A Zen Garden is a special garden meant for meditation and reflection from Japan. It is also a helpful way to allow the client to discover sand tray therapy.
Natural elements in the Zen garden create a tranquil environment for your desk or backyard space.
The materials used in this unique garden are rocks, sand, a rake, shells, stone lanterns, bridges or pathways, Torrii (gate) and bits of greenery.
The idea is to rake the sand in the garden daily as this creates the impression of rippling water.
The sand symbolizes the ocean and the rocks symbolize the island of Japan. The symmetry of the Zen garden creates a soothing environment.
Stones are of the utmost importance in the Zen garden as they represent eternity.
The Zen garden reflects the minimalism attitude of the Japanese people. This concept is seen in Japanese art, decor, and beauty.
The Zen garden is not only meant to be viewed but deeply sensed by the viewer.
I often begin my sand tray therapy introduction using my Zen garden.
Clients and students can start to feel the soothing components of the sand and rake as they begin this journey. My Zen garden is accessible to my clients in my office.
If they chose to play in the Zen garden I suggest they may wish to try out the sand tray and begin sand tray therapy. Remember, some clients do not like to touch or work with sand. This is okay.
However, if they are drawn to the Zen garden I know that the sand does not repulse them and they may be open to the opportunities in the sand tray with sand tray therapy.
Materials to make your Japanese Zen Garden:
A round deep pie plate, ash tray with a deep base, small shadow box, or a terracotta pot base.
Also bring in clean play sand to fill up your base, a small rake buy or make), shells, rocks, and other natural materials. Sand Rake Stones Small container base rocks sparse greenery.
1. Find a base that you like. Add the sand and the other objects.
2. Rake the sand daily in a ripple pattern (circular or other).
3. Relax and enjoy your new creation and move towards sand tray therapy.
Bonus: You may wish to create your Zen garden in a drawing. Use the worksheet below to draw your own Zen garden.
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"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.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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