The Art of Holding Space

EMotional processing

The world can be a demanding and difficult place, and we all need someone to help us through our dark times by holding space for us to process our emotions. You don’t need to be a therapist or a genius to hold space. Holding space is something we can all do for each other, wither it’s with our partners, our children, our friends, our pets, our neighbors, and even strangers in passing. We all need it, yet relatively few of us actually know how to do it well, so let’s explore the art of holding space.

When it comes to truly supporting people in their own growth and emotional processing, we know it’s harmful to take their personal power away. Yet regardless, we still tend to unconsciously do this is several ways: by trying to fix their problems for them, shaming them by implying that they should know more than they do, or overwhelming them by giving them more information than they’re ready for. While we may think it comes from a well-meaning place of wanting to help others, true personal growth happens best when people are given free space to process their emotions, feel supported, and are empowered to make their own choices. Feedback is fine in the form of giving gentle guidance when it’s needed and sincerely asked for, as long as it’s done lovingly so they feel safe even when they make mistakes.

It’s important to feel emotionally supported even if we are unsure and make mistakes because otherwise we feel “not good enough”, unworthy, unwanted, unloved, and even abandoned. The consequences of this can have severe repercussions. It can trigger a deeply-rooted survival response driven by fear of abandonment causing us to depend on lying, manipulation, and deception in order to maintain the approval of those we look to for emotional support. It’s the same reason why children lie to their parents so they aren’t yelled at and punished.

Socially speaking, because most people aren’t made to feel emotionally safe in their community, family, or in valuing and trusting themselves, they are conditioned to trust and rely on “authority” instead, often in the form of government. We can see the consequences of this deficiency of love around the world- authoritarianism, war, anger, hate, divisiveness, greed, exploitation, disconnection from nature, etc. The list goes on and illustrates the importance of holding space. Simply put, holding space is necessary to overcome all these unhealthy, destructive behaviors, personally and globally.

When it’s time to hold space (as opposed to strictly venting or problem solving), and both people have agreed to it, it’s important to be mindful about HOW we hold space. Here are the lessons I’ve learned about holding space:

1.) Drop your ego, buddy: This is a biggie. All of us fall in to this trap. We all have a natural tendency to want to “fix” people by pointing out their blindspots, telling them how to fix a problem, or judging their circumstances with the standards we hold for ourselves. Remember that what’s important is supporting the other person and just being there for them, not taking on their problems or trying to “fix” them. The more space your ego takes up, the less room it leaves for them, and the whole point is to create and hold as much space for the other person as possible.Also, don’t take their emotional outpouring personally. When we get caught up in someone else’s drama (which is a result of not giving YOURSELF enough space),we can feel like whatever emotions they happen to be expressing are about us and our ability to hold space, instead of them just venting in their process. We can feel like their success is dependent on us and their failure to quickly move through their difficulties will be our fault. It’s not about you. Getting your ego out of the way will open the door for sincere vulnerability, authentic communication, and a feeling of safety for emotional processing.

2.) Create a space that feels safe enough to make mistakes: Nobody’s “perfect”. Mistakes will be made along the way while processing through sadness, fear, grief, etc. Even after processing, integrating these changed parts in to our daily lives isn’t always a clean and easy process. By dropping judgement and shame, we offer them the space to find courage, take risks, and find their inner resilience even in the face of adversity.

“Failure” is simply “things not going according to plan”, which is a part of the journey guided by greater forces than we can comprehend. Often times it’s beyond our control, but it’s not the end of the world. By allowing them the sacred space to “live and learn”, they’ll spend less time beating themselves up and more time lovingly learning from their mistakes, which is what it’s all about.

3.) Don’t take the person’s power away: Taking the decision-making out of a person’s hands does little, if anything, to help them grow. With rare exceptions, like interventions for addiction and abuse, it’s best to nurture people’s autonomy by encouraging them to make their own choices (even children). Don’t forcefully direct or try to control the other person.

