Sandtray Therapy Session #1 - Dream Analysis Reflection

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Atlanta, GA)

Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis

Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis

Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis Chicks  View Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis Guanyin View Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis Overhead View Dream Tray for Sand Tray Therapy Dream Analysis

I feel that this has probably been the most difficult, disturbing, and insightful sand tray therapy activity I’ve done thus far. I knew the disturbing nightmare I needed to experience in the sandtray as I have dreamt some form of it many times before. However, very few of my miniatures seemed to capture the intensity, fear, and frailty of the figures in my somewhat recurring dream. This alone helped me acknowledge the difficulty and intensity with which I have experienced such emotions. Furthermore, I had just finished a series of trays that seemed to calm me and provide such great insight. I was reluctant to turn from these worlds that were so peaceful and harmonious for me to one that felt so traumatic. So as usual, I left my most recent Tibetan world in place, hoping that my assorted miniatures would call to me at some point.

Then, as I was walking by to go outside, just when I least expected it, I suddenly saw the world in the tray. The unsteady bridge from a few weeks ago caught my eye and after collapsing it even further, I built a world around it. I saw the broken bridge that seems just out of reach, especially for such delicate little chicks. Even if the chicks were to reach the dilapidated bridge, it appears nearly impossible for them to cross. Nonetheless, though it seems like such a vast distance to the other side, there is a faint glimmer of hope as the female bodhisattva of compassion, Guanyin, waits on the other side. Though it does not seem probable, it may be possible to make it across to eventually experience the peace, stability, and harmony of the other side despite the broken bridge and predators that currently threaten us.

It has been quite some time since I have had this particular type of epiphany. It seemed that out of nowhere, the dream became clearer than ever before. I think I truly began to see and feel what the dream intended me to. More so, the waves roaring in the background, intensifying the frightful experience, were originally used as Karmapa dream flags. Though these were initially intended to represent and convey a sense of peace and harmony, they’re now depicting the exact opposite. Rather than comfort, they seem to threaten the chicks even more. This reminds me of the Buddhist and Jungian principles regarding the union of opposites. I am reminded that the serenity surrounding Guanyin cannot be separated from the vulnerability experienced by the chicks. Both are aspects of our reality and contribute to our experience in the world. Therefore it is essential that we acknowledge all aspects of this experience so that we can more fully understand it and use that insight to continue our creative journey with sand tray therapy.

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"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

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