Pont du Gard
Contemplation,  Travel

Personal Geography

The Inner & Outer Map of Your Life Journey

I recently returned to a childhood place where my family had swims and picnics on hot summer days. I didn’t need the GPS to get there as my entire being remembered the way to the Pont du Gard.

shadow of a bridge on the land and water below
Shadow of the bridge on the land and water below

I rely on maps to navigate places I do not know. I study them and trust them to take me where I need to go. And I know that when I step off the path to follow my inner compass, I take the chance to get lost, and yes, I have gotten desperately lost. Yet, like a migratory bird traveling between familiar places, I can sense my way and find the course again. Some say we are never lost.

It has been my life’s journey to travel, study, work, and love in other lands, and personal geographies are etched in my body. I remember well where my heart was broken and where my spirit soared. 

Maps are a visual guide to the places we have been, the people, the stories, and the journey. Some localities have been welcoming, kind and generous to us. Others much less so. We can speak of feeling empowered or disempowered, and if there are “power places,” we imply that there are places of less power to sustain us there. Emotions and sensations color our experiences. It is easy to enjoy a lovely place when we feel vibrant with life. It becomes more complicated when sorrow, grief, or confusion color our experience. How do we make sense of all this?

Here, I invite you to creatively map your unique geography and write what comes to mind without judgment. You will need a globe or a map of your choice, journal/ writing material, pins or colored stickers, strings or ribbons, and a quiet space. Of course, if you prefer to work digitally, that is fine too.

8 steps to drawing the map of your life journey

It doesn’t matter whether you have traveled the world from the north to the south poles or crossed your town and changed neighborhoods; you have metaphorically and symbolically explored your world. Now we are taking the time to shape it more consciously.

  1. We begin by connecting with the earth. Place your hands on your belly, close your eyes, and allow your breath to expand your abdomen. Breathe for a few minutes connecting breath and earth.
  2. Invite your heart and spirit to be open and welcome what comes; memories, pictures, feelings, and impressions. 
  3. On the map, place a pin where you were born. Then, in your journal,  write the date and draw a timeline. What do you know about your birth? What did your family tell you? Write down what you recall.
  4. Return to your breath, then place a pin on the map of the following significant event you remember; a new sibling, an illness, a  parent’s divorce, or going to school. Write what comes to mind.
  5. Return to your breath, then place a pin on the map for the next event in your life; maybe a turning point, a marriage, the birth of a child, a new job, or a relocation. Write what comes to mind.
  6. There are no expectations to map your life in one sitting. Take your time and return to it until the present moment and your current location. Connect the pins with a ribbon or a string. 
  7. Your map is now ready. You can decorate it with pictures, words, photos, and mementos if you wish to. Feel free to add to it as your life unfolds.
  8. Thank and bless the earth where you have walked. Ask for forgiveness and compassion. Release what no longer serves you. Feel creative and free to find your unique way to honor the journey so far. Being in Nature works wonders. In my next blog, I will introduce the Hawaiian Ho’ponopono practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is universal, simple, and lovely.

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