4.) Give people permission to trust their inner wisdom and intuition: Have you ever looked back in retrospect and thought, “I had a feeling about it, but I just didn’t listen to it”? We all have an internal guidance system, but we ignore it when we get “stuck in our heads” and feel pressured. We’re often best able to tune in to this natural navigation when we’re relaxed, embodied, and feel supported.

To open this inner knowledge from the fullness of our being, its’s good to take time to breathe deeply from the belly/ pelvic bowl and feel all the sensations arising within our entire body from the emotions. Give your full attention to it. Allow the feelings to have a voice if they want, and an expression through the body, even if it seems “silly” or “weird”. The intellect may come in trying to analyze it, but simply allow yourself to just BE without thinking. You’re safe to allow anything to come out. These deeply suppressed feelings may express themselves as moans, noises, twitching or contorting motions, or simply crying and melting. Much inner wisdom and intuition is non-verbal, and simply a feeling. Trust your feelings to express themselves, even if they don’t “make sense”. Our inner garden grows much better with trust and support, rather than doubt and criticism. The more we allow ourselves to access and allow the fullness of our being, the better and more integrated our wisdom and intuition will become.

5.) Give people only as much feedback as they can handle: Whether information or emotional intensity, be mindful not to overwhelm others with more than they can process in their tender, vulnerable time. Too much emotional intensity can be distracting and take people out of their internal presence, or make people feel unsafe, even if the words are kind. Too much information can disconnect us from being with our emotions and processing. Even worse, it can make us feel incompetent, inferior, and unworthy.

6.) Provide support with discernment, mindfulness, and humility: People in distress can get desperate. They may think it’s better for you to provide them with answers, when it’s actually better that they learn to look within themselves. Using your own discernment will allow you to give only as much is as needed when it is truly and sincerely asked for and necessary. The balance between giving and withholding is a part of the dance when holding space and can be as subtle as prefacing suggestions with “In my opinion…” instead of “You should…” when giving guidance. Offering the right kind of support and feedback takes humility and practice, but it makes all the difference in the world.

7.) Provide a container for intense, complex emotions: Victims of abuse (which we all are to varying degrees) have intense, often conflicting emotions. This can be extremely challenging if we haven’t done the necessary self-work of digging in to our psyche’s shadow and become familiar with the darkest, most intimate parts of the healing process. Deeply suppressed and confusing emotions may arise when people are suddenly held in ways they aren’t used to. It’s important that we not meet it with shame and judgement, but strength and compassion. By meeting them with tenderness and confidence, you provide them with trust and assuredness in their own process, as well as yourself.

8.) Support different decisions and experiences than what you would prefer: When it comes to holding space, honoring our differences of ideology, culture, expression, and experience is necessary. We have to release control and judgement of what we think “should happen” or “is best”. Looking back on life, we can see how some of our choices, while perhaps “stupid”, “weird”, or “irresponsible” in retrospect, have led to consequences which place us exactly where they need to be. Sometimes the only way out is through, and in order for them to truly understand the lesson they need to have experiences unique to their own path in order to step in to the fullness of their being and true purpose.

Holding space is not an art that we can suddenly master by just reading, nor can it be completely summarized by any list. It’s a uniquely idiosyncratic experience depending on the people, place, and circumstance, with endless subtleties, techniques, and levels which evolve the more we practice it. And the more we practice it with others, the more we can give it to ourselves, heal, and grow even faster, together.


Moral Veganism Makes No Sense


Dear Moral Vegans,

First off, just to clarify- I have nothing against Vegans or the Vegan Diet. This is simply about the MORALIZING that is often used to convey Veganism as somehow “morally and ethically superior”. I’ve been a vegan, I have vegan friends, and this has nothing to do with Veganism, per se.

We clear? Great.

Now, for those who DO moralize others on the basis of their diet, I know you mean well, but if you’re reading this right now, regardless of your particular dietary choice, you have blood on your hands just the same as meat eaters. Why? You are on the computer which means you are willfully participating in an unsustainable industrial civilization that fundamentally depends on the constant brutal invasion, destabilization, usurpation, and destruction of entire ecosystems to maintain your privileged standard of living. The amount of destruction, suffering, and death this constantly causes to ALL forms of life which is required to maintain your comfortable lifestyle is far more horrific than any meat-eating diet is responsible for.

