“The Art of Holding Space, a practice of love, liberation, and leadership” by Heather Plett is a must-read, an essential study, and a fundamental for all of us soul searchers, wisdom detectives, life coaches, teachers, counselors, and mentors of every kind. The actual practice of Holding Space begins with each of us, the self.
We are living in a time like no other. Each of us is backed against a wall, under the gun, blindsided, or hijacked in how we get through each day. How do we cope with how fast the world is changing?
“The Art of Holding Space” offers options, understandings, practices, and possibilities for each of us to explore a deeper way to love ourselves, to listen wholeheartedly to our truth, to become more aware of our inner voice, and to love more compassionately.
Personal growth is so vital in the coming transformational times. “The Art of Holding Space” package of the book, the journal, and the cards provides a daily practice needed for every one of us to succeed through the tricky confusion of today’s world and tomorrow’s possibilities.
The Holding Space Journal and the Cards bring rise to open our consciousness with incredible insight on our personal journey of Holding Space for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. The future of humanity depends on holding space for one another and for our whole planet.
Every person on this planet can benefit from the powerful wisdom of “The Holding Space, a practice of love, liberation, and leadership.”
We are certainly living in an interesting time.Unusual and somewhat devastating, state after state closing down bars, restaurants, and movie theaters. Shoppers wearing masks, gloves, and buying up as many hand sanitizers as they can find.
It has been a few months since we first heard about the outbreak in China and the next thing we know this SARS-CoV-2 aka Corona Virus has taken over the world.
Fear has always had a big following and anger has been on the number one bestseller list forever.Where do we go from here?
Every evening a news report of 30 minutes gives us more information about the virus and more and more school closers and the SARS-CoV-2 spread around the world.
It appears our daily plans, meetings, and events are canceled or postponed.Life as we know it has been turned upside down.
Photo from Vero-Photoart on unsplash.com
The Faithful Ones
For generations, our daily practice has been a part of a bigger picture. We create sacred spaces to shift the vibration, we meditate, we lift spirits,we invoke holy guardians, and we call on all of our helpers within the cosmos to guide us through the twist and turns of life.
For all of us, who pray, affirm life, join our energies with like-minded people, or commune with plants, trees, stones, other forms of nature, we are being called to raise the energy frequency around the earth.
If we are Energy Healers, Reiki Masters, Light Workers,or Peace Keepers, it is up to us to shift the paradigm of fear. It is up to us to be the light in the darkness and to encourage the masses to tilt the scale.
You Are Being Called
Take a walk in nature, hug the trees, speak your healing words on the wind, smudge every day, play your drums, rattle, chant, light your candles, and blow your Love Tuners.
With each fluctuation of encouraging energy, we can generate a higher frequency of love, good health, and peace ignites the golden grid around our Earth Mother.
Photo by Trent Haaland on unsplash.com
The Voice of Experience
Coming from where I come from, knowing what I know about life, and given this situation, I am asking myself, “what can I do in these circumstances to help others?”
Every day, I rely on nature, the Sun, Moon, trees, wind, water, stones, plants, and so on.
Here are a few things that I know, for sure.
Mindfulness, awareness, and intentions
Giving attention to my thoughts, recognizing how my point of view affects me during the day.Letting fearful ruminations pass by and replacing them with encouraging and optimistic concepts.Speaking or writing affirmations that support my well-being.
Being aware of my surroundings and what other people are saying or doing.
I get to decide whether I agree or disagree with their belief system.This exercise puts me in control of my own thoughts and beliefs.
Writing down my intentions early in the day or at the beginning of a meeting allows me to follow my personal road map and to stay on target with my focus.Speaking an intention before I meet with someone also creates a sacred space for the meeting.
Daily intentions take time and thought. In my extended daily practice, I create a list of affirmational objectives that often unlock my old patterned thinking and give me a way to unveil or uncover concepts that no longer serve me or others. It is like waving a flag, clearing the air, or releasing troublesome ideas. Then there is a doorway of light or an expanded purpose that could be more beneficial to me and others. I have also found it helpful to ask friends what their intention of the day could be.
Smudging, ritual, and lighting a candle
Smudging is a term used among many cultures that refer to smoke from burning sage, cedar, palo santo, sweetgrass, and many other dried plants.The act of smudging is a ceremony within itself, of clearing the space, preparing oneself and the area for the day, a circle, a meeting, for prayer and meditation.
