Sneaky-Deep: Easing Into Truth

Part of a series on truth-telling in life and art. See the first post, Dare to Be Yourself, here.

My experience of InterPlay went a little like this:

  • InterPlay is fun, a little weird, maybe, but definitely fun.
  • Oh, shit. I didn’t mean to talk about that. InterPlay is scary.
  • Oh, boy, I really needed to talk about that. InterPlay changed my life.

See how the deep work slipped in there surrounded by a lot of fun. Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, the founders of InterPlay, talk of the practice of InterPlay as sneaky-deep. What they have developed is a body-wisdom system that eases people into connecting with their whole selves, including the parts of themselves that they shove back into the recesses of their psyches. It is a very gentle practice, and because it is so gentle, it can seduce people into touching deep material. It is not therapy, but it can be very therapeutic. And, because of the way it is taught and led, workshop participants can choose how deeply they want to play.

But, if you want to play deeply, the opportunity is always there.

My entire life has been a journey to understand myself. When I found InterPlay, I immediately started using it to consciously explore myself and the nature of my experience as a physical being. I have conditioned myself to play deeply.

Here’s a little story.

Once upon a time, my husband and I decided we would move our family to a foreign country, away from all our friends and family. We would give up on giving our only son a sibling and start a new life for the three of us without regrets. My husband got a job in the new land. We sold our house and made arrangements to rent a temporary place in the new country while we looked for a new house. We had not only a dream, but a plan and a budget. My husband started the new job from afar and we sold our house.

And then, before we moved, but after we were committed, plans changed. I was pregnant. Ok, that had been part of the old plan. We could adjust. With twins. Okay, this is tough, but we’ll get through. Oops, sorry we missed a baby, that would be triplets.

If you imagine that I flipped out at this point, you would be wrong. I went into shock.

6 months later, I was living in a foreign country and had three babies in the hospital and a traumatized older child at home. Still in shock.

6 months later, I was still in shock.

But, somewhere in there I had enough sense to know that I needed to pull myself into my new reality. So, I took advantage of the fact that I had completely failed to get any of the babies to breastfeed and left them with my husband, my mother, and the nanny for a weekend of InterPlay.

I swore going into the weekend that I was sick of my whole life being about the babies and I wasn’t going to bring them up while I was gone. Which shows how deeply detached from myself I was.

The first thing we did was completely non-verbal. I danced, letting my body move without words or thought according to my impulses. I felt great.

The second thing was a little exercise called babbling. People pair off and take turns talking for 30 seconds or so about or in response to a word provided by the leader. In one of the rounds of babbling with my first partner, we were asked to talk about our kitchens. Now, having done the leadership training, I know that this is a sneaky-deep topic. It sounds innocuous, but it gets to the heart of a lot of people’s lives.

In my case, my kitchen was a literal representation of everything that was wrong with my life. I hated that kitchen until we moved out of that house last month. We had left a gourmet kitchen and moved into a house that although otherwise well suited to infant triplets had a crappy kitchen. Until the trio gave up bottles, the counter-space was entirely covered with bottles drying and slow cookers with warm water ready to heat bottles. The table was displaced from any sensible place because there needed to be room for three high chairs, and the entire space was heavily gated in preparation for triplets on the move.

When I was asked to describe my kitchen, I could have described the kitchen underneath all the baby stuff, but the truth was I had never really talked about the baby stuff with any depth and my body knew it needed to let some of those stories out. So, I spoke about the bottles. Not about the rest of it, I only had 30 seconds after all. And, having that limited framework made it okay to talk about. I wasn’t going to be overwhelmed by everything that had happened over the previous year because there wasn’t time to bring it up. But, 30 seconds of cracking open the door of my experience and seeing what was in there was safe.

Eventually, the focus of my weekend became about me embracing my new life. I had already been doing everything I needed to do to make sure the children were cared for, but InterPlay helped me start caring for myself as well.

Sneaky-deep stuff.

