April 2, 2024

Kokoro & Origami Hearts: The Soul of Gift Wrapping. ~ Megumi Inouye

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The Heart of Gratitude

Tending to Oneself and Others

Whenever I face something of importance that makes me anxious, I hear my mother’s voice, a gentle directive to “prepare your heart.” In Japan there are two words for the heart. One is shinzou, which refers to the physical organ of the heart, and the other is kokoro, which not only encompasses how we feel, what we think, and our intended meaning but also influences the landscape of our surroundings. I see what my mother was advising. In order to do something well, accomplish something of importance, there is the matter of tending to one’s heart. Being calm and centered, and approaching whatever we do with the right intentions, impacts the outcome.

Kokoro becomes visible through our actions, revealing itself in the things we do, create, make, and give. I focus on happy and peaceful thoughts, helping others, seeing the good in people, and practicing forgiveness. I aspire to be more grateful, kind, compassionate, giving, and to appreciate the people and the world around me. My heart, making its way through my hands as I fold paper, fabric, and materials, is reflected in my wrapping. In the words of writer George Bernard Shaw: “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

Whenever I wrap a gift as an expression of my soul, I realize I am also tending to the memory of my mother. It’s as if the art of wrapping is there to teach and remind me to work on being my best, fullest version of myself. “Tend to your heart and that of others.” It’s as if I hear my mother’s voice sharing a mystical secret directing me to the source of all of life’s answers.


Origami Hearts

These origami hearts bring back a memory of when my youngest daughter and I volunteered at an assisted-living and community center for seniors. For a special New Year’s meal that would include residents’ family and friends, we wrapped over 150 sets of chopsticks in crisp white pleats of paper and embellished them with origami hearts. The seniors joined us, and my daughter and I had the opportunity to listen to their life stories and share laughs while we all folded together. It was truly a “wrapping with the heart” scenario for everyone, both literally and figuratively.

What You Need

Square sheet of paper (6″ × 6″ origami paper works well)

How to Make It

1. Fold the paper into a triangle and unfold. Fold the opposite corners together to create another triangle and unfold. You should have an X in the center of the paper. With the paper oriented in a diamond shape, fold the top corner to the center line.

2. Fold the bottom corner to the top edge.

3.  Bring the bottom edge up to the center line, folding at a diagonal. Repeat on the left side.

4. Turn the paper over. Fold down both top points to create the top edges of the heart. Turn the two side points inward.


Excerpted from The Soul of Gift Wrapping © by Megumi Inouye. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.




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