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Holding Space

What is it & why would I do it?

Does space need to be held? Isn’t space existing on its own no matter what? Absolutely.

If you have the mental image of someone holding empty space, delete it ;-)

Holding space is being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. You are putting your focus on them to support them, oftentimes while they are going through some emotions. An important part of holding space is staying present with others & being aware of yourself at the same time.

Nowadays it is mostly spoken about in the “conscious community” when talking about Retreats, Trainings, Ceremonies etc.

In all places & moments where emotions come up and energy is moving physically, mentally and emotionally, space holding is important.

You are probably thinking, well, this is literally all the time.

I agree.

Space holding is not limited to these containers mentioned above. It happens while you are talking to a friend about their problems, it happens while a group is going through a process, it happens when you are in a fitness class (that can bring up heavy emotions for some) etc. It happens all the time.

So many of us are space holders without even realizing it.

Personally, I only realized recently that most of my life, I gravitated to work that included space holding.

My first official job when I was 16 was holding the birthday parties at McDonald’s (yep, kind of different to my life now ;-)). I loved it, I thrived, the kids loved it.

Over the years I worked many jobs and in retrospect the once I loved most & flourished in all had to do with space holding. You might not think it obvious that a kids & sports entertainer or bar tender holds space for people. They really do though. Big time.

And the work as a flight attendant I did for 15 years was major space holding, too.

Being in a tube up in the air brings up heavy emotions for some. Even just traveling, being stressed, late, not in control etc can bring up so much. Combine it with being up in the air & you can get an explosive mix ;-)

Flight attendants are chosen very specifically. They need to have empathy. Many of them are very sensitive to their surroundings and peoples feelings. The companies know that the more they can tune in to the passengers, the better the experience will be for the passenger. Of course, the easier it is for a flight attendant to get exhausted or burned out as well. Luckily I had plenty of down time in between flights to be able to fully enjoy it when I was up in the air.

And that, I did. Being able to help someone go through all these emotions, turning from Mr. Grumpy to the guy grateful for everything you offer, making people smile or setting a strong boundary to those who think they can get away with literally anything, was wonderful at the time.

I never related it to space holding though. Only when I started teaching Yoga 8 years ago, offering Retreats, Kirtans & Cacao Ceremonies later on, did I realize that I was comfortable in these scenarios while others got really nervous about it or did not know how to deal with people, tune in to them, be present with them or support them.

I was used to that. Just a different container. From the plane to the mat or the ceremonial space.

In every training I attended over the years I learned more about holding space. Sometimes through inspiring sometimes through horrifying examples :-)

My training and then assisting with Gaia definitely helped me a lot in refining my space holding & looking at my blind spots. Because as she likes to say: “You can only take people as deep as you are willing to go yourself.”

And go deep I did. Especially the last years have pulled me deep into the abyss of my shadows. While there has been plenty of light, the major changes I have made, have brought up major shadows.

Going through it was not a walk in the park.

“If you don’t accept yourself, you can’t transcend yourself and the world: first, you need to increase your awareness, then you need to accept what you learn, then you need to take action.” Oli Anderson

You need to have done the work you are offering.

To be aware of what is going on in the participants & know how it feels. Awareness is key here. Of course you won’t have felt all the traumas, fears & insecurities out there. Each of us has their own. You just need to have faced your own and know how that feels.

Having first hand experience will make it easier to see it in others, let go of judgement, show others compassion, hold the space for & be a guide to them.

While this often may feel like you are not doing anything, you are doing a lot.

“Often the hardest thing about holding space is that it can feel like you are doing nothing.” Heather Plett

You are showing participants with your words, acts & energy that you are there for them.

I am excited about being back to holding space!

And YES! We will dive deep into space holding in the Cacao Ceremony Facilitator Training and I will share all of what I know with you.

First in Ixcacao, the Cacao Ceremony Facilitator Training, and soon in our upcoming Retreats & Trainings. Maybe I will see you there…

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