August 2018 – Opengate Institute

Archive Monthly Archives: August 2018

Sandplay Technique: For Therapists, Educators and Teachers

Opengate Institute

Sandplay is a philosophy of wellness. It allows the therapist to look at the individual and think what is the best process for this person, what will get them to good psychological health in the quickest way, where all taught skills will be of a lifelong benefit, leading toward new sources of learning, growth and self-development.

We often project onto others what we need to see for our own learning. We’ve all heard people saying others are mirror images. The lessons we learn, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so, are played out in our private playgrounds in which we learn and grow; birth, school, separation, trauma, becoming a parent for the first time, all this changes our lives dramatically, the loss of a loved one can take our emotions to places we never knew existed, then at later stages in life we may experience financial difficulties, social issues or changing family dynamics.

As we get older we look for a sense of connection, some choose to ground their faith in religion others go deep into their psyche and explore their soul-equation in search for answers. This is a guide for those who want to explore this in others, however, as we know we cannot even begin to understand another until we fully know ourselves. Sandplay Technique adopted into your centre or practice is another means to guide clients through psychological processes, thought provoking and deep, but the underlying concept is that of the stages of development and achieving self-growth and good psychological health and wellness.

We attract what we put out, law of attraction 101 and those we choose as partners, lovers, or friends become our best teachers. The people in our immediate circle push our buttons and become mirror images of what we don’t like about ourselves and for better or worse our best teachers! These are the very people who helped us to make our self-equation. So next time someone pushes your buttons, be grateful for the lesson!

Consider for a moment, that your life consists of a multitude of memories. Think about your childhood and all those memories. Now look at you as an adult. Do you hear yourself saying things, repeating your parent’s words as they echo: “You can’t do that, you’re too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, too dumb, that’s a boys’ job, girls can’t do that” and on it goes – all these words we took in to our being, they formed part of our belief system and those words were stored in our unconscious mind, in the form of images, attached emotions are warehoused in the very cells of our body. This concept forms a part of the theory of psychosomatics, which is a very real area of health and wellness in which unhappy people will undoubtedly create or manifest pain within the body. This is the body mind connection; it is how our system communicates to us that there is a dis-ease building up. This could be an issue from childhood which was left unchecked, pushed away.

Do you get a headache at the mention of someone’s name or a task? Do you feel sick in your stomach from nerves if you have to do public speaking? Does your ankle hurt when you need to step up, move forward, and take control? This is your body reacting, saying “no I can’t do it, I won’t do it, you told me I couldn’t, shouldn’t!” You get the picture; our resistance is entirely stored within us. This is the mind body connection. This is the depth at which the child ego pushed down the hurts and pains in order to protect us. It served us then, but as adults, it no longer serves to hold the pains of yesteryear. Left unchecked this stagnation can erupt into dis-ease, illness or even death in extreme cases, because it was easier to manifest cancer or heartache, than to look at the issue that has caused you so much discomfort.

This is the power of psychosomatics. No issue, no disease! Harsh words, yes, but I want to show you that you have more control over your Self-Equation than you think you do.

Here’s why; as adults, capable of change, growth, wisdom and knowledge we still sit with our deep seated beliefs (think the iceberg effect) where the traumas are pushed down into the unseen realm, this is your unconscious mind. Only a small part of our true self is exposed to the outer world, the conscious aspect which is functional a mere 5-10% of the time. On average we function more from this unseen realm, the unconscious mind 90-95% of the time.

We often behave according to our complexes, if these have not been looked our attitudes reflect this in our behaviour, thinking and way of doing. This is the nagging voice in your head, rumination, the monkey mind, the wounded ego, the one that confirms to you as an adult that ‘No you can’t do that, remember!’, and so we don’t! We have our conscious mind, our unconscious mind, this is where deep psychology is found and this is where we work using Sandplay Technique, Mindfulness and other valuable counselling skills, to work through those childhood traumas that are still affecting behaviour to this day.

Sandplay pieces represent memories of fragments in time, stored in a memory, whereby you pushed your emotions down in order to cope in dealing with a situation or a person’s behaviour towards you as a child. This is the job of the ego; however, what we need is a healthy balance and that is why presenting issues to the Sandtray can open up that deep part of our inner self and gently allows an exploration into our self-equation. Archetypes are used for this process, these are given meaning by the client and become the symbol in the tray. An example could be a Dinosaur used by a child, not as a dinosaur, but as the hero that rescues the mother and child from the enemy. Now the Dinosaur as a symbol has taken on the character strengths and virtues of Courage, Bravery, Hope and Fairness.