Ritual is a routine, a sacred practice of listening, or a set of steps that lead me into deeper communion with my spiritual tradition. Daily rituals can be
Sitting quietly in nature
Walking in silence
Yoga or Qi Gong
Lighting a Candle
When I use a candle during the day, I am reminded of my own internal flame, the driving force of my life.All of life is sacred, holy.Each living thing on our earth has an inner light.The ritual of lighting a candle and sitting with that flame for a few minutes each day or several times a day brings me into the circle of understanding that a higher cosmic consciousness connects me to the core of life.These precious moments with the burning flame give me peace, comfort, and equanimity.
We are in this together and our grandchildren’s future depends on theresonance of love we share today.
Snow fanned my cheeks while I shoveled, chopped, and swept a foot of icy snow from the side porch pathway and cleared the steps.A bluster flung a below zero chills down my neck, a frozen drip from my nose slid over my upper lip, and my teeth chattered. But I didn’t stop or take a break.I knew she was expecting visitors and the walkway had to stay clear.
Honestly, I loved the cold on my face and wind whistling through trees, like voices from a faraway land. They collected their song to protect us, to guide us through a spellbinding gateway between this human existence and a vivid ethereal awakened promise.
Photo by Aleksandra-Rupar on Unsplash
You know the essence of your deep connections to the voices on the wind calling your name.
Ravens gathered in the tallest limbs of the oak branches overlooking the side porch. Old Tom looked up at them with a chitchat rattle, squatted in attack position. He glanced over at me while I swept snow in piles and he decided to stay on the porch.He never liked to get his feet wet.
The giant black birds shivered and twitched with an occasional squawk or nag with wings pulsating in the icy wind. They watched the road for a passerby and waited patiently for her visitor.
I took my boots off at the side door, slipped into the porch salon, her den, a small little medicine room where she welcomed callers.It was an easy, quiet place to be with a small flat-topped, open-faced gas heater where we could leave a cast-iron pot full of yarrow chamomile tea.
I pulled back thin curtains to let a little light in from the cloudy day and tidied up her medicine baskets.
She whispered a chant and smudged the space with dried rose petals and mugwort. Her voice was comforting with the ancient words slipping off of her tongue and filling the room with magic. She swatted smoke clockwise with a feathered wand and whistled a smooth wind chime sound as the ravens answered her.
Her eyes glistened as she sat in the chair beside the window looking out over the walkway. Her velvet skirt flowed over round knees and her bracelets jingled as she gathered a scoop of bones from their basket into her hand with the webbed fingers.
Her reverent voice humbly invoked the spirit helpers, guardians, and saintly ones to come forward before she cast the bones on the small round table in front of her.
Photo by Casey-Horner on Unsplash
Snow fell in round flakes in the ever-changing afternoon light. I swept the walkway as her guest arrived beside the gate. A tall, elegantly dressed man got out of a large burnt red Oldsmobile and opened the back door and our wooden gate for his missus. We politely nodded.
She quietly removed her wool belted reefer and matching beanie and laid them in my open arms. I hung her coat and hat on hooks above the wooden bench between the doors on the side porch as the young woman placed her fur-lined carriage boots on the porch floor.
Her long hair fell out of the beanie perfectly tended, established over her shoulders like honeysuckle falls over a fence. She glanced into me with a nervous brown-eyed smile for a brief moment. My gaze shot to the floor over her stretched wool, creased pants and matching woolen hosiery.
Tom quietly slipped inside the salon as I opened the door for the missus. I left my boots and parka on the porch outside of the medicine room.
She chanted serenely while she circled the bones, with her webbed fingers, over the light-colored leather on the round table.She spoke to me in the old language and I directed the young woman to sit in the guest chair near the corner window.
Missus came under the spell of the medicine room and sat gracefully with her hands crossed in her lap with the rim of her sweater wrapped around her thumbs.
I sat on the other side of the room near the remedy cabinet.She whispered in our grandmother’s tongue and told me to create small paper bags with mugwort, goldenrod, and horsemint for the missus to take with her.
