The Art of Holding Space

Tami Simon: Welcome to Insights at the Edge, produced by Sounds True. My name’s Tami Simon. I’m the founder of Sounds True. And I’d love to take a moment to introduce you to the Sounds True Foundation.

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In this episode of Insights at the Edge, my guest is Matt Kahn. Matt Kahn is an author, a spiritual teacher, and a highly attuned empath. Since experiencing a series of spontaneous awakenings that began at the age of eight, Matt has been instrumental in transforming lives worldwide through his insights and heart-centered teachings.

He’s the author of the book Everything Is Here to Help You; another book called Whatever Arises, Love That; and a new book with Sounds True, All for Love: The Transformative Power of Holding Space.

There are many kinds of art forms we could each choose to master, but one art form we don’t hear that much about, which actually has deep healing benefits, both for ourselves and other people, is the art of holding space. Here’s someone who has studied that art form and developed a process, the holding space process, Matt Kahn.

Matt, as we join together here, you and me and all of our listeners, I want to explore heart-centered consciousness in our time. And to do that, I wonder right here at the beginning of our conversation if can you help attune us in some way, so we’re actually listening right here with our hearts open and attuned to the conversation.


Matt Kahn: Absolutely. I think when we really dive into heart-centered consciousness—consciousness always being synonymous with the truth of reality—I think sometimes that when we look at how the mind likes to explore, compare, and really arrive at a realization, sometimes we can seek realization so deeply that we kind of focus on what truth is instead of focusing on how truth moves.

In the work I like to offer, the reason I call it heart-centered consciousness is because rather than get tripped up on what truth knows, I like to have us explore how truth moves. And when truth moves alive within us, it moves as the way of love, compassion, and unity.

As we take this journey of ever-expanding consciousness, because love is the highest vibration and love is the cornerstone of the deepest realization, rather than getting tripped up on what is or isn’t the truth, it’s really, really important that we take this time together to viscerally explore how the truth of love moves within us when we hold space and allow it to open and move through us from our hearts to another.


TS: Your new book, All for Love—first of all, what a beautiful phrase, “all for love.”


MK: Thank you.


TS: Yes, indeed. It’s about this power of holding space. And I know you’ve been on quite a journey over the past three and a half or so years. This book came out of this time of your life. Tell us a little bit about that, the journey you’ve personally been on, and how All for Love, the book, emerged.


MK: Well, thank you so much for asking. It’s been quite a three-and-a-half-year journey for me. I remember three and a half years ago or so I was exhausted, was constantly on the road and traveling and doing events. And I had this feeling that I had to get taken off the road to really heal from exhaustion.

As I was healing from exhaustion, which turned out to be an early case of COVID, I was then processing the death of my parents, who had died about a year between each other. And although I was very excited for my parents to be together in heaven, it gave me a chance to finally kind of focus on some of the things that had fallen by the wayside with how busy I was traveling.

So, I had an early case of COVID, I was processing the death of my parents, and I also went through the unraveling of a relationship that, for me, was like the fantasy I had when I was 12 years old. Since I was 12 years old, I was always thinking, “Who’s my wife going to be?”

I thought I had met my wife, and we were engaged to be married. And it turns out we’re still incredible friends. But the ending of that relationship, compounding with the processing of the death of my parents and this early case of COVID all together just for me became this radical opportunity of transformation.

I allowed myself to go so deep into my healing journey, perhaps deeper than I’ve ever gone before, and out of this depth I touched within the core of my being that actually helped me find the greatest power I’ve ever known. That was the space through which All for Love was written.


TS: I’ve heard you describe when you’re talking about the book, All for Love, that you actually audibly sobbed quite a bit through the writing. What was going on for you during the sobbing phases as they happened?


MK: For many years of my life, I’ve gone through awakening experiences and a lot of the memories of my life seem to have disappeared. And I experienced myself more as an expression of consciousness than as a person.

As I went through processing the death of my parents and the loss of the relationship and healed from an early case of COVID, it really became the backdrop for my integrated ego to integrate back into my body.

As I came back into my body through this deeply healing journey, it was one of the first times in my life, and so unexpectedly, that I felt real. I felt tangible. A lot of memories of my life that I’d forgotten came flooding back.

It was from the flooding of these memories and being able to piece together my life as I’ve never done before, I used it as a backdrop to write this book, so that not only was this an opportunity for me to know myself deeper, but I wanted to give my audience a chance to know the person that I am and the person that’s taken my journey, and to know the depths of what has made me who I am.

