We all somehow have a deep longing to be seen, to be felt, and to have our somatic-emotional world validated by another. When our subjective experience is empathically held, we come to a natural place of rest.
A. H. Almaas (A Hameed Ali) talks about the term ‘holding environment’ to describe the ideal mandala in which growth and development could occur, and the qualities of contact and space. He says: “A good holding environment is the environment that is needed for the human soul to grow and develop into what she can become.
It needs to provide a sense of safety and security, the sense that you are, and can count on, being taken care of. Your soul needs and environment that is dependable, consistent, attuned to your needs. True holding comes from the truth itself, from Being”.
For Open Up the essence of Love and support is not just of positivity, but more of authenticity. Understanding that kindness demands truth, and trusting that this will lead to transformation. That the inner functioning of your physical organism, is the functioning necessary for the experience and functioning of the soul, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
We come to discover that our nature is the ultimate holding environment. You are always held – by your nervous system, your bones, your breath, your heart, and somatic brilliance.
While we may not always understand our experience – we can come to trust that it is unfolding according to a unique blueprint – out of love. We are invited to practice a radical intimacy with our experience, staying close to our bodies and hearts.
For so many I speak with, there is an undercurrent of aggression towards themselves, a movement of self-loathing, unexamined shame and embarrassment, and a very alive (if not conscious) belief that they are flawed and have failed. Each time we exit our present experience into thinking, interpretation, blame, resentment, and complaint – we turn from ourselves. The insight is one that hopefully we all share - that all difficulties, tensions and unhappiness - on both a personal and societal level, come from separation, me from you - us from them - and on a deeper level - me from myself as the ultimate act of self-abandonment.
Let us all take a pause on this new day, and from a place of love visualize a holding environment for ourselves, where we grant unconditional permission to make intimate and direct contact with our longing. Connect with your unprocessed challenges from the past, feelings, and behaviors – and become intimate with your pain, coming to understand the origins of your troubles with a more open ear and heart. Only in that awareness, healing is possible. From this place we can start sharing our skills in the service of helping others show up and grow up.
Letting yourself being held
The science behind the communication of being held has been proven through studies to increase a sense of belonging, specifically between people that trust one another.
The psychology behind hugs tells us that when we hug, our bodies release oxytocin; a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that increases bonding, social behaviour and closeness between humans that have trust for one another. Hugs have other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels as well as those of the harmful stress hormone cortisol. While researchers are conducting studies to see if oxytocin can help with symptoms of withdrawal for addicts, hugs are a simple and effective means of stimulating oxytocin.
It lays the biological function and structure for connecting to other people and can be truly healing.
As a practice we teach it in the Breathwork Group Series an important element of understanding and experiencing this on a physiological level. A hug is feeling another close to you and allowing this closeness to enter your body, using the breath to slowly drop all effort to get close. A hug is a way of blending and merging the breath with the experience of leaning into each other - and at the same time of holding the other. It is a delicate way of showing affecting and appreciation to another one's heart - welcoming it in yours, and of allowing a moment of stillness to arrive into each others skin.
When practicing a hug, it's important to take as much time as needed to feel a state of relaxation happening in your whole body, so you can be really present. This means going through the disturbance of the mind, perhaps giggling at first - or waiting for time to pass so you can let go. All these emotions just show you that you've in a way lost some connection with yourself. Just hold on a little longer and become aware of how you experience yourself, in the closeness with someone else.
When you practice a hug, you practice giving and receiving through touch. Whatever may arise through it, let it settle in - do not rush - and support the other to do the same. As hugging promotes trust, it will activate what that means to you. Each time can be a moment of coming home, balancing doing, sensing and being.