Sacred Holding (excerpted from The Fragrance of Faith, by Jamal Rahman)
Sacred holding is an ancient technique. My grandfather said that the Prophet Muhammad practiced this for many years in the silence and mystery of the Meccan caves.
Grandfather impressed upon his students that sacred holding is a supremely powerful technique meant to be practiced for a lifetime. When negative feelings come up in you, take time to do this exercise at the earliest opportunity. 1.The first step is to allow yourself to experience. Tell yourself that every feeling is valid. Ask yourself, "What feeling is coming up in me?" Name that feeling. Maybe it is anger, sadness, jealousy, or bitterness.
2.In the second step, ask yourself, "Where do I hold this feeling in my body?" Locate the feeling. It definitely has a resting place in your body. We are able to experience a feeling because it registers as a physical sensation somewhere in the body.
3.In the third and very important step, receive this "holding" in your body with compassion for yourself. Encompass the physical sensations in your body with the embrace of your soul. From your heart, send love and mercy to this physical holding. Talk tenderly to yourself; cultivate a gentle rapport with yourself. Tell yourself, for example, "I'm sorry you feel this . . . This is difficult . . . Let me tenderly support you . . ." At this time there is no need to fix or analyze the sensations, simply a need to be present with the holding for as long as you want. This is the process of "sacred trembling."
4.In the fourth step, focus gently on the holding in your body and intend to inhale and exhale through that part of you. Allow divine breath to caress you there.
These four steps acknowledge, nurture, and integrate those feelings in God's light. Slowly, as you persist with this technique, an amazing shift occurs: that which was negative, irksome, and painful, integrates and now transforms into a source of strength and wholeness in you.
Because sacred holding encompasses all feelings, it is possible to do this practice with positive feelings that come up in you. Tremble with the feelings and express gratitude in your heart for the blessing.
In the moments that you open up to the joys and sorrows of life, the gateway to the heart opens.