It was just so perfect how, as I remembered these stories, as I was writing them, I was reliving them image by image, moment by moment. And I literally sat in front of my computer and sobbed my eyes out in one of the most cathartic moments of my life.

As I was writing and sobbing while writing this book, I had a feeling sense that everyone that reads this book is going to go through the exact same journey to really process our past, integrate our healing journey, and really get to a point that we can step forward as love and action, and not just be beings that think about love, but act from a different reactive place.


TS: Being with the book All for Love, it’s almost like I got to know three different aspects of you. I want to bring them forward, and maybe have you share a story about each, if that’s okay. One part of Matt that I got to know was the person who grew up in, it sounded like, a pretty dysfunctional, in some ways, family and one in which you went through quite a lot of hardship.

So there was like Matt Kahn, the person who suffered as a young child in a difficult relationship with your parents. Then there was Matt Kahn the super empathic human who felt so much of what was going on with everybody else around him.

The third Matt Kahn that I met—and this is just my own reading, my own experience—was the divine, light-infused, talking-to-archangels and being-visited-by-messengers, divine child Matt Kahn. So, I met all three.

I wonder if now you could introduce in your own words from your own experience, how you see these three parts. Maybe there’s another part you want to introduce. The reason I’m bringing this forward is that you help us see ourselves as human beings who are also divine beings at the same time. And I think that’s so useful.


MK: Well, thank you. It was one of the first times I’ve shared so many different aspects of myself, because it was during a time where I got more in tune with, in connection with all these different aspects, the me that survived so much emotional turmoil in my family. I can look back and I can say, “Oh, that was difficult.” I could say that that difficult tumultuous time was the greatest training ground for the work I did once I reached, as you would say, the Matt Kahn, the light-being one.

It was that difficult stage of emotional intensity and volatility that allowed that empathic Matt Kahn to, first of all, be overwhelmed at his empathic abilities, but at the same time, it gave me a chance to be so absorbed in it that I started to learn what my abilities were and how they functioned. I looked at the first two stages of Matt, and if it wasn’t for the empathic me, I never would’ve looked deep enough into myself to find what I’m here to give the world.

If it wasn’t for the volatility of my family, as much as I can look back and see how difficult that was for me, it wouldn’t have created the backdrop of studying analysis that helped me become who I am.

I look back at these times and all the stories that I tell—I’m telling some very deep stories, I’m telling some very emotionally stirring stories. But as I’m telling the stories, even when I’m recalling the deepest pain, I’m really recalling them from a place of gratitude, because I look back at my life and I really do see how everything was a divine setup for who I came to be and all the lives that I’m so blessed I have the chance to touch.


TS: What would you say to that person who says, “I hear the words. I could look at my own past trauma as a divine setup. But I actually don’t really think that’s true. I don’t experience it that way.” What would you say to someone who has that response?


MK: I would say it’s a normal response given the way we’ve been conditioned to see the world, that we tend to look at things of value as the things that feel the best in our hearts, and the things that don’t feel good to our hearts we usually give a judgment of less value.

What I can say, as a benefit, I had a family—I wasn’t raised in an abusive family. I was raised in an emotionally volatile family. I was exposed to a level of emotional volatility that I couldn’t escape or get away from.

When my parents wanted to talk to me, it felt more like an interrogation; I had no option but to face them until they were satisfied with the interaction. For me, not having a way to escape the emotional volatility forced me to find value in the things that didn’t feel very comfortable.

I think for all of us, maybe we need time away from our experiences. Maybe only in retrospect can we see this. But I think if we really dive into the complexities of our deepest emotional pain and we’re willing to go beyond judgment and step out from behind hiding and righteousness, we’re able to actually look beyond the sensation of pain or beyond the sensation or label of wrongdoing; we can actually find that there is a meaningful amount of growth and expansion that occurs even in the harshest climate of circumstances and even in the deepest insurmountable pain.

For me, I’m just speaking from a place where even though it was painful and uncomfortable, it didn’t limit the value of what it was there to teach me and what it helped bring to life within me. And that’s my hope really for every reader of this book is that we take our lives. And despite the pain, we allow the value of how it’s here to make us even better to bring that to life.


TS: All for Love is about the transformational power of holding space. And of course, when it comes to holding space, we can hold space for each other. But I want to start with focusing on what it means to hold space for ourselves.

So here we are and we’re beginning our conversation by talking about holding space for the pain of our past. And it could be anything difficult that we might be going through. Help our listeners understand how we hold space for ourselves when we’re suffering.


