One of the main aspects of being a Reiki and Yoga teacher I value, perhaps even treasure, is that people feel comfortable opening up to me. I have heard stories of anger, exhaustion, uncertainty, grief, hope, and joy. I have had folks come in and not say anything, but quietly permit some likely long overdue tears to fall.
There is nothing on my intake forms suggesting clients need to share the personal details of their experiences with me, but more often than not, I do get blessed with the background of these souls. They are trusting me to listen, and I do. I listen, I empathize, I let them share whatever they want or need to.
I hear them.
I hold space for them.
Personally, I have been through ordeals in my life so intense, so weird, and/or so frightening that I absolutely had to release them in some way. I have needed someone to hold space for me.
I learned fairly quickly the person I chose to be my confidant had to have some qualifications: they had to possess the ability to refrain from passing judgment on me (though an occasional eyebrow raise might have been permitted if the story truly warranted it–they’re human), they had to grant me the freedom to express myself with any and all emotions (if they can’t handle me at my snot and tear stained face, they don’t deserve me at my glowing elated face), they had to listen without going rogue and trying to figure out a solution for me, because holding space is about providing support, not trying to “fix” things or find answers (those are my responsibility), and they had to allow me to talk (or not talk) without feeling expected to do anything else. Despite this laundry list of demands, I came to trust a few people with this role.
Why do we need an outlet like this? What is it about exposing our true selves to another that helps us abandon our internal narratives for a while? Maybe we are organically releasing some of the weight of our burdens, and maybe that release creates room for relief, however brief. Maybe sometimes we just want to feel heard.
Our problems or struggles may not vanish, but by sharing with someone willing to listen we are granting ourselves permission to let go a little. Sharing a small part of our genuine selves with confidence is priceless, and having someone willing to accompany you without judgment is a gift. Each time someone in my life graces me with the opportunity to free myself of my challenges for a short while, I see them as a lighthouse in the middle of a storm. They are a beacon for me when things feel like they’re falling apart.
The act of holding space for someone is one of true kindness and compassion. Allowing a person to become vulnerable in your presence, whether they choose to actually speak their mind or not, is a significant responsibility.
Can you hear their words without injecting your own opinions? Can you sit with them and simply let them feel? Can you bear witness to a small piece of their journey without asking for anything in return?
Try. Someone will be grateful you did.