We have arrived at a conjuncture in human evolution where life is anything but stable. Life is rocky and full of twists and turns, pain and suffering. Hope for the future is being replaced by one crisis after another. Often, we feel tired and exhausted as we can no longer see an end to continuous change and emotional suffering. We turn to wise teachers, books, yoga, or meditation in the hope of finding solutions.
Recognising there is no manual, I acknowledge that getting to know myself is the premier curriculum and pathway to my own empowerment and peace.
We all have deeply personal experiences, though fear, desire, and the pursuit of pleasure, as well as pain, sorrow, and death, are basic constituents of any individual’s consciousness. This space can be messy and frightening. We are confronted with our own complexities, drama, and illusion.
But mostly we go about life without thinking about it all that much.
We pursue avoidance strategies to escape feeling pain in life and we brush emotion under the carpet as if that will make it go away. Unresolved aspects in our consciousness – perhaps a trauma we experienced as a young child, or any conditioned belief deeply engrained in our past – will inevitably reappear and show their often ugly faces. It may seem random but often happens in the face of a crisis, such as illness, losing a job or death of somebody dear to us. Although we may feel we should be able to deal with such crises, added trauma or erroneous belief of our own reactions and emotional suffering can overwhelm us. What do we do when our own feelings and emotions become unbearable?
Holding space for “me and myself” is not taught or considered to be a common practice, yet it can be transformational.
To hold space means to transcend what is in each moment. By fully recognising and accepting what is, we make room for what wants to come into existence.
I recall one such instance several years ago which, in hindsight, was life changing. Back then it was such a petty situation that I could never have imagined it would take up so much space in my life.
How Others Have Shown me the Way
Uma lives in Auroville, a spiritual community in the south of India. The first time I stayed at her guesthouse, “Rohini”, the ‘old Claudia’ (as I like to lovingly refer to her) – then still very much alive – had an issue with community living. My mind interpreted everything as rules, which I rejected.
Fiercely identified with my self-image as an independent woman, Uma (I now realise) held space for the drama and internal contradictions being played out, without judging my reactions. While I was invested in my own drama and emotional suffering, and at times felt ready to flee (from myself included!), I didn’t. I knew, instinctively, that running away wouldn’t solve the problem – and I didn’t even know what the problem was. From whom and what was I wanting to run away from? An unconscious play was at work, and Uma held space non-judgingly. Eventually, I found my place, my role within the community and so much more.
Feeling fully accepted with all my complexities opened a totally new space in my consciousness. I discovered a joy and camaraderie of community living that I had never expected. It helped me transcend old conditioning. Letting go of beliefs and a self-image which was no longer fitting (i.e., I don’t do rules) made me feel a lot lighter by the end of my stay. I was able to witness my own limitations and, in the witnessing, I found peace.
Each time I’ve returned, Uma’s awareness and presence has led me to understand myself more deeply. Anyone else might have closed the door in my face saying that ‘this lady doesn’t belong here, she’s not fitting in’, but Uma kept holding space for me. Clearly, she is very good at holding space for herself first, in order to be able to offer the space-holding gift to others. Uma has created “Rohini” as a space for inner growth and transformation.
“Me, and myself” holding Space for Others
What started as a need for conversation at the onset of COVID, has turned into a space where twenty women (it so happens we are all women) meet every Friday morning for Coffee Morning Live. This is a space where we let our heart speak. It’s a “mini-virtual-Rohini”, out of Auroville, that allows us to hold space for each other as we experience life’s various trials and tribulations.
Each Friday, I am strengthening my own practice of holding space for myself. Doubts inevitably kick in, fuelled in particular by my need for perfection. I practice letting go of me and myself to make room for an open, empty space. In that space everybody has the potential to be vulnerable, whether perfect or imperfect.
In holding space there is no purpose, other than to communicate coherently and truthfully.
Juddi Krishnamurti, a philosopher, speaker and writer would say that the cup must be empty to hold something. Friday morning is our space where we empty our cups to make room in our consciousness. In the space of emptiness, we allow new experiences to touch us.
