“When the stage is set right, an individual’s true light comes into clear sight”
This collection of words is about the art and science of holding space.
Holding space is a fairly literally term for someone who holds space for an individual or group to go through process.
Processing refers to the integrating of experiences of the past (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) into the present.
Reality is HERE and NOW always. However, many individual’s don’t live in the NOW… in order to live in the present moment, one must exercise keen awareness, and have a level of integration of the past, so they are not holding unprocessed emotion or attachment to stories and identities that are not serving the present moment reality.
So then, there is a need to enter into processes and practices that help one to integrate their experiences, from this life, and past lives to more totally live in their full embodiment and expression of this moment. For it is from the past that is stored in our body’s energetic memory that we come into the realization of what we are here for, what our true nature is…and through the processing of the past, we can come into authentic presence and a true knowing of reality…not as an interpretation based on previous conditioning or projection, but a true seeing into the nature of being.
So then, space holders are individuals who have been trained through their own processing and practices to hold space for others to turn within and do the same. There are many ways to hold space and help facilitate others to turn within….
It is important to note a facilitator is not a healer in the way many encounter healers. Though facilitators can also be healers, a facilitator is there to guide you into your process and hold the space for you to do the work…. Which is a vital differentiation from someone who does the work for you…which in the context of spiritual realization, and even healing of the bodymind can create a situation of dependence. At some point in each individual’s evolutionary trajectory, they must come into contact with their own self-healing and self-realization process and path.
Space holders may guide ceremony (fire ceremony, plant medicine, church, etc), 1-on-1 or small group work (breathworkers, yoga instructors, women’s groups, etc).
As a facilitator and space holder I guide Breathwork, Yoga, Dance, Dynamic and static meditations, and plant medicine journey’s among other ceremonies.
First off, I’ll speak generally about the qualities of a space holder, then I’ll explore some of the specifics that make me an individual – because it’s important to not only have a standard of quality, but also to have an authentic presence.
Which is actually a great place to start.
a. Space holders are there to be a model that teaches from the way they live their life, and who they are at an energetic level (at a level of being, not doing), rather than what they profess to believe, or even what they can do. The last point is important, and it ties into other points to be discussed later, and that’s that it does not matter (necessarily – depending on what you hold space for), or where your at in your process, it matters whether you can hold space for others to be in process.
b. Example: you may be a gifted and practiced yoga instructor, you may be able to do amazing things with your physical system…but, if your whole energy is inauthentic (perhaps overly spiritual, and unintegrated), and you lack the capacity to allow others to get in their body an move forward. Then there may be room for growth in your capacity to hold space.
c. Take away: Be honest with where your at, how far along you are, and you will offer others the capacity to be honest too. Your authentic beingness is palpable, you can’t fake it, others will see right through.
a. Say your holding space for a group event and your at a lovely venue, it has a buddha is corner and it looks SO spiritual, and the group of strangers that comes in is all impressed. Then you start your ceremony and jump right into process. It may go well…. But, the space you have, is different from the space you create and hold. Space holders set the tone or energy of the ceremony, and there are many layers and a flow for how ceremony will go (not a set flow, but certain principles are available – discussed later). One of the important foundations to holding space is creating an environment where everyone feels safety and love.
b. Process is about moving out of the regular cadence of every day life and letting some of the physic armouring that we carry to come down to allow deeper layers of ourselves, emotions, and stories to be brought to the surface so we can experience them, feel them, and release them. This is a extremely sensitive process, especially if someone is processing a death, abuse, rape, etc. Healing is about wholeness, and without love, there can be no coming together…when we fail to create an air of safety and love, process may just be another DOING or effortful process of the ego, rather than the authentic coming home to our spirit, which is perfect.
