When absorbed in deep play our sensory awareness is heightened, we become immersed in the present moment and feel intensely alert and alive. Because play is fun and rewarding, we operate at the peak of our mental and physical capacity. Animals love to play. Crows will slide on their backs on a steep snowy slope, then fly to the top to slide down again; bison will repeatedly sprint onto a frozen lake, then bellow gleefully as they skid across the ice. Brown bear cubs who play the most, Alaskan scientists have found, live the longest.
Why is play behavior so prevalent in the animal kingdom? Through play, animals explore their world and discover all its possibilities. In higher animals, play stimulates the brain, enhances cognitive function and adaptability, and strengthens social bonds. Beyond these biological and social explanations, scientists are starting to believe that play is a means by which animals can express their joy of life. — Play energizes and enlivens people’s experience of nature.
How does deep nature play differ from regular play? Deep play incorporates greater absorption with the object of play. “Play,” Albert Einstein said, “is the highest form of research.” Through his “thought experiments,” Einstein could visualize a concept and see the unseen. In this way he discovered the theory of relativity, which has been called the most influential theory in the history of modern science. “Imagination,” Einstein once said, “is more important than knowledge,” because knowledge tells us only what is known already whereas imagination tells us what can be. Play is imaginative, and play’s openness, aliveness, and newness are essential to creativity.
This book is for those who have forgotten how to play, or who want to incorporate more play into their lives and revive their innate curiosity and sense of wonder. Let Joseph Cornell, Founder of Sharing Nature Worldwide and one of the world’s most popular nature educators, empower you with the tools to maximize play, and transform it from mere entertainment into a doorway to enhanced living, creativity, and concentration.
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