Holding space for yourself first — an exercise in presence and mindfulness
How do you hold space for others consistently? By consistently holding space for yourself, first.
I’m staring into her eyes, and she’s staring back at mine.
"This feels uncomfortable.”
Tears form in my eyes — “Oh my god, I’m crying!”
Her eyes tear up and nods, “it’s okay,” her eyes say.
This was an exercise from a training I attended in October (Be With Training 101 by Barbara Erochina). This is what set me off on this journey to give myself more presence (to be more present with myself).
It felt WILD!
We communicated with our eyes
Moved in sync
Blinking at the same time
Nodding in understanding
I am here
I am with you
I see you
Given I don’t have this level of intimacy in most of my day-to-day relationships, I was fully freaked out driving home at the end of the day.
I was being asked to be present in my daily life — in my relationships, my work, all of it.
But how !
How do I do this !
I don’t know where to begin !
Most of us don’t know where to begin, and that is okay.
I asked for help, in my journal, from god knows who: Thank you for showing me how to be more present in my life. (All my prayers start with thank you).
And within days, the next step appeared: The Artist’s Way — a book by Julia Cameron — recommended out-of-the-blue by a friend I haven’t seen in years.
As soon as it sat in my hands, I could feel it’s importance — a chill ran down my spine and warmth filled my heart. Sure, I’m a book nerd, but these feelings don’t come from any old book.
Also side note: I don’t know how these things seem to happen so magically, but they do happen, so I’m not going to alter the course of this story for those skeptics out there. I asked and I received.
This book has changed my life in the past 2 months I’ve been working with it, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the quality of presence and the exercises I do to help me pay more attention to my life.
What helps me be present & stay with myself
Let’s start with morning pages. This is a foundational element from The Artist’s Way that’s real simple : write 3 pages, stream-of-consciousness, each morning. I get real with myself on those pages. I write things I wouldn’t dare speak aloud. I write my deepest fears, deepest desires — the ones I’d deem silly and hide from myself. Morning pages give me a space where I don’t need to be put together — I can be messy, not knowing what the fuck I’m doing, and just be. And when I let myself just be, when I’m present with myself, surprising things are unearthed.
This practice revealed many things to me about my current reality, a few of which I’ll share here:
My sleep sucked.
My mind was racing non-stop — anxiety was my default mode.
I was not letting myself rest + did not know how to rest.
Confronted with reality, I decided it was time to find ways to support myself to sleep better (if you want to dive deeper on resting, I did a whole blog post about that here).
And that’s how meditation came into my life — the second practice that’s helped me get more present with myself.
THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE YOU GUYS!! AND GALS!! It’s WILD!! I never thought I’d be so excited about meditation. I’d tried it before and was like meh… but not this time. This time I saw how much calmer my brain was after meditating — each day I meditate, the easier it is for me to return to that still place within me throughout my day. AND I feel frickin amazing after I’m done a meditation session. Sometimes I give myself a nap afterwards and it’s so delicious.
When you give yourself the gift of presence, magical things start to happen.
Lots has happened in the past 2 months, just by giving myself the gift of presence:
I’m writing a book
I published 4 zines
I have a daily meditation + embodiment practice
I move and stretch my body every day
I’m facilitating a 12 week book club for The Artist’s Way
I’m creating a soul voice meditation series
And! I’m looking into yoga nidra and breathwork courses so I can share these magical tools with other womxn who want to feel safe in their bodies.
Those are just the external things that’ve been happening.
More importantly, on the inside, I’ve been feeling more
When you let yourself rest, magic happens.
When you take care of yourself, magic happens.
When you hold space for yourself, magic happens.
SO… I’m asking you: What can you do for yourself that would feel like a sigh of relief? That would feel like presence? It may be something you can do now, in this moment, or later this week.
Commit to it. Set a timer for yourself. Schedule it. This is your work.
Wishing you all the presence in the world!