We love to play deeply! To play with our minds, our bodies, our sounds, our gestures, our movements, our emotions, our visions — and doing all this with one another. Playing deeply means to deepen expression, to cross over into the edges of discomfort, to journey off into the misty, hazy, unknown regions of the body, mind, and spirit. Playing deeply can involve playing rough — playing with anger, intensity, aggression, wildness. Playing deeply also involves playing gently — playing with softness, slowness, tenderness and delicate attunement. Playing deeply is to try to bring lightness and joy into the murky depths of ourselves and our relations with each other.
We believe in growth and learning. Where there is a challenge we try to approach that challenge with an understanding that there is always something to learn here. This is especially challenging with deep seated values, methodologies, spiritual directions, communication styles. So it is in these places that we are most especially curious to grow and learn, despite how hard and frustrating this may be.
We believe in healing and transformation. This is afforded through many of the gifts that play offers — expression, awareness, love, integration. This healing and transformation is a lifelong journey, and one that we hope to learn from, and help others towards.
As experienced deep players we can usually sense when something is too much for ourselves. We also know how to care for ourselves when too-much-ness is happening. We know how to insist on a pause, how to self-sooth, how to muster the courage to leave whatever is happening no-matter if it will hurt the feelings of those others besides us. That doesn’t mean we are always perfect in this sensing of too-muchness, but it does mean that we are able to be responsible for cleaning up after the fallout if and when it occurs.
As experienced deep players we are able to see those parts of ourselves that are more volatile. This includes parts that blame, hate, shame or are violent — either towards other or ourselves. We are able to distance ourselves from these parts, not letting them overtake us. Most likely we have a complex relationship with these parts — simultaneously recognizing their importance (for example, a blame part might declare “there is injustice and it should be abated!”), and also we see that fear, sadness and remorse lie underneath all volatile parts. We understand that if these parts are loud, unseen, undistanced and unregulated, they rarely provide effective relational strategies that lead towards communal growth and care.
We believe in safety. Safety is a meta-rule that says you can always opt out and at any time. This opting out is something that leaders of an activity will try to normalize. Safety also involves anticipating triggers of others and naming some edges prior to an activity if they can be anticipated. Safety is an open conversation that we invite everyone into at the beginning of a program, and potentially re-open throughout.
We believe in inclusion. This means that we recognize that everyone has different ways of playing deeply. Inclusion means noticing that the more easeful methods of deep play of others may indeed be challenging for oneself. It means being open to adapting and revising one’s own methods to widen the methodological playing field. Inclusion means seeing where others have more challenge in playing deeply, and encouraging safe containers for those to ease their way into play. It involves conversations about “what makes deep play hard for you?” in an effort to create play spaces that are more equitable.
[Please note that the PNW Deep Play Retreat is less inclusive of players who need the facilitator or the container to provide the main source of safety]