- Being Heard/Seen
a. Everyone has a need to be heard and seen. And many of us were not heard and seen at various times in our life(s) and if there was a situation, especially when we were young where we went through a challenge and we did not feel heard and seen, this can imprint a pattern …perhaps that individual will lower their self-worth, or their throat will shut down and they will be less expressive, or perhaps they have become exaggeratingly loud to get the attention they feel they deserve and did not receive. Especially when the pattern is set in early childhood, individual can potentially live decades seeking to be heard or seen, while simultaneously acting in a way (such as becoming exaggeratingly loud) which has been pushing people away their whole life.
b. In this example, the conditioning is deep, and probably pre-verbal, and it will take a proper environment for an individual to access the root of this pattern and release and blocked emotion/story, and then the work is to create an environment to implement the new pattern.
c. The above example touches on many pieces, one is that many patterns begin in early childhood, and they can be removed at the root by releasing the stored emotion. And two, that the individual will then need to establish a new pattern, and in order for the individual discussed above to install a new program, they will need a community or space where people will hear and see them. Which highlights the need to heal in community, and for space holders and safe spaces to increase as we heal our wounds and come back to wholeness, and create a world where we all contribute.
- Trust in the higher Will/Self
a. This is an interesting one because many talented space holders may not recognize this principle immediately. I choose to include it because my understanding of healing is becoming whole, and that includes the recognition and integration of our higher self, or spiritual self. But, language is a funny thing which has its limitations. And because of the diversity in which we can express, people often alienate select populations because of how they interact with spiritual matters…what that means is, people are still debating whether god is real, whether there is 1 god or many gods, whether there is no god, what god looks like, it he a man or a woman, an elephant, or a spirit. The whole conversation Is silly, and my position is that life is art and your unique experience of it is a beautiful vision. So what do I mean by trust in a higher will/self/god? Am I saying I believe in spirit? In God? No. One day I am praying to great spirit, the next I am practicing Buddhist meditation with the recognition that there is no god outside of me. These are ways, and they are beautiful expressions of art and culture. Trust in a higher will here denotes TRUST. Trust not rooted in belief, but a trust that what one is doing as they hold space is guided. It is from this space of faith that space holders act effortlessly, without needing to try and fix people or understand what is happening. Space holders as facilitators are not all knowing, by the work we do, we are here to surrender to the great mystery and allow others to do the same. One may teach a way of prayer, or meditation, or offer a philosophy, but it is not our position to impose or convince another to see the world the same. Methods of prayer and meditation are technologies for processing, and as space holders we can offer tools, and trust our process that has guided us, and help others to find their authentic truth too.
So then…there is more to say, but I try to keep my articles as brief as I can, let me share a few additional offerings, then let me now move into how I may hold ceremony (and it’s always so wildly different, so don’t think you can know it by hearing or experiencing one event).
- Do not be rushed – ceremony takes place in the Everlasting NOW – if you stay too deeply entwined in the ordinary boundaries of time and space and have an agenda, you may miss the intuitive and natural flow that occurs when one deeply listens to the space/participants needs and with respect to where they are in process.
- The natural elements (earth, wind, water, fire) and bio harmonizers. To understand your cosmic self, you need to be connected with the cosmos, which is in you, and you are made of the 4 elements.
- Connected individuals to the four sacred directions…beyond the limited form of body, you are energy that can expand in the 4 cardinal directions, as well as above and below, and into the center.
- Diet matters… different events call for different foods, but it is important t choose wisely, and choose food that has been prepared with a good intention.
- Intentions matter – your energy, on a subtle level is enriched with your intentions…individuals deep in process or if they are sensitive humans can feel your intentions. You carry an intention field around your body of your thought-forms, so the things you watch, the thoughts you have, the people you surround yourself with are all enriching or polluting this field…the more in alignment you are and pure in your intentions, the clearer your mind and intuition will become, which allows others to find their clarity too.
- Make sure individuals are supported before, during, and after…. Many of the best space holders are community members…. So then, when you come to see them, you become connected with their community.
- The power of song, dance, and story telling cannot be understated.
End of part 1: in part 2, a discussion on the way I hold ceremonial space with a details description of an event with my reasoning for my actions.