Mindfulness allows us to be present here and now in the moment, a great tool to integrate into your practice and works well together with Sandplay. Mindfulness helps to ease the burdens of the mind, to relax the inner thinking to allow a space, encouraging the character strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge and Transcendence. Once you have mastered Mindfulness you will be amazed at the change in your overall health and wellbeing. You will remember to breath, to smell the roses, to see that with every situation, challenge you have a conscious choice.

I am here to let you know you can steer your own ship and yes there will always be a strong wind blowing you off course, dangerous undercurrents and rips, shark infested waters, but isn’t this a wonderful metaphor for life, because on the other hand you will also experience perfect sun filled days, calm waters, gentle breeze, dolphins playing and sails billowing in the gentle breeze. This forms of Polarity of Balance, we need to experience the extremes in order to find our best place.

Here also you find two polar opposites, duality, and a shadow side neither can exist without the other. The more you experience adversity with an open mind the more you get to know the many sides of you. The more you relax into the joy of profound synchronicity the more you attract good health and wellness to YOU. The key is Self-awareness and the courage to climb from the depths of Self-indifference to the heights of Self-awareness.

Carl Jung the famous psychoanalyst who worked alongside Dora Kalff, the initiator of Sandplay Therapy, would have loved our modern day Star Wars characters as archetypes, the fusion between fantasy, reality, the present and the past and the person we perceive ourselves to be our persona and our shadow Self, behind the mask! I mean who doesn’t want to be the hero or heroine in their own story?

The rest is how we got to be the characters in our life’s story. Just like our dream state, we are connected to each and every character or piece in the sand picture, our unconscious mind playing out our unresolved issues, childhood traumas, leading us to the experiential centre of ‘who am I?’ and ‘what is my purpose?’

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Allowing the space for opening up our inner psyche to place within the boundaries of the sand tray the story of our childhood. This is where we get to see the patterns of our parents, grandparents and forefathers/mothers. Here we can see if a significant other was a threat to us in our childhood, such as it is now the case with many victims of childhood sexual abuse – their memory has been triggered by another’s story, or seeing the abusers on TV. We use images, memory and story to get to the heart of the real issue, and allow the pain stored in the cells of the body to release. The event will never go away, nor will the memory; however, the pain can be eased.

Once here, Sandplay allows clients to step back and look at dysfunctional behaviour, set patterns and beliefs, for example are you one of those people who just never finishes anything, could it be, you were told by your father that you would never amount to anything in life, so what do you do? You proved him right, that’s how you showed your love. Or are you a high achiever, yet your mother thinks you can still do better. If you attract the wrong type of man into your life, you know the sort I mean, he’s just not the right person for you – you may develop a low self-esteem, why? This was a pattern you set up as a child to get attention from your father. These are also perfect examples of a father and mother complex. If you have as your mantra – “oh I can’t do it” and now you believe you can’t do anything, not even attract a partner that you desire or who desires you. In effect you have the law of attraction working against you, reverse this by changing your thinking and you attract positivity.

A client may have sexual issues, perhaps they were brought up to be a good Catholic girl and told that, feelings of sexual desire were bad, so they buried their sexual urges deep within. As a consequence, they may have experienced psychosomatic issues such as; invisible pregnancies, cancer of the ovaries or miscarriages. So be careful of what you are reading here, what I am saying we have already covered in this section around our cells holding memory and psychosomatics. Tapping into what actually set that idea into the mind of the child can set you free. Sex is good, good sex is great! No church religion or state can tell an adult what to do with their body or their natural urges.  As you listen to your mind listen to your body also, it’s speaking to you.

As a Sandplay practitioner I watch your body language and listen to your verbal language; with adults I listen for any incongruences, such as you saying, “I’m so sad”, with a smile on your face. What’s going on there? Once we narrow down a current issue, then I invite you to start processing in the sand tray, that’s where things start getting interesting. With the kids in Sandplay it’s a little different, they will choose their pieces and do their own processing in the tray, they do this by moving the pieces around, burying pieces in the sand, placing pieces together, boys in particular will have fighting battle scenes, girls in general tend to like fairy-tale archetypes. The idea is, they are working through issues from the unconscious, whether it is dealing with how parents argue often or dealing with the birth of a new sibling or more traumatic issues. Children use the sand tray as a preventative place of therapy, of sorting through the self-equation thereby releasing pent-up stress held in their body.

