Holding Space is the ability to “push the pause button” in moments that you normally might scream, hit or hurt yourself or others.
It is learning to avoid letting your imagination about what “could” happen hold you emotionally hostage
It is staying calmly centered during times when it feels like “things will never change” or “things could not get worse” and understanding that things WILL change and get better will no matter how intense you feel. Like in that moment when:
- Your website crashes and you loose years of work
- You see flashing lights in your rear-view mirror
- Your four year-old screams, “I hate you!”
- You get news that a loved-one has died
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t want to see you anymore
- You discover you teenager is pregnant
- You are told your child is autistic
- You hear you or someone close has a terminal disease
- You find out your child has been abused
- You realize you are or have been abused and didn’t even realize it
- You find out your spouse has cheated
- You find out you have miscarried a long waited for pregnancy
- You find out you will never be able to get pregnant
- You realize you are addicted to a prescription drug
- You actually consider divorce
- You have thoughts of suicide
- Your five year-old spills milk
- Your friend looks at you funny
- Your newborn cries at 3 AM
The Holding Space Practice teaches tools that you practice regularly so that when things are going well you can enjoy them more fully. And when you are faced with darkness, fear or intense anger, you can call on a storage of deep strength and calm to face those moments with poise and grace. Or you might flip out, but you learn to let go of those moments of not-so-perfect reactions.
BEAUTY IN THE COMPOST
I began an organization and website when having a website was novel. I poured hours and energy into posting all kinds of resources and stories on that website along with several other contributor-friends over the course of five or six years. I had updated the whole site twice. I had made videos and linked hundreds of urls to resources. Seriously. Making a website and starting an organization is a little like adding another child to your family.
One day I went to add something and everything was gone. Poof! Not there. Just some error message. At first I was calm. Someone can fix this. But the more we explored the more I realized it had been hacked. All I had left was incomprehensible strings of code. Even if I could remember all that was on the website, there was not enough time and energy to reproduce it all. It was like a virtual house fire where all your precious photos and memorabilia are gone. I was no longer calm. I cried a lot. Before practicing Holding Space I would have dipped deep into a dark depression and perhaps never considered starting anything again! Ever!
Instead, I bravely faced the truth of the situation. I processed the intense feelings over the course of a few weeks. I began to see it as a blessing and opportunity to let go of “old” stuff and trusted that I would know which parts to re-created and which parts to let lie. I updated from scratch and learned things I would have never learned without the disaster. I sat back and watched myself grow. I am still watching as a beautiful flower emerges out of the compost of the crashed website.
It is like a plant that began to grow in our backyard compost this spring. I kept trying to bury it with the kitchen scraps but it kept growing right up through the rubbish. It got taller and taller. I noticed some buds start to form on the stem. Big buds. I became curious about what the flowers would look like. Out of the kitchen scraps grew a huge hollyhock that I never planted.
The Holding Space Practice helps us to blossom in beautiful and often surprising ways. If you want to make sense of the garbage in your life and learn how to see your majestic Hollyhock (or whatever you are meant to be), then practice Holding Space. It is doable. So do it!