MK: That’s a great question. I think because we look into form—and most of form is made up from space or made up of space—so, we think of the phrase “holding space” as really another way of pointing to holding ourselves.

If we think about it emotionally, if we think about even physically, how would we like to be held to feel safe while feeling the most precarious and uncertain of emotions? And so often the way we’d want people to hold us during those moments is ways we learn to hold ourselves.

So again, as we learn to hold ourselves, maybe it’s a hand on the heart so we feel our constant attentive companionship. It might be using words to let us know, “I’m here with you. We’ve got this. I always want to hear what you have to say.” What the holding space process does is it teaches us how to fully be there for ourselves, in a way where we can actually feel the power of our own companionship and not just feel like our own self love is some consolation prize.

A lot of people I’ve worked with, they start to love themselves, but it feels like a consolation prize compared to what they want from other people. And the more we’ve dived deeply into holding ourselves and holding space, we actually start to build such an extraordinary relationship of love with our own hearts. We start to reconnect the inner parent with the inner child, and we start to feel so whole in ourselves that from that point forward, we can now interact with other people differently because we’re speaking from our wholeness, not trying to find our wholeness in the pockets of other people’s approval.


TS: I hear what you’re saying. But I’m also, for whatever reason, tuning in to that streak that many of us have, which is to blame ourselves, punish ourselves, not say kind words to ourselves but actually quite the opposite. And I hear what you’re saying, but it feels one step out of what the actual experience is in this moment. The experience in this moment is “I’m a piece of whatever.”


MK: Sure.


TS: “And Matt’s trying to say there could be this whole holding space, but I’m not in touch with that compassionate space.” And in the book All for Love, you introduce these different attributes that can help us.


MK: Yes.


TS: And you introduce the word “mercy.”


MK: Yes.


TS: Which I thought was so beautiful and powerful, how we can have mercy for ourselves. And I wonder if you can talk about that, and specifically the word “mercy.”


MK: Yeah. The word “mercy” came to me when I was writing this book and it struck me as a beautiful word as well. It struck me as just mercy as a form of being merciful, that how many of us tend to be secretly cruel to ourselves, tend to be not nice, tend to perpetuate some of the cruel things said to us by other people and we become the voices of that constant inner beratement. And I think that when we talk about the attribute of mercy, I think mercy is the instantaneous or perpetual realization of how much pain we’ve endured in our lives.

Just by remembering how much pain we’ve gone through, or how difficult it is to feel the current circumstances of our lives, by remembering our pain and suffering, it has a chance to interrupt the way in which we are contributing to our suffering by the way we talk to ourselves. When we employ something like mercy, mercy is the ability to see: “I now remember how much I’ve endured and suffered to such a degree that maybe my first most loving idea or my first step in holding space is just to refrain from adding more abuse to a journey that’s been inundated with so much pain and hardship.”

As we take the time to remember our pain, we not only start to speak to ourselves more mercifully, but we tend to speak more mercifully to other people, because as we remember our pain and suffering, we also are aware that other people have had a journey of pain and suffering, whether they hide it well or haven’t even become aware of it. I look at mercy as the first pause of self-abuse that becomes the first step in a journey of self-love.


TS: One of the images that you offered in All for Love—at first, I was like, “Whoa.” And then I was like, “Huh, what if I started seeing the world that way?” Which is imagining that everyone, including yourself, is in a hospital bed.


MK: Yes.


TS: Going through a healing process, in a sense. Everybody’s in a hospital bed. There’s a really weird image in my head. But it wasn’t that hard to get me in the hospital bed. But then I got everybody else in the hospital bed too, kind of wheeling around and stuff.


MK: Yeah.


TS: But I think the point was that we’re all in a healing process and how merciful we could be. So I wonder if you can elaborate on that.


MK: Yeah. If we all went to the hospital and visited a relative post operation, there’s going to be a mixture. They’re on medication. Maybe they have a short temper. Maybe they wish they weren’t in the hospital. Maybe they don’t like the attention of all their relatives seeing them in this kind of compromised, vulnerable state. Any which way the person in the hospital that we visit, we would kind of chalk it up to, “Oh, they’re healing. They’re in pain.” And I just wondered what kind of world would we live in if we all just assumed on a metaphorical basis that we’re all living in hospital beds, we’re all healing from deep traumas and we’re all healing incredible emotional wounds, and we’re all going through rapid spiritual and energetic expansion? Just because we look like we’re functional people wearing clothes, going to work, raising children, doesn’t mean we’re also not in these metaphorical hospital beds going through the deepest healing and processing of our lives.

