The phrase “holding space” is nearly ubiquitous. And yet truly safe spaces in which we can be seen and held in our vulnerability are still exceedingly rare. So let’s to take a moment to question: What exactly is a safe space, and how do we go about holding that for each other?
A safe space is one in which we are received fully, in totality, as ourselves. There is no lecturing or instruction in a safe space. There is no saving or even “helping.” There is no shaming or projection or demanding someone else to be more like us or do it “our way.” If we want to be a safe space for someone, we do not tell them not to be angry. We do not react fearfully to their sadness or pain, or freak out when they show their shadow. Neither do we allow them to place blame on us, harm us, or lash out in a way that serves no one. Holding a safe space, then, requires extremely strong and well-established boundaries.
In order to hold space, we simply witness the other with love, as though our consciousness itself is a set of warm and expansive arms gently holding and supporting—but never grasping. Like a butterfly has landed gently in our open hand, or like one holds a newborn baby, particularly one that is upset.
Being this for another is the most sacred act, the greatest honor, we can possibly undertake; it is the holy work. This simple state of being holds magical transformative powers, as the deepest and darkest of wounds can finally be witnessed in loving presence and so often transmuted and released just because they are finally met and witnessed. And of course, we can only be this for another as deeply as we have already chosen to heal and integrate our own selves…which for me is a tremendous motivation to do the work, and do the work some more.
But what happens when someone opens the special Pandora’s box of their own darkness to us, in confidence and in need, and we don’t meet them there but rather squelch and shame their expression? I am not quite sure our society as a whole yet understands just how toxic and deleterious this scenario can be; it can create divisions and wounds in the psyche that can last a lifetime.
For example, when a woman shames another woman, for being too much, too “negative,” and too herself —whether it be a daughter, a sister, a friend—she then creates in that girl that very vulnerability that puts them at risk of falling into the hands of the nearest hungry energy vampire/abuser/predator. The lack of safe space and even the subtlest of shaming, actually primes her to be abused by shunning and relegating a piece of her soul to the shadowlands, where only the vampires dwell.
I know from personal experience that those very predators—who are paying attention, and looking for weak spots, and hoping to feed on her soul—will be willing, in fact all too happy and excited, to “see” those parts of her that have been forced into shadow and shame by others. They will provide a reflection of that part of her where others have failed to do so—and by being the only one willing to hold her in her darkness, they will gain a very unholy control over her.
In particular, the absence of truly safe space for empowered feminine sexuality has made our daughters vulnerable to the worst sort of predation. Further, the destabilizing and and shaming of the feminine actually threatens to destroy our entire world by creating a massive imbalance that only love can heal.
The minute we force another woman into a box, and accept her only conditionally according to her ability to satisfy our requirements of “good” and “appropriate” behavior, and have her modulate and curate herself to our liking (or more accurately, so as not to trigger our own shame and wounding), the minute we force her to change in order to receive our approval, we are being a puppet of the age-old agenda to syphon and steal power, and we reiterate the cosmic wound. We are part of the problem. Period.
As noted, when a someone shames someone else simply for being, it is really her own judgment and rejection of herself, which she is imposing upon another. If we can catch that and heal that in ourselves before inflicting it on another, we may quite literally be changing the course or even saving someone’s life. If we do the work within ourselves and really have a good hard (loving) look at our own shadows, we suddenly find ourselves able to hold space for another in a way we had no idea we could.
I would say it’s a big deal, a huge responsibility, and high time to rise to it. The energies that are resurfacing right now— in us—are so raw and delicate that they depend on us remembering how to enact this on Earth once more. And if we should fail, the fate of the Earth is also at stake.
With the shadow that’s looming over the entire Earth right now, a veritable sea of unprocessed darkness, it is so essential that we all make the commitment to healing our own.
So do a good deed, and starve a vampire. Commit to holding truly safe space, for yourself, for those you love, and for the Earth that we call home.
Author: Sara Sophia Eisenman
Editor: Travis May
Image: Author’s Own