This article is a personal background story to the BODY PLAYGROUND project origins
I've spent the last 15 years researching methods, techniques and various teachings in the wide range of personal and professional development. I don't know exactly why I was so drawn to doing that. Curiosity, yes, that's one thing. The need to be a better person would probably be the second. Then there's the drive to have some sort of mental super powers (and use them for being more successful in business and personal life)... Yes, success... I mustn't forget to mention that one ;)
All these teachings had one thing in common: they were all speaking to the mind. It seemed at the time that most people who wanted to improve their skills in being more (financially) successful got into this 'self improvement' groove.
Back in 2012 I received a blessing by kind of randomly attending Boris Čakširan's workshops "Body as a language." A big game-changer, finally!
Since then I have dipped my toes into various teachings (e.g. contact improvisation, tai ji, qi gong, funambule, tango, various therapeutic dance forms etc.). What they have in common is they use the body as the primary vehicle for experiencing; as a source, a starting point, as a channel of intuition, as the already knowledgeable-One.
Of course, the mind is still there and it primarily does two things: 1) it appreciates what just happened and 2) it imposes restraints (insecurities) by suggesting ideas about what's cool and mostly what's not.
Now here's the thing: in the realm of physical expression, a mind is not needed for usually highly respected creative/analytic capacities. Even more: what is needed is not the mind at all, but its parent: consciousness.
Contemporary dance artist and teacher Michael Klien led a "Social choreography" dance workshop in Ljubljana back in 2013. In the introduction to his "Parliament" game, he gave us a few rules. One of them was: don't be creative.
You can imagine how I immediately felt compromised. Why not creative? I've always been considered as a creative person, especially by myself. So, taking the creative away from the person, what is left? The person, exactly. The aim of "Parliament" was to actually remove even the person. Now what is left? The body. Here is the departure point for beauty. It is not true that only the body remains. Awareness is still here. Therefore inspiration, spontaneity, impulses, intimacy, warmth and love are free to shine through and with the body at any time. No person there to judge or limit them. No person there to expect them to shine brighter or in a more unique fashion.
Of course the mind visits often, offering its counsel, it's wonderful ideas. But also the mind finds its retreat gradually.
What I talk about when I talk about physicality? I talk about the source of happiness and peace, to name just a couple of outcomes. I enjoyed all those years of "we will make your smarter and more successful" intellectual workshops. But returning home after the "grab-a-partner and make-a-nice-circle" physical workshops, something was resolved, restored, appreciated, known, discovered. Connected. A very blissful state of being.
Once I was so happy that I stopped in the middle of the street and started questioning the reasons for my happiness. What I found out was that I don't have many. Actually, I should've been pretty worried about the state of my affairs.
So it took me a while to accept happiness that is for no particular reason. It's a similar phenomenon like peace for no particular reason. A peace that is not achieved by strenuous discipline, but one that just is.
I've never considered myself as a dancer, that's the funny thing. Even today when I hear a dance teacher say: "OK, let's impro dance now," I get nervous thinking "But I am not a dancer." And then I do dance and I enjoy it. The one saying "I'm not a dancer" is the same one that claims "but I am a creative person." Funny how ideas we have about ourselves are defining us and thus limiting us.
At Fičo training our impro dance teacher Goran Bogdanovski often chooses a different tactic: he tells us we're gonna play a game.
5 minutes later it would be obvious to an innocent bystander that in the studio there are people dancing. But in my mind, I'm not dancing per se. It's not an activity that would require me to be a dancer. It's playing. It's just playing, requiring only to play. No self-image as a player necessary, also.
This was the biggest break-thru moment in my professional path as a game and gamification engineer. Simply put: a dance is for dancers, while a game is for anyone who feels like playing.
After discovering CI back in 2013, I have started to use physical games in my 'serious' work with (mostly business) professionals. Yup, bringing the joy of physicality into workshops and training aimed at developing mental super powers :) I'm talking about sales, conflict resolution, team leadership, creativity, innovation. I also use physical games in the warm-up phase of running a LARP.
I discovered that 15 minutes of physical games connects participants more than 4 hours of talking and discussing and basically feeding ourselves each other's personalities.
With physical games, there's not much room and appreciation for personality, really. There's just human beings in contact, playing for the love of playfullness, naturally setting themselves (more) free. What bigger super power than that?
Sometimes participants ask me how does one tackle a difficult customer or a conflict with a dominant coworker/boss. Basically the question is how to handle the alfa in a peaceful way while not submitting.
Answer: you can not handle alfa only with your intellect. You gotta use hands to handle :) Unless you're Yoda, you need to tackle the communication from the ground up, starting on a physical level.
Subconsciousness is connected strongly and openly with the body. Some claim that the body is actually where subconsciousness is stored. So this is the plain upon which the bonding moment can be initiated and experienced. Actually, you need to 'dance' with alfa first and reason with them later. First you build trust on an animalistic level, using the body. Then you recognize it, acrticulate it and gain the understanding. Alfa, once they feel understood, will discuss things very rationally and effectively.
Cherokee native Americans have a word kinye. It means both: 'to love' and 'to understand.' They only have this one word but it implies two things, as seen from our Western point of view.
When we feel loved, we become disarmed. Feeling loved naturally feels like being understood.
So, to tackle a difficult customer or an alfa coworker, you need to tap into love for understanding. A discussion is surely not the short-cut to it ;)
Dear business professionals, working on the level of the body is not less advanced stuff. It is more deep. Most in the moment and true. And people tend to respond powerfully to the true.
Take the trip with us! Visit BODY PLAYGROUND Facebook page and taste the mix of game-design and body physicality.
Event will take place May 30th in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
All iz welcome! :)