The Practice of Being Held: A Meditation on Feeling Supported

November 13, 2017


Some times, perhaps many times, we need some sense that we are being supported in the world. Perhaps we feel alone or adrift and need someone to lean on. Perhaps we feel the universe doesn't have our back and want some sign that our hopes and dreams will come to fruition.  And while one way to relate to the need for support is to explore it, with curiosity, as to why you feel this way, sometimes you just need to cultivate that feeling. Whatever the source of your need for support, I offer here a short meditation for cultivating what I like to call the practice of being held.  It comes in the form of a series of questions, to invite that sense of curiosity that often accompanies how we address our feelings in meditation, but with an aim to noticing and, if possible, amplifying, a feeling that might escape your attention. 


Can you practice being held?  Start with the chair you're sitting in or the cushion you're sitting on.  Can you feel them beneath you, holding you up?  Or, if you're lying in bed, can you feel your mattress and pillow cradling you? The sheets and blankets swaddling you?  As you walk around, can you feel the floor beneath you, holding you up, effortlessly?  


Look around your abode and catalogue all of the objects that enable your life, from the most trivial to the most sentimental.  Can you practice feeling the support of the objects around you, providing you with sustenance or care?  Can you feel the effortless support of your home, which remains immobile and ready to be of service? Can you feel support in the cup that holds your coffee or tea, enabling you to sip it peacefully?  What about pictures, that inspire you or hold sweet memories? All of them offer their support freely, asking nothing in return. 


What about pets, loving companions that give their affection so freely?  Or plants supporting you with beauty and oxygen?  What about the people in your lives?  Can you think of a single person whom you can rely on?  A dear one on whose you can literally lean your head or who could hug you and hold you close?  Can you feel their support, even if you're not with them at the moment? 


As you step out into the world, can you practice being held by all those things and extend that feeling?  Can you continue to feel that support as you drive to work or sit in the subway?  Can you feel that support as you go throughout your day?  Can you see your world as a container, holding you, providing you with all that you need? Practice feeling held and see if you can carry that with you during your day. Regard each object or person that you notice as some way supporting your existence, even in the smallest of ways, such an elevator that supports you by just being there and carrying you to your office.  


Notice when the feeling of support fades and remember the last point you felt it.  Do you know why you stopped feeling held?  Can you go back in your memory and recall your chair, your pillow, the bed, and the floor, your home, pets, and loved ones and can restore that feeling again?  If not, do not despair or fall into judgment.  Just look with curiosity to where your feeling of support ends and discover, if you can, the place where you now can work to extend it.  Practice this feeling regularly, and see if the world begins to feel like one enormous cradle, holding you gently.  

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