To Hold Space for the Self

At The Yoga House, Jacquelyn and I are blessed and grateful to host so many wonderful instructors whose highest aim is to hold space. To hold space for healing entails seeing to it that the room and its energy are comfortable and judgment free. It means that prior to class the teacher is doing his or her part to fill her own cup. It means there will be a thoughtful balance between guidance and silence. This kind of teacher does not fancy him- or herself an arbiter of top-down wisdom. Instead, s/he knows that the only true ticket to inner freedom springs from the voice of inner knowing. The greatest teaching then is the one that points us back to ourselves.

This month, as the year comes to a close and the holidays loom as a simultaneously joyous and sometimes-stressful tizzy of outings, interactions, and travel, we offer up practical ways to hold space for yourself. It’s great when we have the time and resources to attend our favorite classes regularly, but it is also possible to get really good at holding smaller pockets of space for ourselves throughout the day. Under the umbrella of deep inner listening, here’s what the application of that practice might look like.

Self-Care Is Non-Negotiable

Tell everyone you know: “My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook.” And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they’re doing. Practice feeling good no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel. Abraham Hicks

First things first: Turn off “Guilt Mode.” If you have children and pets, are they fed and loved? Wonderful! We’re not suggesting anyone do the bare minimum for their dependents, but you wouldn’t let that happen anyway, would you? No, the greater tendency is to deplete ourselves in service of everyone else. And you already know this truth: A depleted giver is no giver at all. If you are registering anywhere on the “feeling drained” continuum, it’s time to hold space for the one closest to you — you.

Inquire into what it is you need. Is it just 10 seconds to regroup with a deep breath? 20 minutes to put your feet up the wall? a cup of tea? 12 hours of hibernation?Whatever it is, make tending to your restoration the highest priority.

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How Can You Hold Space for Anyone If You Haven’t Held It for Yourself?

Sound Pollyannish? We get it, we really do. With young children, a family member who is ill, or big responsibility of any kind it is not possible to feel 100% replenished 100% of the time. That’s why it’s so important to bump it up on the priority list. Far from an indulgence, the result of self care is that our loved ones and colleagues get an optimally functioning, more patient and understanding version of us; and day-to-day operations unfold with better efficiency, less stress, and more joy.

10 Ways to Hold Space for the Self — According to YOU

We took a poll, and — wow — the answers were creative and abundant! So here it is, just some of what your community members suggest to keep grounded and happy for the rest of the season.

  1. Play and cuddle with fur babies
  2. Purge the closet; organize
  3. Shiatsu massage, Thai bodywork, self-massage, facials, cranio-sacral therapy
  4. Yoga and meditation, tai chi, qi-gong, acupuncture
  5. Naps; rest; sleep
  6. Paint with water colors; coloring book; make art
  7. Use essential oils; body oil massages
  8. This one comes from teacher Coby Kozlowski:
    Take a look in the mirror and try to see yourself as your mother saw you as an infant. For as long as it takes, let every feeling fall away until there’s nothing left but pure love.
  9. Take a walk in nature (without a phone or other tech); wander; hike; get lost in the woods; “forest bath”
  10. Moon gaze, star gaze

We are so thankful you’ve made us a part of your personal healing. May your cup stay filled this month and beyond.

Find this uplifting? Please share!

To Hold Space for the Self

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