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Doing Inner Work


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Active Imagination


What is Sandplay?
Sandplay is initially a non-verbal exploratory process. When we are able to relax into the play space of our own mind, we have an experience of being thrown back into ourselves. Our mind begins to stream with reflection and feeling. Using the play space of sand, this experience becomes elaborated as a real-time portrait of an inner landscape. This kind of interior process can be difficult to capture through ordinary ways of thinking and speaking. You need no artistic flair or sensibility to create a sand painting. Lining the walls in a small room sit the artifacts and toys of the mythic imagination, just as simple as that. In the center of this space is a sandbox, thus The Small Room of Great Wonder, where interior landscapes of reverie can become portraits of understanding and meaning.

Dora Kalff, a psychoanalyst trained by Carl and Emma Jung, pioneered this style of inner work after meeting Margaret Lowenfeld in England. Jung, acutely aware of how important non-verbal realms of thinking were to insight and self-understanding, encouraged Dora’s development of this process for adults.

Much later in her life, Dora was able to meet and discuss this process as a form of meditation with Zen Masters like the Dalai Lama and D.T. Suzuki, who confirmed that Sandplay and Zen meditation come from a similar place in psyche. Sharing what we would call an archetypal root, both seek to create a space that awakens and supports self-healing capacities. Both emphasize that realization cannot be found through the quest for outer authority and achievement but must come from the inner world of self-study.

See more on Sandplay in Essays section of this site.


"When we succeed with this work of bringing about an inner harmony which defines a personality, we can talk of grace."
~Dora M. Kalff
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