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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Layers of Holding

The concept of “holding” relates not only to early personal experiences of a holding environment, the holding of parents for children, the holding of teachers for pupils and devotees, the holding of a sangha for its members . . . but also archetypal patterns of holding that express throughout cultures and over time, collective holding that provides a sense of belonging and membership; the ways human beings have found security, safety, solace and sanctuary in “being held” by transpersonal, non-physical figures, entities and energies, and by the natural world itself. When I can “hold” what arises in my inner experience as well as allow and experience myself “being held” by something larger, I am able to perceive and even trust my very existence in a new way. I can risk being spontaneous and creative, emotionally flexible, and responsive to the challenges that life inevitably provides. Even when my experiences are difficult, heartbreaking, confusing, painful or uncertain, I am increasingly aware of a vast context or space within which my life and my immediate experience is emerging; a space or context that may be much more purposeful and intelligent than it appears or than I can perceive. Over time, as I become better skilled at seeing and surrendering to all kinds of experiences at deeper levels, the wisdom and love in the holding space, in the space that holds ME . . . the LOVE that characterizes that SPACE discloses itself more readily. I am becoming more familiar with the qualities and the essence of the space in which I appear. I am learning that this LOVE is constant and reliable. I am resting into receiving the support of something greater than I am, and as a result, I am becoming greater.

I am the manifesting matter or material within a space or container and I am also the one looking into the space at what is manifesting as me as well as in me, in the space of this body. I am / We are the vastness itself, and in the most primordial way, the space in which the entire display appears. My center of gravity begins to shift with this realization . . . I have an experiential awareness and knowing that my very existence, this beingness and body is always, already held. With this clarity comes the understanding that holding or being held is not something I need to seek, force, manufacture, create, deserve, or “earn” by way of completing some heroic people-pleasing project or self-improvement plan or peaking out in pursuit of some enlightenment odyssey. My heart, my body, my psyche, my soul are all an expression of layered holding spaces. The mountains, the stars, the moon, and the sea share this same layered truth. The peace I feel in nature, the holding I settle into when walking in the forrest, or sitting by a stream, is in large part due to nature’s reflection of the truth of this infinite holding.

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