Heart Mapping

Heart Mapping

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The writing life requires a lot of interior contemplation. Sometimes we need to curl up with our thoughts and our feelings, sort them, bundle them, unbundle them, and lay them out. 

In her book, Awakening the Heart, Georgia Heard provides an exercise that she calls “the heart map.” The idea is that we carry with us a map of our hearts, but often we do not know what is on the map or how the map is guiding us. As writers, our job is to discover the paths and landmarks inside of us so that we can write more openly and with greater vulnerability. 

Heard writes: “It’s a poet’s job to know the interior of his or her heart. This is one way of accessing these feelings. We carry this heart map around all the time, but how many of us know what it really looks like and what’s in it? Drawing a map of our hearts helps make order out of what often feels like chaos and reveals the meanings behind the confusion emotions. And these meanings shine like gems that have been long buried.”

This week, we want you to make a map of your heart. 

As you create your heart map, think through the following questions:

What has really affected your heart?
What people have been important to you?
What are some experiences or central events that you will never forget?
What happy or sad memories do you have?
What secrets have you kept in your heart?
What small things or objects are important to you – the outfit you brought you first baby home in, a wedding photo, a ring from your grandmother, etc.
Should some things be outside of the heart and some things be inside of it?
What’s at the center of your heart? What’s around the edges? Do different colors represent different emotions, events, relationships?

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Keeping our hearts open is the work of poetry, a work of creativity. Draw your own or download your own heart map (made by Jena Holliday!) here.

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