Sunlight shifted between clouds quivered like a sequined dressed dancer on the antidote bottles in the glass cabinet. The small room filled with helpers and light beings. I caught myself in a quiet giggle when ravens cackled and squealed.
Her hands caressed the oracle bones.She spoke across the table to the woman.
“You are plagued with darkness. Your home is crowded with foe and evildoers.”She chanted quietly under her breath for her helpers to hear. “Do you understand me, girl?”
The young woman, shook her head “no.”
“When you are feeling sad, frightened, and lonesome, someone else has taken pieces of your soul.This leaves you weak and terrorized.”
You remember feeling like your energy bled out of you and onto the ground.It was all you can do to hold it together long enough to get home.
Photo by Joanna-Kosinska on Unsplash
The tip of her fingers danced along the edge of a medicine bowl. “I will call the lightening to save you and collect the pieces of your soul that are missing.You will feel better for now.But, you must learn how to rid yourself of those who cause you harm.”
I kept time with a small round drum as she danced her rattle over missus and we stood between worlds at the edge of heaven petitioning the ancient ones to protect us and guide us through.
The wind blew the door open, I kept drumming, she continued chanting and pulled a heavy blanket around her visitor.Missus remained perfectly still, in between the worlds, wrapped in the Pendleton.
She sang and rattled over her guest until she knew the many pieces of her soul had returned.She beseeched our ancestor guardians to peel back the layers of hatefulness, to clear away past hurts and pains for the missus.She pleaded for the helpers to travel among supernatural shadows and to collect the raw invisible links that her guest was born into. We stood between the worlds with a cold wind blowing into the medicine room.We were strong solicitors, advocates on behalf of missus until the door slowly creaked shut.
Old Tom stretched his front legs toward the windows and the ravens chuckled an unpleasant laugh and flew off squawking.I put the small drum on the shelf.She gathered her bones with her webbed fingers and dropped them into the bone-basket.
In a calm moment, missus opened her eyes, sighed, and smiled.
The driver of the Oldsmobile had cleared the snow from the walkway and was waiting beside the car.
Snow fell most of the day and had covered the walk way up to the house. I stamped my feet and shook the white flakes off of my jacket and gloves. The familiar squeak of the door and the warmth of the open-faced stove welcomed me home.
The box I put together in wood shop was missing from atop the narrow chest of drawers beside the front door. He was proud I had made it for him and kept his keys, wallet, cigarettes, and lighter in it. All that was left on the old chest was a neatly folded handkerchief.
As I sat on the farmhouse bench to peel off my layers of jackets and shoes, I detected a bare spot on the wall. His scarf, heavy parka and boots were missing.
An Inner Knowing
A sinking, empty suspicion plummeted over me, as I hung my wool hat on the nearly barren rack above the mirror. My vacant eyes stared back at me, alone in my reflection, where jackets once dangled so thick the looking-glass was barely noticed.
I knew he was leaving. She had told me the night before.
She stood in the kitchen, near the stove, facing the window. I slipped my arm inside of hers and leaned my head against her shoulder. We watched the silent snow falling under the street light. Steam from the stove pushed toward the glass and collected like wretched fog that shrouds a road ahead.
I cleared dirty dishes, a setting for two with cold rejected coffee left in their cups. It was the last time they would have breakfast together, before the snow began to fall. Her napkin was neatly folded and his was crumpled on half eaten egg. I imagined she couldn’t bring herself to look after such a trivial reminder of his disregard of her talents. It wasn’t like her to neglect dirty dishes.
She never once turned to look at me, while I cleaned up their abandoned scraps, she didn’t condemn him or complain of his vanishing act.
We had our dinner in silence, quiet as the snow fell, we declined to give voice to our heartache. Our misfortune sat between us like a sack of dirty laundry with no one to blame and no raincheck for his lyrical discourse.
He was gone. On a whim, packed up his near and dear in the dead of winter and slipped away.
A Long Time Coming
In my heart of hearts, I knew it was long overdue like the light bill or outdated milk. It felt more like bald tires with nothing left to patch. Done, over, had to go.
The kindness between them had worn out its welcome and their faces turned from one another when sweetness could have been spoken. They never said harsh words or belittled the other. She slept on the couch under a Pendleton blanket more often than not with no excuse or any reason for it to be unusual.
