Holding Space

Posted by Brad Reedy on April 06, 2022

F05396A4 CCDC 43A6 9B3B 473851D885AD 1 201 aHolding space? What does that mean exactly? Does the physical correspond to the psychological or spiritual when we talk about a sacred space?

For years, at the start of a therapy Intensive, I would take a moment and pause, asking participants to observe their feelings as they sit in the room where their healing work will be done. I would ask them to look around and take in the details of the room; notice each other. Then I would suggest to them that their feelings about this place, this room, and these people would transform as their sacred work proceeded.

And then at the end of the week, I would invite them to revisit the above exercise and contrast it with the feelings and sensations they felt at the outset of their work. Inevitably, the house had changed; the room had changed; and the same people sitting with them in the circle had changed. Because, the work and love shared throughout the week was completely transformative, and with new eyes and a new heart, the surroundings themselves seemed to undergo a transformation.

Holding space for someone is a metaphor that refers to the ability to suspend judgement and embody compassion and curiosity for another. Literally, the space we hold for others is in our minds and is manifested by the patient and compassionately way we relate to others. But as with most practices, there is an external correlation to this practice.

From the Judeo-Christian tradition, Moses went up to the mountain to commune with God. The mountain itself was a symbol of reaching above and beyond to a higher level of consciousness. God instructed Moses to “…put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” This symbolic moment signified to Moses that the moment, even the place, was unique and different from the common place. It was a place to commune with God and touch, in a manner of speaking, a sacred place with his feet. The mountain was the temple and the Prophet was to let nothing stand between him and his creator.

This is similar to the circle around the fire where our wilderness participants gather for group therapy, to hear and be heard by each other as they search for healing and answers. The fire draws each person into it and as each group member follows the dance of the flame, they come together. We sit in such circles as a way to differentiate between everyday and the sacred.

At Evoke Therapy Intensives, we use psychodrama, art-therapy, experiential activities, and traditional therapies to turn each experience into something fundamentally transformative. Participants don’t “finish” all of their work during an intensive, but they get clearer on what is their project and what impediments are standing in their way. Newcomers to therapy will experience their time as a springboard to their work, and more experienced participants may use their time as an accelerator to gain greater focus and clarity on the life’s journey. Regardless of where you begin, Evoke Intensives offers participants an opportunity to take several steps towards realizing greater serenity and connection.

Evoke Therapy Programs has a new home where we welcome participants to do their highest and most sacred work. While our therapy is not based in a religious tradition, the metaphors we share with many spiritual practices are consistent. Set at the foothills on the Eastern Slopes of the Wasatch Mountain Range in Midway Utah, individuals, couples, and families will travel from all over the world to work with our Intensive therapists. And like the rituals found in so many religions, the place for this work will become a sacred place, made so by the courage, tears, and healing of its inhabitants.

The new location for this work, The Alpenglow Inn, will be transformed by each individual and each family. With each courageous guest and the tears that they shed, the house will be transformed into something sacred. The work and the lessons that arise out of the work are anything but common, and the only way to describe it is sacred. At the conclusion of each program, we inevitably express the honor it was to hold space for those who were brave enough to take the inner journey into self, love, and relationships.

During the breaks, participants might stand on the balcony looking over the Heber Valley or venture on a short hike on one of the nearby trails. If they look across the valley near sunset, they will see witness the alpenglow—the setting sun’s reflections off the mountains. The alpenglow is a beautiful metaphor. When we reconnect with our highest and most authentic self, the divine is reflected on each individual.

Families can incorporate fly-fishing, skiing, or sight-seeing at world-class locations as a part of their program or spend some quality time in Park City after the conclusion of their program. Yoga and exercise can be integrated into any program as desired by participants, and breaks can be spent in quietly isolation in private rooms or in our meditation room. Our new house will be the physical manifestation of the Evoke philosophy. We believe that inside of each person lies the answer and wisdom they need to find serenity, meaning, and connection to others; our role is guiding our guests back to the source and their creatively and power—their authentic self.

Our therapists and facilitators, as well as the inn’s staff, will do all in their capacity to make room for each guest. Unique to Evoke’s mission is the motto, “Come as you are and we will meet you there.” The slogan represents a core value of the Evoke process.

Participants come with their fears, resistance, and distrust. They come with their wounds and their longing for a new life, a bigger life. And while they come with varying levels of readiness, we meet them there with a commitment to understand any barriers that may be impeding them. In his beautiful prose, entitled “Good and Evil,” Kahlil Gibran remarked,

In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.

But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.

And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”

For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?”

The essence of Gibran’s message is central to the Evoke way. If you come suspicious or distrusting of our process, we assume you have a good reason for these feelings, and we will honor those feelings. Honoring each client, we will walk alongside you to unravel the wounds, traumas, messages, and dilemmas that are in the way of you finding your personal mountain top.

The Inn’s hospitality staff will do everything they can to make sure your stay is comfortable. Dietary restrictions and any other personal needs will be met with compassion and hospitality. And as the hospitality staff do their best to meet each participant’s individual needs, our therapists and therapeutic staff will find ways to make you feel welcome. As the great Carl Rogers observed, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change."

Evoke has been running therapeutic Intensives since 2015 and each location, including some outdoor locations, has served as an integral part of the healing process. We look forward to witnessing many more transformations, and we know that each time we step into this house we will feel the love and lives that have been changed and those that are still coming and seeking to change.

Evoke Intensives is truly a life-changing experience. As our shuttle brings you through the Wasatch mountains to our little oasis for healing, you will feel the beginning of the journey. The invitation is to come as you are and then to be prepared to experience some grief when it’s your time to leave and return home.


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