Do not Reserve Unconditional Love for Others
It is relatively easy to spend time with ourselves when all is hunky dory, but how about when we are feeling down and out, in fear, perhaps even frightened by our own nature? That is when the impulse to run away – distracting ourselves with seeing a friend, watching a movie or scrolling a social media feed, you name it… – will kick in. But that is when our scared and fragile self needs us the most. That is when we need to know that we have a right to exist, just as we are.
In my experience, it is during our troubled times that we have the greatest opportunity to face what we need to face in order to integrate and transcend in the name of self-growth and inner freedom.
Krishnamurthi tells us that our programmed patterns, beliefs, and behaviours will continue to re-appear until we have accepted and integrated them as part of our being. The same drama will happen, again and again, at times disguised as something else, until I have learned to free myself. I am sure we all have seen scenarios when somebody we know changes job because of problems, only to find themselves in an almost identical dilemma. The same happens in relationships.
By learning to hold space for myself, taking the position as witness / observer as opposed to getting carried away, I gradually and gently orchestrate my own self-prison break. It requires awareness, presence, and curiosity to understand my own inner landscape.
If I put my head in the sand instead of facing my own pain, suppressed feelings are likely to manifest in the form of a crisis, as if digging their way back up through layers of sand.
Learning to hold space for myself while I dance in the darkness of my own being, I open myself to the light and make myself ready to experience true inner freedom.
How to Hold Space for Yourself?
Holding space requires a willingness and curiosity to get to know yourself. Here are some ideas for a pathway that will allow you to hold space for yourself:
Start emptying your cup. It starts with you and your recognition of the importance of making time for yourself. Carve out the time, even if you are not able to continue to do all the things that you normally do. You may feel some unease but, in this unease, even if it is only five minutes, you potentially open yourself to new thoughts, ideas, or feelings. Set your alarm clock five minutes earlier than usual, more if you feel like it, and engage in meditation and/or a movement practice. If it is not possible to do so in the morning, you can take time in the evening instead. Observe yourself and your relationship to make time for yourself. This is a simple entry into holding space for yourself. Don’t judge yourself. Be present. Observe. Be curious about yourself including your reactions and possible excuses (which we all have!).
Grounding and connecting to nature, every day, is an unbeatable practice. Just a few minutes will make a difference in your state of being; it allows you to meet yourself with more clarity.
There is a complexity to holding space; it is not only about carving out time for ourselves, but also making space around. We can do this by setting healthy boundaries. For example: your commitment to engage in honourable interactions (with yourself or others) is a powerful way to create space. Choose who you want to spend time with and when. Check in with yourself first before committing to others.
Finally, we may engage in all the above listed positive practices, but if we don’t pay extra attention when faced with difficult emotions, we still have much to learn.
It is when I hold space for my most frightened and vulnerable self that I can most truly transform on the deepest level. I witness, I breathe, I stay centred and meet that moment with full awareness for what it is.
When faced with our most rejected and fearful emotions, the parts of us that we struggle with and can’t accept, is when we can nurture unconditional love. This, to me, is where we enter the space of self-acceptance and transcendence of old patterns and behaviours – as happened to me at the Goddess Camp.
There is no need to beat anyone up, including myself!
Hold space for yourself. Feel what you feel, breathe and release.
Also, just in case you missed it, read the first part of the Transcending the Mind Chatter series HERE.
P.S. If you wish to join the Coffee Morning tribe, you can do so HERE.
PP.S. Claudia’s contemplation about life can be sent directly into your inbox. If you wish to receive monthly Soul Snippets, send a message HERE.
I guide people on their journey of inner awakening by holding space. Also, I am offering healing retreats, Quantum Energy Coaching and Spiritual Coaching. I love writing about wellbeing, self-love, consciousness, healing, and anything else on the journey to peace and inner harmony. Check out my books, my events and what else is available to you for your journey to inner peace on www.soul-luxury.com.