A sand tray therapy adventure

The weather has warmed up and the ice and snow has melted from our driveway.  It’s amazing how this little change has warmed up my body and spirit.  I can handle these mild winter days.

This time of year, being cold and restrictive, tends to bring up old things that I need to work on, ie I get depressed, anxious, and so forth, more than usual.  It’s a good thing, though.  It’s good to deal with those things and move on.

I’ve seen a wonderful therapist for the past several years, and each of those years I have seen her around Christmas time.  I feel like my chapter with her has come to an end and it’s time for a fresh start, so this year I went for something new: sand tray therapy.

Today I had my first session, and it was really, really amazing.  It was a very productive and healing session, more than talk therapy would have been.  The process was very intuitive and revealing, healing, and also exhausting.  After my session, I just wanted to be quiet and I cried a lot.  There was a release of a lot of things, and it felt very good.  I took a long nap, and when I woke up, felt cleansed.

I would very much love to become trained in sand tray therapy along with my training as a psychotherapist. Using the creative process to access healing is a really powerful thing and I am really inspired by it.  Someday when I am fully licensed (4-5 years from now!), I want to have my own private practice and incorporate sand tray therapy into it.

So anyway, some powerful realizations came up during my therapy today.  First, the love my mother gave me when I was a tiny baby–that’s the greatest treasure of my life.  It was the seed that I have carried with me all of my life and what has kept be going even in the darkest of days.  Knowing I was loved and wanted and having that warmth and nurturing that my mother gave me, that is something really, really special.  I feel blessed to have that.  My session today brought that gift to my consciousness, and I am very in touch with that feeling today.

Another powerful realization that came up was about Alan. Alan is my shield.  In the tray, Alan was a tree that was made of metal, and it stood behind me on top of a mound–our little world. Two babies were at my feet, one on either side. I was facing away from Alan, oblivious to him. He is my strength and my protector and he is always there for me, but I tend to not see that.  I tend to think I have to do all of this on my own, work really hard to hold on and protect all that I hold dear in my life and to ward off perceived threats.  I can choose to turn to face him and see him being there, and that makes me feel so good and comforted.  When I turned my figure around to face Alan, or the tree, I couldn’t keep from crying. We can do this together, and our little world is as special to him as it is to me. It was very healing to realize this, and reignited that love and warmth I have for Alan in a very big way.  He, along with the love from my mother, is also one of my life’s greatest treasures.  It’s hard to comprehend how lucky I am to have found him, especially considering how young and immature I was when we met.

I started out the sand tray by burying a big, ugly, two-headed creature under a mound of sand.  In top of this mound, I placed all of the objects representing my present life and what is sacred to me (babies, tree/Alan, myself, and several egg-like objects), my little world.  At the end of the session, it was time to take out that creature and look at it and deal with it.  It is my self-hatred–the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s something I don’t want anyone else to see and I expend so much energy in hiding and keeping buried under my world.  If it came out, I thought my whole world would fall apart.  I knew I had to get that ugly thing out of there and face it, and it was a really powerful thing to do. To let it out, I had to carefully move all of my “life” off the mound and place them in a new area, a safe area that was flat and from with no one or nothing could fall down from (like the mound).  I had to stay on top of the mound and face the creature, and in the meantime, my kids were off to the side. Then I buried that ugly thing in another place and put a gravestone on top of it.  Around the burial site I placed my protectors: a three-headed dog, a cobra, and a large creature that was part tree and part human.  They are the parts of me that create boundaries, I think–maybe anger and defense and loyalty. My new life, without the ugly thing buried under it, felt safe and grounded and good.  Life without the ugly thing is good.

In the end, I came to realize that my life is filled with treasures.  I know how to handle the ugly things and keep them at bay, even though I haven’t felt that in a long time. Maybe it’s just that I needed to see this in the sand tray.

My therapist gave me some photos of the sand tray throughout the process.  Maybe I will post them on my blog later on.




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