Carl Jung in his little red book talks a lot about our ‘other selves’, he shows us how we can be many personalities in one and I don’t mean schizophrenia, I am talking about our different persona’s, characters that we have as traits, such as the Rescuer, the Martyr, the Leader, the Enabler, these traits are found within our whole Self, they make up our personality. Tapping into character traits is what makes us all unique, although some traits have been adopted from our parents and because of this some children lose their own sense of identity. The key is to be aware of your personality traits, recognise them, as many as possible and find the balance. It’s important that if you are a rescuer, you allow yourself to be rescued or if you are a martyr you recognise that you can’t always save the world.

This is what the sand tray will reveal through the chosen figurines, patterns in the sand and other pieces placed seemingly randomly in the tray. This is your story! The story of your inner child, I am a reader and as I read I will be curious and ask questions, only you know the answers. Your unconscious is what drives most of your waking hours, and well into sleep, so it is necessary to tap into this vast iceberg in order to find the essence of you. Buried very deep beneath the ocean lies the true you, ready to be revealed and swim to the surface to finally begin to live a true authentic life, just as Mother Nature intended.

As a therapist, I have schooled in many different models of therapy, and had some great teachers along the way. Some techniques I use are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT), Person Centred, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and Sandplay Therapy. It was when I started learning the latter, that I realised every other discipline and philosophy I adhered too, Sandplay was the glue.

It would be wrong if I had not been a part of the above processes as a client. The ideal therapist has preferably, before they open up their practice, gone through a personal process themselves, resolved major issues and is in a place of acceptance. It is advisable that all who are interested in Sandplay Technique in whatever capacity, to have experienced their own process for many reasons, but the major one is that you cannot walk in another’s shoes and show empathy if your mind turns the whole time to your own thoughts, memories and traumas.

It is also important for parents, those who want to be the best they can be for their children to undergo therapy to shift any patterns or beliefs inherited from their own childhood which does not serve them now. The therapists room is not the place for a therapist to resolve their own issues; it is a space to hold your client, a space to discover new perspectives and a place where what is said in the room stays in the room as part of a healthy therapeutic alliance. This relationship is like no other, for with whom can we trust to pour out our heart, to say things that are directed at others and in the same time explore the depths of where these words have sprung and who was involved in the planting of our pain.

In Sandplay Technique the ease at which the pieces in the tray become the pictures the unconscious mind has drawn; how this picture then awakens a part of the clients psyche and nudges them on to discover more, to go deeper, to reawaken a knowing and awareness that resides within them, this is self-resilience unfolding. Sandplay holds no barriers; it cares not your faith, beliefs, language nor culture, you can be 3 or 103 it does not matter.

What matters is that this method enables choice, resilience, awareness, perspective and it opens up your mind to other ways of being. Within these pages I have brought together knowledge from all manner of places in the hope that each and every individual may find something that resonates with your soul, some truth or knowledge that you can tap into and use as a base to further your learning. Younger children benefit by simply being able to play out their childhood issues in the sand tray. Wouldn’t it be great though if every child care centre, primary school, high school and any other place teenagers and adolescents frequented, had a Sandplay Technique?

Fiona Werle – Sandplay Technique Specialist

Mindfulness Relaxation

Opengate Institute

Looking at these two aspects Mindfulness and Relaxation, we ask why are they connected and what do they have to do with health and wellbeing.

Humans are mammals, we are social creatures and as such we search for family and community connections. As children the Mother Child bond was our first introduction into this social connection and it was here we experienced loving bonds and unconditional love. This is the ideal scenario we speak of here, quite often as not there are different stories, however for this process we aim to look at a functional bonding process.

Unconditional love experienced leads to feelings of positively re-enforced emotions. A loving, nurturing environment allowed us to function from our natural state. This included face to face contact with mother at an early age, smiling, kisses, hugs, and affection are all interactions that keep our stress reactions turned off. Also important are the basic needs of food, shelter and recent research would have us believe that sleep and the benefits are more important than recently known.relax
When a child is taken away from the Mother or perceives this, the stress system; sympathetic nervous system is turned on, leading to normal states of depression from a sense of loss. When the attachment is reformed the parasympathetic nervous system turns on, this is our natural state.

Symptoms of stress overload usually occur as stress responses; heart (palpitations), gut (bloating, constipation, stomach ache) and brain (monkey mind, restless chatter). We all hold stress in different places which could manifest as beginning symptoms as pain the neck, shoulders, lower back, ankles and other places. This is where Mindfulness can help, we start by letting go of pain and reduce the mind chatter (monkey mind). Our mind is a reflection of our stress levels, the more the chatter the higher the stress and this means our natural resting state has been turned off, so the nervous system is running havoc with our bodies causing the aches and pains, which left to run havoc can lead to illness, disease or chronic stress.

