Holding the Space: It’s Not What You Think It Is

Being fully present to whatever is happening.

Ever since I was small, I knew I was a “space holder.” I understood even at a very young age that I had the ability to energetically create and hold a space for others, whether human or animal, as they struggled through a situation or were in the middle of a transformation. It wasn’t something I learned, though I did practice it daily with my family members. It was something I knew at my core — something with which I came into this life.

One time, when I was only four, I was standing in the living room in our home. My mother and sisters were present. My father was on the other side of the room, holding a chair in the air — very angry, very drunk, and threatening to hurt us all. I remember watching the scene almost from a distance. The more my father raged, the more my mother protested.

“Ted,” she threatened, “I’ll call the police.”

He laughed a snarly, vicious laugh — one I had heard before. It was usually the precursor to “shit hitting the fan.”

As I stood there in my cherry-blossom-print shorts, I both heard and “knew” on a deep level that she was bluffing. She’s bluffing, a voice said. She won’t do anything. She’s too frightened.

At four, I’m not sure I knew what the word “bluff” meant, but I understood the energy of the word and its meaning. In that moment, as I watched my family, I realized I was the only one “awake,” the only one who wasn’t caught up in the drama. Yes, I was living it, but there was an aware part of me watching the whole. As quickly as I had that awareness, I was shown a way to diffuse the situation: I suddenly knew to run out the door and get help. I did what I was guided to do and bolted.

No longer was this an issue behind closed doors; this had become public, which immediately changed the dynamics of the situation. The emergency with my father changed immediately to the emergency with Tami. It became Project: Keep Tami From Telling The Neighbors What Is Really Happening. The violence that had almost occurred dissolved — we dodged a bullet that day.

In this instance, I held the space for the situation to unfold and for a resolution to reveal itself. Much of the time, we get caught up in the drama of the moment, rather than staying centered and grounded, waiting patiently for the event to evolve, waiting for the situation to inform us. We often become participants rather than observers, and we usually add to the chaos of the moment.

Life always informs us what our next best step is.

But if we engage with the moment by practicing “holding space,” we see that, just like flower petals, situations and events unfold right before our eyes. We find we don’t have to “run the show” or control what is happening. We realize that Life is an active participant and will organize the pieces in perfect order. We become presence itself.

How to hold space?

  1. Be fully present to whatever is happening.
  2. Let go of judgment.
  3. Open your heart.
  4. Allow the experience to be what it is.
  5. If action is needed, you will be shown what to do.

Life always informs us what our next best step is.