Slow Down and PLAY!

Last month, Director of Education, Michelle Mileham, shared a blog post about slow radio and slow TV. This month, Community and Outreach Programs Coordinator, Kylie Jones-Greenwood, invites you to continue to “go slow” by practicing playful mindfulness in nature.

How did you used to play outside as a kid? I remember hiding in hedges, digging deep mud pits, and gathering fallen apricots to grind into a “jam” at my play kitchen. I always felt energized yet relaxed during my outdoor play time, and in the last couple of years I’ve started learning how to make time for playful experiences like this as an adult. 

My favorite moments outdoors aren’t in deep, wild nature, nor are they very serious or somber. A profound moment in nature for me often looks like following my dog into the bramble in Lindsay Gardens or spying on northern flickers hopping around tombstones in Salt Lake Cemetery. These are moments when my brain can focus on what gives me joy instead of anxiety. I call this “playful mindfulness”, moments where I stop and notice the present with curiosity and kindness.

Finding moments to play and be mindful in nature can improve your mood, increase your creativity, and even help you be more generous and kind (check out this article by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley for more info). But, slowing down and playing might sound foreign or even scary to you. A great way to start your own playful mindfulness journey is to use guided meditations, like this one taken from Mark Coleman’s book Awake in the Wild, as you explore a park or other greenspace. Follow the instructions provided as closely or loosely as you want to. Let the words inspire you to action! My favorite instruction reads:

“...Reach down and dig your hands into the earth. Feel the texture of the earth in your fingers—is it gritty, muddy, or silky? Notice how it smells. Allow yourself to play with the earth, grasses, and stones, as a child might play in a mud puddle or a sandbox. Rub the earth on your skin.”

There are many great parks and greenspaces around Salt Lake City where you can practice playful mindfulness. Our Education team’s top 5 places for you to check out are:

  1. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail behind the Natural History Museum of Utah
  2. International Peace Gardens
  3. The Jordan River Parkway heading north out of General Holm Park
  4. Miller Park
  5. Wasatch Hollow

Let us know on Facebook or Instagram how you found time for playful mindfulness today. As for me, I’m off to explore City Creek Canyon with my dog!



- Kylie Jones-Greenwood, CIG