I just went to have fun. I came back more whole.

InterPlay is like that.


About Kate Arms-Roberts

Posted on March 28, 2012, in Daily Life, Interplay, Parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Awesome, Kate! I mean your writing. I love the playful (a bit tongue-in-cheekness) way you developed this story.

    I also mean your experience. And it’s not that dissimilar to mine. At one of my early InterPlay Untensives, I was literally and metaphorically thrown against a wall. My life has changed as a result and for the better.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Playful blessings,

  2. Kate Arms-Roberts


    Thank you.

    I sometimes find myself wondering whether talking about the power of InterPlay gives the game away because it is hard to be sneaky when you walk right up to people and say, “Here’s what I am going to do.” My father tells stories of starting meetings by saying, “Here is my hidden agenda.” I think those two facts are related.


  3. I LOVE this post! It’s how I feel about writing – it’s fun, it’s terribly hard, it saves me.

    So inspiring!

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      Thanks. I have found writing can be this way, though I find it more challenging to start writing because the initial jump to overcome inertia is bigger. InterPlay starts with simply taking a deep breath and letting it out on a sigh.

  4. I have never heard of InterPlay before. I clicked on your link, but the domain name has expired. Is it like “Odyssey of the Mind” for adults?

    You brought back memories with the bottles covering all surfaces of the kitchen –though I *only* had twins –a slow cooker for warming bottles! Now *that* would have been a god idea! One time, the fire dept came while I was gone with my twins because I had been sterilizing their bottles and nipples in boiling water and forgot to turn off the burner before I left. They called me at my friend’s house (luckily the neighbors knew how to reach me). There was no fire, just smoke damage. ugh. I think there must have been chunks of my brain mixed in with the afterbirth…

    • Donna,

      I personally recommend InterPlay (in spite of their domain expiration!). It’s a way of awakening the knowledge that’s stored in our bodies. A friend of mine (Sarah Carlson) just described it this way:
      “Interplay is powerful, fun, transformative & sooo easy. It is based in a series of incremental “forms” that lead participants to movement and stories, silence and song, ease and amusement. In the process, we discover the wisdom in ourselves and our communities.”

      Thanks for the heads up on the domain. I’ll call their office to let them know.

      Playful blessings,

      • Kate Arms-Roberts

        Thanks for following through with the InterPlay office on the website. I sent a Facebook message, too.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      InterPlay is nothing like Odyssey of the Mind. It is a playful mode of engagement with our full selves (bodies, minds, spirits, etc.) through improvisational movement, story-telling, singing and silence.
      If you have ever sung in the shower, danced in your living room, or made up a story as you told it to your kids, you have used the creative forms that underlie InterPlay. InterPlay takes child-like improvisational play and makes it safe and fun for adults. And we do it in community, so it is uber-rejuvenating. We reinforce the saneness of each other’s need for fun and joy and laughter despite the trials and tribulations of being grown-ups.

      I so would have left the burner on. I had no brain for remembering that sort of thing the whole first year. The slow-cooker was awesome! My sister-in-law had twins before I had the triplets and she showed me that trick.

  5. Kate, your story took me right into your life, right here in such a personal way… Thank you for this gift. And so interesting, the diversity at large in peoples lives. I take it IP helped you find ways to express these complex, emotional times. There couldn’t be a better way to be verbal about something that is a lot more than verbal.

    Your story also brings up stuff for me… I guess cuz we’re connected as humans… like since I have a remodeling company I need to understand and communicate how habitats are holistic… attitude, the emotional, physical, social, and environmental factors of ‘a home’.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      IP has been huge in helping me with the complex aspects of my life.

      I love that you embrace the complexity in “home” in connection to a business that could be so much less aware. We just moved from a house that was easy to care for but never felt like a “home” to a house that is challenging but feels like a home to me, and I am struck by how many almost intangible elements go into the difference. Being able to communicate about those things is a real skill.

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