We are all familiar with asking a friend to “save a spot” for us, or requesting someone to “hold a space” for us. But what about holding interpersonal, emotional spaces and spots for others?
(Sunrise March 26, 2015)
I recently read a wonderful article on the Courage and Renewal Facebook page that begins with thoughts on palliative care and the idea of “holding space” for someone. It then moves on to the idea of holding space in our lives, our being, for anyone. (The link will be at the end of this piece.)
Holding space for someone.
“Holding Space” means holding space in your being, your life, your heart, where someone else can enter and be safe, free of judgment and hurry. It means allowing there to be space for someone else to feel and be vulnerable. A space for them to process whatever needs to be processed: grief, sorrow, anger, fear. Anything that may cause someone to feel broken, tender, raw.
Why? Because we are all fragile. Flawed. We all feel frightened, saddened, embarrassed. Maybe even shamed.
James Tolles breaks down the art of holding space into four key components: “Letting go of judgement, Opening your heart, Allowing another to have whatever experience they’re having, and Giving your complete undivided attention to the situation/other person.”
Letting go of judgement: no thought of what the other person should have or should not have done. No thought of right or wrong.
Open your heart: just open it up. Let the other person in. Let them know you’ve let them in. Care enough to be present to them.
“However we do it,
when we hold space for someone in need,
we are offering a gift of the highest nature.”
Allowing the other person to have their own experience: It’s not about you. Put your ego in the closet. Just listen to their story and let it be theirs alone. It is not about you.
Giving your complete, undivided attention to the other: Don’t take the phone call. Don’t make an excuse to leave. Be there.
Why? Because we have the ability for compassion and empathy. We have the capacity to want to make things better for others. Because we can make a difference in the life of someone else. It is our humanness.
Of course our first responsibility is to hold space for ourselves. We have to cradle and nurture our own being.
And then, we open our hearts and create space for those who come into our lives. A place for them to know that here they will always find a little space, protected and respected, to mend and rest. A place to pick up pieces from whatever has broken: a heart, a life, a dream, a boundary, faith, hope, belief, purpose, will, security……
I know many people who have experienced and suffered almost unimaginable things in life. I know many people who have been blessed with a good life and admit to not having experienced too many difficult times. But every person hurts. Every person has doubt. We all feel sorrow, grief, deep joys, love.
Every one of us has had a time, or will have a time when we stumble and fall. Maybe we trip over a shattered dream, or the loss of someone we have loved deeply. Maybe we have experienced betrayal or shaming, abuse or injury. Maybe our life has been rattled to it’s core and all that seemed secure is gone. Perhaps our whole world has not only been turned upside down but shaken so vigorously we fear we might fall off.
Our common humanity calls us to hold space for others. Our humanness requires us to protect and shield those who are suffering, hurting, lost, afraid.
“May I be the healing medicine for all who are sick.
May I bring healing to myself and others.”