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Holding Environment

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Holding Environment?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Holding Environment

Accepting the Narcissistic Wound

As we explore the barriers to self-realization, we need to inquire into our basic distrust. This will take us into exploring our early holding environment and its effects on the development of our sense of self. Investigating the inadequacies of our early holding environment reveals the effects of these inadequacies on our particular self-identity structure. Working through this history, and illuminating the psychic structures it has created, leads finally to the awareness of the absence of basic holding. This absence is associated with a certain emptiness, the hole of a specific manifestation of Being. Learning to allow this emptiness finally ushers us into this manifestation of Being, which turns out to be a quality of love. It is a quality of boundless and gentle love, a delicate light experienced as the presence of softness, sweetness and generosity. It is not exactly a personal kind of love. It is love for everything and everyone—universal love. Its direct effect on the self is for her to feel lovingly held, as if cuddled in the infinitely loving arms of the universe. It also brings the perception that this loving, holding quality is intrinsic to the fundamental ground of all existence. The more she experiences this loving manifestation of Being, the more her basic trust develops, and the more her faith in reality is restored. The issues of basic trust and the surrender that it engenders are not specific to the work on narcissism. However, some resolution of these issues is necessary for the surrender involved in slowing down and ceasing ego activity. The realization of this quality of love, which we call Living Daylight or Loving Light, resolves these issues. The presence of the Living Daylight helps us to let go of the empty shell, to allow the narcissistic wound and accept the narcissistic emptiness.

Child's Integration of Its Sense of Holding Into Its Consciousness

When a baby is held in a way that is holding, it feels held in a way similar to how it was held inside the womb, and there is less discontinuity in the holding from its life inside mother’s body to outside of it. This sense of holding will not disrupt the child’s sense of basic trust, and the effect will be that Living Daylight -- the loving and supportive dimension of Being -- remains an intrinsic part of its sense of reality. The holding becomes integrated into the depths of its consciousness, and the result is a sense of basic trust in reality. The child’s sense of basic trust will begin in relationship to mother and the holding environment, and will extend to the world and the whole universe. This will allow the child to grow and develop into its full potential.

Facets of Unity, pg. 41

Child's Need for Holding

The child can experience the environment as more or less holding. If the environment is a good holding environment, it makes you feel taken care of, protected, understood, loved, and held in such a way that your consciousness -- which at the beginning of is unformed, fluid, and changeable -- can grow spontaneously and naturally on its own. The soul in this respect is like a seedling. The seedling needs a particular holding environment in order to develop into a tree: the right soil, enough water, the right nutrients, the right amounts of light and shade. If it doesn't have the proper holding environment, it won’t grow steadily and healthily and it might not grow at all. A good holding environment, then, is the environment that is needed for the human soul to grow and develop into what she can become. It needs to provide a sense of safety and security, the sense that you are, and can count on, being taken care of. Your soul needs and environment that is dependable, consistent, attuned to your needs, and that provides for you in a way that is empathic to those needs.

Facets of Unity, pg. 38

Effect of the Holding Environment on the Child's Development

The less holding there is in the environment, the more the child’s development will be based on this reactivity, which is essentially an attempt to deal with an undependable environment. The child will develop mechanisms for dealing with an environment that is not trustworthy, and these mechanisms form the basis of the developing sense of self, or ego. This development of the child’s consciousness is then founded on distrust, and so distrust is part of the basis of ego development. The child’s consciousness -- her soul -- internalizes the environment it is growing up in and then projects that environment back onto the world.

Facets of Unity, pg. 44

Holding Capacity of the Body

Recent findings further indicate that our physical organism is structured in such a way that at least some of its inner states depend on specific genes. There has been some indication, for instance, that happiness depends on the presence of a specific gene, as do maternal feelings. This means that some essential states are precluded from arising in the soul, because the physical environment can neither invoke nor support it. There is some indication that some of the limiting syndromes that individuals become trapped in might have their basis in one’s genetic or hormonal make up, as in the case of some addictions. We understand the general situation to be that the physical organism is the immediate holding environment for the soul. The more complete and healthy is the body, the more of her potential is the soul able to actualize. The completeness and health is not a matter of appearance and general health, but more importantly of the inner functioning of the physical organism, and more specifically the functioning necessary for the experience and functioning of the soul, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For instance, the brain and nervous system need to be healthy for optimum experience of the soul. Some deficiencies in the functioning of the brain, for example, might not be apparent for everyday living, but might crucially affect the development of the soul. For instance, some deficiencies might limit the discriminating or the synthetic capacities necessary for many stages of the inner journey, or might make it difficult for the organism to discharge excess tension and go into inner relaxation. Nevertheless, because of the immensity of the soul’s potential, many physical limitations might not appreciably hamper her development, and may sometimes stimulate it. But it is clear that for the full development of potential a sound body is necessary. Physical handicaps may contribute to the soul’s dissociation from its essential ground, but they are more relevant to the overall development of the soul.

