sandbox therapy in a 4H playground in stockholm

I miss the sandbox.  I did not realize this truly until I was back in the sandbox on Sunday afternoon at a packed 4H park here in Stockholm.  I outhustled some toddlers for two shovels and a pail, and me and Baby B sat there and made sand castles for a good half an hour.

I did not know that I was stressed by the end of paternity leave, by the return to work, by getting up at 4am again (go ask my son why), by the coming Swedish winter.  But I could feel some stress or anxiety slip away as we made imperfect sand castle after imperfect sand castle, which my son promptly destroyed, chirping, “Bye bye!”

It was just good to be in the sun, with a calm child, and feel something besides a keyboard in my hands.

What beautiful therapy, I thought, for the modern mind.

I got home and googled it, and, of course, sandbox therapy already exists.

It is called sandtray therapy, and it is not exactly what I had in mind.  It is about playing with toys in a tray of sand under the watchful eye of your therapist.


Images of totality that emerge in the sand seem to come from what Jung described as the Self, the regulating center of the psyche and an aspect of the collective unconscious, rather than from the ego.

I’m sure it’s great, though I can imagine little that would make me feel more self-conscious.  And it is more about toys than sand.  I see my sandbox fun as more Zen Buddhist, more about Japanese gardens, about not holding on, than about connecting to any Jungian archetypes.

Still cool, though.

I like this summary from the same website better, linking my sandbox play to sacred ceremonies through history:

The Dogon medicine men of Mali draw patterns in the sand and later read the paw prints left in the night by the desert fox to divine the future. Tibetan Buddhist monks spend weeks creating the Kalachakra sand mandala, which is used for contemplation and initiation into Tantric practices. Donald Sandner, in Navaho Symbols of Healing, wrote about the Navaho sand painting ceremonies in which images of world order are created to invoke the healing powers that bring the psyche of the people back into harmony with the universe. Upon the completion of all these rituals the sand is brushed away and dispersed.

That’s more like it.  Paw prints and contemplation and harmony, all brushed away in the end.

Sounds just like my afternoon at the 4H.

Then we got hot dogs and went to see the sheep.

(I am off to a work conference and will be back later in the week.)



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