When we have that merciful awareness that every person we interact with, including ourselves, is living at, to some degree, a functional life while going through the most incredibly progressive transformation this world has ever known before. We start to have an awareness of other people’s pain, just like ours. We start to have less expectations of other people. We start to meet people as they are. We start to meet people as we are. Instead of having expectations of what other people can give to me or putting people in these categories of like and dislike and friend and enemy, we start to see the varying spectrum from unconscious behavior to conscious behavior has a lot to do with not only where someone is in their healing journey, but how aware of it they happen to be.

This is just a lot of the perspective we gain when we learn to hold space. And the best news about it is it allows us to feel totally fulfilled by what we share with people and less heartbroken for how other people can and can’t show up with us.


TS: Powerful image, especially because so much of the time, it seems so many of us are trying to project quite the opposite of our hospital bed. You know what I mean?


MK: Right.


TS: Like we’re trying to project “I got it together.”

Another part of holding space for ourselves that you emphasize in All for Love is the power of validation. We can validate our own experience. And you give this example of holding space when we’re feeling fear. “Hi, fear, I welcome you. How can I serve you today?”


MK: Yes.


TS: We listen and validate the feeling of fear when it comes into our experience. What do you mean, “How can I serve you today, fear?” What do you mean by that?


MK: Well, what I mean by that is it’s quite a different perspective because most of the way people look at fear, and I believe this is what prevents people from healing it, is they look at fear as something to outrun, something to overcome, something to outwit. When fear is present, people like to imagine all they’re missing out on. And because my teachings challenge every level of spiritual growth only from the most loving perspective, what I found interesting is when I came into this field many years ago and people would be talking about overcoming fear, and I thought, what if we treated fear as we would treat a child in pain? In my first book, Whatever Arises, Love That, I say, “If it’s not how you treat a child in pain, it shouldn’t be the way you talk to yourself or others.”

What would happen is if instead of having a standoff relationship with fear or acting like I’m loving when life is nice, and when things don’t feel good, I’m not nice (which is just the way that life has been conditioned) what would happen if when fear arises—this is what happened for me. This is how I tested it. Instead of trying to boss fear around and “here’s how you need to serve me,” what if I came to fear with “how can I serve you?” And it was such a different perspective that dropped in for me. And I thought, “What if I was more concerned with fear’s experience of me than I was preoccupied with what I believed about fear?” And I started to serve fear like I was a worker at a spa and fear was someone who was there having a day of relaxation. “What do you need, fear? Would you like a glass of water? Are you comfortable? What can I do to give you a better experience of me?”

What I found to be true in my own life and in those I’ve helped with this process, is when they learn to relate to fear from this most loving, nurturing perspective, it puts people on the same side as the universe instead of on the side opposite of the universe. And when we learn to relate to things like fear, sadness and anger and envy and judgment from this holding space perspective, it actually unravels the identification with these forces and allows us to heal them without having an adversarial relationship with any of them. When we embrace fear, when we can ask fear, “How are you? How can I serve you?” we’re making fear less foreign, less scary, and we’re now relating to it as a way in which our most vulnerable parts hide in pain.

The more we befriend ourselves and the more we connect with ourselves, equally, the less fear we tend to feel.


TS: Can you give me a concrete example, Matt, from your own life of when fear showed up and you said, “Hey, how can I serve you?”


MK: Yeah.


TS: And what did fear ask you to do?


MK: So I remember in my life after many years of being afraid of everything, I grew up feeling afraid of myself, my shadow, my greatness, my power. In my earlier life, I was afraid of everything. I remember one day—I think I was an early adult. I don’t remember the exact age. I just felt this surge of anxiety and fear. I think it was around my fear that something in my life wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. And I just started feeling overwhelmed.

As I felt overwhelmed, I had this invitation, and I thought, “What if I just talk to the fear instead of figuring out how to resolve the fear or try to overly rationalize a reframed perspective about fear?” I just started talking to my heart and I said to my inner child, “I know this fear is only here to get my attention. I’m not here to correct you. I’m not here to tell you that what you think isn’t true.” I said to myself, “I feel very blessed that I am who you want to share your secrets with.”