Controlling our minds allows us to recognise symptoms in our body, such as stomach ache, heart palpitations and other pains. When we are in a natural state illness, pain and negative emotions are better recognised and dealt with using simple skills and techniques.

Mindfulness brings about a state of relaxation. Anxiety, depression and nervous tension are all natural states, however left for too long these can turn to chronic stress. The key is being able to return to a natural state, turning off the stress responses.

The more needs that are met such as basic needs; good nutritional food, home as a place to be yourself, rest, sleep and be comfortable inviting friends and family, safety within your work, home and community. When these basic needs are met our natural state of relaxation is enhanced therefore our natural state is our default.

Worry about tomorrow brings about unhealthy responses which distorts and damages brain development over time, as well as damaging social and familial bonds. Behaviour and communication overtime tends to become defensive and reactionary, aggressive even.
Self regulation is at the heart of Mindfulness and we begin with the very most basic way to self regulate – Our Breath!

Fiona Werle
Parenting and Relationships Expert

Sandplay Therapy: Benefits in Counselling and Coaching

Opengate Institute

Counselling is a philosophy of wellness. It allows the therapist to look at the individual and think what is the best process for this person, what will get them to good psychological health in the quickest way, where all taught skills will be of a lifelong benefit, leading toward new sources of learning, growth and self-development.

We often project onto others what we need to see for our own learning. We’ve all heard people saying others are mirror images. The lessons we learn, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so, are played out in our private playgrounds in which we learn and grow; birth, school, separation, trauma, becoming a parent for the first time, all this changes our lives dramatically, the loss of a loved one can take our emotions to places we never knew existed, then at later stages in life we may experience financial difficulties, social issues, changing family dynamics.

As we get older we look for a sense of connection, some choose to ground their faith in religion others go deep into their psyche and explore their soul-equation in search for answers. This is a guide for those who want to explore this in others, however, as we know we cannot even begin to understand another until we fully know ourselves. Sandplay Therapy adopted into your practice is another guide through psychological processes, thought provoking and deep, but the underlying concept is that of the stages of development and achieving self-growth and good psychological health and wellness.

We attract what we put out, law of attraction 101 and those we choose as partners, lovers, or friends become our best teachers. The people in our immediate circle push our buttons and become mirror images of what we don’t like about ourselves and for better or worse our best teachers! These are the very people who helped us to make our self-equation. So next time someone pushes your buttons, be grateful for the lesson!

Consider for a moment, that your life consists of a multitude of memories. Think about your childhood and all those memories. Now look at you as an adult. Do you hear yourself saying things, repeating your parent’s words as they echo: “You can’t do that, you’re too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, too dumb, that’s a boys’ job, girls can’t do that” and on it goes – all these words we took in to our being, they formed part of our belief system and those words were stored in our unconscious mind, whose attached emotions are warehoused in the very cells of our body. This concept forms a part of the theory of psychosomatics, which is a very real area of health and wellness in which unhappy people will undoubtedly create or manifest pain within the body. This is the body mind connection; it is how our system communicates to us that there is a dis-ease building up, which deals normally with an issue left unchecked.

Do you get a headache at the mention of someone’s name or a task? Do you feel sick in your stomach from nerves if you have to do public speaking? Does your ankle hurt when you need to step up, move forward, and take control? This is your body reacting, saying “no I can’t do it, I won’t do it, you told me I couldn’t, shouldn’t!” You get the picture; our resistance is entirely stored within us. This is the mind body connection. This is the depth at which the child ego pushed down the hurts and pains in order to protect us. It served us then, but as adults, it no longer serves to hold the pains of yesteryear. Left unchecked this stagnation can erupt into dis-ease, illness or even death in extreme cases, because it was easier to manifest cancer or heartache, than to look at the issue that has caused you so much discomfort. This is the power of psychosomatics. No issue, no disease! Harsh words, yes, but I want to show you that you have more control over your Self-Equation than you think you do.

Here’s why; as adults, capable of change, growth, wisdom and knowledge we still sit with our deep seated beliefs (think the iceberg effect) where the traumas are pushed down into the unseen realm, this is your unconscious mind. Only a small part of our true self is exposed to the outer world, the conscious aspect which is functional a mere 5-10% of the time. On average we function more from this unseen realm, the unconscious mind 90-95% of the time. This is the nagging voice in your head, rumination, the monkey mind, the wounded ego, the one that confirms to you as an adult that ‘No you can’t do that, remember!’, and so we don’t! We have our conscious mind, subconscious and then our unconscious mind, this is where deep psychology is found and this is where we work in Counselling using Sandplay Therapy, Mindfulness and other valuable counselling skills, to work through those childhood traumas that are still affecting behaviour to this day.

