Reflections on the notion of “holding space” in family constellations

When I step into the field, I am not holding anything. My hands are empty, must be empty. I am showing up to the full with my empty hands and my beating heart. The bird in my chest, sometimes the butterfly wings in my stomach, the tingling of hands, body alive. I show up with what is available. I include all – my aches and my tiredness, my unhealed wounds and my worthiness, my joys and my sorrows. I welcome all in me as I welcome all in you.

There is no holding here unless… unless I start holding on to something – a thought or an idea, a feeling or concept. When I do that, you will feel it. When my hypothesis is now something I want to hold onto, you will feel constricted in your body, not knowing why. My holding on to something will activate your holding on to, and we become stuck together.

Now mind – this will happen at times, to any facilitator, for I am neither healed nor elevated nor enlightened.

I am showing up.

I am in human form, so sometimes the holding will take a hold of me, fuelled by my wounding, my immature parts, my worried ego. You will feel it.

The question for the facilitator is this: am I observing and tracking my own presence, so that I check it when this happens? When I am awake, I will realise that a holding has just occurred, or is presenting itself. I can use my awareness to course correct. How?

I breathe. I pause. I gather on the inside. I release my knowing. I release my fear of not knowing. I am in dialogue with my inner parts. You will not notice any of this. You will simply feel safe, able to breathe, open to taking the next step.

Nothing will hold you back.

You will realise that this work does not require “holding” in the usual sense, that you are held by the non-holding stance.

In this way, the client’s soul is free to find the right movement for the situation, and I am, once more, empty and out of the way.

The movement when it arises in truth often surprises us both. And even then, there is no holding, only being in and with the movement.

There will be moments when facilitator and client find a boundary or a sense that here a line has been drawn, we must not enter here. This is to be respected.

Who or what holds that line, we do not know, but we can both feel it. When we respect it we are held in the process. We do not cross over this invisible line though we may visit and examine it, and learn from the experience. Then we respectfully withdraw.

When you are thanking me for my “holding”, you are feeling my striving to be awake, to stay awake and to wake up again when I have dropped out of awareness. For that striving, some part of which roots in my free will and conscious choice, I receive your thanks with gratitude.

The rest of the kudos goes to the practice, to the line of teachers, to the mystery.

By Undine Whande, Cape Town, April 2023