Showing Up and Holding Space

These two things are on my mind today and I spent a fair amount of time with them in meditation and during a walk in the woods. When people talk about ‘showing up’ they usually envision the physical manifestation of this. Attending a wedding. Sitting at a bedside in hospice. Loaning money. But, this is not all of it. Some of us ‘show up’ in very different ways without attendance taken. These count just as much…sometimes more…and take many forms. We set something in motion and get out of the way. We listen for hours in a living room with no ‘credit’. Some people pray or send light and love. Other people heal with words or hands. And sometimes our absence is the best possible way to ‘show up’ because it is what is needed most.

'Holding space', as I understand it today, means preserving an unconditional compassion for another and his/her circumstances in one’s heart and maintaining that willingness despite the nature of their struggle and despite your personal differences. 'Holding space' is strangely invisible and, yet, immediately known. When someone is 'holding space' for another it is clear from their tone, their calm and their energy that they are doing exactly that. It is a practice that would make Buddha smile.

I actively practice both of these daily. I’m quite good at each. Except when it comes to ‘showing up’ or ‘holding space’ for myself which is something that I am trying to learn at this late stage in my life. I’ve never done it before and it is a slow, painful, worthwhile process that I intend to master.

What I am also learning is that ‘showing up’ for someone else sometimes directly interferes with ‘showing up’ for myself. After 48 years I am, on occasion, going to put myself first.

And likewise there may be times when I gently set aside ‘holding space’ for another if it is hindering my ability to ‘hold space’ for myself and the people in my life who deserve it most. I intellectually know that there is room in my heart for all of it but, just like Buddhism and yoga, it is a practice and balance that I need time to master. For now, I will do what is required to stay rooted and centered as I continue on my journey.

Today, I examined all of this critically and beautifully.

Tonight, I am at peace and ready for a new day.