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The Art & Practice of Holding Space

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those that we love, they bloom like flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh

What is Holding Space?

Some significant qualities are:
– Intentional and active listening
– Complete presence and non-judgment
– Allowing others to be seen and heard
– Supportive, open and safe space for words and emotions to be expressed

Picture this… You are in an interaction with a friend or family member going through a challenging time. You sit with them and you offer your full presence and listening ear, without judgment. Instead, you walk with them, beside them, on their journey of expression, allowing them to say and feel whatever they need to, to process and sort through emotions and to release what needs to be released.

You don’t try to control or influence them. You don’t try to fix them, give them advice or tell them what to do. You listen attentively and you allow them to feel seen, heard and supported.

Whether you realise it or not, you’ve most likely held space before, for friends, family, work colleagues, or even someone that you don’t know. It seems to be a part of the human condition to have a tendency to want to make someone feel better, to help them and give advice or shift discomfort. And while there can be a place for these things and sometimes the other person asks for guidance or advice, practicing the art of holding space can be much more powerful and valuable, as it encourages the other person to be able to make choices and decide what they want to do, without external influence. It is a practice of empowerment…

Some benefits of this way of communication are:

✅ Helps to improve your listening skills.

✅ Helps to improve communication in relationships.

✅ Helps to avoid unnecessary friction. eg. When trying to fix the other person or tell them what to do.

✅ Allows the other person to make their own decisions and trust their own internal wisdom, so that they can feel empowered.

✅ Can shift how others respond to you. eg. If you are always telling someone what you think they should do, this can create resistance. If you shift the way you are, so will
they.

✅ Expands self-awareness. You may notice tendencies and behaviours about your self that you weren’t aware of before. Eg. You don’t listen well, you cut people off, you want to tell your own story, you get to see how present you are or are not. Or maybe you get to see how great you are at all of this.

✅ Enables a deeper connection to be experienced and formed.

✅ Expands awareness in social situations and interactions.

✅ Transforms the way you relate with others and how you show up in relationships.

✅ When a safe, non-judgmental, open space is created, it allows both sides to open up towards vulnerability.

✅ It’s healing for both sides.

✅ So much more! This is just the beginning!


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