“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver
“I am holding space for you”, or “holding you in my heart and prayers”, or “holding you in healing”, or “holding you up in love”—I have used all of these expressions more times than I can recall. Quite often multiple on a daily basis. What exactly does it mean to “hold” another?
In the news, after one of the devastating mass shooting incidents I recall mockery around, “holding the victims and their families up in my heart and prayers” or such. I don’t remember the exact verbiage around the story. However, what resided with me was confusion and angst. It gave me pause in practicing “holding” others for a bit. However, I got over it. Holding another is an act of love, not of the ego. Holding exemplifies unity, not separation.
Holding space for another is a gift to yourself, that other person or persons, and the community as a whole. It is being here and now with another on their journey; regardless of what that journey is. It is mindful attention and an expansion of positive and loving energy. It is all encompassing. Holding someone up is a conscious connection rooted in spirit.
My experience is that when I say and practice holding others I imagine it as a love-shot from my spirit to yours. A shock of encouragement, strength, and healing. I am fully present and aligned; prayerfully focused on the recipient. I know, I know….what is a “love-shot”? I see it as a profound joining of my innermost Self with your innermost Self. A union of Love, of peace. A joining in healing. A joining in all that is beautiful.
When I hold space for another I observe a physical sensation; I describe it as a soul tingling…a ticklish reverberation all throughout my body. I believe that it is a result of unity and nonjudgement…a sharing of their experience in innocence. I give my heart, let go of all else, and am fully present. Whether this is felt or not, holding space for another is a sacred and immense marrying…even if but for an instant.
Physical presence is not necessary to hold someone. Though we picture “holding” as a physical action it is anything but. As I sit with hospice patients, whether they have dementia, are non-responsive, or talking up a storm; I can “hold” them without even touching them. (I will add here though that I’m more often holding their hand or touching their arm, or even their face or hair). My steps for holding another are speaking the words, “I am holding you (in love/prayer, whatever), whether typing them, speaking them, or in my head silently. I then pause and align in absolute presence; at full attention, and I send out love and often a prayer, ending with a beauty filled silence. It lasts as long as it lasts…a few moments, sometimes ten to twenty minutes or longer. Time is not important to me. It is the intention and focus that matters.
If another human being states that they are “holding you” whether it is in love, or prayer, or healing…allow yourself to experience the immense gift that this is. Don’t listen to any fear based thoughts that may encroach upon your mind resulting in the rolling of your eyes, and a, “yeah, right”. Accept this love, feel it, join with it…then, take a moment, and pay it forward. Allow it to be the gift that it is. There is no need to skew it with perception. And hey, whether you’re right or wrong, I’m right or wrong, what does it matter? If you allow it to be a gift. It is surely just that: a gift!
The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn