I offered this advice to a client, then did it for myself.
I asked my client to just sit still and watch her husband.
To experience and learn from the unspoken communication that occurs when you simply watch someone in silence without judgment or expectation – this is the gift I was trying to give her.
As soon as I got off the call, I did the same thing with my own husband.
I watched him as he sat at the kitchen table working on his computer. Observing the slope of his back and the furrowed brow of concentration written on his face, I saw the intensity of his gaze into the computer monitor. I noticed the strength of his arms as he navigated the keyboard.
My husband never looked away from the monitor as I stood gazing at him, yet, I knew that he felt my presence, my attention, my concentration, and he knew that he was safe.
I was further surprised and delighted when later that day a good friend of mine sent me an article titled “Holding Space: The Art of Being Present with Others” by Adam Brady. In this article, the author writes that “sometimes, the best gift that you can give to another is being present. Not just physically present, but also emotionally and mentally present.”
If we separate the two words, to hold means to: “embrace or encircle someone or something in your grasp. This might take the form of a hug or cradling of a hand in yours. But you can also embrace someone non-physically with your intention, attention, and energy.”
Next, space refers to “the immediate environment you are sharing with another. This, too, may be the physical space of a room, but more frequently refers to the mental and emotional environment you are in with others.”
Finally, putting these words together: “embody the principle of surrounding the environment with your awareness in a way that provides comfort and compassion for all.”
That is such a beautiful explanation of what I offered to my client and her husband. She could hold her husband physically and / or emotionally while offering space in whatsoever capacity that he needed from her.
Does someone need for you to hold space today? Do you need it? Could you offer that to yourself? What would that look like? How would that feel?