As TJ progressed in her work as a trauma therapist and maternal mental health therapist, she was aware that there is an abundance of research and advocacy around the benefits of play for children. But, as TJ went hunting, she was dismayed by the lack of leadership and knowledge in teaching adults HOW to play. Everything was centered around increasing tolerance and not teaching humans how to be liberated into joy.
There was a conversation about it being “good” for adults but never any tools on how to teach adults how to play again—much less weaving it in as essential to our being and a primary thing we need for our mental health.
As a maternal mental health professional, TJ worked with many mothers who felt the pressure to play with their kids because it was “good for them.” But, when exploring if they themselves were playing, even while playing with their kids, she found many were not and in fact, had no idea how to.
TJ herself got burnt out by the “mindfulness” culture because while she appreciated the importance of stillness and breathwork, she couldn’t find any classes that taught active silliness and letting go. She didn’t want more coping skills, she wanted more abundant living skills. She didn’t want to increase her tolerance for hard shit, she wanted to increase her tolerance for laughter and stupidity. No matter where she turned, no one was offering what she needed. Classes felt about performance, control, skill, and perfection. She wanted community, joy, engagement, and liberation.
She wanted to play again and for this not to be seen as running away from mindfulness, but essential to livelihood and a core pillar in humanity. It was what would lead her to the “right” mindfulness for her that would allow for both stillness and abundance.
In continuing to dive into the research of play and using it with her clients in her clinical practice, she found it unlocked enormous potential in her clients and within herself. It turned coping skills upside down and integrated joy straight into the everyday.