I had this idea that I would relate to fear like a child who’s afraid to tell secrets to someone out of the fear of getting in trouble, and that I was this adult that was making it safe for these secrets to be known. All those secrets were my fears. I had this feeling in my heart of this scared inner child, this little boy, who finally felt safe enough to open up and share his fears. And there wasn’t this spiritual adult here to reframe his thoughts or to invalidate or to say, “Oh, that’s not going to happen.”

I began just to feel the fears being shared, sometimes with words and sometimes just viscerally. I would say to my heart, “Thank you for having the strength to share this with me. Thank you for sharing your secrets with me.” I just noticed, and I was really, really taken back by how much healing I was experiencing by just validating fear standpoint and not trying to change fear on any level. And it just became a really striking and elegant example of how we don’t actually need to change our experiences, we actually just need greater support for the experiences underway.

As I began dialoguing with fear, and then I dialogued with each and every emotion soon thereafter whenever it would arise, it wasn’t just me saying, “I love you to my feelings”; it was me having this dynamic interactive dialogue with myself where my job was to give my emotions the most exquisitely loving experience of me, so I was more focused on serving the healing of my feelings instead of being aware of how compromised of an experience I felt having those feelings. And it was quite a shift.


TS: First of all, Matt, what you’re saying is so helpful.


MK: Yeah.


TS: So healing.


MK: Thank you.


TS: What is the connection, in your view, from getting skilled at holding space for our own difficult experiences and holding space for another person? And I’m asking because sometimes people say things like, “Well, you have to be able to love yourself to love someone else.”


MK: Right.


TS: Often I have a question mark. I’m like, “I don’t actually know if that’s true.” And everybody just takes it as true. And is it true that you need to be able to hold space for yourself to be able to hold space for other people?


MK: I would say, to be more accurate, I would say that the better we’re able to hold space for ourselves, the better we’re able to relate to other people. Also, the better we relate to other people, the better we get to know ourselves in more loving capacity. I don’t think one leads to another. I think that when I’m with myself, because we’re all interconnected, by loving myself and having a very deeply loving relationship with myself, I know simultaneously I’m also healing the relationships in all hearts.


When I’m with other people and being very merciful and loving and compassionate, I know all the loving compassion I’m showing them is also filling up me as well. So I like to just think of it more of, the more loving I can be with myself, the more patience I have with other people and the more patience I have with other people, the more tolerant and compassionate I can be with myself.


TS: Right. Almost like it’s a virtuous circle that keeps feeding each other. So, when it comes to holding space for other people, I wanted to start this part of our conversation by pointing out something I’ve noticed, and you’ve probably noticed it too. When you’re with a group of people, maybe a group of friends, four people, five people, six people. It seems like when the conversation goes to the person who’s talking, and finally the spotlight’s on them, it’s like, “Oh my God, thank God it’s my turn. It’s my turn to talk and tell you what’s happening.” Everybody wants their turn and it’s like there’s this thing in us. “Please see me. Please hear me.”

Then some people take over and I just want to understand more from your perspective, this quality we seem to have of “could you please all hold space for me a little bit more of the time please?”


MK: Right. Well, I think what’s really interesting is because we’re all interconnected as one, we are always seeking a reflection of ourselves from other people because we’re here alive on this planet to know ourselves. But I think, by and large, most people don’t really validate themselves with enough attention and enough time. So, we naturally seek in other people that which we don’t give to ourselves. What I find to be a natural tenet in the holding space process is the more we hold space for ourselves, one of the greatest gifts that it brings us is, one, we’re able to share, but we don’t have the need to share right now. “If someone doesn’t listen to me, here’s what I think about you.”

What’s even more incredible when we validate ourselves is how much it changes the experience of listening. That before I learned about holding space in my own life, I could listen and listen and listen to people. It was like that double Dutch jump rope where I’m just waiting to get in. I’m just waiting for my opportunity. “I hear you, I hear you. I’ve got something really good to say. When’s my opportunity?” The more I started really connecting with myself in a genuinely loving way, the less I actually needed people to hear and see me because I was hearing and seeing me in such a profound and direct way.

For me, and I say this as someone who grew up as a performer, and an over sharer, and very codependent, my ability to be completely interested in other people and not need the conversation to go towards me, I would definitely refer to as a form of liberation. It’s not the biggest liberation, but on a social level, to be someone who is so whole in themselves that they can start seeing and hearing people who haven’t taken time to see and hear themselves and without needing to wrestle for attention or needing to make this point, the more and more of us on this planet engage in the holding space process. The more whole we become in ourselves, the more we can come together and collaborate. We can compromise. We can cooperate and really create the kind of peaceful world that we’re destined to have. But how can we cooperate, unite as one, reverse some of the struggles of the world and recreate a civilization from a seed of consciousness without first growing those seeds within ourselves? It begins with our relationship with who we are.