Sandplay pieces represent fragments in a time, stored in a memory, whereby you pushed your emotions down in order to cope in dealing with a situation or a person’s behaviour towards you as a child. This is the job of the ego; however, what we need is a healthy balance and that is why presenting issues to the Sandtray can open up that deep part of our inner self and gently allows an exploration into our self-equation.

Mindfulness allows us to be present here and now in the moment, a great tool to integrate into your practice and works well together with Sandplay. Mindfulness helps to ease the burdens of the mind, to relax the inner thinking to allow a space, peace and tranquility to enter. Once you have mastered Mindfulness you will be amazed at the change in your overall health and wellbeing. You will remember to breath, to smell the roses, to see that with every situation, challeng8bc72ed7e and cross road that you have a conscious choice.

 

I am here to let you know you can steer your own ship and yes there will always be a strong wind blowing you off course, dangerous undercurrents and rips, shark infested waters, but isn’t this a wonderful metaphor for life, because on the other hand you will also experience perfect sun filled days, calm waters, gentle breeze, dolphins playing and sails billowing in the gentle breeze.

Here you see two polar opposites, duality, and a shadow side neither can exist without the other. The more you experience adversity with an open mind the more you get to know the many sides of you. The more you relax into the joy of profound synchronicity the more you attract good health and wellness to YOU. The key is self-awareness and the courage to climb from the depths of self-indifference to the heights of self-awareness.

Carl Jung the famous psychoanalyst who worked alongside Dora Kalff, the initiator of Sandplay Therapy, they would have loved our modern day Star Wars characters as archetypes, the fusion between fantasy, reality, the present and the past and the person we perceive ourselves to be and our shadow self! I mean who doesn’t want to be the hero or heroine in their own story? The rest is how we got to be the characters in our life’s story. Just like our dream state, we are connected to each and every character or piece in the sand picture, our unconscious mind playing out our unresolved issues, childhood traumas, leading us to the experiential centre of ‘who am I?’ and ‘what is my purpose?’

Counselling and coaching professionals allow the space for the opening up our inner psyche to place within the boundaries of the sand tray the story of our childhood. This is where we get to see the patterns of our parents, grandparents and forefathers/mothers. Here we can see if a significant other was a threat to us in our childhood, such as it is now the case with many victims of childhood sexual abuse – their memory has been triggered by another’s story, or seeing the abusers on TV. We use images, memory and story to get to the heart of the real issue, and allow the pain stored in the cells of the body to release. The event will never go away, nor will the memory; however, the pain can be eased.

Once here, Sandplay allows clients to step back and look at dysfunctional behaviour, set patterns and beliefs, for example are you one of those people who just never finishes anything, could it be, you were told by your father that you would never amount to anything in life, so what do you do? You proved him right, that’s how you showed your love. Or are you a high achiever, yet your mother thinks you can still do better. If you attract the wrong type of man into your life, you know the sort I mean, he’s just not the right person for you – you may develop a low self-esteem, why? This was a pattern you set up as a child to get attention from your father. If you have as your mantra – “oh I can’t do it” and now you believe you can’t do anything, not even attract a partner that you desire or who desires you. In effect you have the law of attraction working against you, reverse this by changing your thinking and you attract positivity.

A client may have sexual issues, perhaps they were brought up to be a good Catholic girl and told that, feelings of sexual desire were bad, so they buried them deep within. As a consequence, they may have experienced psychosomatic issues such as; invisible pregnancies, cancer of the ovaries or miscarriages. So be careful of what you are reading here, I am not saying that there wasn’t a legitimate physical reason why you had problems, however, look at what we have already covered in this section around our cells holding memory and psychosomatics. Tapping into what actually set that idea into the mind of the child can set you free. Sex is good, good sex is great! No church religion or state can tell an adult what to do with their body or their natural urges.  As you listen to your mind listen to your body also, it’s speaking to you.

