The first time I heard the phrase “to hold space” for someone was with Barnaby Ruhe. Ruhe received his doctorate in shamanism and art practice, an interdisciplinary effort combining psychology, anthropology, art history, phenomenology and art studio action. It was a Sunday afternoon at his loft at 55 Bethune street where he held power animal and soul retrieval circles.
The mere act of creating and holding space for yourself and another can actually open your hearts to immense healing and possibilities. Think about it, when was the last time you felt like you really thought someone was holding space for you, that they were deeply and without an ounce of judgment there for you? Or how about yourself? Do you have a practice of holding space for yourself? When was the last time you felt like you were really taking time to listen to your heart? Paying attention to your life as if it was permeating your soul.
I don’t know about you but I can’t recall the last time I felt like I let myself linger in the moment. I do the contrary. I jump from one second to the next, always busy, always after a goal. Now life seems to be flying by fast, the weeks rushing into months and blending into years. Frankly, I want to reverse that. I want life to slooooooowwwww down, so I can really dig in.
They say that time is relative to the degree of attention you pay to your life.
It was one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Rob Bell, who brought up two very fresh ways of approaching life, new ways of experiencing life (for me anyway), that helped me think about how to slow life down, to savor each moment and to give my life more meaning.
Paying Witness to Your Life & Processing The Moment
The first approach is about taking time to observe our lives and the lives of others. To non-anxiously, without any judgement, pay witness to the things that are happening to us.
So often, when asked for advice from others, I am the one to quickly recommend what everyone needs to do next. It starts like this – I will receive a call, a text or an email from a friend or family member to let me know what is happening with their lives. Typically it is about a problem that occurred. Someone offended them, something happened that got them really angry. They are overwhelmed with this and that. They are really stressed. They have reached out to me as a life line.
So, what do I do? Or what did the old me do? I would quickly jump into solution-mode. “First you have to do this, then you do that and then all will be good.” I would charge in with answers instead of taking a moment to observe what they or I am actually feeling in the moment. I did not take the time to sit and process the moment with them. Sometimes that is all we need to do. We need to hold space for someone we love to process their lives.
Rob Bell explains it so well in this podcast “Is this Your First Accident?” Sometimes, we just need to process our lives, so we understand the meaning. After listening to this podcast, I recognized that when I charge in with solutions, I am just trying to take control, to apply something I have learned to “repair” a problem. What is wrong with this approach? Nothing really, except that it is a limiting and sloppy and dare I say, disrespectful to yourself and others. Life becomes lived when you pay respect to the way it moves you. You need room and others to help you feel your way through the pain.
Taking a Thoughtful Pause
The second podcast from Rob Bell that I recommend you list to is That Pause. Life is about what we learn when we become still and aware of the depths of each moment. When we slow down just a bit, we are placing our energies in a wider horizon of possibilities. We pause so we can create space for larger more divine energies to fill us up.