As a chiropractor (person), having an intention to serve the person you are with is profoundly influential. It creates changes to your posture, facial expression, tone of voice and softness of touch. The person can see, hear, and feel your loving care.
Often, this level of presence helps the person feel safe enough to express emotions that they typically keep stored beneath the surface. Facilitating the release of tension in the body like this is a fulfilling way to spend life as a health care practitioner. It can also be frustrating and disappointing for those who know this is possible, yet don’t see it happen when they provide care. Especially, for students and young professionals who have seen more seasoned practitioners appear to elicit emotional responses at will.
A goal of many healing professions is to help people release tension in their bodies so they can breakthrough the barriers of old patterns and allow the forces of nature to reorganize their structure to match the needs of now.
If a service is provided and the person doesn’t seem to have much movement in the emotional arena, how can you help them breakthrough?
This is where the concept of holding space is relevant. Holding space for someone is not pushing them to express themselves. It is giving permission (verbally or silently) and allowing them to walk their own path.
Imagine holding a door open for someone and having them just stand there. Do you continue to hold the door open? For how long? What if they choose not to walk through and your next appointment arrives? Would you hold the same door open next week? For how long? How would your own expression change in this scenario?
Sometimes, we can facilitate the process of opening up by using words and questions.
You can ask about their history and see if they mention certain stressors or the connection between previous stress and tension they feel in their body.
If you give an impulse and it seems like the person might be holding back the expression of an emotion, you can ask questions like,
“Is there something you’d like to let go of?”
“What does that mean for you?”
This way, you suggest that there might be more to the experience, but you don’t determine what it is for them. If they have more to explore, are ready to express it, and feel safe, they are more likely to step into it. It may take them feeling safe multiple times before they express even a sliver of authenticity.
Remember, little steps add up to big breakthroughs and everyone’s process is unique and their own.
So if you are present and want to serve someone, hold your intention for them higher than they hold it for themselves.
Hold a space larger than they are now so they feel welcomed to explore the space.
And rather than do something interesting, be interested.
In the end, the door to be opened is found within and the person opens it himself.