A bright, hushed, muteness reflected across the dining room floor as a full moon forced a bewildered haze through curtained windows. She sat bundled in her holy corner near the half-moon table. Her soft voice hinted hallowed whispers as she drew cards from a wisdom deck and asked for guidance. Her fingers traced the edges of each card. She pondered their meanings and spoke gently to herself.
You have experienced great sorrow in your life. You knew it was coming, you knew you were strong enough to manage, and yet, you reached for guidance. In your choice of cards there is wisdom, deeper understanding of what life brings, forthcoming reality to navigate through the unknown.
Before daylight could surface between the trees snow continued to fall. She sang a melody for clearing, for purification, and for letting go. Her feather fan slung cedar smoke from her hand held smudge bowl as she walked through every room in the house. A time or two she stopped, sat down the bowl and feather long enough to rearrange a piece of furniture or put something that belonged to him in the trash. Immediately she continued her sacred duties to rid her home of him.
Finally, the clouds parted and Grandfather Sun glistened through tall, snow ladened trees. She stood in the open front door and waved her feathers and said, “Be gone, I say, be gone with you.”
With the closing of the door, she turned into the open space of her home with a smile, a confidence, an understanding that the days ahead might be tough, she may long for the smell of him, or she may be reminded of him in a passerby, or hear a song on the radio that they once danced to. And yet, deep inside of her being, she knew she would continue on, brave her way through the days ahead until daffodils peaked through the melting snow once more.
You too, know beyond all knowing that you will brave the coming days. You will shed your tears, scream the unfairness of life in your raw-boned voice of deep sadness. You will unyoke yourself from the days gone by, unchain your heart and set it free.
She gently sat in the small rocking chair beside her half-moon table after hanging her feathers on a hook nearby and covered her shoulders with her grandmother’s shawl. Her weathered fingers rolled the tiger’s eye stone in the palm of her hand and she began a new day.
Sunlight peeked through soft-white curtains across large windows in the dining room and powdered delicate hints of light over the oak floor. She sat on a small wooden rocking chair next to a half-moon table in a quiet corner. Her weathered fingers rolled a flat tigers eye in the palm of her hand. There is a pleasant comfort in her morning routine, a sense of dominion in her gentle language before she lit her tiny bowl of sage. She gratefully chanted the ancient words in a familiar melody in the smoke and claimed mastery of her sacred space.
The light traveled along the floor up to the edges of her feet and gave definition in the gathers of her Poplin cotton print skirt. There was a time-worn sense about her promised practice of tumbling the small stone in her hand with her dark eyes fixed on the tabletop. There was often a subtle quake, a shiver of a mandate given to the guardians who walked along the edges of stone with their feet bleeding through cedar branches in a wind storm.
Shiver to the Bone
You have shivered to the bone with a remarkable circumstance stirring over your shoulders. You know the orders given in the smell of rain. You are so aware of purposeful rapture in your child’s laughter.
The backside of the small tabletop was not flushed to the wall. It was decorated with a skillfully placed crimson velvet piece of cloth covered in a white laced crocheted star. To one side was a tiny beaded leather bag, a chunk of raw turquoise, and a clear quartz crystal. On the edge of the red velvet opposite of her rocking chair was a pair of carved alabaster Cockatoo Doves. She leaned over the beauty of a tiny bowl of lavender petals she whispered amoretti and tilted her head toward the doves as if they cooed back.
I often sat still near the window on the floor opposite her rocking throne, as a silent witness to her natural mantra. Somewhere deep in my bones, I sensed the conjured helpers outside the row of windows. In my longing, I am like a knotted rope covered in wet sand. I witness her skin is full of knowledge in her guttural recitations, expecting that the whispers between her lips were passed directly to the godlike outlines that I saw waiting outside in the trees.
You have felt and possibly seen those godlike creatures roaming between trees, pondering your rustling murmurs. You, with your wide eyes, have commanded those Invisibles that follow you to fulfill your deepest desires.
Messages on the Wind
The messengers wandered on the wind as she touched every helper object placed on the half-moon table. Across the bottom of her table was a substantial shelf with a few of her favorite books and in the table’s small drawer were her beloved cards and a bag of stones with symbols. Each morning she chose one card and one stone. She kissed them, spoke to them, and gently placed them on the backside of the velvet cloth.
