Health & Wellness

Holding Space

Rebecca Liston
By Rebecca Liston |London, Ontario

Here we are again…me and the little Word Doc cursor that blinks expectantly on the screen. She and I make quite a pair. She just blinks, all the while I sit for roughly 42 minutes in front of a blank white document and write nothing.

But still that cursor blinks on.

I admire her patience.

She is so convinced that I will indeed eventually begin to type that she just sits there and blinks. She never skips a beat. She just waits. Patiently. Calmly. Blinking at me. Waiting.

She does not judge me and my lack of words. She does not giggle or roll her eyes at me.

She does not look at her watch when she thinks I cannot see her.

She never checks her phone.

And as the tears roll down my cheeks, she doesn’t interrupt me with platitudes.

She does not pass me a tissue.

She just blinks.

And waits.

Patiently.

Calmly.

For me.

To write.

Whenever I am ready.

This is the very definition of “holding space,” dear Reader. The ability to sit, steadily, not flinching, not shifting away, not interrupting, not judging, just waiting, mindfully, patiently, calmly, with care, for the Other to say something, write something, do something, or nothing at all. It’s holding space, and it is a skill.

It is a skill we would all do well to cultivate.

Sometimes I do this incredibly well.

And sometimes I suck at it.

But it’s a skill we are all being called to practice now, in every arena of our lives.

When your child screams bloody murder at the computer screen and bashes his head on the table in frustration.

When your sister-in-law sobs over the phone over the loss of her job.

When your partner rages about “those &*@(*@ idiots” at work, and then dissolves into a pile of shaking, sobbing flesh on the floor.

When your client yells at you to “just give (her) the answer already!!!!”

When your best friend calls with news of her cancer diagnosis.

You must “make like a cursor” and hold space.

For the anger to pass. For the sobbing to subside. For the words to come.

We must wait.

Patiently.

Mindfully.

Calmly.

We must wait for the words to come.

We owe this to one another, dear Reader.

And?

We owe this to ourselves.

For in learning to hold space for others, we learn to hold it for ourselves as well. And there is no greater gift I can think of giving in this most bizarre time in our lives.

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Rebecca Liston
Rebecca Liston |London, Ontario
Rebecca Liston is a cofounder and business intuitive at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. She specializes in anchoring folks in a clear-eyed understanding of which path is theirs for the taking. She’s got one foot in the land...Read More
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