To See a World in a Tray of Sand

If you can build any world you can imagine, what would it look like? The World Game – also known as ‘sand play’ – gives children and adults the space to create this world. With the help of a box of sand and a large variety of miniature objects, the subconscious is given a free space to express. Brought to Auroville in the 1970’s, the World Game has been almost continuously offered to Auroville kids as part of a holistic education. We spoke to Aikya, who is the latest in a string of practitioners offering this imaginative activity in Auroville.

Footsteps in the Sand

The World Game was originally developed in the 1920’s by Margaret Lowenfeld, a pioneer of play therapy. In Auroville, the World Game or ‘Sandboxes’ was brought in by a Jungian psychiatrist, Austin Delaney. Austin had introduced the boxes at Equals-One, a schooling project of the Ashram, in the early 1970’s. He had thousands of miniature objects that could be used to make scenes and setups in the sandbox, a wooden box the size of a drawer. It was a huge part of early education in Auroville – at some point, each child would make a sandbox almost every day! In a place where there was not always a common language between the children, the sandboxes were a way for expression that didn’t require words.

In Heidi Watts’ historical account of the sandboxes, Shraddavan notes how important they were in helping the kids develop. Life had its complexities – out on the barren plain, with a mix of languages and cultures meeting in a keet hut school: “One way to meet the individual needs of the students was through the sand boxes… It is amazing what children said through their boxes. They were very helpful in difficult situations.” Unconscious stress was given shape and released through the sandbox, inviting children back into the space of the heart instead of the energy of the mind.

Read More

Aikya’s book Glimpses of Wonder, on applying the World Game in Auroville is available in the Auroville Online Store.

The author and the publisher of the web book have also chosen to offer the book to read online without a pay-wall or advertisement. It is available on a Gift-Economy and Pay-What-Feels-Right basis – this is not free. It is an invitation to give what feels right for the value you’ve received from the book and/or the support you want to give us to continue doing our work. It is an experiment in abundance where we trust that when we give, we will also receive.

Glimses of Wonder eBook