What it Means to “Hold Space” (Part 1) by Courtney Stark

When someone has been coping and holding it together and they finally crack under the pressure, it can be quite an experience, not only for the person with the emotional pain but also for anyone witnessing it.  Pain, grief, fear and raw emotion all come bubbling to the surface.  I call this The Unravelling.  It is the moment when someone becomes completely undone and something shifts within them.  There is softness and closeness if you are with a person during this time and a sacredness in being witness to deep-seated emotions. 

Recently I was witness to someone’s unravelling and it occurred to me while they sat with their deep emotional pain, that they had never been simply hugged without the expectation of something in return.  More than this, they had never just been listened to and allowed to vent freely without receiving judgement, criticism or advice.  Simply put, they had never had someone hold space for them.

“A healer does not heal you.  A healer is someone who holds space for you while you awaken your inner healer, so that you may heal yourself.”  Maryam Hasnaa

Holding space isn’t about fixing, criticising or judging, it is the ability to simply allow someone to speak in your presence and to be heard.  It enables you to remain present in your own power while validating and accepting another person while they share their story.  In a world where we often feel we aren’t listened to and are talked over and interrupted, it is vital that people feel they can openly share what is happening in their lives.   

Holding space isn’t just for therapists and counsellors.  It is a skill we can all learn.  It takes practise and can be uncomfortable at first, but when we hold space for our friends, co-workers, neighbours and family, we allow them to open up and be their true selves.  We provide space for them to be heard.  We can walk beside them in whatever they are facing, without judging or trying to fix their problem.  We can let go of our own ego and simply be with them, opening our hearts to their experience and offering them support, not solutions.  It can feel strange to sit and simply listen, but it is crucial to understanding and showing love and compassion.  It allows us to build stronger communities and relationships.  So, in the future, if you do find yourself witness to someone’s Unravelling, move the situation in a positive direction by holding space for them and providing the refuge and understanding they need.

Next month I will share part 2: 10 tips to help you to hold space for others.

Visit Courtney Stark’s online page here: https://thesacredwillow.com.au/

Courtney Stark

After 20 years as a solitary pagan, Courtney Stark shares her love of Earth based spirituality through her online store. Courtney has one of Australia’s largest ranges of spiritual and metaphysical goods and is passionate about helping others on their spiritual path.

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