TS: You write in All for Love that listening, dynamic listening, is really an important part of this holding space process. When you’re in a group and you’re dynamically listening to other people, tell me what’s happening inside of you. Is it nourishing you in the same way as if the spotlight were on you?


MK: Strangely, it is, because when I’m listening to other people from a dynamic space of listening, I’m listening to people share like I’m watching a movie. So, when I spend time with people, it’s because I’m interested in them. Part of holding space is the agreement of “do I want to spend time with this person or these people whether there’s attention on me, attention on them? Am I genuinely interested enough of these people so no matter which direction the conversation or events go, I can be okay within myself?”

When I’m hearing people talk, I feel like I’m watching a movie. For me, dynamic listening is not just listening to a sharing and then waiting for the space for me to offer a sharing. For me, it involves follow up questions: “Tell me about what you just shared with me. Tell me the details. Tell me the temperature. Tell me what it felt like. What was the thing that came up for you? What did you realize throughout this process?” It’s a way for me to dive even deeper into the interest and mystery of other people.

In the book, I also talk about the idea that the less we know about people, or the less we admit we know about people, the more interested we are to get to know them. I think part of the limitation in our world so far in this current societal setting is we all believe we know things about other people and therefore we’re not as interested in listening to them. Yet, when we know less about people, or we admit we really don’t know people, or we haven’t really walked a day or a life or a moment in their shoes, we start to get interested.

As we get interested, we give attention. As we give attention, we ask follow-up questions, and we start to give people the impression that “I’m really here with you. I’m really interested, and I really am honored to know who you are.” But it takes a tremendous amount of space holding for yourself to genuinely get there. But once we get there and we’re able to show people that kind of attention, usually they start to feel so whole, and so safe, and being seen and heard, that they can then open up and start to see and hear you.

I find that when we lead with listening, a dynamic listening, that our ego—not just an ego that’s waiting for something to interrupt, or something to correct, or something to reframe, but an ego that gets to listen to the conversation—it gets to listen for details. It gets to come up with follow up questions so that we can actually start to feel in our bones. Fulfillment is not just when people are interested in us. Fulfillment is how deeply engaged we are with the people we’re connecting with.


TS: In terms of this holding space process with other people, you talk about how some of us have a tendency to not just hold the space, listen, validate, emotionally connect, be curious, but to give other people advice, to solve their problems, to try to rescue them.

I noticed that often, I don’t know if I want to rescue people, but I do think I have a really good idea and they should listen to me, that I know how to do this. Just to sit there and be like, “I hear what you’re saying and I’m curious.” It’s like, “No! This is what you should do. Pick up the phone, call that person.” Blah, blah, blah. That’s not holding space. I wonder if you can talk a little bit to those of us who are the “let me educate you” type, when holding space might actually be more nourishing for the person we’re talking to. What do we do when we just want to tell them how to do it?


MK: I think that what we’ve developed in our formative years as children is that we learn that some parents are designed to be problem solvers. So, we learn as children that we get the most amount of parental attention when we have a problem to fix. I think it’s very normal for people to have problems to fix. It’s very normal to share with their friends and family what they’re working on and even to open up for feedback. “And does anyone have a suggestion from the floor for me?”

Often there are those of us who go, “I know what this person needs and I just want to give them this helpful hint.” When that’s the case you can always say to someone, “Hey, I’ve got something coming through that I think might help you. Are you in a space to receive it?” Because I always want to know, when I share something, that this person in a space to receive it. Do they have the bandwidth to take in what I have to say?

I’ve been with my family, and I’ve said that. I said, “Hey, I have something coming through. Are you in a space to receive it?” Someone said to me, “Oh my God, I’m so overwhelmed right now, maybe some other time.” That was the universe through that person telling me that yes, I have insight to give, but they don’t have room to receive it. So, if it’s something coming through really powerfully, I like to either ask if someone has the space to receive it, or if someone asks a question—both of those I see as forms of consent. It’s so easy to kind of go, “Here’s what you need and let me just give it to you.”

I used to lead with what I got intuitively to tell people. I found that that actually got in the way of me building really deep relationships. Every interaction I was in, it was Matt Kahn the intuitive delivering messages from the universe. It was almost as if my gifts were in the way of the relationship building. Then I challenged myself to not bring through any insight in my personal conversations unless someone asked me a question to let me know that they had room and space for what I had to offer.

