Last week I received a call from Gail Warner, a therapist friend and owner of Pine Manor Retreat Center, in Lake Elsinore, California, to tell me that she’d used the title of my new book (Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?) as a sand tray prompt during a recent group session.
Sand tray therapy is a combination of play therapy and art therapy. The therapist provides the client with a tray or box filled with sand, as well as a variety of miniature toys, to create an imaginary world. The toys may include anything from people and their assorted professions, to animals and buildings, to religious and sacred objects, modes of transportation, and more. Gail has two rooms in her retreat center filled with such “toys.”
I visited her the weekend of July 10, and the night I arrived, I created a sand tray of my own. Anyone who knows me, or who’s read my books, knows that I love creative, intuitive therapeutic practices. I was all over that sand tray exercise, and am still writing about it in my journal. Lots to unpack.
In my heart of hearts, I’m a healer.
Lately, I’ve been struck by how much suffering we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, both collectively and privately. Circumstances have been rough—undoubtedly harder for some than for others. But I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been challenged. How do we cope with hardships, and where do our struggles really come from? Let’s take a look at a few culprits:
The word compassion means “with suffering.” So how do we sit with suffering without being consumed by it?
Surrender is a great place to start. Which brings me back to my recent call from Gail, who told me that while sharing her sand tray, a woman in her group coined the term “surrenderful.”
When Gail shared this, I smiled because I know how great surrender feels, and I also know how hard it can be to let go. But letting go—and in many cases this means letting go of old, inner stories we tell ourselves—creates a lovely, spacious feeling. In the same way that love and trust dissolve fear, suffering can’t survive in the midst of this lovely, spacious feeling, which allows the peace that’s beyond our human comprehension to fill us with joy.
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