The Healing Power of Holding

(I wrote this ages ago for the Inner bonding website, and just realized I never posted it here.  It is still just as essential, so I share it with all of you in the hopes you will find your ways to the mothering and fathering you always deserved. )

Today as I held a member in my arms and she sank into my embrace, I reflected on how deeply needed this is in our society today.  As a mother of two children, ages 1 and 3 it has become so clear to me that this need is inherent and a birthright, and yet unmet in so many. When I work with groups, the minute I hold a participant, the energy of the room shifts as if to breathe a sigh of relief as true connection occurs and a deep need is felt and met.

Every day, my children want to be held, snuggled, caressed. Why? Because this mother space is where children feel safe and where they know they belong. Also, because touch is crucial to our survival; science shows us it helps us grow, learn and heal, and we can die without it. All is well in the world as long as there is mother (or other primary caregiver) who offers loving holding, and especially a mother who is connected to Spirit, bringing divine love through.  This is how children integrate self-love and concepts that nurture their self worth; I am lovable, good, worthy. And they then begin to bring this love through to themselves because they know what it feels like and looks like.

I remember one night when I was in college. I was crying in my room in great pain over feelings of abandonment, when my very loving roommate (who had had love modeled to her from a caring mother) came over and put her arms around me from behind and just held me. This was an incredibly powerful moment for me.  I could not remember ever having been held, let alone with such love. Until then I could not define Love’s embrace; God was theoretically loving but I did not know what that love would feel like. In that moment, acting as a vessel, she made my experience of God real.  Suddenly, I knew what the loving arms of Spirit felt like and I could draw on that experience when I needed to visualize God’s presence all around me.

As I began to learn about taking responsibility to become my own loving mother and re-parent myself, this holding served as a model of love for me. I would often visualize myself with arms around my child and Spirit’s arms around me. And it was no longer just a visualization but a visceral experience because I could access the sensory memory of having been held this way. As I practiced Inner Bonding and received more holding as I held my little girl, this self-nurturing became stronger and easier for me.

Now, as I observe my children who brighten at the slightest touch and loving interaction, and who request it so often, I am even more aware of the need to be loving to myself constantly. I am more aware that the child in all of us requires attention, commitment, interested communication, essentially internal holding, throughout the day. If you have never experienced the power of holding, this is a crucial piece for knowing how to mother yourself at this level, bringing divine love through.  And one I have seen facilitate profound shifts over and over again.

You can receive holding from a friend or family member, as well as a professional for whom it is within the scope of their practice (clergy, spiritual counselors, etc.) It is very important to enter holding as a loving Adult, holding your own child, with an intention to learn about how to be loving to yourself. If your intent is to have the other person love you it will not be helpful or empowering. In Do I Have to Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?, my mentor, Margaret Paul offers many wonderful clarifiers for how to make holding most beneficial for your healing.

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