Rest, Connection, and Play Transforms Our Lives || By Catherine Dockery, MA, Conscious Aging Facilitator

Transformation is lasting change for the better springing from radically shifting one’s perspective. – Living Deeply

Change is What Life is All About

The process of change is not always comfortable and, therefore, we often mischaracterize it as having something ‘wrong’ with us. How can we embrace our life with vitality, rather than with a faint heart? By allowing ourselves to continue to evolve and grow through transformation.

A true transformation will change how we see others and ourselves. Transformation is not “self-development,” “self-help” or “self-improvement.” We do not need to be ‘fixed.’ Rather, transformation is the development of natural potential. It results from our search to break new ground, answer deep questions, and explore what is true and meaningful in life. The inner push or life force is ignited in a new way that spurs us on to new achievements. We have a natural inner drive that propels or “pushes” us to continue to grow and develop throughout our lives.

What Helps Us Transform?

How do people manage change? How do they make significant and long-lasting shifts that affect every aspect of their lives? Researchers have identified the significant factors that enable us to manage the constant change that makes up our experience of life. They found we build our resilience to cope with change when we have three elements in our life: rest, connection, and play.

Rest, Connection, and Play

Rest and relaxation are the antidotes to stress. When we are stressed, our bodies release stress hormones, which wreak havoc on our brains and our bodies. When we honor our biology and when we rest and we give ourselves downtime, we are rewarded with the release of the body’s feel-good hormones – serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. The research on mindfulness, slowing down and paying attention, is revealing. It improves our focus, our memory, our concentration, our relationships, and our life satisfaction.

Social connection, for all animals, is essential. When we are socially isolated, it corrodes our bodies and we get sick. Being lonely is as much of a risk factor for death as smoking. Social connection, contribution, meaningful social bonding all light up our brains. Have you ever wanted to give up when you were tired and exhausted? It probably was your connection to something bigger than yourself that allowed you to stick with it and eventually change and adapt.

Play activates the frontal part of our brain, the very human part and it stimulates all kinds of pathways for abstract thinking, emotional regulation, problem solving, and strategic thinking. Play makes us comfortable with uncertainty; it makes us take risks and learn from trial and error. Also, play requires that we release fear and submit to the present moment. “Play can be found in art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming,” writes Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play. Brown called play a “state of being…purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal.

Take time for rest, connection and play in the form of artwork and poetry.


Country Roads
invite memories
of gentler times

Aging brings us to
A cross road
what was can no longer be

Birdsong fills the vastness of the sky
trees are greening
my heart sings

Change is in the air
I cling to what I know
and must in time let go

Bright red among the plain
song rising above all
Cardinal – commonly uncommon

I rise with the joy of birdsong
I sing to the warming sun
alive to another day

A variety of feeling
brings awareness
to a vast variety of Being

Bonnie DeHart
Denver, CO

Notes & Sources:

  1. Play by Stuart Brown, MD
  2. What One Skill = An Awesome Life? by Kang, Dr Shimi (Website)
  3. Living deeply: the art and science of transformation in everyday life by Marilyn Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten and Tina Amorok
  4. Playing By Heart: The Vision and Practice of Belonging by Fred Donaldson
  5. The Power of Play by Soka Gakkai International Quarterly, July 2013

About the author: Rev. Catherine Dockery, MA, is a People House minister and a trained facilitator in conscious aging, nonviolent communication and resonant healing of trauma. She has an MA in Public Administration and BA in Communications both from the University of Colorado at Denver. Catherine started The Center for Conscious Aging in 2015 where she conducts workshops, personal coaching and support groups for older adults helping them to understand their developmental changes and transform their lives. She has 10 years of experience in individual and group facilitation and presents on aging topics throughout Colorado. To learn more about Catherine’s services please visit or email