My friend, a breast cancer survivor and successful business owner, couldn’t talk enough about her real life experience on birthing a dream. Knowing Kim over 10 years, I guess we never really talked about her mother. “Oh my mom, she was so driven. Lost everything in Vietnam and came here to San Francisco with $200 in her pocket. She was out there everyday and just made herself available to anyone anywhere if she could make a buck. My mom has the work ethic of an ox and such charisma. Yet her dream was to own this restaurant: every day she would go there and eat a turkey sandwich and come home and tell us kids that one day she’ll own that restaurant. There were 7 of us kids and we thought she was crazy. The restaurant is across from Macy’s in Union Square, a German restaurant, “Hofbrau.”
Kim went on to say that every day her mom would go there and sit for hours: she got to know the workers and owners. She told the owner that she had no money but would like to buy the restaurant one day. He was amused. But over the years, the owner and his family wanted to get out as the restaurant was not doing so well and they were tired. She made him a deal and said, “let me run the restaurant for one year and if I make more than what you made this year, you will let me buy and pay you in installments.” He was reluctant and then one day said, yes! Apparently Kim’s mom was known to go in the kitchen and taste the sauces and go home and try to make them even better. Kim’s mom more than doubled sales the next year and they sold the restaurant to her in which she paid back the owner in 5 years and continued to run with her family with lines out the door for over 12 years. Whoa! What’s also great here is that Kim’s mom put all seven kids through very expensive schools, and all now have successful businesses in the United States.
Birthing a dream isn’t unfamiliar. We all have dreams and probably all have birthed quite a few. Yet, we get stuck with the challenge of then trying to see the dream through in the midst of momentous course disruptions. A clinical nutritionist, a BYSJ member, once told me in a session that I had with him that I held some internal trauma in the flow of my circulation. He showed me a diagram that helped me see that my blood was of course flowing, but within veins and capillaries that were twisted and crossed over each other. What a struggle for the blood to get where it needed to go!
Don’t we often feel this way in the direction of our lives: life throws a curveball and there we go addressing something unexpected, veering us in twisted ways away from where we want to go. The end result is how we are now caught up in this gnarly knot, depleting our energy and inspiration. Eventually we lose steam and sacrifice the dream entirely. It’s just too much to hold.
Our wonderful teacher and staff manager, Jessica Guinn, led a teacher clinic recently in which we went over lessons taken in and feedback on guest teacher and founder of Teach From Love, Teri Almquist. Teri opened our eyes and hearts into some higher elements we need to look for and use appropriately in our craft of teaching. In this two hour meeting, we got into responsibilities on the podium that protect and encourage you members with your practice and our need as teachers to be present to the WAY we do that. An article that came along with this impactful meeting was “Holding Space” by Heather Plett. Please Google and read!
Honestly, when I first read it, I didn’t want to continue reading it. It was initially about the story of a mom dying and the hospice care she received and how the elements of holding space helped her manage and walk through this loss gracefully. Sorry, but didn’t want to be reminded of losing my mom and felt a surge of trickery as I thought that I was going to read something entirely different. But, as I read more, and as I know with my mom’s loss and care she got with hospice, this was the perfect example. If you are not aware of what hospice does, let me just say one word that will set the tone of every other thing that you learn and hear about them: dignity. Hospice holds space in such a way that dignifies every human life right up until the end.
Honestly, when I first read it, I didn’t want to continue reading it. It was initially about the story of a mom dying and the hospice care she received and how the elements of holding space helped her manage and walk through this loss gracefully. Sorry, but I didn’t want to be reminded of losing my mom, and felt a surge of trickery as I thought that I was going to be reading something entirely different. But, as I read more, and as I know with my mom’s loss and the care she got with hospice, this was the perfect example. If you are not aware of what hospice does, let me just say one word that will set the tone of every other thing that you learn and hear about them: dignity. Hospice holds space in such a way that dignifies every human life right up until the end.
According to Heather:
“Holding space for someone else means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, 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.”
In this way, we aren’t interfering with another’s process; we aren’t taking away power; we are providing a safe place while keeping our egos out of the way. And holding space allows for differences. I love this most as conflicts often arise out of not seeing things in the same way. By holding space, we can lean back enough to not only make room for differences but to respect and even embrace them.
I share this with you because there is an added benefit to holding space that if used properly can help us in the direction of our dreams even when the winds blow us off course. Let me share an example of this from right here at BYSJ. Our heating system went down in a big way two weeks ago. It’s never happened like this before to the point where fixing it isn’t worth it. We need a new bigger system that costs money and means a long delay in getting you members back to the heat and humidity mix you’ve come to know and expect. Our team has been on it since the hour it happened. A Plan is in place. While I am upset surely, what I’m noticing is that my disappointment isn’t paralyzing. I’m holding space for that feeling of despair and allowing it the space it needs to process, without it taking away the energy I need to have a good productive useful day.
A friend of mine is homeless. It kills me to know this and while I’d love to fix him, I can’t. Instead, I’m doing what I can and at the same time holding space for my feelings of wanting to do more. Holding space for those things that have the capacity to consume us in ways that aren’t in line with where we want to go is the best tool to stay on course with our dreams. We aren’t denying the situation but we are not held hostage to it either.
“Holding space” might be new as a concept but members holding space goes right back to the yoga room. Our struggle to keep the mind present is always being poked and prodded to go somewhere other than the task at hand. In my Triangle pose today, I noticed the mental turbulence going on and how I held space for that noise and despite all that I had the energy and concentration to go further in my Triangle, staying the course on where I wanted to go.
Members, explore how you go about your day and how you go about your practice on the mat with a sense of holding space for that which you have mental and emotional thoughts and feelings in areas not in your best interests. Challenge yourself to go there and notice how abysmal it is to get out of but hold space for it and watch how the nurturing you’ve cradled it with eliminates the anxiety and you are free to move!
Years ago, I watched Bill Gates in an interview about where he thought the web was going. He answered by saying that those companies that help filter information will do the best because there is a flow of data out there that is too overwhelming to comprehend for it to be of any use. It will be those businesses that help organize and filter that data that will benefit most. Holding space is a way to compassionately organize and filter out information so it doesn’t get neglected but neither does it pull us away from birthing dreams and, of course, carrying out those dreams.
– Michele Vennard