Desire Mapping

Bring Back Who You Were Before the World Told You Who You Should Be

In 2014, Danielle LaPorte wrote a book that caught the attention of so many women, even Oprah noticed. The book, “The Desire Map,” suggests we are setting goals in the wrong order. Instead of creating to-do lists, completing our tasks and hoping to feel accomplished, Desire Mapping recommends we first figure out how we want to feel. By repositioning our feelings to the top of our priority list, LaPorte claims decisions will be less stressful to make, it will be easier to say no and we can all be a little more open-minded and optimistic. Simply put, Desire Mapping is a method for framing your life around your desires. 


Heather Ritenour-Sampson is the owner of Yoga Tribe, a boutique urban yoga studio located in heart of downtown Rochester. “I discovered the Desire Map process when working with a business coach from California,” Ritenour-Sampson explains. “When my coaching began, I couldn’t even say what I really wanted for my life. As a wife and mother, I felt like my primary role was to make sure everyone else was happy, not to focus on myself. I also didn’t believe what I wanted mattered, because I couldn’t have it anyway.” 

Through coaching, Ritenour-Sampson experienced a life-altering change. “Desire Mapping gave me the opportunity to start talking about how I wanted to feel—which was a lot easier than naming what I wanted.” Ritenour-Sampson was hooked. She was able to clarify her deepest desires and start moving in the direction of her dreams. After the profound shift she experienced, Heather became a licensed Desire Map facilitator to share the experience with others. 

Ritenour-Sampson is also a Prana Vinyasa™ certified yoga teacher, an affiliate Prana Vinyasa teacher trainer through the Samudra School of Living Yoga and an empowerment coach. She originally got into yoga with a passion for athleticism and healing combined with a curiosity for stress management through meditation. She strives to bring healing to others through empowerment, transformation and self-compassion. This is why Yoga Tribe began offering Desire Map retreats as part of the yoga studio curriculum. “We often think of yoga as something we only do on a mat; moving and breathing,” Ritenour-Sampson explains, “but yoga really is a means of transformation happening in all areas of our being, not just our bodies.” Because of this grounded sense of beliefs, Ritenour-Sampson asserts the Desire Map process can help us become more discerning and intentional in the kind of life we want to be living, as well as the kind of person we want to be.


At Yoga Tribe, Desire Mapping can be experienced as a one-on-one experience or in a group session. Group sessions are available as a one-day retreat or a six-week course. Ritenour-Sampson says, “The method I most enjoy is the group retreat, because the ‘diving in and getting clear’ process is intense. Digesting the experience while being supported with yoga and nourishing food in a luxurious environment helps everyone feel safe, relaxed and brave.”

Participants of the group retreat receive a workbook, which they are guided through, covering several modules of self-inquiry. Sections in the handbook include anchoring, journaling and group sharing. “We start the process with some warm-up questions to help us see our habits and beliefs better,” Ritenour-Sampson shares. Questions are asked such as, “How did you talk about feelings in your family?” and “When was a time you felt exactly how you wanted to feel?” As the group completes portions of the workbook, the process leads participants to ask themselves how they want to feel in their health, relationships, creativity, spirituality and other important segments of life. “As we navigate through this process, we start to notice patterns in the words we choose. We can narrow down the list to reveal our top desires, which we call Core Desired Feelings,” Ritenour-Sampson summarizes. Core Desired Feelings are used to inspire daily decisions and bigger goals.  


Janessa Nickell is a business strategy consultant and manager for a global consulting company. She has been practicing with Yoga Tribe since the spring of 2017 and learned about the retreat during class. “The Desire Map process helped me find greater clarity in how I want to feel every day and understand how that insight can inform my short-term and long-term goals and practices,” Nickell says. “It is a great way to reset and get to the heart of how you want to experience life, so it would be a wonderful way to make the transition from one year or phase of life into the next.”

Brittany Baker, co-owner of MedCity Doulas, Rochester’s first and only professional doula agency, attended Ritenour-Sampson’s first Desire Map Urban Retreat in spring 2017. “As a goal-orientated, recovering-perfectionist,” Baker starts, “I was mostly feeling exhausted with my successes. I found myself not wanting to lean in, but to lie down. The Desire Mapping Process was pivotal in both my entrepreneurial path and my personal life.” According to Baker, after identifying core desired feelings, she was able to prioritize with more clarity, as well as stop to celebrate successes along the way. She says, “I am able to say ‘no’ more often. When I feel how I desire to feel, it seems as though I can accomplish the things I need to get done with ease.”


Has the turn of the year led you to a New Year’s Resolution? Ritenour-Sampson opines Desire Mapping is much different because it is action-based, and led by self-compassion, not self-judgment. 

According to the author of “The Desire Map,” in addition to the opinions of local women, Desire Mapping will change the way you think, the way you plan and the way you talk—especially about yourself. It might change the way you dress, the work you choose to do and the priorities in your relationships. Completing the mapping process can bring back joy, and the permission to dream so we can live the life we most deeply, authentically desire. It pushes participants to remember who they are outside of the roles they play.

Baker believes Desire Mapping can help women improve our lives. “This isn’t just another resolution thing,” Baker asserts. “This is life-changing. I would encourage every woman, but especially those on the cusp of a transition or change, to shift their mindset about goal-setting.” Baker puts the lessons from her Desire Map to use as she coaches women through birth and postpartum transitions as well as in her newest venture, SheCreative. Baker concludes, “I am a doula and a designer, holding space for women to birth their ideas and their babies. And I am feeling exactly how I want to feel about it.”

Ritenour-Sampson adds, “So many of the women I have connected with through the Desire Map retreats are amazing, creative, vital women who have been trapped in self-imposed limitations due to the roles they feel they are expected to play in their families, relationships and work. Desire Mapping will bring you back to who you were before the world told you who you should be. Aren’t you curious to see what life would look like if you dared to really honor your desires?”


Gina Dewink is a local writer and author. Her first novel, a thrilling time travel novel entitled “Time in My Pocket,” debuted in 2017.