"To hold and to be held by another is a sacred devotional act of being human"
HOW LONG AND HOW OFTEN WERE YOU HELD AS A BABY? Research on mammal development has demonstrated that primate babies would prefer physical closeness over trying to find food. Ultimately, science shows that, for babies, touch is literally life-saving. (To have and to hold: Effects of physical contact on infants and their caregivers. Infant Behav Dev. 2020)
FOR GENERATIONS of adults who were likely not held enough due to adverse parenting trends which promoted self-soothing in babies, it might come as welcoming news that science now proves babies cannot self soothe. Being held is in fact a primary need for a sense of safety, brain development and emotional regulation and if we weren’t held often enough or with enough tenderness as babies, it is likely our self-soothing cup as adults is now on low or empty. And so the pattern repeats itslef.
TO BE HELD is a primary need for all mammals, including human beings, who are not ready to hit the ground running when they are born. In fact as newborns, gravity is one of the forces of living in a human body that we have to get used to. Gravity exudes pressure on the newborn human body which can be relieved by being held or by being immersed in water (healing bath). It is precisely why I have devoted myself to supporting the human transition into life in a human body, with water.
CLOSENESS is also a result of being held. The smell of one’s skin, the warmth of one’s body temperature, the softness of one’s touch, the rhythm of one’s heartbeat are all natural factors that help a newborn regulate in a new environment. (That’s why it’s not enough to simply place an inflatable ring around a baby’s neck and let it float in warm water). To be held by human touch is key to a sense of bonding and connection which is more important that floating per se.
TO BE HELD is a practice I’ve been wanting to bring to land for a long time now and I finally feel ready to hold it in a ‘dry’ container, so to speak, on land rather than in water. For me ‘holding’ has become a sacred devotional act of being human. To hold another while giving birth, to hold a newborn coming into life, to hold another in their grief and in their triumph and to hold another as they transition at the end of life are among the most profound human experiences of love and human connection.
TO HOLD ANOTHER in life’s deepest moments asks us to hold ourselves in these spaces as well as the other. This experience can be so deep and intimate and stir up so many memories in our own bodies, that we often avoid or only show up for the task, mostly unprepared, when life naturally asks us to. And yet for me, the result of any spiritual practice is the quality of our presence and our holding. As a result of my own process of unfolding from water to land, I would now like to bring some of the qualities of holding another in warm water, on dry land.
If you care to join me in the practice of holding another as well as being held by another, please contact me for the next available class in person firstname.lastname@example.org