As a Sandplay practitioner I watch your body language and listen to your verbal language; with adults I listen for any incongruences, such as you saying, “I’m so sad”, with a smile on your face. What’s going on there? Once we narrow down a current issue, then I invite you to start processing in the sand tray, that’s where things start getting interesting. With the kids in Sandplay it’s a little different, they will choose their pieces and do their own processing in the tray, they do this by moving the pieces around, burying pieces in the sand, placing pieces together, boys in particular will have fighting battle scenes, girls in general tend to like fairy-tale archetypes. The idea is, they are working through issues from the unconscious, whether it is dealing with how parents argue often or dealing with the birth of a new sibling or more traumatic issues. Children use the sand tray as a preventative place of therapy, of sorting through the self-equation thereby releasing pent-up stress held in their body.

Carl Jung in his little red book talks a lot about our ‘other selves’, he shows us how we can be many personalities in one and I don’t mean schizophrenia, I am talking about archetypes, characters that we have as traits, such as the Rescuer, the Martyr, the Leader, the Enabler, these traits are found within our psyche, they make up parts of our personality. Tapping into character traits is what make us all unique, although some traits have been adopted from our parents and because of this some children lose their own sense of identity. The key is to be aware of your personality traits, recognise them, as many as possible and find the balance. It’s important that if you are a rescuer, you allow yourself to be rescued or if you are a martyr you recognise that you can’t always save the world.

This is what the sand tray will reveal through the chosen figurines, patterns in the sand and other pieces placed seemingly randomly in the tray. This is your story! The story of your inner child, I am a reader and as I read I will be curious and ask questions, only you know the answers. Your unconscious is what drives most of your waking hours, and well into sleep, so it is necessary to tap into this vast iceberg in order to find the essence of you. Buried very deep beneath the ocean lies the true you, ready to be revealed and swim to the surface to finally begin to live a true authentic life, just as Mother Nature intended.

As a therapist, I have schooled in many different models of therapy, and had some great teachers along the way. Some techniques I use are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT), Person Centred, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology and Sandplay Therapy. It was when I started learning the latter, that I realised every other discipline and philosophy I adhered too, Sandplay therapy was the glue.

It would be wrong if I had not been a part of the above processes as a client. The ideal therapist has preferably, before they open up their practice, had counselling themselves, resolved major issues and is in a place of acceptance. It is advisable that all who are interested in being therapists in whatever capacity, to have experienced their own counselling for many reasons, but the major one is that you cannot walk in another’s shoes and show empathy if your mind turns the whole time to your own thoughts, memories and traumas.

It is also important for parents, those who want to be the best they can be for their children to undergo therapy to shift any patterns or beliefs inherited from their own childhood which does not serve them now. The counselling or coaching room is not the place for a therapist to resolve their own issues; it is a space to hold your client, a space to discover new perspectives and a place where what is said in the room stays in the room as part of a healthy therapeutic alliance. This relationship is like no other, for with whom can we trust to pour out our heart, to say things that are directed at others and in the same time explore the depths of where these words have sprung and who was involved in the planting of our pain.

The most rewarding method that I often draw on is Sandplay Therapy. I love the ease at which the pieces in the tray become the pictures the unconscious mind has drawn; how this picture then awakens a part of the clients psyche and nudges them on to discover more, to go deeper, to reawaken a knowing and awareness that resides within them. The Sandplay Therapy knows no language barrier; it cares not your faith, beliefs, language nor culture.  Sandplay Therapy cares not your age, you can be 3 or 103 it does not matter.

What matters is that this method enables choice, resilience, awareness, perspective and it opens up your mind to other ways of being. Within these pages I have brought together knowledge from all manner of places in the hope that each and every individual may find something that resonates with your soul, some truth or knowledge that you can tap into and use as a base to further your learning. This book is showing you that you too, can bring into your life some elements to use as therapy. As we will see in this book, younger children benefit by simply being able to play out their childhood issues in the sand tray. Wouldn’t it be great though if every child care centre, primary school, high school and any other place teenagers and adolescents frequent, had a Sandplay Therapist?

Who’s your Inner Child?

Opengate Institute

What do we mean when we talk about our Inner Child? This is the heart of you, the very deep part of who you really are, the essence of your core being. Our Inner Child is that voice in our head, the one who is scared, lonely, sad or perhaps your Inner Child is a little naughty and wants to play.

It’s important to get back in touch with the Inner Child, and sometimes that can be a scary experience, why? Because as children we were not always safe, or our perception in a moment of time deemed us as feeling unsafe. This moment in time is a memory, if our memory of a moment in time is linked to an emotion such as fear, anxiety or mistrust, then we stored this in our unconscious mind.

The past plays a crucial role in shaping personality and behavior: early conditioning can turn a healthy child into a victim using a trigger from the past, such as a relived memory that made the child afraid. The past determines our thinking and this in turn determines our story, which will influence our boundaries and our behavior as adults in the present moment.

