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Being Held Basics

There is nothing to fix, but there is always something to lovingly hold.

Being Held is something we all instinctively know how to do. It is how a parent lovingly holds a child after birth. It is the type of loving touch we can offer to our lover. And this practice is by design, because the myriad of sensors and cells in our skin are programmed to transmit important messages to the parts of our brain that form our sense of identity and our feeling of belonging through different types of touch.

Being held is one of the important ways the neurology of the human body is regulated as we explore and experience a beautiful –– yet scary, unpredictable and chaotic –– world.

Unfortunately, in modern human culture, we are not often lovingly and unconditionally held when we are confronted with difficult sensations, emotions, experiences. We are told, instead, to "stop crying", "toughen up", "get over it", "it's not a big deal", "don't be silly", "grow up"... or sometimes physically hit or disciplined... or sometimes simply shunned.

 

These messages, in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, continue throughout life. And their programming for our neurology is that we must behave in certain ways, or think in certain ways, in order to be worthy of love and acceptance.

The good news is that our body neurology never loses the ability to receive and transmit this simple core message: that all the rejected parts of us that cause inner discomfort – parts we often want to banish or get rid of – are okay and belong. As well as affirming the parts of us we feel good about.

 

Being Held invites us to welcome home, or "re-friend", parts of us that may not have been allowed to be fully and authentically present in our aliveness. Our angry or hateful parts have a loving message for us. Our terrified or grief-stricken parts have a loving message for us. Our numb or unfocused parts have a loving message for us as well.

The challenge is to find a safe-enough way to come into holding, nurturing, physical connection in a culture that is either touch-phobic or touch-manic. So Being Held is also a set of safety pillars or agreements that help us navigate past our cultural influences into a zone of tolerance for loving touch – that is, touch with attunement and soul presence.

READ MORE ABOUT SAFETY PILLARS

When the neural messages of accepting, nurturing love are alive in our bodies through touch, while we gently revisit moments in our life when we weren't held or acknowledged, the stories we carry don't necessarily change, but our concept of ourselves within those stories can.

Being Held welcomes the diversity and uniqueness of each being. Loving, nurturing touch is genderless, ageless, without physical identity or hierarchy. It is soul connection, and its effectiveness does not depend on the giver's or receiver's worthiness by any measure. This is at the heart of building a culture of Grace within us and within community.

It should also be said that falling in love with ourselves in a new and complete way, with the help of others, is a generator of joy, even in of moments of lovingly held discomfort. There is nothing better than knowing we are whole and complete now, not on an endless path of trying to get there.

Being Held is not a solution. It is above all a practice, a continually shifting way of living, that can be engaged in as a couple, or as a group of three or more. It can be engaged in a short time frame, or as a full day or a weekend for a community of people, which is what we do in our Being Held Gatherings.

If you’re new to Being Held, start here for a description of our Safety Pillars, find out where you can attend a Being Held event, take training, and meet the people doing the training. Don’t be afraid to try this at home!

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