I’m not saying the Veganism is “bad“, especially if you do it for physiological reasons. If your body just functions better without meat- great. More power to you. I’m specifically just talking about vegans who generalize ALL meat eating as “bad”, regardless of the context (humanely pasture raised vs. industrial slaughterhouse), and only eating plants as “good”, regardless of context (permaculture vs. industrial agriculture), and then go on to demonize meat eaters while still participating in a horrible unsustainable industrial civilization as if they’re somehow morally superior. They’re not.

If you’re like the vast majority of people, you rely on industrial agriculture because you’re not growing your own food in a sustainable permaculture garden, right? Well, industrial agriculture kills MILLIONS of mice, rats, rabbits, gophers, squirrels, birds, as well as fish, frogs, and all the inhabitants of entire ecosystems that are turned in to “dead zones” when the runoff of pesticides and fertilizer meet the water supply. Knowing this, how can any reasonable person only demonize meat-eaters for being “inhumane”?


This is just one aspect of industrial civilization. Think of all the horrible byproducts of industrial civilization: oil spills, fracking, deforestation, pollution, Paris Hilton, strip mining, radioactive disasters, systemic poverty, and the endless wars fought over resources and lies to fuel your privileged, often superfluous, indulgent lifestyle (to name a few). You’re going to contribute to all that, yet criticize meat eaters?

Most “moral vegans” conveniently ignore this fact about their society because living consistently with their “righteous” beliefs means letting go of several things: their brainwashed identification towards government, almost every modern convenience in their lives, their hopes and dreams which depend on the continuation of this all-consuming paradigm, and starting their lives all over in a way that’s truly conscientious of mitigating the suffering of any form of life on the planet.

But they’re just not willing to do that. It’s easier to just shop in a different supermarket aisle and hypocritically shame others on Facebook. When rubber hits the road for moral vegans (bad industrial puns, anyone?), morality is selectively ignored, trading convictions for convenience while cherry-picking an over-generalized non-issue which allows them to feel some semblance of moral righteousness.

It makes no sense.

Just to reiterate- Veganism, per se, works well for a lot of people and is a valid dietary choice. The problem addressed here is the moralizing condemnation double standard based on dietary over-generalizations without deeper context which is unnecessarily dividing people, wasting energy on myopic non-arguments, and distracting people from discussing more important issues. Hopefully this has helped put things in perspective so we can move beyond that boundary. Let’s please stop the dietary demonization and focus on what really matters in the bigger picture. There are way more important issues that need to take priority in the focus of our concern!

Ultimately, the only consistent “moral righteousness” to be found when it comes to your dietary choices is, A.) if your food is produced locally, humanely, and sustainably, and B.) if you’re dedicating your life to constantly healing, self-educating, and contributing back to the world with the energy you consume in order to improve the world by helping to educate and uplift others in evolving beyond the current obsolete destructive paradigm.

That’s basically what it all comes down to.

However, there’s more to the topic which is explored in the video below. Please watch it, as this article is simply an introduction.

Just some food for thought…😉

(For further information and a more in-depth analysis, watch the following video I made to illustrate the point. Please thoroughly check the numerous resources listed below the video before trying to critique based on this overview.)

“The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith

“Lierre Keith on Food, Justice, and Sustainability”

“Endgame: The Problem With Civilization” by Derrick Jensen

“Environmentalism & Eco-Friendly Solutions”

“The Illegitimacy of Government”

“The Lost Language of Plants” by Stephen Harrod Buhner

“Plants can ‘hear’ themselves being eaten – and become defensive when attacked”

“Plants Have Feelings”

“Burying the Vegetarian Hypothesis”

“Vegan diet increases the risk of birth defects, scientists warn”

“Why Grassfed Is Best”

“Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets”

“The Myth of the ‘Ethical Vegan'”

“The Paleo Diet Explained”

“Nora Gedgaudas — The ‘Holy Grail’ of Primal Health: Benefits of a Fat-Based Caloric Intake for Body and Brain”

Think Humanity is F*CKED? 5 Facts to Make You an Optimist!

