Cosmic • December 28 2012
When Play Matters

by Robyn M. Fritz, MA, MBA

Sure, we know play is a necessary part of our lives: it relieves stress, adds balance and inspires creativity. But we’re usually so busy with “life” that we simply ignore it.

Three things lately reminded me about the importance of play: an orca superpod off Alki Point in October, the Rainbow Boys’ guide team, and my deceased dog, Murphy, showing up to sing with Beethoven (yes, that Beethoven).

Orcas know how to play. My dog, Alki, and I joined the throngs of people enjoying the superpod: everybody was relaxed, happy, cheerfully sharing binoculars and observations. Party atmosphere ruled.

Watching people watching orcas made me wonder: does it really take something extraordinary like that for us to relax and play? We don’t need to get permission to play, do we?

Of course the orcas were hunting. They were clear across the Sound from us, but I knew they were also enjoying themselves when I asked them if they would swim over to my side, so I could get a better look, and they laughed. The fishing was better where they were, they said. Hard to fault that logic, since orcas don’t go to grocery stores.

So I said, “Well, can you come to visit tomorrow, same time, only over here?”

“Sure!” one yelled, following that with a huge “Yay!” as it leaped clear out of the water in a breach that made all the gawkers, including me, laugh.

It was several days later, though, before they showed up again. When I teased them about forgetting our “date,” they said: “Orca time or human time?” They told me how much they love being orcas: the water, the food, being together, their curiosity about us, their amusement at how much we love seeing them.

Yes, orcas love being orcas. To them, the hunt is as fun as it is necessary to life. Work is fun and life-giving.

I am reminded of this daily in my Mindset Alchemy sessions with clients. Lately a client’s guides have shown up in sessions with other people. I’ve started calling these guides the Rainbow Boys: they are young athletes, vibrant, dressed in rainbow-swirled long-sleeved outfits that end below the knee. They’re carrying basketballs, soccer balls, balloons, whatever they need to play with while they check out what’s going on. They are perfect guides for my client, who has leaped into his dream of becoming a professional athlete (because it’s work he enjoys — fun!). But I didn’t know why these guides were showing up with other people.

“Sacred play,” the Rainbow Boys said.

“You guys just like playing with Fallon,” I teased.

“Yes,” they said, crowding in to play with Fallon, who, apparently, is a sports nut. “But it’s time for sacred play.”

They then taught me a body technique I’ve started calling “Marshmallow Spine.” In it, we first get the client grounded and balanced, and then we draw air in from the front of the body and let it float into the back. The air, like the air inside all the balls the Rainbow Boys play with, expands to cushion and relax the body. Instead of a stiff, hard spine, clients experiment with a soft spine that can still support the body but move more freely and expansively. Marshmallow Spine: support that nourishes. Flexibility. It takes a flat ball and allows it to bounce. It’s the exuberance in an orca breach. The play in our busy lives.

As I’ve experimented with the Marshmallow Spine technique I’ve noticed that it is the same feeling I got the day I was watching the orcas play: it was relaxing into joy. It’s the breath of play expanding into tense bodies. It fills empty spaces we didn’t know were empty until joy flowed in.

I was reminded of this as I was preparing dinner for friends last weekend. I turned on my stereo, surprised that it was full of classical music, which I hadn’t listened to in years. Then I remembered that I had chosen these CDs for my beloved Murphy’s funeral in March, as I consciously chose music that matched her vibrant nature.

Now as Beethoven’s Fifth filled the house, Murphy showed up, smiling, with her trademark cheerful, teasing attitude. I asked her why that music. She said it was music “angels sang to.”

“Angels singing to Beethoven?” I asked.

Murphy nodded and started harmonizing with Beethoven. Other voices sang along.

“It’s play,” Murphy said. “Sacred play.”

I got it. Beethoven wasn’t just a genius as a musician: he loved his work, it was fun for him. He tapped into the creativity that comes from hard work combined with inspiration and the pure joy of doing it. He played. He connected to others with his play, and he’s still doing it.

All these were my reminders that play matters. Not just for relieving stress in our busy lives: for keeping us open to joy and creativity. For helping us integrate joy into our lives. For connecting to other in our necessarily solitary journey through life.

We’ve had a hard year at our house. We lost Murphy in March. In October, we dealt with serious illnesses at our house, life-threatening conditions that are all resolved now. At the end of a grueling month we played: with each other, with orcas, with the Rainbow Boys and some adventurous clients, and with our beloved Murphy as she sang with the angels to Beethoven’s Fifth.

We discovered again the joy of sacred play. Orcas delight us in part because we recognize play at work. Full deep breathing relaxes us. Beethoven’s music endures because he took joy in his work. When we allow joy in our lives, we do the same thing. We connect: to other beings doing their work, to ourselves. To life in harmony with our beloved planet.

Play matters. Now just go do it: play. And let me know what your Marshmallow Spine discovers.

Robyn M. Fritz, MA, MBA, is an intuitive life, business and creative consultant. Fallon is a rare planetary and dimensional quartz crystal. At Alchemy West, they help people, animals, homes, businesses and land/weather systems tap their personal power to find balance, clarity and transformation. Visit