In 2014 when I published THE MAGIC THEATER: Your Personal Journal, I wanted to include the Soul Country exercise from Keeping Your Personal Journal. Regretfully, the author, George F. Simons, was nowhere to be found, and the book’s publisher had no address for him. Since the publisher didn’t own the rights and had no address for Simons, I seemed to have hit a dead end.
I searched to see if Simons had mysteriously reappeared on the web and if anyone was selling copies of the book when once again I sought to recommend the exercise. I found the book in question on Amazon, and a photograph of Simons on his author page there, but no contact information. So, as much as I’d like to give you the whole scoop on Soul Country, I can only give you a taste and a strong nudge to buy the book. Keeping Your Personal Journal is only an $8.65 investment, but there is only one new book in stock and a few used copies available.
Now do not overthink the instructions you will be given for the exercise. Spontaneity is required. And Simons likes the exercise to be done with colored pencils. First, draw yourself as a country in whatever shape you see yourself. If you see yourself strongly connected to other people, show how you are connected. This might be a common border, a bridge, or even a steamship line. Let your creativity flow.
Place the feelings you hold within in your country. Simons urges you to add personal specifics that affect you, such as “the volcano of anger at my father” and the “joyful bridge which connects my soul country to my wife’s.” Use the colored pencils as feels right to you. The volcano might be all red and silent, for example; it could be spewing red lava everywhere, or it could be black and dormant, yet still affecting you. Trust that if you drew it that it belongs and that the color you chose for its expression is accurate.
Next, Simons asks you to jot down a word or phrase expressing your feelings about your country. The following step is to take the word or phrase and develop it into a paragraph. From here, Simons directs you in many other ways to utilize this map and its information to grow in self-awareness, forgiveness and other spiritual qualities. He details and explains the process in more depth than I have offered you, and he tells you how to use the exercise in a group setting as well as a personal setting.
I frequently draw a slightly different version of his exercise for myself, one without the additional steps or the personal specific items that Simons uses. I also do not use colored pencils, but simply draw myself as a country using a regular writing pencil or pen. If I have a strong connection with another, that connection is sketched in as another country. I look at any defenses, things like reinforced borders and soldiers. I also add my transportation methods, my imports and exports, my towns’ names and especially the name of my capital. People are sketched in as stick figures. Add whatever comes to mind that feels right to you. Ultimately, I find this simpler map very telling about my current state of affairs. If you change jobs, move, or have relationship changes, these steps alone can really show you what is going on in your life.
The purpose of the two methods is different, thus the end results will be different. Yet, both have value. I highly recommend Simons’ Keeping Your Personal Journal. But try my version as well and let me know if you found it as visual and valid as I did.
Remember: Be spontaneous, don’t overthink, and have fun with the exercise.