Considering the destructive and unconscious actions of many people around the world, it can be easy to fall in to despair. But I always remind myself of the following facts when I get upset and it always fills me up with an infallible optimism, conviction, love, and purpose. I hope it brings you light when things seem dark and uplifts your spirits when the world gets heavy:

1.) We can’t judge the conscious evolution of humanity based on the stagnancy of those who aren’t interested in consciously evolving. These “basic” kinds of people have always existed relative to more conscious, educated, and multifaceted people, and there has always been more of them. Evolution by its very definition means the new development, diversity, and complexity of an existing system, so therefore conscious evolution is always going to be determined by a relatively marginalized minority, as it always has.


So don’t let let fewer numbers be disheartening because…

2.) Evolution is not a democracy; it is an inevitability. Even if those whose calling is to be an evolutionary force in the world are outnumbered, the very nature of evolutionary creativity and transcendence is more powerful and influential than destruction and entropy, as we can see reflected throughout the universe. The constant trend throughout all known history is the complexification of matter and consciousness, and humanity is just a more complex expression of that inevitable trend which shows no signs of stopping.

quote-oh-the-glory-of-growth-silent-mighty-persistent-inevitable-to-awaken-to-open-up-like-emily-carr-102-78-79 copy

3.) Evolution is exponential. Every major milestone in evolution has come about more quickly than the period which preceded it. Compared to the previous 32,000+ years of human history, consciousness has exponentially skyrocketed in the just past few decades. If we extrapolate that acceleration of creativity, communication, and awareness over the next 50 years, we realize that there’s no predicting what providence the future holds. Given the relatively recent explosion of communication and technology, our understanding of the global situation has only really come to the forefront of social consideration in the past few years. Moreover, awareness of the importance of conscious personal growth, independent media, and redefining social relationships is expanding faster than ever before in history.


4.) It helps to consider this period of history as humanity undergoing a birth of consciousness. In every birth, there is destruction and disarray, whether it be the breaking of the egg shell, or the eruption of a baby from the vessel of gestation. There is blood, pain, and a radical stretching beyond our comfort zone, at times to the brink of death. But this is how new life has ALWAYS come in to existence. The shell breaks, the placenta is shed, and the Earth is transformed to facilitate the new consciousness emerging. This is all part of the birthing process, but the global birth of consciousness is greater and more intense than anything we’ve ever experienced before. The omni-present force of universal creation has led us this far, and, as we’ve shown, it’s not without purpose.

egg dali

5.) Pain is a part of life; it can be very useful and even necessary. Basically, people learn through pain and inspiration. While an increasing amount of people who recognize the urgent need for transformation are awakening more so through inspiration, others who cling to the old ways will subsequently and necessarily experience more pain until they realize the necessity for drastic change. As these people are the majority on Earth, much like a drug addict who does not want help, it’s clear that things have to get worse before they can get better. All we can do is transform ourselves to become an ever-better living embodiment of the principles we uphold to be a beacon for the transformation of others. When we allow ourselves to shine, we will attract others who are true friends with whom we can share our journey, which helps to overcome any pain. And when catastrophe happens, after mourning and consolation, consider the bigger picture and remember that humanity is just one step closer to lasting positive transformation.

self work be kind to yourself
So, there it is.

Life isn’t always a comfortable journey, and oftentimes it may not align with what we consider to be fair. Yet there is a greater purpose and wisdom unfolding in which we all play our part. We have a choice as to what we contribute to the world as our legacy and we must not despair. Despite the pain, sadness, and horrors the world has endured in its darkest times, it is precisely because we have witnessed and endured them that we are capable of carrying the knowledge, courage, and love necessary for creating a better world. We are the universal transducers of consciousness creating better tomorrows, and it’s more than a hope- it’s our destiny.