The Meaning of Holding Space

The meaning of holding space is most easily recognized when we identify when space is held for others.

Let me begin with my own story.

This topic is dear to me. I spent the past seven years holding space for my father as he grieved the loss of his bride of 63 years and continued to age gracefully to the end of his earthly life just this past Christmas.

When I first started living with him, he was engaged in his love for wood carving, driving, taking short trips of three-to-eight hours overnight to see family, and managing his personal life—finances, laundry, cooking, etc. As time passed, he let go of big chainsaw carving and began smaller carving projects. Eventually, he drove only to the store, library, and barbershop. At some point, he began to use a cane. Later, he used a walker and gave up his car keys.

He would admonish me if I ever did anything for him that he could do himself. I only did laundry three times and cooked his meals the last two weeks of his life. I listened and engaged in conversation and shared tender moments. He told me when he wanted hospice. He died within five days of signing on with the hospice group. He was a WWII vet who stood in his boots until the end. I honored him all the way.

That is holding space.

Hello, my name is Tracey Lynn Cox, vibrational change coach+, offering integrated narrative coaching with solution-based healing hypnosis.

Holding space for others is very different than holding space for self. It comes more naturally for most people to hold space for others because it is often more comfortable to focus outwards vs. inwards. When Dad first transitioned, I was so relieved that had shed his worn-out body—his vessel that had carried him throughout his life—and was reunited with Mom. But after such a life-altering experience, I am now choosing to hold space for me. For the first time in many years, I am observing my own behavior and feelings with great curiosity.

So, let’s begin today with the meaning of holding space for oneself.

A caregiver (or any one individual) is ineffective for others when self-capacity is neglected. That is why the meaning of holding space for oneself is so important.

For me, holding space for oneself means this:

Becoming the container to experience oneself:

  • To grow
  • To feel
  • To express
  • To try out
  • To live out

It means to be present to oneself (and being a present to oneself)—treating oneself with TLC:

  • Consideration
  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • And, most of all, love

It means to tune into your energies:

  • Your body’s physical needs—Do you need more rest?
  • Your emotions—Are they radically changing?
  • Your mind—What thoughts race through? What thoughts get stuck?
  • Your spirit—What does your soul ache for?

The meaning of holding space is a lifestyle of meeting your own needs first—putting on your oxygen mask for survival before meeting others’ needs.

My sister just physically and geographically did a walkabout through nine states in nine days. I believe I’m on a pilgrimage right here at home with my deepest self for the year of 2018, discerning my needs for this phase of my life.

To recap, holding space for yourself means 

  • becoming the container to experience yourself

  • being present to oneself and a present to oneself

  • tuning into your energies: body, emotions, mind, and spirit

Now that you know what holding space is, return next week to understand the steps to develop the lifestyle to meet your own needs first.

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