Sacred Space: The Art of Soft Power
Listen and silent 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, so we bite our lip, swallow our pride, and then we get sick. In a world that advocates for the power of independence, interconnectedness is everything.
Meeting people where they are at with heart centered compassion is the focus of the work that I do.
When we hold Sacred Space, it’s a spiritual practice. Breathing life back into those parts of ourselves that have been hidden from view. The word spiritual comes from the latin word ‘Spiritus’ which means to breathe ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ back into.
In mindfulness and acceptance based therapies the goal is not to get rid of, or stop thoughts and negative emotions, rather to avoid fusion with them. The strategy is non judgmental observation; To put a space between your thoughts, feelings and emotions, and it starts with a real acceptance of what is.
In many Muslim cultures, when you ask people how they are, you ask in Arabic: Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What they are specifically asking is: ‘How is your heart doing in this moment?’ Not what is on your to-do list today or how many emails do you have to respond to in your inbox. Rather what is the ‘state of your heart’ in this very moment. Is it joyful, sad, craving human touch?
Do you remember that you are still a human being, not simply a human doing…
When we enter Sacred Space we are connecting to the Heart of Awareness
Sacred Space represents a sort of coming home to oneself. When we come home to oneself — we give others the gift of our presence — and 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.”
A quote I like and frequently use is: ‘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; a goal that I am constantly working towards cultivating. Once we master this winning combo we will stay more connected to the flow of life.
Here’s a guide to exploring this synergistic combo:
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 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.
No matter what arises. Breathe into it.
Have a pen and paper handy to journal.
Learning to Listen
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.
In turn you cultivate authentic presence.
The root of this work is connected to the Vipassanā tradition of Insight Awareness practice 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” Client - Katie Bingham