On Holding Space and Healing

Last month I asked a few good friends to share their stories of healing with me. I wanted to learn more about what healing meant to them, how they contributed to the healing of other people, and what worked for them. I am honored to share with you today the words of the amazing Rachel Kelly Davis whose gift of healing lies in the simple ability to hold space and listen.


Written by Rachel Kelly Davis, August 2016

I don’t see myself as a healer. Let’s start with that. Maybe it’s because my idea of what a healer does involves things I do not do. This encompasses all kinds of healing, Western medicine, Eastern medicine, and spiritual work. I am definitely not an MD and I have only just recently been introduced to meditation, and  energy reading (among many other things).

The gift of listening

Despite that, people have called me a healer. I wondered why I was given this label, and the only thing I could come up with was this: I listen.

It might sound silly, but it appears that we have taken it for granted. I for one am someone who has gotten used to keeping a lot to myself and not speaking up about the things that are valuable to me, about things that I should have given importance to but decided not to. Lately, I have really put value in being able to speak freely, in a safe environment, and find healing in being listened to as well.

Modern science tells us that if you keep certain mixtures bottled up, they may end up exploding. I find that some of the people I listen to are on the verge of exploding, but just making time for them, hearing them out, staying silent while they express themselves, and really trying to understand both what they are saying and what is underneath their words can indeed be very helpful.  It is, in a sense, healing.

In recent months I have taken the time to listen. I have listened to myself, my instinct and intuition. I have really tried to listen to my daughter as she pieces together her growing vocabulary and attempts to express her thoughts and wants more concretely. I have listened to what people are saying on social media and what they are really saying behind the post, and I have reached out to those that I felt may need someone to talk to about their struggles.

More importantly, I have made time to listen to those who ask for my time and my ear. I have tried my best to listen just to understand, and not listen to reply or give advice.

Listening as healing, for me, has been twofold. It has helped me build better and stronger bonds with people, giving me a sense of understanding that I did not have before. It has also helped me deal with many of my own internal struggles. There are many answers to be found in simply listening. Many insights are given in those moments of silence and reflection.

Anyone who can hold space can heal

This ability to listen, to heal through listening, is not unique to me. It is not a special ability I had to go to school for. It is not a superpower. Like many of the best things in life, it’s one of the simplest things, and it is something we can all do for ourselves and for each other. It takes a little time and discipline—there are many times when you want to just go in and solve other people’s problems for them, but that, of course, would be counterproductive towards what they have to learn and where they have to go in their journeys—but staying quiet and staying open to what other people have to say is something anyone can do. You just have to want to do it.

Imagine how much happier we all would be if when we spoke our deepest feelings and thoughts, we would be openly heard, without judgment. Imagine how much life and healing we could give by giving others that freedom. Imagine how peaceful our hearts would be when we lay down for the night.