Then, if something was coming through and like, really, “Oh my God, I need to tell you this,” I would ask them, “Hey, can I share this with you?” What I found that by going through the process like this and not leading with rescuing tendencies, even if it’s not our intention, is that most people just need companionship, validation, mercy, reverence, compassion, patience. Actually 9 times out of 10 they don’t need alternative viewpoints or suggestions, because, as people start to feel whole within themselves, their consciousness comes back online, and all their intuition can guide them as they’re meant to be guided.

Again, as someone in my position who was constantly either putting myself or put in a very intuitive position and seeing how it really got in the way of my relationship building, I thought, “What if I just met the moment as it was? What if I responded to everything that people said? If I’m meant to play a deeper role in their life, they can ask me a question. What would happen if I related from that standpoint and was just fully present with where people are at and not further along than that?”

For me, it created a revolutionary shift in my relationship building, it gave me a break from playing the role I play in my career and my personal life. It actually gave me a chance to be with people where, sometimes, it was even more powerful than an insight I can bring in from the universe, me saying to someone, “Wow that sounds like it really hurt. I’m so sorry that happened. I’d love to hear more about that.” How that became actually a bigger healing, because instead of me trying to change someone’s circumstance and make it go away, I was the companion that was right there with them giving them the companionship, support, and validation that they so desperately needed. I found it to be a huge revolution.


TS: OK. For the problem solvers and advice givers out there, do you think we should just take it on as a challenge? “I’m going to take a challenge. I’m just not going to do that for X number of days and see how it goes,” and just observe ourselves.


MK: Absolutely. A hundred percent. I think we should all take it as a challenge. Just as a what-if challenge. A what-if practice. “What would happen if I tried this?” What would happen if you’re talking on the phone to the relative who drained you of the most energy, who tends to be the most negative, the people that confuse judgements with sharing—my family was like that. They thought they were sharing, but they were judging. I used to be the one that corrected them, and then I used to wonder why they didn’t like spending time with me. We all had our perspectives.

But what I did in my challenge is I said I’m not going to correct anyone. I’m not going to bring in an insight. I’m not going to give someone a better way of looking at something. I have a very good relationship with emotions. Most people who give advice, it’s because they themselves can’t handle what it feels like to be around someone else in a state that they don’t want to be in themselves. I often found that me trying to give people advice prematurely was me trying to rush them through a process so I could feel better as an empath.

I think the challenge is, can we deepen our relationship with our own emotions by being exactly where people are at? How can being exactly where people are at and not try to reframe them, help them bypass or move them prematurely into a better space? How is that actually helping us develop more of a genuine, authentic relationship with our own emotions and feelings? When we’re not rushing other people through their process, we’re equally developing the qualities that doesn’t rush us through our process either.


TS: Matt, you mentioned being an empath. I also mentioned that as one of the themes in All for Love, your ability to attune to what other people are feeling. One of the things I’ve seen is sometimes people who are exceedingly empathic, they can almost disappear in a situation sometimes. So, in terms of this whole notion of holding space, they don’t have a problem with the spotlight not being on them. They’re just feeling what everybody else is feeling and it’s a little bit like, “Hello, are you there? Do you have anything to say? Hello?” I wonder if you can speak to that person who has that kind of experience?


MK: I think that when we are with a group of other people, it’s a mixture of our energy fields and their energy fields. Some people tend to be introverted and some people tend be extroverted. Extroverts tend to take center stage and all that kind of stuff.

I think that, when we are with ourselves as empaths, it’s very, very important to have as dynamic of a relationship with ourselves as possible. So, if we have a tendency to slip into the background and disappear, we need to make sure we’re being very attentive with ourselves because when we disappear into the background and other people don’t seem as equally attentive to know us like we want to know them, we tend to be very resentful. So, in our own private practice, we balance out the disappearing tendency with a more attentive relationship with ourselves.

How are you today? What’s the best part of your day? How can I serve you? I think as empaths, the interesting connection is, the more attentive and the more active our relationship is with ourselves, the more we tend to find the strength and the courage and the interest to speak out and be more vocal and be more assertive. Just like people who are more assertive or more extroverted, the more they love themselves, the better of a listener they tend to be. So, it’s interesting how the same holding space process either makes an introvert more open to sharing or it makes an extrovert a more dynamic listener.


