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Holding Space for Someone

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[00:00:00] Hi, and welcome back to your Daily Mindfulness. In today's session we're going to talk about how to hold space for someone going through something difficult.

Since we're always interacting with other people, the ability to hold space for someone while they're going through something difficult is one of the greatest gifts you can offer another person. Whether it's your partner, children, friends, students, or colleagues, this is a powerful skill to have. And you could think about it even in your own life. Anytime you've gone through something difficult, chances are there are those people you know who holds space for you to have those experiences. People you know who can listen and just be there with you, not trying to fix, judge you, they can just hold your pain with you.

This is a powerful gift, but the first step to developing this capacity in you is to [00:01:00] develop holding space for yourself. That is, your capacity to hold space for another person's suffering is directly related to your capacity to hold space for your own suffering. So why is that?

Well to not hold space for your own suffering, which doesn't have to mean the greatest tragedy. It could just mean your own anger, grief, sadness, to not feel these things requires putting up some sort of armor. It requires shutting down some part of you. And it also requires continuously distracting yourself from that part of you by either staying busy or avoiding stillness, because you know that if you get still or quiet or enough without your usual distraction, the stuff you've been running from will come to the surface.

So how does this relate to holding space for another person suffering? Well holding [00:02:00] space for that person requires being present, deeply attuned, open, and having the capacity to stay with the person's pain without subconsciously trying to avoid it, which can often show up as trying to make things better for them or helping them think positive about the situation. And so if we haven't trained ourselves to hold this space for ourself, we won't be able to hold it for another because the very presence that is required to be with another person's pain is the presence we developed by being with our own pain. And well, subconsciously fear going into that territory with this person, because we haven't yet done it with ourselves.

This doesn't mean we have to have done all of our healing work in order to be useful to someone. But at the very least, we must have an awareness of where we haven't gone so that we don't let ourselves subconsciously [00:03:00] block a person's journey of going through that themselves. And this often looks like, you know, if we're a holding space for someone, we might say something like, Oh, you don't have to be sad or no, it'll be fine. Don't worry. Or how about we just go for a walk. Something that may be subtle. I might even feel like it has a positive intention, but it's actually you trying to avoid the pain rather than them.

And just to be clear holding space doesn't mean we take on another person's suffering. You can have boundaries and you can be present to their pain without being consumed by it. And that's a capacity that we often first developed by doing it with ourselves.

So I hope this gives you something to think about next time you're with someone who is struggling. And the good news is that you're developing this capacity to hold space here at Mindfulness.com by going through it in your own meditation practice.

So thank you for your practice and let's settle in for today's [00:04:00] meditation.

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