The image of “holding” is such a majestic one as it evokes not only early personal experience, but also archetypal material which expresses this same psychic patterning throughout culture and time, and the ways we human beings have found solace in “being held” by transpersonal figures, energies, and by the natural world itself.
Some are familiar with the concept of a “holding environment” as elucidated by the late British psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, a warm and poetic description of a relational configuration rooted in empathic attunement and right-brain to right-brain resonance.
As the matrix of secure attachment, it provides the rich, creative terrain from which we can explore reality, resting and playing in unstructured states of being. From this ground of safety and creativity, we journey out of the familiar, encounter and experiment with the not-yet-known, and stay embodied to the full range of human feeling and experience.
Any effective holding environment is made up of adequate qualities of both contact and space, the weaving of these allowing for an experiential navigation of that evocative middle territory where there is intimacy without fusion, closeness without engulfing, tenderness without impinging.
Without good contact and without the space in which our natural being can unfold, we lose touch with the mystery. When we are held in this way, we can rest, explore, take risks, and open into the sacred. A supportive holding environment provides the soil in which a little baby’s brain, heart, and nervous system can differentiate, grow, and come alive. What a miracle. Real magic.
And from this ground and scaffolding of unstructured rest and exploration, we realize that no matter what is going on in our inner our outer world, how lost or confused we are, or how much emotional material we’re being asked to tend to, that we are always being held, by something vast, which we can return to as our true refuge, especially in difficult times.
My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available
The next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Yourself in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in early 2020, details to come
The next event is The Healing Shame Retreat: Spiritual Awakening and Transforming the Core Wound of Unworthiness, April 24-29, 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with co-facilitator Jeff Foster