In learning about the world of sandplay therapy (and many more topics and experiences that make for an interesting life), it is important to cultivate Shoshin - a word from Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.
This approach is well stated in Mythology: An Illustrated Guide edited by Roy Willis. In the introduction, Robert Walter shares his view on this book about myths:
"Read these pages as you would read a dream journal, for the task of the modern human being is to interiorize mythic symbology...approach this book with an open mind, with the innocence of the child for whom the world is inherently magical...you will explore exotic landscapes and discover untold wonders...you will learn much about your forbears...and more about yourself..."
Despite the fact that I have taken many road trips through the U.S. and Canadian Rocky Mountains and hike and camp, I have only seen bears on two occasions. The first time was in Canada's Glacier National Park. While driving along the road, I saw a mother black bear and her cub. They were a rich deep brown color. I stopped, They stopped. We looked at each other for a long while; then they quietly went on their way. The second time was in Mammoth Lakes, CA. A large lumbering bear ran right through the main intersection. It was moving very quickly! It was unsettling and exciting to see such a large bear. I do not think I would like to come face to face with one on a hiking trail.
Have you seen any bears?
Thoughts to get you through any crises:
Photo from https://thecookful.com/how-to-make-hot-cocoa/
I share this part of my journey here as I have been helped by reading about and hearing about other peoples' experiences and paths forward.
For eight years I wrote and distributed a quarterly journal, called Dragonfly, which was about myths, symbolism, and sandplay. I stopped writing because of an unforeseen event.
I moved to Colorado in March of 2005. Four months after I moved, I had emergency brain surgery for a ruptured brain aneurysm. Family came to Colorado and sat vigil while I was in intensive care in a drug induced coma for 21 days. After being discharged, my parents stayed another month to see if I could be on my own. They decided they could return to California after I could walk around the corner to get my mail, do a load of laundry, and make a simple meal. I am very grateful to my daughter for her strength, my parents for their patience, and friends in California who sent best wishes and kept tabs on my progress.
Initially I had to work to improve my balance, regain strength, find the right words, learn to overcome my distaste for food, and to understand what happened by having my family tell me the story over and over. I was constantly fatigued, had a bad headache 24/7, and had poor judgment. I was not allowed to drive. Thank goodness for Access A Ride - my ride for a simple trip to the store and doctors appointments. I even went to the movies once (that was an experience as the visual and auditory onslaught almost had me fleeing the theater).
One of the best books I read during that time was I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? by writer-illustrator Suzy Becker - an honest and humorous memoir.
My sense of humor and life experience of always landing on my feet made for an interesting few years while I discovered my limits and marked my progress. The hardest part was the limited amount of energy for anything - from the simplest tasks to just getting through the day. Known to me as "hitting the wall of fatigue".
It was a major turning point in my life. I am very fortunate to have survived the event and I am almost back to my old self…or should I say my new self (known as the new normal). I no longer practice psychotherapy as I have some minor cognitive deficits which are more evident when I am fatigued. As for the headaches, they are like constant low grade background noise. Now I can drive, I have found a new interest in jewelry making, and am still grateful everyday for friends and family.
As I reviewed my books on mythology, folklore, and symbols I was quite surprised to find that J.E. Cirlot had neglected to discuss the symbolism of the queen yet devoted a page and a half to the symbolism of the king. I wonder what Maria Gimbutas would have made of his omission. I also found no mention of king or queen symbolism in my dictionaries of ancient Mexico and Mayan cultures nor in my Native American mythology books. Although there was a brief mention of king symbolism in my dictionary of Chinese symbolism, no word about the symbolism of the queen. The queen and king together represent the perfect union, completeness, the androgyne, the sun and the moon, heaven and earth, and day and night.
Physical Therapy can be an amazing process. I am almost back to full functioning of my right hand and arm. And...I am happy to report...the pain from pinched nerves in my neck is so much better.
Please check back for new blog posts as I will be able to get back to blogging very soon! Looking forward to interacting with blog readers. Feel free to comment on posts - I would enjoy communicating with interested readers. Thanks for your patience and support.
In my wanderings along beaches or rivers, I am always on the lookout for heart shaped stones. I have a small collection of them in my garden. They get moved from place to place in the garden so I can see them anew.
Different sizes of heart shaped stones would be a wonderful addition to a sandplay therapy miniature collection.
image from https://www.123rf.com
Denver Sunset. I love all the colors! What if sandplay trays had different colored sand? I have Purple Jurassic Garnet Play Sand and Jurassic Play Sand that is burnt orange in color. I have only used the traditional white play sand. What do you think?
You can find colored sands at www.jurassicsand.com
"If you look up toward certain types of towering trees—including eucalyptus, Sitka spruce, and Japanese larch—you may notice a unique phenomenon: the uppermost branches don't touch. Known as “crown shyness,” this natural occurrence results in rupture-like patterns in the forest canopy that seem to perfectly outline the trees' striking silhouettes.
Since scientists first started studying the topic in the 1920s, crown shyness has been observed between trees of the same and different species in locations across the globe. Regardless of tree type or environment, crown shyness appears to always culminate in the same aesthetic, characterized by gaps that resemble meandering channels, zig-zagging cracks, and winding rivers.
While no one is quite sure why certain trees exhibit this unique behavior, several hypotheses have been presented by numerous scientists. One possibility is that it occurs when the branches of trees (particularly those in areas with high winds) bump into each other. Another suggested explanation is that it enables the perennial plants to receive optimal light for photosynthesis. Perhaps the most prominent theory, however, is that the gaps prevent the proliferation of invasive insects."
Photo by Samuel Counil
Purchased sandplay minatures can be the cornerstone of a sandplay collection, yet here are some places to get a wide variety of sandplay items/materials.
When I was very small we had a huge (to me) rabbit kept in the hutch in the backyard. I only remember the fact that she was very big (in the eyes of a three-year-old). I never handled her and was somewhat wary of her teeth.
When my daughter was in elementary school, she had a variety of pets; one of which was a dwarf rabbit with soft tan fur. She named the rabbit Bun after her favorite stuffed toy. Bun was often let out of the cage and even taken outside, on a special halter leash, to hop around the backyard. She was a delightful addition to the menagerie and much more conducive to holding than the fish and garter snakes.
It takes many millennia for a grain of sand — originating as a tiny chip of rock — to lose its sharp edges. A very rounded grain could easily be more than one hundred million years old.
Almost completed. 5,500 mile road trip. Los Angeles north to Canada, east to Calgary, south to Denver, then southwest to Los Angeles. Add a flight to Los Angels from Denver to start the trip, then a flight back to Denver at the end of trip. Amazing scenery, national parks, lighthouses, wild animals, botanic gardens, funny happenings...and you have wonderful memories for a life time.
My travel companion, my funny, adventurous British mom. And Kermit...to pose for silly pictures along the way.