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What Does it Mean to "Hold Space"?

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

In honor of Open Circles, let’s recap how to hold space (if you haven’t signed up for a free Open Circle, you can do so here).

One of the greatest gifts you can receive is to be truly heard and understood. If you've experienced this, you know what we're talking about.

This is what holding space does. It’s a massive part of Soulect Circles.

There are 5 people in each Circle who gather weekly with the intention of personal-evolution; growing into the person they want to be.

And as the healing happens in the process of personal-growth, vulnerable parts of us rise to the surface, and we may process that in Circle.

If the Circle didn’t know how to hold space, the potential of healing in that moment would fade.

So, one of the first things we do when a new Circle is formed is to hold a communication workshop where holding space is taught and practiced.

What does “holding space” mean?

Holding space means to be there for someone, wholly and completely, allowing them to process their thoughts and emotions, without the weight of us imposing, advice giving, problem-solving, or turning the story back to ourselves.

Imagine literally “holding space” around them, keeping them safe and comfortable as they process what they need to.

Here are some fundamentals of holding space

Save this and refer back as a reminder.

1. Be present: here, now

  • Actively listen. Listen with the whole of you. Listen deeply, with the sole intent to understand.

  • If you notice your chatty mind, gently bring it back to the speaker.

2. Give an affirmation

  • Affirm their difficult choice to open up their heart. “Thank you so much for telling us” is an example.

3. Acknowledge

  • Use empathy to acknowledge and validate what they’re experiencing. “You’ve been feeling exhausted. I hear you and I understand.” is an example.

  • Click here to watch a valuable short video by Brene Brown on empathy.

4. Get quiet. After you’ve done the above, get quiet and allow them to continue unravelling their processes.

  • Actively listen. Listen with the whole of you. Listen deeply, with the sole intent to understand.

5. Ask before sharing

  • Don’t give advice or offer your opinion when the speaker is still processing difficult emotions.

  • If we believe what you have to share will truly benefit them, ask first. “Are you open to an observation right now?” is an example.

6. Keep the space on them

  • Allow the space, or spotlight, to be wholly theirs until they feel complete.

  • Only share your personal experience if it will benefit the speaker. (Keep the intention “How can I best support right now?”) Do not share your story if it will detract from them.

If we all practiced holding space, our relationships would sprout deeper, and we would be deeply connected to those around us.

We would understand instead of assume or judge, and we would hear instead of defend or attack.

The truth is, holding space comes naturally to all of us, but we’ve forgotten it as we grew up learning a different, less connecting method.

Let’s begin practicing what is natural to us; truly hearing others and connecting to them, heart to heart. Together, we can change the paradigm of communication in our world.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments 💛

This article was the cut and revised from the communication workshop every Soulect members takes before joining their Circle. Soulect is a conscious community for personal development. It's a space devoted to choosing one’s life consciously, through support, clarity, community, and accountability. This happens in intimate groups of 5 who gather weekly for the intention of sharing, healing, growing, and consciously creating our lives.

To enjoy the impact of community, focus, and accountability in your life, join a free Open Circle to learn how you can create a full circle life with your own growth family ❤️

Photo: Sara and Parisa (Founders of Soulect) age 6 & 9, Holding Space for each other :P

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