Holding Sacred Space: The Art of Soft Power
Silent and listen are made up of the same letters I wonder why.
Our culture inhibits our vulnerability. It teaches us that if we are vulnerable we are weak,
and so we bite our lip we swallow our pride and then we get sick.
Even the newly appointed CEO of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon is encouraging leaders today to become more vulnerable and share aspects of their personal lives in order to be most effective.
The Joyful Paradox
Yes - In a world that advocates for the power of independence. Interconnectedness is everything. To take time to properly nurture an open heart will give you more power for the ride.
Let’s call it the Art of Soft Power
Meeting people where they are at with heart centered compassion is the focus of the work that I do. I am always surprised that these simple self awareness practices seem so far out of reach when they are so vital to our wellbeing.
The word spiritual comes from the latin word ‘Spiritus’ which means to breathe spirit or life back into.
When we hold Sacred Space it’s a spiritual practice. Breathing life back into those parts of ourselves that are hidden from view.
In mindfulness and acceptance based therapies from which this work stems the goal is not to get rid of or stop the negative emotions. It is rather to avoid fusion with them. The strategy is non judgmental observation. The goal is to put a space between thoughts, feelings and emotions. And it starts with a real acceptance of what is.
The State of your Heart
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask people how they are doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?
In reality, what they are asking is, “How is your heart doing in this very moment, at this very breath?” When they ask, “How are you?” this is really the question they are asking.
Not what is on your check list today or how many emails do you have to respond to in your inbox but what is the state of your heart in this very moment. Is it joyful, sad, craving human touch?
Tell me that you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing.
When people ask me how I describe Sacred Space? I tell them Sacred Space = Connecting to the Heart of Awareness.
Sacred Space represents a sort of coming home to oneself.
We come home to ourselves — and give others the gift of our presence — then we are more available to be a loving witness and supportive guide to those around us.
As James Doty the founder of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University says: "An open heart means that you're ready to connect with everyone without pre-condition.”
I hold Sacred Space for you to show up as you Are. Your Authenticity will move mountains.
This synergistic blend of listening and being witnessed allows us to steady our gaze and open our hearts. An open heart is what gives us the capacity to be both sweet and fierce in equal measure. Once we master this winning combo we will stay more connected to the flow of life. This agility naturally increases our power and influence as we become more adept and better able to serve the needs of those around us.
Here’s a two step guide:
1.) To begin with do the Prep Work — To authentically connect you have to be present
Use stillness to connect to the deeper parts of you.
Until we begin the practice of meditation we are at the mercy of our emotional self.
Sit in silence
Be relaxed and alert
Try to find the song behind the silence.
See what speaks.
What is that thing in your quietest and most intuitive moments that speaks to you most vividly.
As you become more in tune with your own heart, you become more receptive to the wellbeing of those around you.
Connect with the state of your heart.
What is it telling you in this very moment.
And no matter what arises. Breathe into it.
Have a pen and paper handy to journal.
2. Explore together the synergistic process of Deep Listening and Being Witnessed.
The Art of Deep Listening
Learning to listen starts with self observation.
Become aware of your body, emotions, thoughts.
Scan your body to become aware of how you are directing your attention.
Select a simple breathing technique to align your body and mind.
Center the body to allow yourself to become more present.
Take in the emotions and body language of the other person behind the words that you hear.
Hold Space in a compassionate way.
On Being Witnessed
Allowing yourself to be seen and experienced in this way, allows the other to hold a very specific kind of space for you so that this powerful act can take place.
It automatically builds trust.
When you bare yourself to another in an intimate way you give them the gift of you and show them that they also matter.
You cultivate authentic presence.
The root of this work is connected to the Vipassanā tradition of insight awareness whereby one can achieve self transformation through a state of self enquiry and self observation.
I am both faster in the things I do, and calmer in the manner I do them. My world is lighter and yet more meaningful.