When I soul-track, I am most fully conscious of myself in the environment. What is soul tracking, you might ask? Soul tracking is an active form of meditative walking. It involves searching for a natural object that attracts and resonates with the self.
I am deeply grateful to Cindy Krum, an environmentalist and former colleague, who introduced me to the practice. For several years, during the late eighties, she and I worked together to introduce soul tracking to a few of my clients.
I did not know then that by stepping out of my office into a safe environmental space, that I would adopt soul tracking as a bane against the psychologically painful stories I dealt with on a daily basis.
Cindy and I took great care to choose a quiet, safe, walk-able space in nature for our sessions— a woodland path near a riverbed where fallen trees jutted into water, a path adjacent to rock ledge, a marsh filled with tall reeds and soft grasses. In my instructions, I told clients to walk slowly, to note what is there, along the path, in front of you, to notice what draws you. Stop to touch, to smell.
One client was drawn to the green moss growing out of a stone outcrop. Silent on the wooded path, she burst out with delight when she bent to touch the soft new growth. That shared experience reminded me of nature’s potential to enrich our well-being. This was not new information. Thoreau spent a year in the woods sauntering, noticing, and writing about the benefits of nature at Walden Pond.
My client had little softness in her early life; she was hard on herself. Moss, its moisture on her fingertips, resonated with her younger self, the part of her that longed for gentle touch and a loving connection. As my client’s guide, I asked, “What about the moss appeals and resonates within you? Her hand caressing the moss, her mind quiet, she was able to focus and tap into her longing and the attraction to a small, contained, tender part of herself.
With time and focused attention in a natural habitat, one can easily attend to what draws you. Often, these buoyant, bright fall days, I take a mini walk in my garden. I move into a semi-meditative state. The other day, as my eye swept the garden, I was drawn to a four-foot brilliant yellow zinnia plant. A giant outlier in the midst of my low growing orange zinnias, it had “shown up” in the spring flats. All summer long and now into fall, it sends up tall, firm stems with thick, lush and rich heads. Taken inside, each flower lasts up to two weeks.
Daily, I am grateful for the yellow beauties on the kitchen counter; they make me smile. When a flower dies off, I cut the blossom off, turn it upside on newsprint until it dries. My hope is to save the seed heads over the winter and replant in the spring.