Review: The Transformation Game
Don’t bother Googling Findhorn Foundation’s Transformation Game. Whatever you find, it will only confuse you. Developed in the 1960s, Findhorn Foundation’s Transformation Game is a personal development and therapy tool rolled into a board-game format that incorporates both chance and intuition… and very complicated instructions. Luckily, the Transformation Game is usually played with a facilitator, a person who not only understands how the game is played and can guide you and/or your companions in a step-by-step manner but can also weigh in on personal insights that come up, with a fresh and unbiased eye. Though a home edition exists, this game is best played in its expanded, facilitated format, for maximum revelation.
Who Should Play?
To start playing the Transformation Game, one must first decide how many players to incorporate, which informs the experience. For deep and focused soul-searching, a one-to-one game is often suggested; this is so that the facilitator can go deep into understanding your issues and intention. But often, the Transformation Game is also played as a multi-player journey, with each player bringing to the table his or her own specific intention, which may or may not be related to everyone else present. In this case, it is somewhat necessary for the players present to be comfortable sharing openly with each other.
In Hong Kong, the Transformation Game can be played at Sana Space. I decide to play this as a pair, with my friend, Michelle, with Jolie Chong facilitating on our behalf. We are instructed to come with an intention in mind and on paper, which serves as a kicking-off point for the transformation we seek. This can be anything from manifesting a new love or career to something more generic. Mine is, simply: I intend to find clarity in my path so that I can walk forward with confidence.
How To Play
The mechanics of the game are a combination of Monopoly and tarot mixed with mini-meditations and attunements. Instead of properties, Chance and Community Chest cards, we have Guardian Angels, Life Setbacks and Life Insights. In place of houses and hotels we earn Awareness cards that remind us of tools we have at our disposal, from “Abundance” to “Perseverance” to “Uniqueness”. You don’t go to jail, but you are occasionally blocked by “Pain” cards, that need to be eliminated using your Awareness tools. There’s a lot of rolling of dice – and those familiar with tarot or oracle cards will know that there are no accidents to each roll, and that each card that you pull is no luck of the draw, but your higher self at work sending you relevant messages.
We kick off the session with a brief discussion of our respective intentions and then a short meditation to bring our intentions into focus. Then gameplay begins. The dice instruct you as to how many spots to move ahead, and which cards to draw. Without giving too much away, Insight and Setback cards guide and test your self-awareness with statements – for example, I end up drawing a Setback card that reads: “You are set back by your rigidity on your present level”; while a separate Insight card later reminds me, “You take the initiative”. In each case, the player is asked to reflect on this statement in relation to him- or herself and the original game intention.
There are mini-games within the larger game structure, spicing things up by, say, testing your intuition or manifesting a miracle. Following my gut instinct – and hearing what it’s telling me in the first place – comes in often in my other readings and sessions with healers and psychics, so I’m not sure why I am surprised that I land on the “Intuitive Flash” square on the board four times in a row as soon as the game begins. As my friend Michelle hops along the board gaining insights and releasing setbacks – Goodbye, control! So long, people-pleasing! Hello, humour and vulnerability! – I return to this same square over and over. By the end of it, I can’t really deny that my intention of finding clarity and confidence is closely related to recognising and following my intuitive thoughts and ideas.
The game is defined by a time limit rather than a specific goal – everyone is a winner in this experience – and Jolie allows us time to assess the cards we’ve collected and create an executive summary to share with the group. With permission, everyone gives feedback on each person’s journey, an experience that is empowering and enlightening in this paired-player set-up, as I am able to hear wisdom both from a friend who knows me intimately, and a facilitator who is meeting me for the first time. There is also room for feedback on the feedback, creating a closed loop that resembles traditional talk therapy, with prompts.
Outcomes – and A Transformation?
Three hours – the allotted time for two players – passes quickly, but meaningfully. Jolie is an attentive and considerate facilitator, whose restrained approach and earnest follow-up questions provide much-needed guidance in the experience. Have I transformed in these three hours? Perhaps not in the same grand way that some have – Jolie shares broad-strokes stories about a couple who came with career-related intentions that found their relationship firmly and uncomfortably in the spotlight, or a team-building exercise for a circle of six that turned into a tear fest.
My transformation is perhaps a bit more nuanced, as is Michelle’s – undeniably, we have both spent three hours in a safe space that allows us to share our faults and fears without judgment, while building a to-do list of work that leads to emotional growth. I feel pleased with myself, as well as utterly exhausted.
On a scale of one to extremely woo-woo, this game is grounded enough that novices to the world of spirituality would be able to catch on and engage. There are no meditative regressions, and the focus is more on self-help, which makes this an interesting tool for rationalists and thinkers, as well as hippies and high priestesses. In my estimation, it is probably best played by people who feel they have blind spots or patterns that are blocking them from taking certain steps in their lives – for example, if you are continually passed over for promotions and wish to see how you’re getting in your own way, or if you notice certain recurring issues in relationships and you wish to hone in a path to eliminating them.
Or if, like me, you seek a little kick in the ass, to remind you of the issues that you’re still working on.