I took last week off to join an Ayurvedic retreat as an assistant, which meant making each participant feel welcome, and supporting with practicalities, and most importantly, holding space for whatever might come up in the different sessions.
“Holding space” means being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. It’s the process of witnessing and validating someone else's emotional state while simultaneously being present to your own.
18 women showed up individually - there were only a couple of friends. All willing to dive in and connect, yet they seemed somewhat reserved, observing and following the unwritten rules of engagement.
Two days in, during one of the talks, one strong, assertive lady dared to open up and shared a concern about what was going on in her life. In such a setting, she felt safe to share what hurt and her daily struggle. Her vulnerability shifted the energy in the room.
What unfolded was beautiful and changed the whole experience of the retreat - IMHO what everyone was really seeking: liberation, mutual respect, kinship, compassion, strength, community.
When we allow ourselves to be seen for who we really are, we enable the same for others. And the connection becomes real, human. No veils, no need for perfection. Just real people talking about real life stuff.
By doing so, we can realise we’re not alone, and that it’s part of our human nature to be compassionate and supportive of others - even if it’s just by holding space.
All had their own goals and expectations: more time for themselves, spending time with nature, and learning about Ayurveda.
Yet all left with something much more deeper and meaningful: the reconnection with themselves, the knowing of being part of something bigger and of course, tools to return to daily life.
I love retreats, but also know that we can find such moments in our daily lives. Let’s make sure we hold the space for one another, that we see each other and that whenever we ask a simple “How are you?”, we care enough to wait for an answer.