Holding Space for Your Emotions
What does it mean to really “hold space” for your emotions? What does that look like? How does it work? And how does it help?
Holding space for your emotions is really about having compassion, grace, non-judgment, and non-attachment to the experience we are in, or the experience others are in. It is a “present moment’ experience, and one that takes a lot of attention and mindfulness.
So what the heck does it look like? It often is about feeling the funk, whatever the feeling is, acknowledging it, without trying to fix it, change it, get rid of it, destroy it, or attach to it.
I am feeling stress VS. I am Stress
I am experiencing sadness VS. I am sadness
I am acknowledging my feeling of anger VS. I am an angry person
Feelings are energy in motion. Emotions. And energy can move through the body, much like what moves through a pitcher. The pitcher does not become the water as the water moves through it, it is the container allowing and guiding the energy of the water. So why then do you self-identify with the energy of you feeling as though it is the beginning and end of who you are, rather than just acknowledging that you are the container, the guide, directing this energy.
When we hold space for where we are we give ourselves permission to just be. The kid that bangs his knee and cries because it hurts isn’t wrong or bad, he is just expressing the emotions. If he stops the emotion he suppresses the hurt which just manifests as more hurt.
I mean honestly, when you stub your toe, sometimes saying a strong cussword and yelling for a moment actually makes you feel better. But when you hold that pain in, it travels up you leg, into your hip, and then suddenly you are walking with a limp. It still manifests!
So why in the world do we try and hold the upsets of our day or our life, in? The hurt, the disappointment, the sadness, the frustration, we hold it in, or try and stop it from existing, or even ignore it, rather than holding space for it to exist.
Holding space doesn’t mean acting from or reacting from the emotions either. It is a place of stillness, and a place of wholeness. Where we can be still and present to the energy of the feeling, to what it wants to say, how it feels in the body, without ‘doing’.
When you notice you are feeling “funky”, whatever that may be, take a moment to sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Drop your attention down into your body.
Ask yourself, where do I feel the energy of this emotion in my body?
Where do I feel the energy of my anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, overwhelmed, in my body?
And then wait for the answer. Be present to the answer. Maybe it is in your chest, your head, your legs.
Then once you have located this energy in your body, ask, what does it feel like? And this is where you want to describe it with your senses. Is it heavy? Maybe it feels sticky? Is it like a lump of coal? What color is it? Does it have a density? What does it taste like? What does it sound like? Anything!! There is no wrong answer, only an unexplored one.
Once you get a clear idea of it’s feeling, the energy of the emotion in the body, you can ask this area of your body, “do you have anything you want to say? Is there something here that wants to be heard?”
And then wait for the answer. But feel it coming from within, from the body up to the head, instead of from the head to the body. The mind doesn’t always know everything, regardless of what it wants to think.
Allow yourself to also be surprised. Often times your body just wants to say something simple, like “Nurture me” or “I am scared” or “It’s going to be ok”. Receive your body as you would receive your best friend, open and willing to listen.
Through out this you are creating space for the feeling to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and held. Once you receive what the feeling in the body wants to say, just sit with it. A great way to do this is by just saying “I hear you. I hear that you said…(repeat what the body said)….”.
Your only true action in holding space, is to breath. The energy of any emotion only last 90 seconds. When we perpetuate the thoughts, the story, the mental condition that creates the emotion, we are co-creating that emotional experience. But the energy itself, when turn the brain off, only last at most 90 sec, often less.
This amazing things happens when we just allow…. we feel seen, heard, valued, honored, recognized, accepted, and then the energy is surrendered. We experience more peace, more ease, and we actually heal the suffering we were previously in.
It is a practice, not a destination. Something we must cultivate in our daily lives, but when we do, we start to deeply heal not only our hearts but our mind and our bodies. And ultimately, we begin to experience the peace, the joy, and the happiness we want in our life. All because we held space for where we are, for our emotions.