To "play" or not to "play."

Have you ever heard someone use the word "play" within new age circles? They practice something called "playing" in what appears to be a therapeutic endeavor. In traditional indigenous "medicine making" there is no such custom; it is something new which has developed in the mainstream "healing" communities. They use "play" with the hope they will cure the negativity in one's life. For these folks, negativity is something to eliminate. They don't seem to realize it has a place in the universe.  

During my 8 years working within Severed Hand, the land taught me many things.  One of the things I learned was this:


Photo credit; unknown.


Life is not something you "play" at, nor is practicing life via play conducive to healing. Life is a serious thing; it has a side to it that some people find so painful that they take their own lives, unable to withstand the agony of it. I do not pretend, or "play act," and I certainly would never encourage another to "play" in order to cure life's ills, either. I encourage myself to see things as they are and prepare myself for difficult truths by facing them head on and exploring them. Many times they are transmuted as my perception of them changes with a deeper look. But I do not wish for the complete end of negativity. I only seek balance and there is a reason for this.


Animals do not play once they reach a certain age. When animals are young, their play is how they learn to hunt, fight, breed, survive and dominate. "Play" for animals "can" be an expression of joy later in life but they are no longer "play acting." They are not pretending to be anything they are not. They do not need to. Animals by default are realists and I respect what they teach us by example. I am also aware I am a human being.  So I do not live or think "like an animal."  But, in many cases, I learn from nature what is best for "medicine." And if I know anything it is this: to "just play" or revisit your "inner child" as a therapeutic endeavor is counterproductive and maybe even a little unrealistic if one is seeking healing. Most folks need to grow up as it is. Most need to face reality; negativity isn't going away. It can't. It is one of the laws this universe it built upon, both in physicality as well as within the human consciousness.

This is not to be confused with a tradition known as the retrieval of lost fragments of the soul; an ancient method of healing based on the intervention and assistance of what we call spirits. It is an ancient form of practicing the discipline of where psychology meets the subconscious meets the "spirits. " Many times when a fragment is found by the spirits, it is found deep in childhood's memories. But as I always ask "what is a spirit?"  Is it our own subconscious interacting with us? Or is it a sovereign, autonomous and conscious energetic life form  interacting with us?  To be honest, I really don't care.  When I ask a "spirit" to intervene they do, and the healing works.  You can say it is my cultural dogma influencing my belief, and the beliefs of those who I work with, again, I don't really care.  It works.  People find healing.  "Medicine Making" is the primordial form of psychology as well the root of all "doctoring" and mainstream medicine. 

In my own experience, inner healing does not come from "acting." It does not come from "pretending." It does not come from patronizing people or telling them what they want to hear.  It does not even come from pure joy and light and happy thoughts, though that may be the result of deep healing and inner exploration. True healing can take you, many times, through absolute horror as you face your fears, guilt and memories of things you'd rather bury. In the end, healing comes from balance. And balance means a healthy level of dark and light. It means facing those shadows and fears and acknowledging they exist. It means understanding the destructive forces at work in both the inner worlds as well as the outer world. Because learning of these things allows one to then understand and inoculate against them, or use them, or view them in a constructive fashion. When we are spiritually whole (holy) we are balanced.  Ancient people felt all physical illness had a spiritual root. To be healed on the "inside" meant health blossomed on the "outside."  

If one is "playing" the process becomes a superficial attempt at understanding nature and or, consciousness, on its deepest level. We are left with only half the equation.  I do not wish for the complete end of negative forces at work in our universe. I only seek balance and a way to co-exist with them.



Photo credit; unknown.

It has been my observation that nature is painful-- and beautiful both; positive and negative. On the most spectacular levels we learn from negativity. It can be said of the world we live in, the very same thing.  Everything in our universe is about polarity. To "play" the negative forces "away" is a futile endeavor. Everything is radiating and compressing; destruction and creation. Blooming and decaying. Negative forces have a purpose; to balance the positive. To eliminate the negative forces would be to destroy the laws this universe is built upon. So are you really sure you want to "play" the natural order of things "away?" Or even "pray" them away? Or do you want to learn from them in order to find balance and achieve a place within the universe where you are working with its natural ways. In balance. As opposed to working against one of its greatest forces that can sometimes in its darkness illuminate the very thing you are seeking to heal. 

Negative forces, or negativity itself, are not there to hurt you but simply hold the world together.  Nature is not personal; man did not create it. It created man.  And to "play," while walking both nature's dark and light paths, is not the way to understand and live in balance with it. That, I have found, takes a bit of "reality."

(These are personal observations and thoughts of the author.  They are not meant to encourage or discourage a belief system.)  

Adisi Waya