A Practice of Sacred Holding: The Wednesday 1-2-3

published2 months ago
2 min read

Happy Wednesday Reader!

Here's 1 teaching, 2 questions, and 3 resources to explore this week:

1. Teaching

Today’s teaching comes from an old family friend and Sufi teacher, Imam Jamal Rahman.

In his book Spiritual Gems of Islam, he writes:

“Perhaps the greatest meaning of compassion for self is that we give ourselves permission to embrace not only our happy feelings but also our difficult ones. The latter have an uncomfortable edge only because we want to keep them separated from us. Difficult feelings, such as anger, pride, and envy, are begging to be acknowledged, embraced, healed, and integrated…”

He continues by sharing a 6-step practice he calls “Sacred Holding.” As you read the practice below, I invite you to engage and adapt it however feels right for you and your story.

1. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, no matter how difficult or awkward.

If possible, ever so gently magnify them, but make sure not to overdo it. Do this little by little, always with compassion for self. Remind yourself that all feelings are sacred.

2. Ask yourself, “Where do I hold this feeling in my body?”

Feelings have a resting place, and we experience them as sensations in the physical body: the head, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the belly — all are likely sites for emotional distress to settle. Patiently direct your consciousness to locating the site of what is called “physical holding.”

3. Once you have located the feelings as sensations in your body, acknowledge them with your consciousness, again with mercy for yourself.
You can use Sacred Naming to talk to yourself. You might say affectionately, “Dear Heart, I am sorry for the difficult feelings and sensations you are experiencing. Allow me to support you as you grapple with this difficulty.” Hold your sensations with the tender embrace of the soul…
4. Lovingly direct some questions to the center of sensations in your body.
"Do you have a message for me? Is there a secret you want to share with me?" Simply listen. Be attentive and respectful, even if you hear nothing.
5. Ask tenderly, “How may I befriend you? How may I love you and integrate you?"
Again, just listen sincerely.
6. Make an intention to allow your breath to flow through that physical locus of your feelings as you inhale and exhale.

2. Questions

  1. What comes up for you when you speak to yourself with gentleness and softness? What emerges from such an inner posture?
  2. Who is someone in your life who taught you to harden yourself against the tenderness of your being? Who is someone who has modelled the nourishing of such tenderness?

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared a teaching about inner work and activism.

Sending you good vibes,


A Guidebook for Our Inner Work & Communal Healing

With a blend of reflection questions, body practices, and action prompts, Unmasking the Inner Critic will help you engage your inner narratives and step into the world in a new way.

Andrew Lang

I support folks who are questioning the stories they were handed (by religion, by capitalism, by their families) and who are seeking new practices that resonate with their evolving spirituality and identity.

Read more from Andrew Lang