by Jill Sockman

As is always the case, I’m under the wire to finish my outline for this weekend’s training. I always have the best intention to get these things done well in advance, but the truth is that it never, ever happens. Not ever. Like not even one time. There’s some part of it that is related to a busy schedule, and a constitution that needs to focus on just one event at a time. But there’s also the Procrastination Factor. And it’s very real. So this week is round-the-clock writing, planning, thinking, pondering, meditating on the idea of holding space.

This particular workshop really doesn’t have anything to do with classical Yoga. It’s not material that I’ve received from my teachers over years of study. Rather, it’s grown out of ten years of training yoga teachers and watching what goes right and what goes wrong as we attempt to create a container for others to find their way to their own truth. Even as well-intentioned yogis, it is so hard not to impose our opinions, agendas and priorities onto others in our attempt to facilitate their processes. And in the end, all that does is muck up the works.

As I’ve been putting together the elements of each session, one of the biggest pieces that has shown up is the foundation of holding space for another person- and that is learning to hold space for ourselves. For anyone in a teaching, helping, assisting role in life (and that’s pretty much everyone) it’s often easier to pour ourselves into others’ needs, issues and problems than to really address our own inner voice in a meaningful, directed way.

So, as we launch into what is for many the busiest and/or most challenging time of year, I want to offer the suggestion that you commit to holding space for yourself through the end of the year. What does that even mean? Well, here are some considerations to start the inner dialogue:

  • Holding space is about creating a safe container for another person/people to have whatever experience they are having and speak their deepest truths in an authentic way, with no judgement. What would it be like for you to give yourself a little quarter in these hectic months? How could you give yourself the right to feel what you are feeling, and express that honestly, without making excuses, without repressing those emotions, without blaming anyone or anything else? What bigger truths arise when you allow such honest expression?
  • So much is revealed to us in the process of self-study, and great help can be found in asking some questions to find out what is in the way of you holding space for yourself. Ideas to ponder on or journal about: Do you feel safe expressing your true thoughts and feelings? To whom, or under what circumstances? Do you make that a priority? What excuses or patterns of deflection or diversion have you created over the years to focus on others to the exclusion of your story, your needs, your truth? What small steps could you take to change those patterns?

We all want the same things: to be seen, heard, acknowledged, accepted. And while we live in community and need others, I’m finding that the crucial first step to do that for another is learning to hear, see and acknowledge our own inner truths, lives, emotions and stories. To hold the space for ourselves with compassion instead of judgement, with accountability rather than blame. And to create spacious time for the unfolding of all the magic that lives inside, rather than burying our stories and hiding our light under a veil of constant busy-ness and doing.

It’s a gift and a privilege to hold the space for others to hear the wisdom held in their souls. How would it be, and what might you find if you were to hold your own truth in that same light and reverence?