Updated: Aug 2, 2021
When you step into a place that is already sacredly held you feel a sense of calm and peace. Energy tends to build in a space that has been held sacredly for a year will feel different than a space that has been held sacredly for hundreds of years.
Holding sacred space allows you to be with an energy that informs you of a greater presence, Holding space means giving another the opportunity to be completely heard, seen, and understood. In my practice, it is often said that I create sacred space. In my experience with energy, I do not create it, I simply open a container where sacredness already exists.
To witness another person and be completely receptive to what they have to share is scarcely practiced. How often have you felt deeply heard, seen, and understood by another? How often has someone sat down with you and genuinely asked: “hey, how you feel” and held space for all your joy or sorrow? I’m not talking about trying to fix, give advice to, the other person.
When I say holding space, I mean it in the most simple way possible: just being 100% there for the person, without trying to change or force advice onto them.
Holding space for someone in emotional pain is a concept many people are not familiar with but have nonetheless felt it, on some level, at some point. Holding space, or creating a container, can be especially helpful when someone is in deep grief, struggling with unresolved trauma. We’ve all had the opportunity to feel the clear and pure attention of unconditional positive regard or the emptiness of its absence in a time of profound need.
Whether you do this by simply listening to your inner knowing, holding patience for yourself, deeply listening to another, witnessing your world from a place of neutrality, creating an environment to do spiritual practices, a sacred space, inside or out, is a powerful place to experience.
To hold space for another person, you have to first do it for yourself. So breathe deeply, opening up your body further. Hold space within yourself first, which means allowing yourself to simply be. Whatever arises, don’t judge it as good or bad. Witness it, allow it, accept it. Holding space for another is to hold space for them, within yourself it’s building a connection with this other person, based in part on subconscious physical cues. It’s holding the person you’re with in your awareness, just as he or she is; to witness their emotions with empathy, whatever they are.
Holding Space Means Support in Healing everyone has trauma. The only way through trauma is to feel it. If a person doesn’t feel their pain, their anger, their fear if they instead repress it grows and festers, like a sliver that doesn’t get pulled out. But feelings like pain, anger and fear are, well, painful! And scary! And upsetting! Feeling them isn’t fun. It takes a great amount of courage and strength to do so.
Holding space means lending your courage, your strength. It means creating a safe environment for someone you care for to exorcise the hurt within them. Allowing that person to cry, to scream, to shudder; witnessing their authentic experience and reacting with love and
acceptance to the extent that you are able, is a powerful way of supporting them in this most important spiritual and emotional work.
Practicing these essential elements will help make sure you are holding a useful and kind space for the other person. Mindfully tune into yourself, How can you become receptive and open to others without doing the same for yourself? Tuning into your thoughts and feelings is a practice of mindfulness It requires you to become curious about what is going on inside of you. And to do that, you’ll need to slow down and breathe a little. What type of thoughts stories are running through my head?” Also be attentive to your body and notice whatever sensation, ache, or pain you feel. Simply note how you feel and move on with your day.
Tools for Holding Sacred Space
One common tool for holding sacred space is to create an altar. This creates a focus for you and/or a group and helps hold intention and energy. A simple altar can be created with a candle, the elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water , items from nature such as a rock that catches your attention and anything that reminds you of your intention. Sacred space helps us experience and be reminded of our spiritual connectedness on a daily basis.
Mindful presence is the core of what holding space means. In other words, holding space means that we simply sit with a person and give them our undivided attention in the spirit of kindness.
Here are the essential elements you must bring to hold space for someone:
Practice Loving-Kindness is a term rooted in Buddhist tradition, though it appears in other religious and secular traditions as well. It describes the reverent present-moment cultivation of compassion for another living being, the earth, or the self.
Use Deep Listening, we listen not just to hear but to understand. This practice goes beyond any kind of hearing that can be done with the ears. It is listening with the heart.
Have Unconditional Positive Regard, This is the foundation of all healing therapeutic relationships This practice rests on the knowledge that no matter what the person has done or who the person is, the listener holds them with deep respect, compassion, and positive regard.
Sit with What Is means simply being with the person for whom you’re holding space. Do not try to change anything, and resist the urge to do anything. You are only creating a safe space for
the other person to express and feel their feelings.
Allow the other person to feel whatever they are feeling. Hold them if they need you to when they cry.
Breathe Checking in with your breath is an effective way to make sure you remain grounded. It will also help you stay connected to your own body, which is the most powerful tool you have in assessing your connection to the other person and to yourself.
Ground If you become un-grounded while holding space for someone who needs it, they may find it difficult to trust the space and you. Whatever you do to ground yourself, solidify it when you’re holding space for others.
Be Present with Yourself In order to do any of the things listed above, you must be able and
willing to be present with and for yourself. If you’re unable to be present for yourself, you will be hard-pressed to be open and honestly present with another.
