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Holding Space: The Gift of Representing

We have a term in English “to hold space” which translates in Spanish to something like “sostener”, to maintain or "hold" an emotion. In the world of wellness, this isn't just a buzz word, it's essential for any kind of therapeutic work to be successful. There are different ways to define it, so I've gathered some definitions to fully explain the concept:

  • Holding space is the ability to be present with someone, no matter what emotions they are sharing, without judgment.

  • Holding space is being able to be with someone without the need to fix, give solutions or want anything in return and it involves having empathy and compassion for them.

  • Holding space is when we allow the other person to share their truth regardless of how we feel about it.

Holding space is in fact about putting our needs and opinions aside for the other person to just be. It may appear to be easy, but often our own opinions and egos get in the way and instead of being with the person, we start to impose our way and opinions, leading to disconnection instead of connection. We may show and have sympathy for someone, to see how difficult it must be for them, but sympathy isn't empathy. Sympathy can comfort but it is empathy that leads to connection with the other.

Another important factor for greater connection is to be present and not make the issue at hand about you, and in that I share another definition of holding space.

  • Holding space is being with someone in their pain and allowing them to have their experience without making it about ourselves. @risingwoman

From a MBGMindfulness article here are 6 tips on how to practice holding space effectively: 1. Practice deep listening 2. Listen without judging 3. Practice loving kindness 4. Make room for others 5. Use the power of your breath 6. Let go of the need to 'fix' anything. To read more, go here to the full article.

During Constellation Circles, there are two roles: an Issue Holder, or person who brings an issue to explore, and what I always called "Representatives"... until now. Although it's true that in this role one participates in the Constellation and represents the energy of the role, I find that only calling it "representing" is limiting to all that this role does. Representatives work in service to the Issue Holder and to their family system, and their participation comes with great respect for what comes up, no matter what it is. Sometimes the roles are difficult to represent and sometimes (often really) it touches on something personal too. In this case it gives you a chance to work out something for yourself. The Knowing Field we work with in Constellations always has something for everyone. I have decided to start using the term "Space Holder" instead of "Representative" as I feel it better explains the role and purpose of the representatives, to hold space for what is happening and emerging, without judgment; to be fully present to what the Field shows without the need to fix or give any solutions, and finally, to be present to what is and not to make it about you instead of the story being played out.

Coming as a “Space Holder” carries some responsibility to fully represent what shows up in the Field, not what we think should be done and having awareness to not give our own interpretations. This role also carries a gift because holding space for someone is really that, a gift. It is how we connect with others, how we love them and how healing happens. Furthermore, the more we learn to hold space for others, the deeper we can go in our relationships of all kinds, including with ourselves.

I hope to see you soon in a Circle. There are two ways to participate: as an Issue Holder or as a Space Holder. One is not more important than the other. In a Healing Circle like this, everyone benefits.


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