The Healing Power of Play: In Conversation with Robin Carnes

The Healing Power of Play: In Conversation with Robin Carnes

Play is not just a silly diversion, says Senior iRest Trainer Robin Carnes, who will be leading a course on the topic beginning this Saturday, 1/9.  “It’s a profound thing.” 

When integrated consciously into our lives, play becomes a healing practice that helps us unlock new human potential and facilitates what Robin calls “the opposite of trauma”. 

“When we’re able to access that potential,” Robin says, “our nervous system, bodies, and minds are no longer constricted by what trauma brings.”

Robin Carnes

Widely recognized as a pioneer in mind-body therapies for more than 30 years, Robin has worked extensively with veterans and survivors of military sexual abuse; as well as civilians who have endured trauma, anxiety, depression, and other afflictions. 

In her early career, however, “Trauma wasn’t in the lexicon,” says Robin. “We didn’t know what to call it.” Through ongoing exploration, Robin developed what she calls “a lifelong curriculum to not just mitigate symptoms of trauma, but to address its cause.” 

Key amid the curriculum, as it turned out, has been play.

Robin had been teaching kinetic dance for more than a decade when she began to truly step into her flow. “Dance was deeply healing for me, and I began to realize that a lot of that was about play.” 

She soon discovered InterPlay, a creative system of experimental healing practices developed by fellow dancers and community leaders Cynthia Winton Henry and Phil Porter. Through storytelling, sound-making, and guided movement, InterPlay not only invites participants to feel more at home in their bodies, but to dwell in community, too.

“InterPlay elicits the wisdom of the body,” says Robin, “ and, much like yoga practice, gives us connection to each other.”

Play and Community

Among the several factors of a successful InterPlay practice, Robin names:

  • Easy focus is “the opposite of laser focus” and encourages a light mind and openness to any outcome.
  • Incrementality invites participants to move at their own comfort level, with a balance of comfort and freedom.

With programming that can be adapted for children, the elderly, inmates, faith groups, and beyond, InterPlay has a worldwide following. Its website offers: If you would like to become a “recovering serious person”  then InterPlay might be for you.

Indeed, many folks are “recovering” from chronic seriousness. At any given moment, we find plenty of excuses to skip play: We have to work. We have no money. We’re socially isolating. Yet the times we’re troubled or preoccupied are the times that play becomes most transformative. 

“You don’t have to feel playful to play,” says Robin. “You can practice.”

In line with the tenets of iRest and nondualism, “Play is flow,” says Robin, “as our essential nature is flow. When life is living through us, that is flow. Even if you’re in the midst of life’s challenge, you can be easeful.” 


Want to find your flow again? Join Robin for her 4-week course on creative expression and play starting this Saturday >

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