As a life coach and energy healer, my job is to hold space. At core, my job is not really to give advice or to say wise words. In reality, the deepest, most healing aspect of what I do is to hold space for other people.
But what does it mean to hold space?
To hold space is to create an environment that is supportive for healing and spiritual awakening. (In reality, healing and spiritual awakening are one and the same.) To hold space is to act as a clear mirror for the other person: to nurture the process of the other person courageously looking within.
When one looks within, one discovers the intuition and wisdom that is already there.
Indeed, to hold space is to trust that the other person knows best—knows how to heal herself, knows how to change, knows how to grow, knows what to do. Holding space is a radical act of faith in the harmony of the Universe. Holding space is a radical act of generosity and of love.
When I first heard about the importance of holding space for another human being, I assumed it was easier than it really was. Yet, over the years, I’ve discovered that holding space can be quite challenging
Why is it challenging?
It is challenging because it requires a loosening of the ego. It requires cultivating an aura of non-judgment, non-reactivity. It requires compassion and unconditional love.
Holding this kind of sacred space, this kind of loving awareness is the ultimate gift. It is the ultimate healing force.
With this in mind, here are four tips for how to hold space for another person. You can use these strategies both in your professional healing practice or in your personal life with friends and family.
Make peace with silence
There will be moments in your meeting when silence naturally arises. This is ok.
Don’t feel like you have to fill up every moment with speaking. There may be moments when the other person wants to stare out the window and gather their thoughts. Or maybe there are moments when you are both at a loss for words, overcome by tears and strong emotions.
Don’t rush to fill the silence. Simply allow the silence to be another participant in the unfolding scene. Welcome the silence as a friend.
Your whole world is that person
In our fast-paced, hectic society, when you give the gift of total attention, you are giving a priceless gift.
When you hold space for someone, you dedicate yourself fully.
For the time being, your whole worldis that person. Your whole entire universe. Nothing else matters; nothing else exists.
When a person comes to you seeking solace or guidance (regardless of whether that person is a friend, family member, neighbor, client, or coworker), what they really want is to feel is that they matter. What the other person ultimately wants—whether they are consciously aware of it or not—is to feel your total attention on them. They want to feel that you are truly there with them.
When you hold sacred space, it’s not the time to think about yourself or your own issues. Be “all in” with that other person. Be utterly devoted, like a lover.
Be like a child
Holding space is sacred and precious because it requires a (temporary) dropping of egoic boundaries.
When we hold space for someone, we find the courage to temporarily set aside our own separate, individual self—our own wants, desires, opinions, storyline, and beliefs. In order to hold space, we must be like a newborn baby: fresh into the world, without preconceived notions about what is right or wrong, possible or impossible. We must be simple, innocent, curious, open-hearted, sweet, and gentle.
For most of us in society, we have been trained to use our intellect as the dominant tool for processing our reality. The intellect (the ego), unfortunately, does not know how hold space. Rather, what holds space is the heart—and the quality of the heart is childlike innocence.
Recognize that holding space for someone else is facilitating your own awakening process
When we commit ourselves to the practice of holding space for another human being, what we actually also do is facilitate our own awakening.
Holding space is like meditation. When we hold space, we become clear. We become pure.
When we intentionally step out of the constrictions of our ego, the more that the flavor of enlightenment permeates every cell of our body. The more we act as a clear, open mirror for someone, the less gunk we have in the way of our own awakening.
Holding space is a gift you give … and it is also a gift you receive.
Dear friends, I’d love to hear your stories.
When was the last time you held space for someone? What did it feel like to hold space? What was scary about it? Exciting about it? Please comment below, so we can all learn together.
6 thoughts on “How to Hold Space for Someone: 4 Tips for Facilitating an Awakening Environment”
Thank you for sharing your comments and stories!
I have never heard of this before and I so appreciate you sharing this information.
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My absolute pleasure, Wendi 🙂 thank you for your comment.
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Thank you for this very thoughtful article. It expresses ideas that most of the people who work at Easton Mountain, where I live, have discovered from their own experiences. I would add that I have discovered that holding space may involve several techniques – perhaps I might call them several levels. One is simply to listen in silence. A second is to reflect back what the person said, a technique often referred to as “mirroring” and turned into a school of psychotherapy by Carl Rogers. A third is to ask honest open-ended questions. This is advocated by Parker Palmer, author of the book, A Hidden Wholeness [please forgive the lack of italics for the last three words, as this reply program doesn’t seem to facilitate them]. I’ve participated in workshops led by one of Palmer’s students and can say that creating a genuine honest and open-ended question which is not really advice given in the form of a question is a skill that requires some training and practice. Which technique(s) to use in any situation is also a skill, and I think that that skill comes with experience.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I too am a student of Parker Palmer. I discovered his work shortly after my first spiritual awakening, when I was in grad school. I was profoundly touched by his discourses on silence in teaching/learning environments. I remember at that time I brought intentional silence into my college classrooms–and boy oh boy it caused quite a stir with my students! Some found it healing and refreshing; others were just confused. In any case, it is good to think of dear Palmer again, thanks to your comment.
May your work at Easton Mountain be blessed, and may your journey into the miracle of silence and holding space be one of profound joy. Peace to you my friend. xo