Think of your conversations over the past month. These could have been via Zoom, over the phone, or in-person. In those conversations, ask yourself the following questions. Were you mostly listening, talking, or a combination? If it was mostly you talking, think about how much time did the other person talk vs you? Was it fairly even or not? If the person did share something with you about their life, did you immediately compare it to yours and interrupt them? Did you tell them a list of “should’s” as maybe a way to offer help? Did you have a reaction to what they were saying that clearly stated your opinion on the subject? “Oh wow!” “What?!” “Oh my goddess!” “Really?!”
If you were the one mainly sharing, consider the following…
What if you just listened? Did not offer suggestions to help, did not compare to your life, and did not have a reaction that showed your opinion on the subject. How do you think the other person would feel?
When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.Amy Wright Glenn
Why was I thinking about this so much? I attended a yoga continued education session for Yoga for Healthy Aging. One of the exercises we did was active listening with a partner. We just “held space” for that person to share for 3 minutes and at the end we just said “Thank you”. No reactions, follow-up questions, etc. The experience was eye-opening. It made me reflect that we rarely do this outside of a training session environment. But what if we did? I think this would be an amazing way to allow someone to share in a safe space.
I feel this aligns with taking yoga off of the mat and into daily life. Giving someone the gift of a nonjudgmental space to be fully heard. Personally, I would love this more often in my life!
I am not saying offering help to others with suggestions is a incorrect thing to do. I am only suggesting that once in awhile, this might be a loving and powerful gift to give someone in your life.
Holding Space for Self…
I would be remiss if I did not mention that this also applies to ourselves. Setting aside time during our day to do something creative or calming. Taking a step away from responsibilities and “to do” lists to hold space to be our whole self. Sounds simple enough, but it is easy to get swept into the action of the day with work, family, friends, household items.
For me, I enjoy my daily 20 minute savasana. My silent, dark (eye pillow) time to just focus on the sensations of my breath and rest my body, mind and spirit. I find that when I skip this, even for just one day, something feels “off”, not right. I really miss it.
Holding space for yourself is a gift and a necessary part of our daily life.
Holding Space for Others Exercise…
- Inform person ahead of time that you would like to hold space for them, even mention this blog post as a reference. Let them know you will only listen and at the end of the allocated time, only respond with “thank you”.
- If person is on-board, have them share something in their life with you while you set a timer. Could be 3 to 5 minutes or even longer depending on the situtation.
- While person is sharing, maintain eye-contact and stay silent. No audible reactions. Head nodding is fine to do.
- When person is done. Just say “thank you”.
- If the person is open to it, invite them to share how they felt during the exercise. Maybe they will even want to switch and do the exercise for you.