Hold the Space
“Just hold the space. It will take time, but they will come.” This comment was in response to my concern about no one coming to a breastfeeding support group that I started at a clinic. So I took this advice and held that space week after week. I set up the room, arranged the chairs, set up a diaper changing area, and zeroed the scale. No one came for nearly two months. But then I started having moms and newborns come. They brought their partners, other children, and even supportive family members. The clinic residents started to perform their newborn exams during these groups and it flourished into this amazing partnership where I was able to provide much-needed lactation support while the residents saw their newest patients in a timely manner. It was a huge success.
I can’t even remember who it was that told me to “Hold the space,” but it has become so relevant throughout my life.
Physically Hold the Space
We can physically hold the space like I have been doing with my kids. They are two active boys who are always moving at warp speed. Knowing the benefits of yoga, I have tried repeatedly to get them to engage but it has rarely worked – until I held the space. I’ve been making it a point to do yoga after my morning Peloton rides and tried to get the boys to participate with me, but they had no interest.
I started to hold the space. I put out three mats each morning and invited them to participate with me. The first few days, two of those mats were empty but slowly they started to join me. We now practice yoga together several days a week and it is great to teach them how to intentionally slow down.
Emotionally Hold the Space
Holding the space does not need to be limited to an actual physical space. Emotionally holding the space is crucial. Think of a psychotherapy session. Quite often, the therapist just sits there, in silence. She’s holding the space for you to take a deep breath and unload.
You can emotionally hold the space for a family member or friend who is going through a tough season in life. Tell them that you are there to listen (and really, just listen). Tell them you are thinking of them and maybe even offer some times that you can connect. Also, don’t always wait for someone to come to you. It may take multiple, unanswered attempts before the other person is ready. Just keep holding that space.
Hold the Space
When you hold the space for someone else, physically or emotionally, you are showing that you are meeting them where they are at without judgment. You are creating a safe place for them to come to you – whether that is to participate in a weekly playdate or giving someone the opportunity to emotionally express themself. When you mindfully shift the focus from you to someone else, an amazing transformative effect takes place. How will you hold the space?