Here’s a practice from my book Leap Before You Look.

Over family dinner,
With your spouse and children, or your parents and siblings or even a group of your friends,
Swap personalities among yourselves.
Have everyone write their name down on a small piece of paper,
And place all the names in a bowl.
Mix them up, and have everyone pick a name.
For five minutes, you will become that person completely,
Not as a caricature, but with totality.
Feel what it is like to have their body, their feelings, their thoughts.
Relate to the others at the table authentically from this place.
If you get your own name, take on your own personality
As if for the first time.
After five minutes, you can switch, until you have all become everyone else at the table.

A family can be a place of confinement or of liberation. Many of us have come to see the dynamics within the family as restrictive habits of restraint handed down from one generation to the next, and so we come to see our kin as the opposite of freedom. Fortunately, it does not take much to reverse that and allow those closest to us to become our allies in freedom. Families become restrictive to the degree that everyone is allocated a strict role to which they must conform. “Go wash your hands.” “Why, Mummy?” “Because I say so.” She says it with tension in her voice, like she is about to burst. The teenage son rolls his eyes at the ceiling. The father glances at his BlackBerry, hoping it will not be noticed. Even our pets go on automatic pilot. Everyone ends up living in a small and well-defined box. A parent is expected to be responsible, serious, hardworking, and at times, dictatorial. The youngest child is cute, adoring, carefree, sometimes irresponsible. The oldest child is expected to be independent, a leader, and to sometimes reject authority.

These are all roles we perform, and they can easily be confused with who we really are. As soon as you slip out of the automation of the role, however, even for just a moment, there is an explosion of freedom and creativity that is suddenly available. The youngest child also has the seeds of parenthood: just see her with her dolls or a puppy. The mother carries with her still the seeds of carefree enjoyment: just look at her on the rare vacation without the kids.

It does not take much to reverse all that, to allow those closest to us to become our allies in freedom. Slip out of your tight role as you might pull a T-shirt over your head. Pass the roles around. You will expand beyond who you thought you were, and laugh out loud at the same time.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look.

Buy it now from our online store.

Here is a practice from my book “Leap Before You Look.”

Whenever there is disagreement or disharmony in the family,
Or any time at all, just for the fun of it,
Switch to gibberish.
You will all continue to communicate
And connect fully with each other,
You will just stop making any sense.
Express everything that needs to be expressed inside you
Using nonsense words.
Keep going like this for a minimum of five minutes
Or for as long as fifteen minutes.
Have fun; be generous in your nonsense.
When you are done,
Keeping a straight face,
Try to remember what the problem was.

When we connect, there are always multiple dimensions occurring simultaneously in the interaction. All at once, our minds are trying to make sense of things, wanting to be right, pressing our own agenda, and defending against others. This is where we often get lost as a family, and are left feeling separate from our loved ones simply because we do not agree, often on an ultimately unimportant matter.

When you switch to gibberish, the logical dimension of connecting is transcended, but the energy still flows. Now the communication has no logical purpose; it is just a way of allowing energy to flow for its own sake. You will discover through this practice that this is, in fact, much more fun and nourishing communication, and even that you feel closer to people when the logical has been flushed away.

We have used this practice often in our family. We have a code word—when things get too serious or intense, someone just says: “Gibberish.” Then we keep the conversation going, with just as much gusto as before, but now instead of being logical we are simply phorshemphashing troobalddee mosrhfung.

It might be disorienting, like it was just now, if a logical sentence and train of thought suddenly ghoopangs mooshfartoo foorganoble. What happened? It breaks the continuity of the mind, and we find ourselves manbang nooshbarat forbantbit. But that is the point, to break the stranglehold of the mind.

Try it out. You may feel much goosberiestier and share a great deal more foongatsong together when you abandon being reasonable and dive wholeheartedly into morshfangtooble shangsorbetty.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look. Buy it now at our online store.