First of all, what does “holding space” mean? Holding space is when we are really present with someone and we create an atmosphere or container for someone to be fully expressed and to know their truth. The person feels held by our presence and safe to express whatever they are feeling or experiencing. It is a space for healing as the individual unravels their story and is held in unconditional love. The person holding the space simply reflects back to them their truth as love. I created 6 steps for holding space based on experiences that I have had holding space for others individually and in groups during ceremonies.
1. Hold them in truth. The most important step is for us to always be present to their truth. By this, I mean their spiritual truth as an individual expression of the divine. They are beyond all circumstances. They are eternal and infinite. As an expression of the divine, they are whole and complete no matter what they are currently experiencing. They are love, abundance, beauty, and perfection. Fist, meditate on this truth and then hold that knowing throughout the conversation or ceremony. See them through this lense and remind yourself (and the universe) of this silently and frequently as you hold space.
2. Don’t give advice. Respect their individual sovereignty and know that they are being guided by divine wisdom. Sometimes advice, even when it is given with the best intentions, comes across as belittling. It is best not to assume that we know better than they do or that they don’t know what to do. Often, there are factors involved that we do not understand that prevent someone from making the healthiest choices. We all know greens are good for us. However, we may avoid them because we would rather eat chocolate (speaking from personal experience here). The reason we crave chocolate is not simple and the solution is not simple either. The solution may seem obvious and the path that we choose for healing this issue might not make sense to others. For instance, I might spend more time singing and dancing in order to add more sweetness to my life and reduce my need for chocolate.
3. Don’t one-up them with your dramatic story. This one is tricky. I know that in the past, I tried to do this in order to connect with someone and let them know that they were not alone. The issue here is that we are directing the energy back to us. This takes the focus and energy that we were holding for them back onto us. It can make someone feel like we are not there for them. Also, we don’t want to join them in their “misery” by agreeing with them about how much life sucks and adding our story as fuel to the fire. This is tricky because it is a habitual way of relating that many people use to feel connection with others. It may also disrupt the way in which we hold their truth as outlined in step 1.
4. Don’t MAKE them feel better. I capitalized MAKE because they will naturally feel better through the process of holding space. However, we don’t want rush this process by jumping in to hold them or minimize their pain. Believe it or not, experiencing our emotions and feeling the pain is the most important and underrated steps in the healing process. We are entitled to our emotions and our emotions are like divine messengers for our healing. Many of us were taught that it is not o.k. to have emotions, let alone express them. Holding space means that we create a safe space for someone to be emotional and know that they are still loved. This is a huge lesson, let them have this experience. We may still give them a hug and offer nurturing support after the ceremony or after their sharing.
5. Don’t judge (no “shoulds”). We may skim over this step and think, “Yeah, I know this one.” Please don’t. Of course, many of us know that we are not supposed to judge others. And, many of us think that we don’t judge others. The truth is that it is happening all the time and is a natural survival process. We are always evaluating our surroundings and determining who is safe or not safe. It is important to understand that even whay we don’t say is still felt by others. Once we fully understand our oneness and our truth, it is easier to understand that we are all equal and all the hierarchical language that we use is simply not true. It is helpful to also make this a daily practice. The key here is to watch the mind chatter and quickly catch any judgements and circle back to step 1 as quickly as possible.
6. Do….see them, hear them, value them, and breathe! This is all we really want and need. Connection is created by feeling seen, heard, and valued (thank you Brene Brown!). Connection is a divine act. It is how we create acceptance, love, and understanding. In order to feel loved, we need to feel accepted. In order to feel accepted, we need to feel seen, heard, and valued. This is the circle of love. As Ziggy Marley sings, “Love is My Religion.” It’s time, time to practice the religion of love. When in doubt, breath. When stressed, breath. When we forget, breath. When holding space, breathe!
To schedule a session in which I hold space for your healing, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-684-2332. I offer a free Life Visioning Journey for potential new clients to experience what it is like for us to work together.