This coming weekend there’s going to be a party in my house. Usually, I like parties. I enjoy planning the menu, prepping the house and feeling the buzz about the place. However, this party that is coming is feeling like it is tipping me over into a place of overwhelm. I just don’t have the time. I don’t have the time to clean, to cook or to enjoy. And yet, this party is still coming.

IMG_6379Thankfully a few months ago, while teaching on the MSc: Studies in Mindfulness (click here), my colleague Choden gave a profound teaching on our ability to move toward being ‘The Holder and The Held’. This concept is the idea that we all have the ability to hold our difficulties with compassionate arms, while also having a sense of being held at the same time. We can be the holder and we be the held.

So how do we do this?

Well, we start by building our resources or filling our tool boxes with methods in which we might practice kindness, warmth, and open-heartedness towards ourselves. We build our capacity to hold.

In our Level 2: Responding with Compassion course (click here) we explore all sorts of practices (both mind and body) that help build and strengthen what Tara Brach calls ‘the unfolding arms of acceptance’ or holding our experience/embracing our pain as a mother holding her child. Again, this is our capacity to hold.

However, there is one practice that has really stood out for me. It has been Choden’s practice of ‘The Holder and The Held’ that has really been helping me open up to my struggle and to notice how my struggle is manifesting in my body, my feelings, in my heart. Once, I’ve brought an awareness to what is present for me, I can move towards stepping into the stability of my body and allowing this stability to hold what is present with a kindness and a warmth and an open-hearted attending to. It has been incredibly powerful.

So, as I face this party that is coming, I can stay with the difficulty of the overwhelm and really have a sense of being held by my compassionate self. It is still difficult; however, I feel like I can do this one step at a time.

This week, I invite you to listen to Choden’s practice and give it a go. Are you able to open up to difficulty and possibly even hold that difficulty with a warmth and tenderness? Or, as Tara Brach says, what is it like to move towards tapping into ‘the unfolding arms of acceptance’. Sometime it is easier said than done! But we can set the intention to. ?

Click Here for Choden’s practice of The Holder and The Held.


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