In my last post I wrote about the importance of creating space for the self. The power in establishing small daily and weekly self care routines. The power in doing not only what you want to do but more importantly the conscious consideration of doing what is good for your body, mind, and spirit. I am proud to say that I have incorporated self care in my life like never before. Yoga, stretching, mediation, conscious breathing, conscious standing while waiting in line somewhere, oil pulling, flossing!, tongue strapping, taking myself on walks, bike rides, staring up at the sky, journaling, creative expression through art and song, blessing my food…Showing gratitude to my body, mind and spirit have become part of my life like never before.
What I have come to realize is that creating space is a building block to the concept of “holding space” which is necessary to sustain what you’ve created. My dear friend Hannah, who I met in India in November and have spent the last three weeks with in Australia, introduced me to the term “holding space.” Once you create space you have to hold it in the presence of others. We are not alone in the universe. We are interconnected to everything and everyone. This inter-relatedness and connectivity creates powerful dynamics which influence our behavior on the individual, group, and collective level. The more interconnected we are, meaning the deeper the relationship, attachment to the group, culture etc., the more powerful the influence of the dynamic. As soon as we have others in our field, we have to learn to hold space for ourselves within the dynamic. I experienced the tension of holding space for myself while engaging in a beautiful relationship first hand, when two of my best friends from home met up with me about a month ago. I found it difficult to hold the space I had created for myself when showing up in a pre-existing dynamic. This of course was nobody’s fault but symbolic of how I have changed. Reflecting on it afterwards (and sometimes during their time there 🙂 …thank you for your ongoing support!) was such a grounding experience and a premonition of how challenging it will be for me to hold space for these new parts of me when I return home.
I like to think of the concept of “creating” space as the seed you plant and “holding” space represent the roots of the seed. Without these roots, we are disconnected from the seeds we planted. These seeds are an expression of our wants and needs. They are are a connection to our inner voice and spirit. Without access to spirit we merge with all around us and loose the ability to “hold space” for ourselves. We follow the crowd or become the crowd, either way loosing touch with who we are. We end up forgoing our meditation because a group of friends invited us to lunch. We walk to the grocery store in poor company instead of mindfully walking alone. We eat something that is not good for us because a friend offered it to us and we said yes. We don’t wear that funky hat we bought because we feel self conscious and judged. We don’t do our morning yoga routine because we don’t want to hold up other people. We end up swimming upstream with a school of fish and then wondering how the hell we got to that part of the river. The beauty of it all is that you do not have to be a victim of circumstance. Nobody is to blame. It’s not your fault or your friends fault or cultures fault. As a beautiful soul I met this weekend put it to me…it is simply the tension between maintaining the form of your own water drop while embracing the beauty of being a part of the larger ocean. By becoming aware of how you show up (or don’t) in your story (aka this life), you can change your narrative. You are responsible for your life and how you hold space for yourself within it. Holding space is a skill like anything else and therefore has to be developed. Some therapists or really conscientious friends may hold space for you but ultimately you have to learn to hold it for yourself.
I’ve struggled with boundaries (maintaining awareness of my own water drop in the ocean) for a long time and recently had an “ah ha” moment when I realized the inter connectivity of boundaries with this concept of “holding space.” Holding space is a tool or practice to create boundaries. It is the process of consistently stepping into ones authentic self and maintaining your present form throughout different circumstances. Instead of focusing on creating a boundary, first look at what is inside the boundary you want to create. If you think about it, a boundary’s purpose is to protect something. So what is inside this boundary? Maybe you have not planted any seeds of your own there? And if there are no seeds, then there is nothing to hold within the boundary which is why the boundary ceases to be. For example, saying “I will never work past 5pm” is a great intention and if you have a strong drive and will power, which I do, then you are able to deliver on that promise to yourself for a short while but in my experience the boundary always fizzles. Maybe try looking at why you need that boundary… How is work taking up space in your life? What seeds cannot be planted because the water, nutrients, and soil (i.e. your personal resources) are going to the work place? Then don’t try and plant a million seeds. Plant one. And tend to it so it grows roots. You just might find that you are naturally leaving work earlier than you used to because you are taking responsibility for holding space for that ‘thing” in your life.
I celebrate that I already hold space successfully for visions I have for myself, whether it is getting a degree, traveling, or getting a promotion at work. My drive, organization, and communication skills help me get there. However, I have often let my daily life (as opposed realizing long term visions) be run by circumstance. I have let the air element in me carry me in the direction of the wind and the water element in me blend with the ocean around me. I am “easy,” “go with the flow,” and “flexible” which are all great qualities if they are present with a strong and “held” sense of self. So now I am expanding the concept of holding space from achieving long term goals to holding space for myself on a daily basis. You can hold space for almost anything…an aspect of yourself, a belief, a feeling, a value, a practice… you can even hold space for others to step into. But for now I am working on holding space for those practices I have created for myself (mentioned at the beginning of my blog post) and holding space for the intentions behind those practices on a daily basis. I will ask my closest friends to help me in holding this space because that support is so key – I’ve seen it first hand with best friends from home and new friends I’ve met along the way. I know that by holding space for the intentions behind my daily practices (i.e. self love & checking in with myself in everything I do) will allow these intentions to grow into roots impacting the way I show up in all my interactions. Eventually, I want to get so good at holding space for myself so that when I start my coaching practice in 2019, I will be able to hold space for my clients. I will hold space for the beautiful aspects of themselves that they do not able to see, have not embraced, or are just discovering. Instead of merging with my clients pain, joy, or angst (which is how I tend to relate to friends now), I will temporarily hold space for whatever they need and shine it back at them until they are ready to take them up themselves.
I am on a beautiful path because it is mine 🙂 I have much more to share on my time in India, Japan, and now Australia but I know it will come at the right time. Just arrived in Western Australia to see old friends from growing up in Florida and new friends I met in India. Wishing everyone peace, joy, and prosperity in 2018 and beyond!