Holding Sacred Space

Sacred / Scared

Switch one letter and not only is the word changed, but so is the meaning. That opens up a whole new conversation about fear; fear of the known and fear of the unknown. I can admit that I own all of it in every form.

Recently, I was chatting about sacred space and how to define that concept. I wasn’t quite sure I knew enough about it to offer an intelligent explanation that would make sense-I’m still not sure it makes sense for a lot of reasons, but I know that it accurately describes how I’m feeling.

When we hold space, we release control. Yup, that’s about right.

It’s another way to show unconditional love. It’s SCARY.

According to GoodTherapy.org, around the midpoint of life, we start picking up hints that we’re not going to live forever. In Once Upon a Midlife, Allan Chinen describes how shocking this realization can be, accompanied by anxiety and grief.

Especially at such a point, a sense of the sacred can act to ground us. As the fact of “me” begins to lose its apparent guarantee of continuance as well as its centrality (because how central to the universe can I be if I’m not going to be around?), the universe is less and less about me. But perhaps I become more and more about something else, something larger than me.

As above, so below…

Carl Jung notes that, in this way, the ego becomes relativized and the process of individualization—becoming wholly who we were meant to be—is accomplished. We begin to live in a system of meaning where the earth revolves around the sun, the sun rotates through the galaxy, and the galaxy itself follows its own great attractor. Our experience then seems to participate in larger movements, whether those are our family or a cause in which we believe or humanity in general, a spiritual pathway or the life of the universe.

Everyone has trauma.

The only way through trauma is to feel it. If a person doesn’t feel their pain, their anger, their fear—if they instead repress it—it grows and festers, like a sliver that doesn’t get pulled out. But feelings like pain, anger and fear are painful and scary!  Feeling them isn’t fun. It takes a great amount of courage and strength to do so.

Holding space means letting go of judgment, of opening your heart and lending your courage; your strength. It means being there or not being there but communicating a safe environment like a safety net for someone you care for to exorcise the hurt within them.

Allowing that person to cry, to scream, to shudder; witnessing their authentic experience and reacting with love and acceptance to the extent that you are able, is a powerful way to support them in this most important spiritual and emotional work, holding hands physically and/or emotionally to walk through their journey of self discovery.

For me, it’s a little different. It might not make sense to anyone else but I visualize holding space more like a drawer I’ve cleared out in my bedroom or a space I’ve left empty in my heart. Being that resolute and solitary lighthouse, that beacon of shining white light on a dark and stormy night, blinking through the fog.

For me, this is sacred — even though at times it scares me to death.

 

(Featured image by Google/Pinterest)

 

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