I sit there on the floor, leaning back into the arms that wrap around my body and legs that create a cradled sensation. All clothes are on, and there is zero sexual energy in the room, but instead, a quiet reverence. I specifically requested to be held, and that’s exactly what I got, which sounded great in theory, but feels incredibly vulnerable in this moment. I both want to cuddle down closer to soak in the simple touch that I was craving and simultaneously, I want to run because I can feel emotions rising in my chest from the simple process of being held without expectations. I feel the sweet sacred energy enveloping me, and it’s a foreign feeling. I know that it would be perfectly fine if I broke into tears right now, but a voice inside me screams not to let the other person know, that this is stupid and I’m needy for the asking, and not to get too attached to this type of touch because it comes so sparingly. Even though neither of us is talking, I’m feeling fully held both emotionally and physically at this moment. I am simultaneously saddened and relieved when arms give me one final squeeze and then release my body back to its solitary state where I am safe from the feelings of vulnerability, but yet back to holding myself…

In all of our different relationships… intimate, friendships, family, it is important we learn both how to hold others and also to allow ourselves to be held. So what does that mean? What does it mean to be “held”?

The truth is that there are so many different ways to hold someone. The one most people think about first tends to be holding physically. This is when you allow yourself to be truly embraced, cuddled, hugged, or carried. Like in the above story where I allowed my muscles to relax into the embrace. This is a hard process for many because our physical bodies come with stored emotions that physical connection can release. Sex can often have this power, but there is something about being held where it is simply for the sake of connection, and there is no sexual purpose or intent to bring up emotions.

In my practice, I have found it telling how often this type of physical holding, if the person is truly allowing himself or herself to let go, can bring up old childhood wounding and particularly our mother wounds. Our first experience with holding or lack thereof happens within the first few minutes to days of our lives. We are programmed from almost the moment we are born that we are either worthy or unworthy of being held and soothed in this manner. We learn either that we can let go and soak completely into another person or we learn to hold back and always hold ourselves in some manner.

Physical holding also brings up intimate relationship wounds, especially when a person has not felt held in past relationships. So, oftentimes, this process is a difficult one emotionally for people to work through and if we don’t experience this physical holding, it is likely that we, in some way, also retreat from truly holding others in some way.

Energetic Holding

However, just holding someone physically truly isn’t enough and simply lying in someone else’s arms or receiving a hug isn’t enough. The other part of holding someone physically that isn’t seen is the actual holding of someone energetically. This is when you allow yourself to tune into another person’s energy and just hold them wherever they are at that moment. You can tell when you are holding or held with energetic intent! These are those hugs you get where you feel truly better afterward, and that can turn your day around. These individuals are most likely truly present with you at the moment and are energetically allowing for you to have space. As opposed to those times when you could play with someone for hours, and it would be just that… lying there and it neither touches you emotionally nor fills you up in any way. This is when there is an energetic lack of holding present or an allowing on your part to be energetically held.

Holding Space

Energetic holding goes beyond physical touch in that you can hold someone in this manner without ever touching. This usually is referred to as holding space.

One way we hold space for others in our lives is through actively listening and HEARING what they’re trying to communicate. Though we can hear the words that someone is saying, that does not mean we are genuinely listening to their intent, the energy behind the communication, and what is not being said. It is common that in our relationships, we listen to others in order to respond and not to really hear. Yes, we hear about this when talking about how to fight fairly, but this can even be true if you are trying to help or offer well-meaning advice. When working with couples, I often see this where the woman is trying to share about recent stressors and the man is trying to “fix it” or help her come up with viable options in proceeding… when really, what she needs from him is to hold space as she processes. There are those times when, with a friend or lover, we need just to be heard and have someone witness our feelings/thoughts/emotions. By being present, open, and non-judgmental in these moments, we are giving others a priceless gift. The opposite is also true, though. By allowing ourselves to open up and afford to take the space being offered, we are also giving ourselves an amazing gift. This is not a “taking” of space, but providing a gift of showing oneself authentically, which is one of the greatest treasures we possess.

This gift includes ALL the emotions. Most people have the emotions they are most comfortable with sharing in their lives, and usually, these are what we call the “light” emotions, such as joy, happiness, peace, etc. But also, we have our go-to “darker” emotions as well. So you may be a person that finds anger an easier emotion to display than sadness or some other emotion. The point being that to really allow ourselves to be held at a soul level, we have to be open to allowing it ALL. That’s the anger, the tears, the fear, the gratitude, and the joy. This is not only allowing others to hold us, but also allowing us to hold ourselves in our entirety of spirit.

Again, this can be a difficult and vulnerable process. In my above example, I even struggled to allow myself to be held at the moment, but thankfully, that was also a pivotal moment where I realized how much being held in all ways was difficult and so began to lean deeper into my own growth process.

How are you at holding others? Do you provide the people in your life holding on all levels… physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual?

How are you at being held at all levels? Do you revel in the beautiful process or do you hold back? Where are you cheating yourself?