Holding Space – A Metta Practice

By Erica Ross

Holding space is an act of love.

It is, for me, akin to the Buddhist Metta practice; where one cultivates loving kindness towards oneself, and then out to the other, and to the world.

To begin with oneself, holding space is an expression of self-care, respect and devotion. It is an act of self-kindness, forgiveness and softness which helps foster our ability to heal to wholeness, to find our authentic voice and dance. It is an acceptance and affirmation of our emotions, from our deepest pain to our most glorious bliss. It is a waiting and a stillness that quietly cradles our greatest dreams and hopes. It is a permeable encirclement that holds all that we were, all that we are, and all that we will be. No exceptions.

Holding space is a beauty path, a golden road, a Tao. It’s a way of breathing, of seeing, of perceiving and feeling. It’s a way of moving, of opening, of trusting and surrendering. Holding space says, “Yes! You have come home. You are beautiful. Let go. Relax. You’re good enough. You can do it.”

As we move out beyond our own skin, we hold space for another in the form of deep and compassionate listening and acceptance. It is the practice of keeping our heart open, of letting our breath be fluid and easy, of quieting our mind’s judgments and criticisms and actually letting someone in, to connect in a soulful and sacred way. It’s an invitation to the other to be more of who they are without pre-conceived ideas, making room for the unexpected and the mysterious. It is the holding of all things good and life-affirming for them. It is a living prayer of gratitude, setting a sweet and gentle tone of peace, connection and belonging.

Holding space is a teacher, friend and lover. Holding space, like the divine mother rocking and swaying as she holds her beloved child in her arms, whispers, “Ahhhh. I see you. You are perfect. You are loved. You are worthy. You belong here.”

In the context of a group or communal dance setting, holding space is the art of the facilitator to support, inspire and allow the potential and safe-keeping of the whole and everything and everyone in it. It is the holding of a space of something most precious and fragile- the bonding of souls in flight. This kind of bonding, through pulse and beat, needs a special kind of holding which takes time to hone. It’s a holding of space which is mutually containing and liberating. It is a practice in letting go, of ‘getting out of the way’, and watching as a gentle witness, welcoming and making space for spirit to roam the room.

Holding space is a beautiful responsibility, an endless well, a womb, a wand, a wind. Holding space says, “Come, be free, play and rejoice with all of us here. You are important. Let’s co-create. Be the full spectrum of possibilities. Miracles do happen. This is your tribe. You can finally shine your light.”

The holding of space is a palpable embodiment of love. It holds the potential to be life changing, healing, transformative and culture-making. We, together in our dance, share the ability and power to wildly and devotedly melt into kindness. Let us remember our precious and inseparable connection with each other, nature, soul and spirit so we can practice holding space daily wherever we go, whatever we do, whoever we are with. That’s gotta be a good thing!

Reprinted with permission from www.vitalitymagazine.com