The healing power of holding a forgiving space

Monday, May 01, 2017 1692 words 7 mins 31 secs
An A Course in Miracles Blog  © 2017 Paul West

It can be very therapeutic to just listen and be still and judge not while someone expresses themeslves. This is the essence of being forgiving.

"Forgiveness … is still, and quietly does nothing. … It merely looks, and waits, and judges not" - ACIM

When we all have egos, we're all so busy not listening. We're too busy broadcasting and transmitting illusions and stories to make ourselves special.

Even if you're in a conversation with someone and you're supposedly listening, you're probably still not FULLY listening because you're not in a state of forgiveness.

Instead you're starting to mentally engage with what was said, are starting to process it, are chewing on it, judging it, judging the person, thinking about what to say, having memories of your own personal story, resisting the person and hoping they will shut up soon, etc. All of these activities mean you are not being forgiving, but it also means you are not fully listening. You're not paying full attention. You are not being fully present because you're lost in your own ego.

So then when the person speaks, they sense this. They know in the mind/energetic level that they are not being heard. They know that there are limits and boundaries in place, which you put there, which are your attempts to make them stop and shut up. Especially if you start to offer advice or talk over them or try to stop their expression. Maybe their expression is very ego and it triggers you and you just want it to stop because you can't just be still.

The result of this is that the person does not feel permitted to fully express themselves. They don't feel that you are listening, that you recognize them deep down, that you really care unconditionally, or that you even want them to continue. They will take these cues, consciously or not, and it will stop them fully expressing.

We are all so used to walking around in a world where everyone is always broadcasting that we feel terribly constipated with ego energies, feelings and expressions, which are not being ALLOWED to fully express. Nobody is listening! And that's because everyone has egos and are not in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a state of mind of stillness and listening and allowing and presence and non-judgement. That's the state that we're sorely lacking in this world.

This state is a state of "holding space". It means that you are so still and clear and non-judging and present that you simply allow and listen and permit everything. You do not resist, you do not get caught up in your own thoughts, you don't get lost in your own reactions, and you don't try to stop the person. If you do this for someone and you let them just express, you will notice something really interesting happens.

Not only will they express themselves and all their ego stories, feelings and thoughts, but they will seem to really go overboard, over the top with major ego expression. Given permission that it's okay to express fully, as proven by your forgiving willingness to listen and be present, it all just comes flooding out. The person doesn't even quite know why they are doing this. They can seem to become "very ego" while they do this. YOU MUST NOT try to stop that. It's good. They are venting. Maybe for the first time someone is finally fully listening to their heart's pain and they can therefore finally let it out and let it go all the way.

People are natural expressers. Even if it's ego shit coming out and totally bullshit, they still need to express it, and not being in a situation where it's safe and okay - unconditionally okay - to be as ego as they like, it just stays stuck inside.

Also when you are in a state of holding space and being fully present with the person, where you are actually giving your FULL ATTENTION while simultaneously backing totally off from expressing anything of your own, this creates a kind of "space". That is, your intense attention connects to the person where they are, and the fact that you are totally withholding your own expression creates "space" in between the two of you. It's a space that you're not flooding with your own expressions, because you are RECEIVING.

This space is held by the mind and can actually be an energetic presence. You form it with your EMPATHY. In True Empathy you are listening intently and sharing awareness and unconditional acceptance, WITHOUT ENTERING INTO the person's problem. This is TRUE empathy. Empathising without engaging or joining in or making real the illusions that flow out in any way. And that doesn't just mean be quiet on the outside, you must be totally present and attentive INSIDE your mind as well, otherwise you are distracted with ego and are not listening.

And because there is a kind of law that nature fills a vacuum, their ego is SUCKED OUT. It pours out to fill the space. Or to put it another way, your willingness to FULLY RECEIVE allows them to FULLY EXPRESS. The person may not even realize they are really digging deep and sharing all their deep dark secrets and even stating embarassing egoic "secrets" that they never told anyone. Onlookers might judge them and label them as evil! But you have to let it just flow out into the space. Just listen, fully. Give your full attention in silence.

After the person has "finished" expressing, having been heard deeply perhaps for the first time ever, and having aired tons of dirty laundry and guilt and everything in between, they will tell you... if you succeeded in this .... they'll tell you, they feel TREMENDOUSLY PEACEFUL. They got it out! They finally could let it all out and let it go instead of having it shoved halfway down their throat by everyone else who is too self-absorbed to ever give them permission to fully express.

I have done this before, by accident. I didn't know what I was doing, but I was doing it. I recall a person at an old job who started to brag. He was a natural bragger. But as he did, instead of wanting to shut him up as such, I just paid attention and let him get on with it. I held space, sort of accidentally. And he just kept going, and going, and going. He really really vented, and started even telling me about all these secret exploits and perversions that he'd been doing, just a great big giant ego brag. He didn't even know why he was expressing so much, he just kept going! An onlooker judged him, not understanding what was happening, telling him that he should stop talking because he was making a fool of himself. But it was a HEALING.

And then,..... he wound down, and he said, he couldn't believe how peaceful he felt. He was shocked at how calm he was. It was simple. Pay full attention and be fully present without your own mental noise.

Also, if a person is quite shy or sensitive, introverted or has difficulty or fear expressing themselves, this is like GOLD. If you are like this, you know that you are very much put off by the loud intensity of everyone else's expressions, and usually you will only express yourself to one individual in a secret corner when no-one else is looking. Only if there is near silence do you feel permitted to make sound, to speak, or to express yourself. You are really sensitive and everyone's just "regular" level of expression is experienced as like LOUD. Like, they're shouting all the time and don't really want to hear you at all. And especially if the person is domineering or controlling or takes over expressing for everyone, you can bet you will just shrivel up into a hole of loneliness.

That's why sensitive people become so quiet and shy. In their spectrum of expression, they are drowned out. Loud intense or even just regular people can "shut down" sensitive people and make them even shyer, because they're never really given an opportunity to BE HEARD. People won't shut the fuck up for long enough to let them express their soft gentle expressions!

If you say to a shy sensitive person, that you're going to be totally quiet and just listen and that they can go ahead and just talk and tell you anything... anything at all, just go ahead and I'll listen quietly.... that's like GOLD. If you will trust that as a sensitive person, you will then start to express yourself, and you'll keep going, and going, and you'll explore and uncover all kinds of things that you could never tell anyone. It's SO healing and cathartic. To be heard in this overly broadcasting ultra-loud ego-screaming world, it's absolutely treasure. It touches a person. It heals them. Sometimes as a sensitive person I wish the whole world would SHUT THE FUCK UP for long enough for me to express myself.

(I WILL BE HEARD! Thanks for letting me express that, lol)

This is also partly why my expressive energies have diverted themselves into the silent, unhurried expression through typing and writing.. ... people don't shut you up when you put it down on paper.Mostly. Until they start reading it, hah. Then it's "that's too long to read, shut up". .. ie, I can't read all that text... when will *I* be able to talk about myself! lolol

Anyway. Hold space for people. It is thoroughly deeply healing. We should have healing circles where we do nothing but let people express silently. This is partly how it's set up in Alcoholics Anonymous and AlAnon and other programs with a "no cross-talk" rule... although it should be extended to a "no mental chatter either" rule. No ego.

Be quiet. Be present. Listen. Let people be fully acknowledged. This is an expression of true forgiveness.

Remember, this is part of being truly forgiving. And having the opportunity to PRACTICE this is an opportunity to be forgiving. As Jesus said:

"Forgiveness … is still, and quietly does nothing. … It merely looks, and waits, and judges not" - ACIM

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