I was fascinated with the beautifully polished wood of the half-moon table and the very fact that I knew it was named after the moon gave this east-facing corner of the dining room consecration. The benevolent pattern of sunlight traveling across the floor with a destiny to anoint each object ignited her simple language with intentional power.
You are here to gather your medicine, create your sacred space, and stand in your power. You have chosen a perfect shrine-like table, positioned your simple cloth, and collected meaningful power objects.
Now is your time to:
Ask each object if it is willing to help you be in touch with your guardians
Make a commitment to yourself and your altar that you will consult with it every day
Trust your soul to be your sojourner and the listener to your inner guidance
There was a gurgling sigh that simply marched out of her mouth when she put the tiger’s eye inside her bra and commanded the guardians to carry her prayers on the wind to where they needed to be. She tapped her hands together and pushed them in the air before she disappeared into the kitchen.
We know in every cell of our being, the day in our lives is symmetric.
As we all know, everyday, everything changes. There is constant motion in our universe and as human beings we struggle with this continuous remodeling and endless alterations. On any given day, we pull away from a stop sign and get smacked by another car who thought they had the right-of-way. We are headed to a beautiful dinner with friends when the restaurant gets robbed. Maybe something more simple than that – we walk out to our a car and find we have a dead battery. Yes, constant, everyday change. We spend a few days tangled up in tree roots because a situation we were looking forward to didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. Or something worse happened and we want to know, what did we do wrong, is this our karma, or we say something like “I try to do everything right and bad stuff happened.” Yes, there is never-ending change and we human beings have the hardest time going with the flow.
The Moon pushes and pulls the ocean’s tide, the forward movement between earth and the Sun. It charms our emotional misunderstandings, and drags our passionate sensibilities through the mud. For the most part, we human beings hardly ever look up to see where the moon is positioned in the sky or what phase it is in right now. Yet, the Moon is always there watching us, showing up for us everyday, rearranging our moods, and redecorating our relationships.
Last month, January 2019 kicked all of us into a tailspin with an eclipse, lots of stormy weather, leaky roofs, backed up toilets, overdrawn bank accounts, and we couldn’t believe we lived through it all. Well, we did. Here we are in February with the planet Venus chasing a new Moon and Mars ushering the Sun in our early morning sky on February 4th giving us, human beings, an opportunity to restore balance within our personal lives. Stop a few minutes, take some time with your own personal thoughts, hopes, and intentions. Yes, this powerful New Moon is a clean slate. It is a perfect time to forgive those old grudges, pardon our mistakes, and absolve our sins.
Where as, last month was clouded and shadowed with darkness. This February New Moon opens the sky with clarity, confidence, and credence. It invokes us to stand in what we know we are truly made of, be fully awake in our stouthearted connections and speak our truth into the power of slivering light on the edge of the moon.
My grandmother would say, “Collect your wishes and throw them in the Moon’s basket. When she gets to the other side of the world she will toss them down to you.”
There is a synchronistic frequency running within the core of the Moon, like a tuning fork setting wavelengths inside the center of the earth’s heart. This harmonious melody serenades every living creature on the planet, a rhythm running through the rivers, trees, plants, mountains, and stones. Egotistical thinking separates humanity from these ancient voices that whisper on the wind.
When we, humanity can slow down our mental chatter, the monkey mind, and sit in deep stillness, we soon hear the harmony of our soul’s truest calling. True enough, to create a New Moon Collage or a New Moon Declaration or a New Moon Ceremony for yourself, this is going to take you a bit of time. Don’t sell yourself short. The New Moon is waiting for your voice to speak out with your deepest desires and your wildest dreams. It is time to be in harmony with the frequency between the moon and earth and you. The power and energy of this new moon can be accessed for a few days. I suggest, you be sincere, open minded, and humble. Gather your thoughts and create your ceremony, feel free to use a drum or rattles or ask your friends to join you. Trust your heart and move gracefully forward.
I’ve been doing some google surfing today on the topic of Super Blood Wolf Full Moon. Mostly, scientific jargon about why and how this natural phenomena occurs. Then, there are those who believe, with no scientific proof that the Super Blood Wolf Full Moon is a symbol that we are all horrible people and bad things are going to happen to us. And on the uphill side there are the astrological studies of planetary alignments, star constellations and how it relates to us.
