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What Does It Mean to Hold Space?

What Does It Mean to Hold Space?

Don’t pass the tissues?


The poor woman has snot dripping down her face and I think that’s a little spit on the side of her mouth.

I’m clasping my hands together to keep from reaching for the box of Kleenex. I listen to my internal dialogue with a small part of my brain as I focus the rest of my attention on the woman in front of me. My face is schooled to neutral and my body language is attentive, but not invasive. I’m picturing a circle around the two of us, keeping her safe as she digs into her own dark places.

This is how to hold space. And it’s hard as hell.

When you work in the realms of healing and interpersonal transformation, you quickly realize that people need 3 things to grow:

  • guidance,
  • accountability,
  • and space to learn to hear their own inner voice and to learn to trust it.

I often joke that, like blood, my thoughts change color when they hit the air.

This is true for many of us; sometimes we need to speak it to know if we believe it.

One aspect of healing work is to create space for people to speak.

When we can voice our thoughts, feelings, and intuitions—even if they don’t “make sense” or conform to societal notions of what you should say out loud—we begin to uncover bits of ourselves that are wounded or uncertain. And bringing these bits to the light initiates a healing process.

Both with my advanced students and in my own office (back when I worked with clients regularly!), I have seen the power of simply being heard. People are transformed by being able to safely share their story.

Being heard and feeling understood is one of the most important parts of the process we go through to heal not only our bodies but also our spiritual and emotional wounds.

The other important process in the healing cycle?

Hearing other people’s stories. It’s in the sharing that the universal themes begin to emerge, that we begin to see the archetypes that lie behind our individual tales.

Stories heal and the giving and receiving of stories is the yin and yang of acquiring wisdom.

I wait until she asks for the tissues.

It’s hard, hard, hard to wait. To not hug. To give space. To make space sacred.

And then the moment comes. She reaches for the Kleenex. She chooses her road forward.

And I take a deep breath, letting go of my hold on the sacred bubble of near-silent support, and offer a learning tale to help her on her way.

We’ve been navigating this work in Witch Camp this week. Figuring out how to be both exuberant supports, advice-givers, and wisdom-sharers while also bearing witness and creating space for revelations.

It’s a dance, a balance, two sides of the same coin.

It forces us to look at ourselves in ways that sometimes hurt.

How do you navigate this dance gracefully in your life?

Inhale: expand the space. Exhale: share the story.

Big hugs–






Share with us in the comments!

The Last Thing

The Last Thing

When you are digging deep with a client or a friend, pay attention to the very last thing they say.

It’s often an aside, offered to the depths of their purse as they dig for their keys.

Sometimes it’s shrugged over their shoulder as they put on their coat.

It is always the most important thing they have to tell you.

I have been working with Maureen for a few months (nope, not her real name!). While she had some physical complaints, they were minor: an occasional sleepless night, the desire to ease the discomforts of a body that was no longer twenty.

She came to me specifically to help her with the stresses that were coming up as she planned her daughter’s wedding.

Along with offering botanical support, I became another point-of-view as she learned to work with her soon-to-be-in-laws and navigated the financial tensions that seem to be such a huge component of the modern American wedding.

In the process, she rediscovered her connection to spirituality. She felt more grounded, more calm, more able to understand herself. It was a beautiful thing…

…and, one would think, the culmination of our work together.

And then Maureen limped into our final appointment. Her knee was swollen– the doctor was sending her to a rheumatologist.

She was content to work with the doctors on her knee, so we spoke of other things.

With five minutes left, on our last day of working together, Maureen “remembered” that her knee had done this once before. She was engaged to be married with the wedding coming up and her knee had swollen becoming painful to walk on. Cortisone shots had taken care of it… until now.

These messages in the final moment are the subconscious’s way of initiating the next conversation that needs to happen. But the subconscious is protective, it’s not sure it wants to go there. And it wants to make sure it will be supported if it does.

The subconscious asks the conscious self, “Do we want to go there?”

It’s testing, for lack of a better word, the healing relationship. The subconscious asks the listener: Are you aware enough to hear me? Do you care enough to dig? Do you care more for me than for the clock?

The subconscious is often described as a wise child. In these last minute revelations you see the craftiness of our souls. We know where our wounds are and we know who we can trust as we excavate them.

Maureen and I set another appointment to explore the message her knee was giving her. She unearthed a deeper pattern and found her way to greater insight.

Have you ever discovered a life pattern that deeply affects your ability to heal? Share below!