Holding Space and Cuddling

edited January 13 in General

I have been doing a lot of work on me and, as part of that work, reading a lot about "holding space" for people. I found an excellent article that gives a fairly concise overview of what holding space means:

(Holding space) means we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control. To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away (ie. trying to fix their problems), shaming them (ie. implying that they should know more than they do), or overwhelming them (ie. giving them more information than they’re ready for). We have to be prepared to step to the side so they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.

It really is a profoundly beautiful concept. Then, today, I started wondering how cuddling plays into holding space for others and is the act of cuddling, in its way, an act of holding space? I know my personal journey through cuddle culture has helped me grow and transform in so many ways that I would have never even considered six months ago when I was just wanting some hugs.

Chime in with your own thoughts on this topic as you will.

Comments

  • edited January 12

    I've had some wonderful cuddle sessions with partners I'm sure probably wouldn't be a good fit on many levels (e.g., age, income, lifestyle-choices, personal-styles, etc, etc,) outside the cuddle space. Not sure if my thoughts are "deep," however, my take on the Holding Space construct is that it is above and beyond what I'm looking for personally from cuddling

    My cuddling interactions have been 100% with pros as I look at cuddling as a therapeutic experience similar to visit with a health care professional or practitioner. My cuddle experiences by-in-large have left me feeling renewed, rejuvenated, and closer to the new emotional normal I've been seeking after a long-term caregiving situation. So like with with any other professionals I interact with, I don't have an expectation of an "out of practice" relationship.

    The aforementioned Holding Space construct is geared more toward non-pros or the segment of the community that may be open to this level of commitment, are not in a committed relationship, or looking for an ongoing relationship outside the cuddle space.

  • @2dogmom That's a lovely description.

    There are two professionals I can think of in particular who broadcast a wonderful sense of acceptance and safety when I'm with them. The conversation is part of it, but just touch by itself can feel very accepting.

    I really like the idea of not fixing someone's problem for them (or judging them!), just being there for them.

  • @2dogmom +1

    I heard this expression before “hold space” some Professional Cuddler I had the opportunity to meet and learn from also sometimes refer to it as the “container” interchangeably call as well “holding space”

    Ps: I’ve notice Personal Growth as well never expected this outcome when I started to learning to Cuddle.

  • I think the key word is "unconditional". If you give something, expecting anything in return, even gratitude ;it isn't a gift, it is a 'business deal'.

    It is even harder if, beyond lack of gratitude, there is criticism ; for doing too little, or even for doing too much. Coping with that aspect, can be the hardest part of the giving ; but the most valuable.

    As Kipping began "If" ; "If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs, and blaming it on you".

  • I've been holding space for so long personally and professionally that I automatically hold space when I spend time with anyone I care about. There can be structured turn-taking--you talk about you, I listen, then I'll do the same for you--or there can just be a natural flow, as with friends, almost conversational but deeper than that and not about petty stuff, but real stuff that matters. I am a natural and a trained deep listener and I love that. I love asking people about themselves and hearing from them and being there for it. It's just part of who I am at this point. And it comes into the cuddle space naturally as it does with friends and family and even the occasional stranger. I had a sweet experience of a bit of a health emergency phone call from my daughter during a cuddle and my cuddle partner totally held space for me while I was on the phone and after to process and think about and offer his input into the situation. It was really dear.

    I can't be around a human without bonding to them. It's just my nature. I also have good boundaries and I find enthusiast cuddle connections to be of a variety of flavors, but for me, to be in contact with you is to care about you, even if we're totally silent the entire cuddle and I never see you again.

    I love that you brought this up @2dogmom.

  • @herby357 I hear you. When I started writing this post, I considered the non-pro v pro aspect and how it would apply to holding space. I also assumed someone else would mention... so thank you. While I see your point about the transactional nature of a pro cuddle (my thoughts too), upon further reflection, I wonder if, in fact, pros are better at holding space than non-pros for that reason. Non-pros, IMO, probably "judge" and filter prospects more than non-pros. whereas pros seem to be more accepting of a wider pool of prospects, making them more unconditional in their cuddle approach. Also, IMO, a truly GOOD pro has to have the ability to hold space for a client to allow them to totally relax and feel comfortable during the session. Holding space does not have to be limited to a "relationship"... it can even be virtual strangers simply allowing each other to "be."

    Thank you @respectful... I see you understand what I am saying above about pros... :) @Kabocha I would love to hear more about your holding space experience with a pro. PS, we will have to share our growth stories in messages. :)

    @geoff1000 all good except by saying "expecting something in return" if you are meaning also money, then that negates the idea of pros being able to hold space. I think within the confines of a professional transaction, when it is around an emotional delivery of service maybe?, there is a place for holding space.

    @littermate I can't be around a human without bonding to them. It's just my nature... to be in contact with you is to care about you, even if we're totally silent the entire cuddle and I never see you again.

    OMG, this is so me, as well. What I am NOT great at doing, however, is deep listening and boundaries. I am social and more garrulous by nature and a "fixer." I am learning, in my growth, that people don't need you to fix them... most of the time they just need someone to listen and understand. If you have any suggestions about how I can continue to improve my listening, please send me a PM. Thanks!

