“You Reading This, Be Ready”

Antoinettes Yoga GardenThat’s the title of a William Stafford poem that contains this powerful question:

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? 

I’ve been contemplating how I hold space for others and how others hold space for me, mostly because I’ve recently been on the receiving end of people holding space gracefully and generously for me.

This concept of holding space I find most palpable in a yoga class. There is ambiance, there is energy, there is conscious movement and words. It’s easy to drop into the present moment because there is a safe, supportive space for us to do so.

I find it to be the same in life. When someone physically holds space for me by listening to me, accepting me, acknowledging me, holding me, or just being with me it becomes easier to drop in to my current experience. I feel supported by whatever or whomever is surrounding me, and it turns me from defensive or scared to receptive and soft. I’m guessing it’s not just me who finds this to be true.

I’ve experienced this in the form of a 30-second hug, a 2-hour conversation, and moments of silence. It’s more the intention and energy than the act. I find being patient with someone else’s process, experience, or moment to be a very nourishing way of holding space for them.

The wonderful thing about this is the more we practice it the easier and more natural it gets. I’ve found that while initially it felt awkward to extend myself to someone, even a stranger, who needed a hug, a listen, or sincere word, it also felt natural. At times I’ve felt compelled to reach out by something seemingly bigger than me. The next time I found myself in a similar situation, I trusted myself a little more easily, I hesitated a second less, I reached out a moment sooner.

Holding space for others is the ultimate gift, both to others and to ourselves, as the last line of Stafford’s poem reminds us:

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

photo credit: Robert Bejil

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2 Replies to ““You Reading This, Be Ready””

  1. This is such a beautifully written and thought provoking post. I’m new to studying/practicing yoga, and this truly made me feel self-aware of those around me and the energy we feed from one another. Thank you.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! Yoga is a great place to get sensitive to our own energy and that of others. A supportive space in class or in your home practice can be very healing and energizing. ~namaste~

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