Inner Child

For some individuals their Inner Child rules their every waking moment, this is living in the past. When in this state individuals are not being true and authentic. In other words, you are letting your Inner Child dictate your life, so the key is to leave the past behind, no matter how hard and go in search of your true life’s purpose. Living life in the moment opens you up to so many possibilities, and being authentic means you can see opportunities coming a mile away. But if you are still living in a state of Inner Child, you are closed to new ideas and direction. Living authentically means your life’s goals manifest easier and as a consequence your life is empowered.

When we function as individuals at this level we attract others into our lives who are also living authentic states, this is the law of attraction 101. There is always a place for our Inner Child, we can never deny deep emotions, we will always travel to the depths of our being, our unconscious mind, where we find ourselves back in the past, where memories reside. This is where all our life experiences sit, including our family memories, collective memories and all the turmoil of growing up, of emotions and feelings that help us to be who we are today. Our Inner Child is the keeper of our early beginnings, of our memories good and bad and our Inner Child is the one who sends out our archetypes to help us cope in different situations, you know the ones, the enabler, the rescuer, the warrior, the princess and on the list goes.

Next time you are having a moment or perhaps even a tantrum, try and see just who it is the Inner Child is sending out to cope with the situation, you may even surprise yourself, you may start to see patterns, get to know sides of your own personalities that you had never before stopped to fully get to know. Allow yourself to give over to the process, get to know the real you the inner you and in so doing you get to have a relationship with your Inner Child. And who knows perhaps you are just the person he or she needed in order to let go of any past hurts or pains, this is the key to self-growth, psychological wellbeing and happiness.

Are you a good listener?

Opengate Institute

You always know when in a conversation if somebody is listening to you or not. I mean really listening. The interest is written all over their face, their body is slightly mirroring your own and you can almost feel the invisible connection you have with this person, as though you are both joined in some other morphic world. This is intentional listening at its best.

When you are in a relationship, any relationship, whether you are a couple, work colleagues, shop assistant, therapist, teacher or politician, the key to positive relations is being a good listener. When you really listen, you hear, not only what is being said verbally, but also what is not being said. A good listener is a good communicator. A huge amount of our communication is done using body signals, including eye movement and facial expression. If you can read these ques, hear the story and stay emphatically tuned to the other person, then you have yourself the start of a positive relationship.

Quite often however, the opposite is true. In a conversation we will fade out, think numerous other thoughts, drift off or look away. All these actions break our connection. It only takes on slight movement of the head to be distracted by another scene, the eyes are seeing another story and our imaginations start telling our own unsplash_5244808e6b835_1story- we all mostly live inside ourselves.

How to a good communicator is an art form, the ability to listen intently is a gift. Imagine how much a relationship could improve if you spent time and effort on listening, really listening to your partner, child or even colleagues. From this basis, so much is occurring. As a new born baby we learnt through the senses, touch and feel, then we very quickly recognized that eye contact kept our mothers attention only on us, pure bliss.

 

These basic instincts allowed us to build trust. The expression ‘look me in the eye and tell me the truth,’ says a lot about the art form of communication, we even know when someone is lying to us! Positive communication involves a whole series of events, such as eye contact, mirroring body language, matching voice tones and that invisible sense we feel when two people are truly sharing an energy.

So next time someone you care about is needing to talk make it a habit to listen intently, respectfully, empathetically and you have the recipe for a positive relationship.

What is Mindfulness?


What is mindfulness? It seems to be the buzz word here in Australia. Often combined with meditation and yoga, mindfulness conjures up images of Buddhist monks chanting, swaying, incense burning and long periods of silent contemplation in a cave. Yet somehow it has made its way into our daily conversations, is practiced in community halls, school gyms and yoga rooms all around the country. Even some leaders in industry are recognizing the value of introducing mindfulness into the workplace, community and education.

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Think of a cat, have you ever just observed the way cats spend their day, how they hunt, eat, clean themselves and then find the warmest most comfortable spot to sleep contentedly. Well, cats are the best at mindfulness. They don’t just spontaneously do things; they ponder, sniff, walk around and sit for a moment. Cats don’t scoff their food, they eat with a certain kind of savouring, they know when they have had enough and so they stop. Cats keep to a ritual of cleaning themselves and their loved ones and in this action of licking cats appear to be on a mission.

