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Art of Holding Space

Updated: Jan 5

What does the art of holding space mean?  It means meeting people where they’re at and not taking on their pain;holding a grounding experience to allow them to feel and process what they need.  You must let go of your agenda, judgements, and let go of trying to “fix” someone. Meet people with a compassionate heart and guide them to the answers they already have inside.  How does it make you feel when someone tells you should be happy, or smile when things are going really terrible for you? It’s important to know the difference of having empathy v. sympathy.  I think Brene Brown says it best in this video and in her books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

The first step in the art of holding space is self-care.  Some people think self-care is selfish, but that is furthest from the truth.  We must fill our cup up before being able to give to others fully without getting depleted.  Examples of self-care can be eating healthy, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, massages, pedicures/manicures, warm baths etc.  There are many different methods of self-care, so be sure to pick something that resonates with you. Self-care also includes saying no, setting boundaries, and not over committing yourself to try and please people.  Again, we have nothing to give if we are depleted. The airplane example always resonates with me; you must put the oxygen on yourself first in order to save others. We must work on ourselves so we aren’t projecting our problems onto others. 

We all have intuition, but many of us are out of touch with the natural signals our body sends as messages.  They can be a palpable sense, that ‘gut’ feeling, or shivers down the spine. It can be something that comes via a little voice in our head.  Some people experience visualizations. We must slow down and make space in our lives in order to tune into our intuition. When we stay busy there is no room for listening to these natural signals our body makes.  More and more tech companies, like Apple for instance, are seeing the value of intuition and making more space in their schedule, so that their employees can tune into their intuition and come up with creative ideas.    

The other critical component is deep listening.  The world needs more listeners, less talkers, telling people what to do.  Deep listening includes being fully present, making eye contact, and not thinking about what you are going to say next, or cutting someone off before they are finished.  Staying fully present and taking a deep breath before speaking can help. Speaking the truth is super important. You can ask yourself; “Is it true?”, “Is it kind?”, “Is it necessary?”if the answer isn’t yes to all of the above it might not be worth saying.  When in doubt always go with compassion over truthfulness.

Grounding techniques are super important to stay in touch with yourself.  Some of my favorite grounding techniques are walking around outdoors barefoot while staying fully present.  Simply feeling the earth below your feet. Journaling first thing in the morning with pen/paper can be very grounding for some people.  Deep, slow, conscious breathing is very grounding. Eating grounding foods like root vegetables (or even holding them in your hand can be very grounding) ginger tea, dairy, nuts, seeds, meat, and fish.  Lye or sit on the floor, while rooting down through the seat.

When we experience some level of trauma or take on other people's energy, clearing techniques are very helpful.  It can be as simple as washing your hands, looking up to the sky and noticing the vastness of space, grounding through the soles of your feet, taking an epsom salt bath, taking a deep exhale through through pursed lips, allowing your body to shake, burning something in a sacred way, or fluffing your hands in the air.

It’s important to identify triggers.  Ideally, don’t take on things that trigger you.  Always ask for help. Have a friend/co-worker to discharge to when triggered.  Please know that family and politics are triggers for everyone, and it's almost impossible to hold space in these situations.  Sometimes it's best to bring in someone from the outside to resolve conflict with family.  

Sign up here for the Art of Holding Space workshop: https://www.wellnessliving.com/rs/event/habit?k_class_tab=20121&uid=30507296&id_class_tab=2

Gratitude and credit to my teachers Angie Knight and Jenn Wooten who provided a 50 Hour mentorship on the art of holding space, which was life changing and finalized my 500 HR teaching certificate! The teachings will be rooted in their love and wisdom.