Joseph Anderson

Soul Cartography: The Road Ahead

This is the final exercise in the introductory Soul Cartography class. In the exercise you will draw an imaginary map showing the road between where you are today and a goal you aspire to in the future. You will also draw the features of the landscape through which this road travels. As part of the map you will identify both the difficult parts of that journey, the stretches of beautiful inspiring landscape that will support you on your way, and the resources you have available to you to help you on your way. The outcome will be a vivid picture of the road ahead of you, and a set of affirmations you can use to help you move forward. 

  1. To begin with, identify three aspirations you have for your life going forward. These can be large or small, broad or focused: something you want to accomplish, a change you want to make in your life, some aspect of your experience that you want to increase or diminish. Write down the three aspirations, take a good look at them – and then choose one of the three to work with in the exercise (you can always use the same process later to explore the other aspirations, or any other aspirations you have). 
  2. In one corner of a large sheet of blank paper, draw a small circle (about 2″ in diameter). In the opposite corner, draw a second 2″ circle.
  3. In the first corner, draw a symbol that represents you as you are in this moment. It could be a geometric shape, a small figure, an object that you feel connected with, an animal…don’t worry about the quality of the image, as long as you know what it represents.
  4. In the corner where your line ends, draw a symbol that represents the aspiration you want to focus on in today’s exercise.
  5. Put your pencil in the first circle. Without thinking too much about it, create a winding path to the opposite circle.  Avoid having the line cross itself. Let your pen wander in a leisurely way – it’s best if you avoid straight lines.
  6. Fill the space between the two circles with landscape features. Add mountain ranges, rivers, forests, fields, lakes, cities, towns, oceans, islands… A varied landscape is good, but trust your intuition. Focus especially on the areas through which the pathway you just drew travels, but you are not limited to that.
    1. Your rendition of these features does not have to be “artistic” in any way – if you’re interested in cultivating your capacity to draw landscape items, I recommend a few simple online tutorials, mostly from the wonderful blog Fantastic Maps. In 30 minutes or so you will pick up some wonderful ideas about drawing landscape features on a map. Again, not required in any way but I think it does make the exercise more fun!
      1. Trees
      2. Coastlines and more coastlines
      3. Chasms
      4. Mountains and more mountains
      5. Swamps
      6. Canyons
  7. Once you have completed your map, identify a few places where your path travels through geographical features that could be obstacles, and a few places where the path through features that would be particularly inspiring to you. Put an “o” on each of those points on the path. Try to identify 5 or 6 of these.
  8. For each of the circles on your path, consider: what tools, resources, or helpers would assist you in getting past the obstacle, or make the most of the inspiring places? Add words or pictures that identify these to your map.
  9. For each of the tools, resources, or helpers on your path, consider: What positive quality or virtue does each of these items represent? You may want to look at the list of virtues from the Virtues Project for help. Add those virtues to your map as well.
  10. On a separate sheet of paper write affirming sentences for each of the qualities: “I call on _________ for my journey so I can __________.” For example, “I call on strength for my journey so I can overcome my fear of failure” or “I call on joy for my journey so I can see the beauty of my path.”