A sandbox is a safe space where you can play. Yes, just like the ones you see the kids in, they crawl in and sit in the sand, get sand up their legs, in their shoes, between their fingers (and then treck it into the house and mash it into the carpet)… Not always a clean place to be. But a safe place. A place to experiment, to build things, to create things, and of course, to destroy them. All the sand stays in the sandbox, in an ideal world!

In software development, a sandbox is the name given to an environment where new computer programmes can run without affecting any systems that are already in place. A computer programmer creates the computer equivalent of a safe space, and then they can run their programmes that are in development without the worry that there will be a knock-on effect. There, in the safety of the sandbox, programmers can discover what works, what isn’t working (i.e. a bug in the programme – or a glitch, in normal-speak). They can find and fix the bugs by running and re-running the programme until they are confident that it is working the way they want it to. Then, after the sandbox play, they can take the programme into the big wide world to start the next phase of testing its functionality.

Why am I taking about sandboxes? Well, as an adult on a healing journey, we can use them too. We can create a safe environment where we can try out new things, see what works and what doesn’t work, and play with it, tweak it, change it until we get the effect that we are looking for.  Take writing for example – a writer has to write a specific piece, a blog, a play, a short story. They sit with the blank page and know exactly what they want to say (or not), but don’t know how to get the words out. Don’t know where the beginning is, the middle, maybe they know the ending but they don’t know how to get there. Then the mind kicks in – they start thinking about the audience, will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they still like me if they hate my work? Why am I bothering doing this? Then what happens…. the writer is spending too much time in their brain, and not enough time actually writing anything.  That’s where the sandbox comes in.

The Sandbox = a space where you will not be disturbed + a time limit.

Whether you are a writer, a computer programmer or a wishful thinker, there are many things you can do in a sandbox that you might not allow yourself to do out in the real world – such as dancing freely, painting, singing out loud…. Even trying on a dress you’d never wear or swirling around and around in a room until you fall down breathless!  The Sandbox is about connecting with the energy that you are, about getting in touch with your essence, all in a safe place. And a safe place could be in the middle of a busy street, in the centre of the city, if that’s what you want it to be.

And the time limit?  Yes, you need the time limit because just as you need a place to sit while you play in the sand, you need walls around the sand to contain it and make sure it doesn’t spill out everywhere. So pick a place, decide on a time limit and set an alarm. Then what?

Well, you need to know what is stopping you in the real world before you can remove it to play and learn in the sandbox. What types of things are stopping you from accessing your full potential? Self-esteem? Old patterns of behaviour? The echoes of voices from the past telling you that you are not good enough? Voices telling you that you don’t deserve it? You shouldn’t do it? Worse still, you can’t? These things do not belong in a sandbox and so must be left outside.

Only for the time limit you have set, so don’t worry, you can pick them all up again once the alarm you have set, goes off. (Why would you want to pick them back up again? Well, hey, that’s what we do isn’t it?)

So – safe space, set alarm, then drop the voices that say no. Drop the repressed part of you that doesn’t give you permission to perform. Say “I can” out loud, several times. Give yourself permission to be you. Breathe. Open. Go into your body, feel the ground beneath your feet. Feel the light above you, and if you need to, give your inhibitions to the universe to hold for you, just for a small while. You will know when you are ready. Then jump right into the sandbox. Get messy! Throw some sand around. Get sand in your hair. Nobody is looking.