I have a growing Spotify playlist titled Mindful Inspiration and at the end of the list other songs are suggested. A few weeks ago this song Holding Space by Minneapolis based musician, Mayyadda, played. I stopped whatever I was doing and for the minute (that’s the length of the song) I was held by the nourishing, energizing and inspiring words and melodious vibration of her voice. Her song inspired this month’s theme Holding Space for Ourselves.
What does it mean to hold space and for ourselves? First, to hold space for someone is to show up compassionately for them, to create safety in the relationship so the one suffering can feel supported. Think of a time your friend or loved one was hurting and you offered your loving presence, and the person felt comforted and understood. This is holding space for another. This is compassion.
Holding space for ourselves is an act of self-compassion. It is creating safety and support within our body and heart space for us to rest and release, for us to receive support and experience the comfort of being held. Here is a poem I wrote 2 years ago that began my exploration of holding space. It’s called Heart Space: A Meditation Poem.
How does one practice holding space? There are many ways, like sitting in nature, listening to an inspiring song, and meditation.
When we carve out time to meditate, we are prioritizing our wellbeing. We are choosing to sit with ourselves, to pay attention to our inner lives often ignored or pushed aside in order to get through the external day. Purposefully pausing and carving out a few moments in the day, creating external space, is particularly important when we are hurting or stressed. Instead of turning away from ourselves and the painful emotional or psychological experience, we turn towards. We then create space within ourselves, through meditation, to meet and greet, acknowledge and support our inner experiences.
In addition to feeling spaciousness and the capacity to hold it all (which is empowering!), we become aware of how life is a constant unfolding. We can see how we can get in our own way or how our resistance to our experiences takes away from experiencing the freedom the unfolding provides. For me, this has been best understood in meditation practice and then in my day to day life. So I invite you to use one of the two guided meditations to support your exploration of what it means to hold space for yourself in meditation and then carry this experience into your daily life.
“What is the path of meditation? Your present-moment experience. What is your curriculum? Your life, as it is. Not somebody else’s life, not your ideal life–your life,” Will Kabat-Zinn.
a slow unfolding by Julia Fehrenbacher (from her book Staying in Love)
I know it’s not easy when you are stuffed full
of ocean, mountain, sunlight–when
there are infinite unwritten stories
that have been trying, for longer
than you can remember, to claw
their way out.
When there is so, so much
you don’t understand.
I know it feels impossible to keep trusting
when noise keeps growing noisier, when
it seems not one other sees
or believes, when the spark of trust
you have tried to have sometimes dims
to faint, faded flicker. When you are
just so, so tired.
But please, please Love, allow the noise
of this hustling world to roll, roll away
like a far-off distant wave.
Listen instead to the voice, the real voice, that sits
in the center of every
ancient thing. The voice that whispers:
Please, please Love, be patient with your own, slow
There is a rhythm, a readiness, a reason
you cannot see with your small,
impatient eyes. Keep coming here
to where words and heart gather,
where you can hear your own
voice speak. You will know it is your own
because she feels like ocean, like mountain,
like the kindest kind of thing. Like the slow,
fierce unfolding of a thousand sunlit wings.