Holding Space: A Metta Practice

Holding space is an act of love. It is, for me, akin to the Buddhist Metta practice where one cultivates loving kindness towards oneself, then out to the other, and then to the world.

To begin with oneself, holding space is an expression of self-care, respect and devotion. It is an act of self-kindness, forgiveness and softness which helps foster our ability to heal to wholeness, to find our authentic voice and dance. It is an acceptance and affirmation of our emotions, from our deepest pain to our most glorious bliss. It is a waiting and a stillness that quietly cradles our greatest dreams and hopes. It is a permeable encirclement that holds all that we were, all that we are, and all that we will be. No exceptions.

Holding space is a beauty path, a golden road, a Tao. It’s a way of breathing, of seeing, of perceiving and feeling. It’s a way of moving, of opening, of trusting and surrendering. Holding space says, “Yes! You have come home. You are beautiful. Let go. Relax. You’re good enough. You can do it.”

As we move out beyond our own skin, we hold space for another in the form of deep and compassionate listening and acceptance. It is the practice of keeping our heart open, of letting our breath be fluid and easy, of quieting our mind’s judgments and criticisms and actually letting someone in, to connect in a soulful and sacred way. It’s an invitation to the other to be more of who they are without pre-conceived ideas, making room for the unexpected and the mysterious. It is the holding of all things good and life-affirming for them. It is a living prayer of gratitude, setting a sweet and gentle tone of peace, connection and belonging.

Holding space is a teacher, friend and lover. Holding space, like the divine mother rocking and swaying as she holds her beloved child in her arms whispers, “Ahhhh. I see you. You are perfect. You are loved. You are worthy. You belong here.”

In the context of a group or communal dance setting, holding space is the art of the facilitator to support, inspire and unleash the potential of the whole and everything and everyone in it. It is the holding of a space of something most precious and fragile – the bonding of souls in flight. This kind of bonding, through pulse and beat, needs a special kind of holding which takes time to hone. It’s a holding of space which is mutually containing and liberating. It is a practice in letting go, of “getting out of the way,” and watching as a gentle witness, welcoming and making space for spirit to roam the room.

Holding space is a beautiful responsibility, an endless well, a womb, a wand, a wind. Holding space says, “Come, be free, play and rejoice with all of us here. You are important. Let’s co-create. Be the full spectrum of possibilities. Miracles do happen. This is your tribe. You can finally shine your light.”

The holding of space is a palpable embodiment of love. It holds the potential to be life changing, healing, transformative and culture-making. We, together as we dance, share the ability and power to wildly and devotedly melt into kindness. Let us remember our precious and inseparable connection with each other, nature, soul and spirit so we can practice holding space daily wherever we go, whatever we do, whomever we are with. That’s got to be a good thing!

DANCE OUR WAY HOME™: The Divine Dance

By Tabitha Kot

What is Home? Home is that mysterious place found at the centre of Life’s spiral walk. It is our centre, the place within us where we find peace and feel safe. Home is also the address of the Divine, the place of our beginning and where we return. As we wind our way through the tasks of our daily living, we often find ourselves separated from our centre and from the Divine. Longing to reconnect with the essence of Spirit, we search for paths and maps to take us there. One way offered to women who long to find their way back to their centre space is called, DANCE OUR WAY HOME™, a regular dance series offered by Erica Ross.

DANCE OUR WAY HOME™ is a dance space where language and verbal-speak are left behind and a journey into silence is begun, moving us into a place of body-speak. So often disconnected from our bodies because of wounding from various hurtful life experiences, “speaking” from the body can feel unfamiliar and awkward; yet when we’re “heard,” the feeling is exhilarating and freeing! It is from this essential body-place that we begin to connect with ourselves and then others in a more authentic way.

As the dance journey begins, we are encouraged to explore our Self. How are we feeling right then in the moment? What do we need? Do we have the courage to take care of our Self while in the presence of others?

After a time, we are encouraged to venture out into the dance space, to take up more room, to move around and to discover what our bodies feel like in motion. While we may not yet be connected to the others in the room, we will begin to notice ourselves passing women who are clearly on their own journeys. We are beginning to move outside of ourselves and into the external world; we are not alone.

As the dance winds on, women are asked to connect directly with other women as one becomes two. The dance intensifies as each couple decides how they are to connect with each other: face-to-face, back-to-back, etc. At this point in the journey the question becomes: Will each woman allow herself to trust another? Will she let go of her fears and give herself permission to be carried into the innate rhythm that exists between herself and this other person? It is here that we begin to learn about ourselves, our struggles and our strengths as we work to connect with others and develop relationships.

Slowly, gradually, twosomes grow to threesomes and onwards until each woman is drawn into a collective experience. Enfolded by the group, we begin to learn that we are essential to the experience. Without us, the dance as we know it would not exist. Regardless of where we are, whether we’re swaying or flailing, smiling or crying, the community accepts us as we are and we are celebrated. This celebration of our individuality brings with it a healing and transformation. We become more authentic and, as we do so, our relationships naturally follow suit.

Spiralling down from this place of community, we are led back to our essential centre, to our Self. Upon investigation, we find ourselves to be a little more grounded, more whole, and filled now with the love of the Divine and the women who surround us. We are, indeed, back Home.

DANCE OUR WAY HOME™ is more than simply a place to go and dance. It is a spiritual practice that begins as a solitary healing journey and then stretches out into the wider community, forging bonds and healing ties. Like ripples in a pond, this transformative energy extends out into the larger society so that as we work to heal ourselves and our relationships, our world heals right along with us. In this way, DANCE OUR WAY HOME™ is Divine healing through dance.

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