heartstorming rainbow heart

Heartstorming: You Know How to Brainstorm. Here’s How to Heartstorm

Heartstorming. If you read my post How to sync with the energy of winter? you know that I’m working a little differently at the moment. Aligning with the seasons can make a big difference in how we feel. When we sense something shifting within ourselves it can also be part of a larger shift or pattern that is more personal.


We all know what brainstorming means. We do, right? I didn’t. I’ve been using an alternate practice—heartstorming—for a while, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I decided to make sure I actually did know the etymology of the term brainstorming and, as usual, I learned something. Before a “creative theorist” and businessman coined the term to mean a group problem solving exercise[1], it had a different meaning. Back in the mid 1800s it meant a “fit of acute delirious mania; sudden dethronement of reason and will under stress of strong emotion…” In the 1930s and 40s there are references to brainstorms as producing brilliant or spontaneous ideas to problems.[2] A merging of intuition and intellect with a dash of stress induced excitement? But what is heartstorming?


Heartstorming, as the name implies, is a gathering of ideas/expressions that come from the heart rather than the brain. Although I think this separation is mostly an illusion it’s helpful to distinguish them for the process.

Although both brainstorming and heartstorming can be used at any time, I like to use brainstorming when I have something in mind to work on, maybe a new project or an area where I’m struggling, or ways to finish a commitment. Brainstorming is a great tool to gather ideas (yes you can brainstorm by yourself).

I prefer heartstorming in times when many possibilities are open and new directions are simmering. Especially times when I need to dig deep down and review who I am and what I value, what makes me want to be part of this incredible world.

I tend to narrow in on details quickly, so brainstorming can get operational fast. I’ll gladly spreadsheet just about anything! Heartstorming is about focusing on how a thing feels rather than on how it gets done.

In a heartstorming session I’m focused on what my heart wants. How would I feel in a certain situation? What might bring a deep mature contentment, rather than checking something off a to do list, or pursuing something because I should. Like in a brainstorming session, we are non-judgmental and don’t censor ideas. The two approaches complement each other. They can give you insights into different sides of yourself, different ways to approach a challenge, or yield similar results when heart and mind are congruent.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

heartstorming rainbow heart

[1] https://www.regent.edu/journal/journal-of-transformative-innovation/the-history-of-brainstorming-alex-osborn/
[2] https://www.etymonline.com/word/brainstorm

©2023 Mara Bishop

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Heartstorming: You Know How to Brainstorm. Here’s How to Heartstorm”

  1. Thank you for this Mara- very helpful for an enthusiastic brainstormer, and I love etymologies so that was a great way to root the distinction 🙂

  2. Dearest Mara: I like this piece. It reminds me of your last piece on how to sync with the energy of winter and of a poem a friend passed along a few years ago. The poem is Winter Women by Patricia Monaghan. I read it often, especially in winter. She just found the perfect words.

    “When winter comes to a woman’s soul, she withdraws into her inner self, her deepest spaces. She refuses all connection, refutes all arguments that she should engage in the world. She may say she is resting, but she is more than resting. She is creating a new universe within herself, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, feeding in secret what needs to thrive.

    Winter women are those who bring into the next cycle what should be saved. They are the deep conservators of knowledge and power. Not for nothing did ancient peoples honour the grandmother. In her calm deliberateness, she winters over our truth, she freezes out false-heartedness.

    Look into her eyes, this winter woman. In their gray spaciousness you can see the future. Look out of your own winter eyes… You too can see the future.”

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