Holding Space – What does it mean?

For many, including me, the first response you have when someone has a problem, an illness, or a traumatic event in their lives, is to help, to try to make it better, to fix it. While there are times to take action, sometimes there’s no action that can make things better, and it isn’t something that can be fixed. As much as we might want to, we can’t go through their experience for them.

We can do something very powerful though. It isn’t action, it’s more a state of being. We can hold space for them.

A pink rose in morning light.

A New Day © 2014 Karen Casey-Smith

For me, holding space means:

  • Keeping an open heart
    • Allow them to be exactly where they are, and to work through things in their own time. Coming from unconditional love, you hold a safe space for them while they heal.
  • Staying out of judgement
    • This means without criticism, blame, or second guessing them or their process.
  • Trusting
    • Have faith and trust in them, that they are doing what they need to do to heal. Support them without telling them what to do. Sometimes people just need to be truly seen and heard. Whether they need to talk or be silent, you can give your complete attention. Quiet your own mind, and really listen to them.
    • Trust yourself too. Sometimes you’ll be inspired to speak or act, but you don’t need to fill the silence just to fill it. Allow uncertainty. Sit with any discomfort you might feel. It will pass.
  • Keeping in mind, this isn’t about you.
    • What it would be like for you, or what you might do in their shoes has no place in this process. Hurting for someone, or taking on their pain makes you less able to to focus on them, and your pain doesn’t lessen the pain or discomfort they feel. Give them your complete attention. The heart of compassion is the desire for others to be free of suffering. Be peace.

The more centered you are, the better. You hold this expansive space, without judgement or expectations. Do take care of yourself. You’re the most help when you’re well, grounded, and centered.

We can offer this practice in person, as we sit with them. It can be offered over the phone, or even in meditation, distantly. If you don’t practice energy work, or meditation, you can simply hold thoughts of them in the same ways we discussed above.

As it turns out, holding space for others is as beneficial for you as it is for them. As you hold space for others, you simultaneously hold space for yourself. If you hold space for someone, well and truly, you aren’t holding some space separate from yourself, you are that loving, kind, compassionate space.

In light and love,

♥ Karen

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