How does we consciously hold space for someone, even if we have no training?
Everyone following a few simple guidelines can be of valuable, and much needed, support.
The recent fires in Sonoma County, and those that raged across the mid-west to the Pacific Coast, and the hurricanes that swept through the south to the south-eastern part of the United States this year have affected thousands of families. The chances are slim that you don’t have a person in your life currently experiencing Post Traumatic Stress, or currently in the midst of a trauma-situation.
It is difficult to know how to reach out and help loved ones when they’re struggling. The range of emotions that they are going through can be overwhelming for them and for those around them. One of the most important things you can do for them is to consciously hold space for the process they are experiencing, and hold love in that space, patiently.
You will want to know why they are hurting, so that you can help them address the pain.
Pause. This will require you to draw on personal strength. Putting pressure on a person to talk through their feelings before they are ready can actually make it worse.
Think for a moment about what is driving you to ask. To relieve your own discomfort or theirs?
Often times we will individually search for a solution, so that the moment can pass and everyone can “get back to normal.” After this much national trauma, we’re going to need to consciously work on ourselves and support our loved ones and our communities, as “returning to normal” is no longer possible. Our new state of ‘normal’ must include the awareness that everyone is experiencing, or affected by some level of trauma.
Holding space for a loved one to process means that you stay present with them and listen when they are ready to talk. If they aren’t, just hang out and hold love in your heart for them, for the family they’re connected to, and the community that is also affected.
Draw on strength from within.
- If you are inclined to pray, do so silently while sitting in proximity to your loved one.
- You can imagine drawing on strength from the earth, up through your feet and into your heart, and mind.
- Or simply focus on your breath, while they speak or sit in silence, and imagine the comfort you wish for them. Imagine the good feelings you’ve shared together before this happened, and just FEEL that.
Be a good listener.
If your loved one chooses to share with you, clear your mind of expectations or any judgement. If advice comes to mind, pause… sit with it and continue listening. Consciously ask yourself if your advice is for them, or to ease your own discomfort. If it is sincerely for them, and they are receptive, offer it. If you offer a suggested action, be prepared to act on it. This might involve giving them a ride someplace, or helping them locate some contact information for a resource.
Be patient and open.
The experience can come back to them repeatedly, and they may need to talk through it many times. This is an important part of the healing process, and it is vital to avoid the temptation to tell them to move on.
Written with integrated experience by MK, an independent creative, currently in the Dakotas for a second winter, still Standing.
Initial idea forwarded from: