Sacred Holding

"The crucial practice of embracing difficult feelings, little by little, is a Sufi practice taught by my grandfather called 'sacred holding.' I have found that by doing this practice, my pain, sadness, and anger become integrated and transformed into a source of empowerment, wholeness, and blessing. Something deepens in me. I draw closer to Mystery.

"I often teach this six-step process in my workshops. Though it requires a little time and a quiet space, it is an amazing way to open the passageway between human heart and Divine Heart.

"The first step is to give yourself permission to feel your feelings, no matter how difficult or awkward. Gently and with a sense of balance, magnify them a bit. (Try not to overdo this.) Do this little by little, always with compassion for yourself. Remind yourself that all feelings are sacred.

"Then ask yourself where you experience the feelings in your body. Feelings do have a resting place and are experienced as sensations in the body. Patiently direct your consciousness to locating them.

"Once you have located the feelings, acknowledge the sensations and embrace them with your consciousness, again with mercy for yourself. Continuously shine the light of awareness on them and abide with them. If the sensations move to another location, move your attention to that new place.

"Now ask yourself questions about the physical characteristics of the sensations that you are holding in your body. Do they have a color? Spend some time with this question and be mindful of what you perceive. Do the same with these other questions. Do they have a shape, texture, temperature, and weight? Be lovingly mindful of the physical characteristics of your feelings.

"Next, tenderly direct some questions to that center of sensation in your body. Ask it, 'Do you have a message for me? Are you trying to convey something important to me?' Make sure that you are truly listening. Then ask, 'How may I love and integrate you?' Again, listen in respectful silence.

"Finally, make an intention as you inhale and exhale to allow your breath to flow through that physical locus of your feelings. Allow the Divine Breath to caress that focal point, healing, integrating, and transforming the difficult feelings."