Practice Non-Judgment This goes for yourself and the one for whom you’re holding the safe
Don’t Try to Fix It when someone is in pain, we try to fix it for them. While that might make us feel better, the other person may feel even more isolated in their pain. So above all, be there for and with the other person. Do not try to fix them or their feelings. They do not need fixing. The only way over their pain is through it.
Be transparent with yourself Express how you feel in an authentic way. Allow yourself to be seen by yourself. To do this, find a notebook or journal that you can dedicate to your thoughts and feelings. Journaling every day about what is worrying or concerning you will create more clarity in your life. Not only that but when you make this therapeutic tool a habit, you will feel more emotionally balanced and capable of truly holding space for others.
Release pent-up emotions Don’t allow your emotions to build up inside of you. Find healthy outlets to express them such as through artwork, intense exercise, or simply having a good cry. When we are motivated to “help” others out of the need to relieve our own internal discomfort, we’re not being kind. We’re not being empathetic. Instead, we are using others as a way to feel better about ourselves. Finding a safe form of release will allow you to be calm and centered enough to show compassionate attentiveness to yourself and others.
Learn to listen more than talk . If you are a person who is used to chattering away, experiment with being quiet and allowing others to talk. Practicing active listening involves making eye contact, letting others speak uninterrupted, indicating that you understand what the person is saying, and listening without judgment.
Listen to other people without forming responses in your mind. How often has someone shared something interesting, and you miss the rest of what they say because you’re too busy constructing a clever insightful reply? It’s tempting to fill the spaces in conversations with thoughts. . But experiment with listening wholeheartedly to what a person says. If thoughts come into your mind, gently refocus your mind on what the person is saying. Then, after the person has stopped talking, give yourself a few seconds to gather thoughts, then respond. I promise that your response will be much more engaging and interesting to the other person because you have gathered all the nuances and details.
The purpose of holding space for another person is an act of compassion, an expression of love for another human being. It not only makes you feel good, but it also makes the other person feel seen, heard, and understood. What could be more precious than that?
Know your limits and take self-responsibility Are you tired, cranky, overwhelmed, or otherwise incapable of holding space for another? Relax. It’s normal and 100% fine to feel that way.
But make sure that you take responsibility for how you feel.
Sometimes you will need to hold space for yourself more than others. Sometimes you will enter long periods of life where you are incapable of being present with others. So do the compassionate thing and draw a line. Learn to say a gentle no to others and be OK with it. If someone is becoming overly clingy or needy, be assertive, draw clear boundaries, and step away in a firm but caring manner. It is OK to be selective about who you hold space for.
Flow with the Energy of the Sacred Space, don’t force it! When you are holding sacred space things change. Don’t be afraid to go with the changes. If something doesn’t feel right
try something new.
Simple Sacred Space, Nature is one of my favorite sacred spaces. Being near water or in a
quiet forest is magical. To connect into what is already present and using natural flows is part of the art of holding a sacred space. In modern life this is a reality. It can be a lifetime practice. However, I find that keeping it simple often helps keep it sacred!
Protecting Sacred Space Sometimes it’s our role not to create a new sacred space but rather to
become a protector of a space already made sacred in the flows of life. Humans are a part of nature and modern society often disconnects us from nature. By being reconnected to nature, we are reminded of its sacredness and feel that role of protector come into play.
I feel that there’s an added dimension available when a man does this for a woman; namely, he is able to be present in his masculine power, and thus allow her to relax into a more feminine state. My experience is that holding masculine for myself can be very exhausting, and being with a man who is willing to step into the masculine fully so that I can ‘drop my guard’ is a huge relief. Holding space is a way to make your masculine power available for the women around you, for the good of all. We need your presence, your masculinity, and your power. When women realize that this is what you’re doing they will relax. Unwind, release tension, melt. They might cry, they might simply smile, they might snuggle up. However they express it, what they will really do is show you a part of themselves that few people ever get to see. It’s beautiful, and it feels great for both of you.
Don’t worry—it isn’t always going to tears and screaming! In fact, the more you practice holding space, the more you integrate it into your daily life, the more relaxation and fun and silliness will follow you, from everyone around you. As you learn to do this with women, the results will be especially profound and lovely.
When a man is holding space for me, I light up. I let down my guard. I feel more energetic, more free, less worried. When a man turns the power of his attention to a woman, and holds space in this way, magic happens. When you truly see her, hear her, know her, you can become aware of her beauty and power. Because of your awareness, she’s able to relax into the moment, be more feminine, be more herself. Being present with a woman is itself an act of profound love. If we ever hope to grow at a deep level and feel authentically connected to others, we need to learn how to hold space for both ourselves and others.