First of all, I am not a scientist, nor a believer in a punishing god, nor am I an educated astrologer.I’m warning you, you may want to stop reading at this very moment before you get into my head too deeply.I do have something to say about this January 2019, Super Blood Wolf Full Moon, if you are interested, read on.
The power that lives in each human being is their voice, words, thoughts, and their ability to speak out.In my way of thinking, our voices command dominion around the world.It doesn’t matter what language we speak, it does matter what we choose to say.Every word that travels out of our mouths propels across the wind and we are projecting those words into motion.
In my many years on this planet, I have learned to be still, think before I speak.Otherwise, I may end up saying something I didn’t really mean, or something that might hurt another being.Being still and thinking before I speak has become what I have grown to call, “my practice”.Practice means I’m working on it, I may not have it completely handled, and I am following my guidelines, catching myself in the acts of treason, and doing better.Like Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better you do better.”
When I heard the word on the street was Sunday, January 20, 2019 Full Moon, not just any old Full Moon but a Lunar Eclipse called Super Blood Wolf Full Moon.Boy howdy, I’m looking that one up, out of my comfort zone, for sure.Then, coming from my earth based, Indigenous culture, I’m thinking, “This is a power time, a ceremonial moment, an opportunity to invoke the ancient ones, oldest of old ancestors to create some good conjuring.”
I was taught that when there is some natural power, like a tree being struck by lightening or a full-rainbow appearing in a dark sky, we could step into a ceremonial purpose anytime during the four days surrounding the power’s presence.
My proposal for those of you who followed this blog to end.1. Clear a space of time and location for you to either gather a couple of friends or its okay to do this alone.Use a little smoke, like sage, cedar, sweetgrass and/or Palo Santo and cleanse yourself and the past from your sacred space.2. Be specific in your language and speak out loud from your heart of hearts as many intentions/affirmations you want to say in the most positive voice you have.3. If you have a drum or rattle or other noise maker – use those instruments to carry your hearts intentions into the Super Blood Wolf Full Moon.And yes, this is a brilliant time to howl if you are so called to do so.If you are quietly watching this powerful moon, you could hear me howling on the wind.
I remember the day clearly. I don’t remember the date, but it must have been a warm summer day, because I was wearing my favourite turquoise summer dress.
I was walking home from church pushing a double stroller with a toddler and infant inside. I was glad that my children couldn’t see me because I was crying.
I was lonely. I’d just been to a new church because I was seeking some form of community, but it hadn’t happened that morning. I’d had to spend the whole service in the nursery caring for my children and there had been no opportunities to make the kind of connections I was craving. I’d slipped out of church when nobody came to speak with me after the service. I was feeling too insecure and overwhelmed to reach out to them, so when they didn’t come to me, I left.
That was the loneliest period of my life. With two small children and a full-time job, I had little time for a social life. Most of the friends I’d had before children were either busy with their own children or were childless and didn’t understand my new reality. At work, I’d moved into a management position, so didn’t feel as welcome in the lunchroom conversations as I once was.
More than anything, though, I felt like I no longer knew HOW to make friends. I’ve always been better at deep connections than small-talk, so the brief conversations with other parents at the playground did little to feed my hunger. At work I wasn’t making deep enough connections either, because the further I moved up in management, the more it seemed that people were guarded and not interested in really knowing each other.
This week, I thought back to that young woman crying on the sidewalk, walking her children home, and I teared up at the memory. How lost and lonely she was! How much she craved depth and meaning and friendship!
I’m not that young woman anymore. This past week, as I traveled from Portland to Ashland to L.A. to Reno, connecting with some of my closest friends and sparking new friendships along the way, I realized just how far I’ve come since that moment. I now have an abundance of deep friendships, both at home and in places as far away as Australia. In fact, I’ve built a business on deep conversations and holding space, and so the very things I once craved are the things that are now the core of my work.
That’s how it works, sometimes, and that’s why I don’t regret those lonely moments. I wouldn’t know just how beautiful this life is if I’d never glimpsed the opposite. And I wouldn’t be able to relate to my clients if I’d never known loneliness or loss or disconnection. Those moments in the liminal space helped to shape me and teach me and prepare me for this work.
