Mary-Alice Long is the creator of Play=Peace and a play-based Jungian therapist, speaker, writer and Paper.li publisher who believes in the importance and benefits of play. She has a background in parent and health education, nursing, social work and psychology, with an emphasis on Jungian and Depth Psychology and the Arts.
She has been in private practice since 1993 and has been working with parents since 1975. As a Jungian-based therapist she supports others on their ‘inner journey’ with the help of psychological and playful resources. The goal: a healthy, whole, purposeful life for parents, artistic entrepreneurs, and creative professionals.
The foundation of Play=Peace is a commitment to playfulness in all areas of our lives – relationships; love, dreaming (waking and night dreams); work; and creating.
What exactly is a Jungian therapist?
Carl Jung (1875–1961) was one of the founders of modern depth psychology. He developed his own highly original psychology, emphasising what he called ‘individuation’, the force in life that moves an individual to become truly and uniquely themselves.
Jung stressed that this was a journey towards wholeness, not perfection, and that it is a one-of-a-kind journey that is distinctive for every human being. An important part of that journey is coming to terms with the unacknowledged parts of ourselves that live in the unconscious. For Jung, the meaning we are seeking is inside us…but we need the right kind of help to free it up, and to make it part of our conscious selves.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – CG Jung
When it comes to the unconscious, unacknowledged parts of ourselves (our Shadow), Jung definitely believed (as most cultures have throughout the history of the human race) that dreams can be more intelligent and more perceptive than the conscious mind.
What does that mean in practice?
He held a similar conviction that the unconscious can reveal itself in play and our imagination. For this reason, I encourage the people that I work with to try to remember their dreams, write them down in a journal, and honor them by drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing, spending time outdoors in nature (and other personal choices) as a part of the transformational process (Active Imagination).
The unconscious reveals itself just as truly through the creations of ’every man and woman’ as it does through the works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Picasso.
Jung himself emphasized the importance of the Child archetype, play, dreams, and creativity in our lives.
“The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” - CG Jung
What is ‘playful parenting’? How does one use play to bring peace of
Play is our human birthright. Play serves life and is a mode of life. When we play well all of life becomes playful. We fall in love with our work because it is play. We come up with creative solutions and make the best of our opportunities. We love deeply with a full heart. Our dreams become reality when we nourish what our soul is calling us to claim.
Parents can bring a playful attitude into all aspects of their lives, whether that’s changing diapers, potty training, playing house, tossing leaves in the air, building with blocks, taking a walk with their pre-schooler, washing dishes, cleaning up after lunch, soothing a crying child, reading a bedtime story, dealing with a problem at work, getting ready for the day, a trip to the park, or any other moment of the many moments that we experience as parents.
Sometimes we forget that ‘getting ready for’ is just as important as the actual event we are ‘getting ready for’. Seriously! No matter what our age, play is important and benefits us all.
Tell us more about the Jungian idea of ‘peace’…
Peace is what each of us feels when we are living in the moment and our mind-heart-soul-spirit are in balance. What is past is past, what is in the future is yet to come. What we have in this moment is what matters and when we fully embrace life and experience what life offers us as parents we are free to be ourselves.
Listening to the dreams of our children and sharing our dreams as a family and community creates an atmosphere filled with purpose and soulfulness. Our dreams are offered as gifts helping us through their stories to find peace within that spills out into everyday living. When we as parents are at peace with ourselves we have a better chance of helping our children find their own unique, peaceful paths.
What are some ideas for parents who want to create peace in mind, heart, and spirit?
Take the time to play for yourself first — in your own unique way — even if that play is only for 5 minutes, put play on your calendar as a priority. When we play as individuals and bring playfulness into all aspects of our life all our relationships (love), how we attend to our dreams, our work, and what we want to create in life change for the better— that ‘goodness’ allows us to live *our* life (not someone else’s idea of what our life should be) and we are able to gift our children with the freedom to be themselves and pass all the ‘goodness’ on to the next generation.