  • Awwwwww @2dogmom what a beautiful thread. I am also new to the idea of "holding space" for someone. You spoke to so many interesting aspects of this. Once I started processing and inviting this idea into my daily interactions it completely changed my perspective. My feeling that I needed to OWN someone else's problems or troubles or struggles.... that I needed to help them fix it, offer advice, problem solve etc. What I found amazing about this idea of "holding space" was the love and kindness it required to do that. Like you said to just "let them BE" to just listen, let them process etc. One thing that I personally might do differently than the definition you sited is that I only give "gentle guidance" if it is asked. Just because someone voices their problems or frustration doesn't mean they are looking to me for guidance (I'm guilty of trying to help people too much sometimes!!)

    As it relates to cuddling I have found it so freeing!!! REALLY and truly FREEEEEEEEEEING!!!!!!!! Because I am not trying to fix or negotiate someone else's TRUTH I get to just appreciate them right where they are at. Letting people do what it is that they need to do. Check off the boxes that they need to check off and like @littermate said to have kindness and acceptance for where you and I are right now this second is priceless. Even if we never meet again.
    People can say it with sarcasm "You do You BOO BOO!" but I really believe this. We get to decide who we are and so do they. Of course I am not talking about holding space for people to hurt you or that kind of thing..... Sometimes I have to say "I love you but I'm going to love you from a distance because who you are choosing to be right now isn't healthy for me" or whatever..... I know that's not what you're talking about in Holding Space for someone.

    I love this idea. I am in it with you dear friend and I am glad you are willing to share something that isn't always easy!!! 😍😘🥰

  • @2dogmom
    I should have been more specific. In the context of a pro, "expecting something in return", means in addition to the payment agreed for the basic service ; like a tip or good Karma.

    A taxi-driver who is particularly helpful with luggage etc. will certainly expect payment for the journey, at the standard rate ; but anything else must be freely given by the customer.

  • @2dogmom it's been a while since I have heard the term holding space but I do remember I learned about it. I use this mindset everyday at my work. The description of holding space is also what I look for in certain friends. I can't speak on behalf of everyone but most cuddle sessions I have with others we both give holding space. This aspect is just another part of what makes cuddling great to me.

  • edited January 13

    One thing that I personally might do differently than the definition you sited is that I only give "gentle guidance" if it is asked.
    @sillysassy I approve this amendment. ☺️

    @geoff1000 thank you for the clarification.

    I can't speak on behalf of everyone but most cuddle sessions I have with others we both give holding space. This aspect is just another part of what makes cuddling great to me.
    @SunnyD I agree with both statements.

  • The old adage is :
    "Do unto others, as you would have them, do unto you"
    Much harder, but more useful is :
    "Do unto others, as they would have you, do unto them"

  • My experience with holding space, is it is a individual thing. Some pros would be good at it and some non pros would be good at it. And likewise, some pros are not so good at holding space, nor non pros. We are each at different levels of development and some are more available to be loving, accepting, listening, non-judgmental, present, etc than others.

    And even within one time period/session, one can fluctuate from being loving and caring and accepting of another to moments of judgement and shaming and non listening.

    We are all works in progress, but learning to hold space for others is a great practice. It will benefit others and ourself and we will learn as a byproduct to hold more space for ourself too.

  • @2dogmom
    Thank you for posting a definition of holding space. I had heard the term before and did not know the full meaning, only guessed at it in context. It is a very loving concept, challenging to achieve, and a worthy goal for those wishing to have a deeper nurturing experience.

    I do wish that jargon could vanish from our collective vocabulary and be replaced with clear terms that everyone can understand. I always think of all the terms used by lawyers and doctors that serve to keep their communications befuddling to the uninitiated. Will the cuddling community develop its own jargon? I think it has already begun.

    Whenever we use jargon it creates boundaries to clear communication and understanding, and places a divide between those in the know and the beginners. Is this something that we want? On one hand, it can be exclusive, on the other it can create greater interest and a yearning to understand an unknown - potentially drawing people in.

    Considering the extent of the holding space definition, I can plainly see why an abbreviated term was sought!

  • I think the hardest aspect of being unconditionally supportive, is to voluntarily not be with someone, perhaps not even in their thoughts.

    Think of a person you fancy ( for want of a better word ) pairing off with someone. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give them, unacknowledged, is to step away, to give their relationship the best possible chance. As Hans Solo says to Princess Leia, "When Luke comes back, I won't get in the way".

    So tempting to keep oneself on the sidelines, telling oneself that it is just to be a friend if needed.

    Perhaps that is a good definition of Platonic, that one is prepared at any time to walk away from the relationship for the benefit of the other.

  • I've heard the cuddle party facilitator in my area use the term "holding space" before, but I never investigated the definition of it. I really like that idea.

    I've always thought of compassion as being something similar, a deep, abiding, heartfelt acceptance of another's emotional state, experience and situation. I may not be able to empathize with someone as their experiences in life are bound to be sometimes wholly outside my realm of experience, but I can express acceptance and support of their journey for a few moments or a few hours. I can listen beyond the words to the heart of the person. I can amplify another's voice or bring light to their darkness. I can create safe spaces for those who experience life differently than I do and celebrate that diversity with joy and peace. I can choose to live compassionately. Or at least I can make the attempt... Sometimes what we intend and what we do don't match, but that's where my heart is.

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