Mindfulness often includes the following elements; here and now or in the moment, non-judgement and commitment. So really it’s not hard to include mindfulness in our own day to day routine filled lifestyles, all you have to do is, be mindful. Take the example of our fury friend the cat, if you have the chance to observe one, watch how they go about their daily tasks and then ask yourself if I were a cat for the day what reflection would I have at the end of the day; ‘woke up from a nice cosy sleep, had a stretch, then laid in bed for a bit, then I had some breakfast in my favourite bowl which I ate slowly. I then washed my body all over with my beautiful smelling organic rose blossom scrub, dressed and made my way to the train. On the train I had a lovely snooze in the window seat which was doused by the warm rays of sunlight. When I arrived at work I greeted all my colleagues warmly and then made myself a nice warm glass of milk to savour until lunchtime’.

Imagine if we remembered and savoured each moment of the day as if it were the most important moment of our life. This is living in the moment or the here and now, living this way keeps us focused on what is truly happening both around us and in our body. Another advantage of mindfulness is just that, mind-ful-ness. This is the mind being fully engaged with whatever activity you are doing, like eating breakfast. When you eat breakfast you don’t want to think about what you will be having for lunch, or worry about if you’ll get a seat in the train, no mindfulness is about being in the moment without thought for a past or future event, and savouring the tastes, smells and sounds that come with this type of practice.

Australian’s are very hard working down to earth people, yet most Australian’s will admit to living a stressful lifestyle. Fast living, fast foods, quick lunch breaks, instant dinners, and bringing work home don’t really leave much room for self-contemplation. The good news though is that anybody can learn mindfulness, you don’t need any skills, tools or qualifications; you just need to be human or a cat!

Positive Parenting

Dealing with Negativity

Negativity, what is that? Why do some of us let this powerful force spiral us downward into a void of darkness and negativity, sucking the very life force from our soul?Our default mode is to be negative, that’s just the way Mother Nature primed us. However she never meant us to be dark and depressed and lead a life of total negativity.

The polarity of balance is a great scale when analyzing our positive to negative life events which will then determine our emotions in balance. We all need to experience the extreme ends of the polarity such as depression to then truly know ecstasy; our positive and negative emotions keep balance in life. Life of course is not a bed of roses and we humans are very emotional reactionary creatures. So remember to be kind to yourself even when you are in a bit of a negative frame of mind.

The Polarity of Balance is a great model and a good measure for me, my family, friends and clients. It just gives you an indication of how they are travelling and what their experiences are showing them, a snapshot if you will. It’s a good monitor. But what is negativity and how do we recognize it? In universal terms negativity is energy; this energy can be both given and received. You know how sometimes you feel you just don’t want to be around a certain person, they repulse you, well that’s their energy talking to your energy and like magnets you are either attracted or repelled. Energy is an invisible force field that surrounds our bodies; it can be captured in special photo imaging. Also known as an aura, the aura is also known as Kundalini energy and the Chakra’s.  Each culture has its own interpretation.

Dealing with Negativity

A person with a high negative energy normally experiences negative emotions such as anger, jealousy or fear. They experience a low level of energy. Wellness is affected when people spend too much time in lower energy states; the Chi, Ki or life-force energy in their bodies might slow down or in certain parts of their body or organs can stagnate. This is the manifestation of an illness, eventually leading to any physical, mental or emotional problems.

You are what you say too. Keeping a check on your verbal communication will give you a good indication as to whether you are an optimist or pessimist. Generally speaking optimists are more positive. Being mindful of the words you speak, avoiding gossip, bringing positive aspirations into a group or home can really boost your positive energy. Once you get into the swing of things, being a more positive thinker can actually open doors. Doors to healing, both physically and mentally and as I always say, happy people don’t get sick!

Recently a client of mine came to see me. I let her talk for some time, listening intently to her words, observing her body language and emphatically tuning in to her emotions. My client had opened herself up for negativity. Her Polarity of Balance would have been way off the Richter scale and she was “stuck” in the extreme end of the negative polarity. This is where a calming energy comes into play and good therapeutic skills are needed to challenge people about their thinking and behaviour.

Negativity is energy; energy can be felt, measured and controlled or healed. Many holistic therapists work on an energetic level, I use Sandplay, Mindfulness and Existential questioning. No matter what method you use, staying positive and allowing the balance to come into your life isn’t such a bad way to live, mindfully. Lifestyle and wellness is directly connected to the energy you put out and the people you hang out with and attract.

Is it time for you to do some spring cleaning in your life? Is it time to seek out purpose and direction, to rein in as much positive vibes into your life that you will allow yourself? I think so, why? Because you deserve it!