rough, which she now incorporates into her workshops and training sessions. In 2012 she decided to devote her work exclusively to writing, facilitation and coaching. That same year, she devised a new integrative practice of facilitation she calls ‘Guest House Facilitation’, that helps teams learn how to listen and utilise both the inner and outer processes within their organisation, to see it as a dynamic and living organism, and to reconnect to its intrinsic purpose and intention. Her book, Becoming What is Changing: Exposition, is the first part of a trilogy aimed at managers, team leaders and responsible employees who wish to bring this kind of transformation into the workplace, so they can create an environment where people are happy, satisfied and continuously growing.
Contact Veerle about the book, or to discuss coaching/facilitation for your organisation at: