Can play transform our lives? Jane finds out…
I’m not usually wild about board games – they bring back memories of childhood holidays playing endless rounds of Monopoly and Cluedo as the rain drummed on the roof of our rented beach hut. However, the Transformation Game has me hooked.
This ‘workshop in a box’ was developed at legendary spiritual centre Findhorn (findhorn.org), back in the 1970s. It started out as a bit of fun but the creators soon realised that the game was a powerful tool for self-development.
I was invited to play at London sanctuary, A Place to Heal, (aplacetoheal.co.uk) and eagerly accepted. After all, this is the game that gave birth to the famous ‘Angel cards’ and ‘Blessings cards’. It has a reputation for creating change and also for its lengthy sessions – up in Scotland, you can play the game for four days, or even a week. However, this was just a taster session and planned to last a mere three hours.
Facilitator Jacqueline Redmond welcomed me and my three fellow players and we introduced ourselves over drinks and nibbles. Jaqueline explained that we needed to come to the game with a ‘playing focus’ – a question requiring answers or insights. “It could be about personal issues; about changing habits; about handling transitions or removing blocks,” she said. We took it in turns to share our intentions and it swiftly became clear this was miles away from Trivial Pursuit. There were tears before we even rolled the dice.
Each of us chose a small crystal as a counter and threw the dice to be ‘born’ into the game and onto our ‘life paths’ (our own section of the board). More throws of the dice let us pluck a series of cards (angel, insight and setback) which we tucked away in envelopes acting as our personal unconscious. Each time we landed on a square there was a choice to make or a card to pull out. The cards we drew were remarkably accurate – I winced to find that I was being held back by my need for approval and by withdrawing from people. Another card gently reproved me for getting uptight when my ego receives a minor dent and I pull away (horribly accurate).
The game is played at a slow pace, as each person ponders on how the cards apply to their question. It’s also very much a group activity as we gave our own thoughts and insights into what emerged for one another, under Jacqueline’s gentle guidance. “There are no winners in this game,” said Jacqueline. “The object is to shift your perspective; to show how to make changes in your life. You could call it a personal consulting tool, but it is not prophetic or mystical.”
It was totally engrossing and I could honestly have kept playing all night. By the end, we all had insights into our questions, and had formed a warm bond with one another. As we hugged and said our goodbyes, the question on all our minds was simply: “When can we play again?”
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