Last week, I was in Reno for a few days, connecting with my dear friends Lorraine and TuBears, who I met five years ago at Lake Tahoe at the annual gathering for Gather the Women. While I was there, we had such a beautiful connection, that we decided to share one of our conversations with you. In the video, we talked about what kind of conditions help to create the kind of trust and depth we enjoy in our relationship.
Since then, I’ve been thinking more about those conditions for deep and meaningful friendships. Here’s what I came up with:
1.) Do your own work. Though meaningful friendships can and should help support growth, you can’t rely on friends to do your inner work for you. Showing up with too much neediness and not enough sense of your own responsibility to work through your weakness, jealousy, anger, fear, etc. will either destroy the friendship or make it so lopsided it won’t hold the kind of depth you crave.
2.) Let your friends do their own work. Just as you can’t rely on a friend to do your work, you can’t do theirs either. Let them take responsibility for their hang-ups, mistakes, and emotions. And when they’re feeling lost, walk beside them and offer a light to illuminate the path, but don’t take responsibility for their journey.
3.) Take chances. Deep friendships are built on trust and you can’t build trust if you don’t take some risks, share some secrets, and open your heart just a little more than what feels safe. This doesn’t happen all at once, but as you build trust, keep offering a little more of yourself so that your friend can help hold what you might not share with other people.
4.) Be trustworthy. Guard your friend’s secrets, show up when you say you’re going to show up, and apologize when you mess up. Be the kind of person they can trust, who’s dependable and faithful. And take responsibility for it when you fail so that you can begin to rebuild the trust.
5.) Be an advocate and an ally. Sometimes friendship is about standing up for each other or at least standing alongside each other when there are forces working against you. If your friend faces discrimination that you don’t face, learn to be the kind of ally that they most need and want (that may look different for each person). If they face abuse and are having trouble standing up for themselves, find ways of advocating for them without taking their power away.
6.) Be open to change. Friends change us and we change them. When a relationship grows, it creates the possibility for something new in each person and in the space in between – the “we space”. Be willing to learn from the other person and from the places and ideas that you explore together. Don’t cling to an old identity – evolve along with the relationship.
7.) Support each other’s greatness. The best kind of friends are those who aren’t intimidated by someone’s success or strength. There might be moments of jealousy now and then, and the sense that you’ve been left behind (we’re all human, after all), but don’t let that get in the way of your friendship. Don’t assume that they don’t need you anymore, because the truth is that they probably need you MORE. Success can feel like a surprisingly scary and lonely place sometimes. Be there for them through the success AND the failure and trust that they’ll be there for you too.
8.) Pay attention to what they need and be honest about what you need. Friendship is symbiotic and reciprocal. It’s not transactional (ie. I give you something and then you owe me something in return) – it’s an ebb and flow of meeting whosever needs are most relevant in the moment, with as much balance as possible. When trust is built, you can be more honest about what your needs are and when you think those aren’t being met, and you can receive the honesty of your friend in the same way.
9.) Respect their boundaries and communicate your own. In a friendship, there is usually some unspoken agreement about what is acceptable and unacceptable. It can be helpful to speak it out loud so that all involved have clarity and know how best to respect each other. If, for example, you have a family commitment on Sundays that means you aren’t available to your friends, let them know that Sundays are off limits and expect them to respect those limits. Or if you don’t like receiving text messages after 10 p.m., say so and then don’t respond to their late night texts. And if your friend communicates similar boundaries, don’t make fun of them or push past them – respect them.
10.) Don’t run away from conflict. At some point in every friendship, conflict bubbles to the surface. Instead of running away, try to see it as an opportunity to deepen your friendship. The deepest friendships are those that weather a few storms, so step into the conflict and see what it has to teach you. Perhaps the conflict will help you to better articulate a boundary that was inadvertently crossed. Or your friend will figure out how to talk about the trauma that was triggered unknowingly. Sometimes conflict is generative instead of destructive.
There is no perfect friendships because there are no perfect people. No matter how strong your friendship is, you may still fail or betray your friend and they may still do the same to you. And sometimes, even with lots of friends, you’ll still have lonely moments (which I have, occasionally, when I’m the only single person at a party full of couples). But regardless, life is richer when you make the effort to invest in deep and meaningful friendships.