How Holding Supports the Individuation of the Soul

To the extent that the environment provides adequate holding the child can develop in the context of a continuity of being which allows and supports the individuation of the soul -- one's unique embodiment of Being. Because there are degrees of holding and of impingement, and because no holding environment is without failures, we typically develop a real (essential) and a false (egoic) self in varying proportions. Basic trust is usually not totally missing, but it is seldom complete. To have absolute basic trust is to be completely realized.

Facets of Unity, pg. 45

Reacting to the Loss of Holding, the Child is No Longer Simply Being

By having to react to the loss of holding, the child is no longer simply being, and the spontaneous and natural unfoldment of the soul has been disrupted. If this reactivity becomes predominant, the child’s development will be based on that reactivity rather than on the continuity of Beingness. If her development is based on reactivity to an unsafe environment, the child will develop in disconnection from Being and therefore, her ego will be what becomes most developed. If her development unfolds out of the continuity of being, the child’s consciousness will remain to some extent centered in her essential nature, and her development will be the maturation and expression of that nature. The less holding there is in the environment, the more the child’s development will be based on this reactivity, which is essentially an attempt to deal with an undependable environment. The child will develop mechanisms for dealing with an environment that is not trustworthy, and these mechanisms form the basis of the developing sense of self, or ego. This development of the child’s consciousness is then founded on distrust, and so distrust is part of the basis of ego development. The child’s consciousness—her soul—internalizes the environment it is growing up in and then projects that environment back into the world.

Facets of Unity, pg. 43

The Early Environment Becomes Projected Onto the Totality of Existence

True holding comes from the truth itself, from Being. The holding environment in a sense represents reality, whether it is manifesting in a real way -- governed by truth, or in a false way -- governed by egoic delusion. If it is manifesting in a real way, we experience holding. In the course of our development, the early environment becomes projected onto the totality of existence, So we tend to believe that all of existence is characterized by the lack of holding we experienced in childhood. This makes it difficult for us to see how Being, which is the totality of all existence, can actually function to hold us. The more we have the experience of being held by reality, the more the sense of inadequacy will be healed. Such experiences generate more trust and help us understand more completely what holding is about. Initially, such experiences might expose previously unconscious memories of inadequate holding, which is part of the process of working through, and letting go of, those memories. In a sense, we have to re-experience the difficulties in the holding that we had -- and feel their impact on us -- in order to let them go.

Facets of Unity, pg. 274

The Inadequacies of the Holding Environment Distort Your Perception of How Things Actually Are

This basic quality of the soul is sometimes called “mirror-like awareness.” It is mirror-like in the sense that it functions in the way a mirror functions. A mirror reflects things exactly as they are with no distortion. Part of the normal development of ego in the context of inadequacies in the holding environment is the loss of this mirror-like awareness, a loss that is both a result of the reactions based on distrust and a factor causing the reactions. This loss is the loss of the capacity for objectivity, for seeing things without subjective filters. This loss is very basic to the loss of the Holy Ideas, the loss of the capacity to perceive reality as it is. The inadequacies of the holding environment distort your perception of how things actually are. Either your environment affected you in ways that warped your perception of reality, or it affected you such that you don’t want to see reality. So that transparency, that pure clarity of the open and relaxed soul, is what suffered most in the course of your ego development. This loss of clarity and transparency manifests in the soul as falling asleep. So all the specific reactions are ways of expressing the state of being asleep, being unawake: They express it, support it, and perpetuate it. So if we want to be awake, we need to become aware of all these reactions and learn to disengage from them.

Facets of Unity, pg. 292

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