TS: Yes. One of the things I’ve found in my own experience is that when I’m holding space for others, sometimes it’s very connected and tuned in. And sometimes, because I want to make room for them and not dominate, I notice I actually start spacing out a bit. Like am I holding space or am I spacing out? Hard to know. I know the difference.

I wonder if you can point out when we feel that space out. Sometimes people don’t even know. They’re like, “Oh my God, it was so great talking to you.” And I’m like, “Yeah, who knows where I was?” I was in a cloud formation someplace. But they still felt nourished by it. I thought, “God, just be quiet more, Tami. People will be so nourished by your presence.” But it’s not the same thing as holding space.


MK: No.


TS: I wonder if you can talk about that.


MK: I think spacing out is when your body is present in a moment. And I think holding space is when your attention span is fully present in a moment. I think the difference is you can sit there with someone and if someone’s talking for an extraordinary amount of time, you can kind of drift off a little bit and start to think about different things. But I think holding space is really about, and the way we know how we’re holding space and not spacing out is, “Am I keeping track of the content they’re sharing? Is what they’re saying making sense? Am I aware of these details? Am I tracking it? Am I asking follow-up questions?”

I think that sometimes the zoning out is when the holding space tends to be a little too passive, and that real holding space is actually a dynamic experience of interaction where I’m listening because I’m really cognizing someone’s experience. I’m really experiencing their words in my body to know their experience. And I’m going to ask follow-up questions. They’re going to help me contextualize their experience in more vivid fashion. And I think when we space out, sometimes spacing out is either waiting for a chance to be heard, it’s “I can’t listen to these many words; I’d rather be somewhere else.” 

If we decide to spend time with people, if we decide to give people the beauty of our attention, then we have to learn to fully be with people and really make sure that we’re not just sitting in front of people. But whether what they say is what we agree with, disagree with, or otherwise, can we make what they’re sharing important because of how much we care about them, even if we don’t agree with the words that they’re sharing? I think that is a really, really high-level skill, especially in today’s day and age, that people are just starting to become aware of and master.


TS: Yes. It almost feels to me that holding space is like an art form.


MK: Yes.


TS: I wonder what you think about that.


MK: I actually love that. That’s actually one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. It’s like an art form, it really is. It’s like modern dance where you’re actually dancing out a certain emotion. Holding space and the ability to communicate consciously in a way where it makes it impossible for other people to manipulate you. In a way that makes you fully aware of people suffering without feeling overwhelmed in heaviness. The ability to be there for ourselves, connect with other people, and not find common ground solely in order to connect, is a masterful art form. I absolutely love how you just phrased it, because it really is. It’s like a dance, and it’s like a dance that we can always continually refine and perfect. I love the words you just gave there.


TS: How come when I’m engaging in the art of holding space other people can’t manipulate me?


MK: I think because when you’re in a place of holding space, you’re too aware of the healing that’s occurring. And when someone tries to manipulate on some level, they need your agreement or participation to pull off the manipulation. Right? It’s kind of like a joke I told on stage last week when I spoke in front of an audience and I said, “How did you not know you were being manipulated?” And I said, “I was too busy participating in helping them pull it off.” And it’s an interesting thing. When we look at manipulation, whether it’s the fog of the fantasy of who I hope this person will be versus who they are, or the promise I’ve made myself of this is going to be a certain thing, people cannot manipulate us without our permission. And when we are choosing the side that chooses healing for both sides, we have an ability to listen to requests or watch behavior from a very clear perspective that doesn’t give permission for other people to abuse or mistreat us.


TS: Matt, you mentioned that writing the book All for Love: The Art of Holding Space, that this book came out of your own process over the last several years. And it also seems so perfectly needed and perfectly timed with the state of our collective right now where there is so much divisiveness and it seems like people aren’t actually in many cases willing to dynamically listen and take the other person’s perspective. And I’m curious to see how you see this time we’re in. And it’s okay, Matt, for you to answer this really—I know that you’re listening to guidance and in touch with forces and voices. What’s going on during this time and how is holding space so important right now?


MK: The theme that we constantly see in the world as we go through this global awakening is absorption foreshadows transcendence. We find that, what the world will be transcending, first, we must be fully absorbed in. For example, right now the world is very much absorbed in righteousness. The righteousness of what side are you on? Are you for this? Are you against that? Oh, if we have two different viewpoints, I don’t know that we can be friends. The defense mechanism of righteousness is where a lot of people are hiding because we tend to hide in division and sides and judgment and picking sides as a trauma response from all the uncertainties that are happening on a personal and a global level. So I think that holding space becomes the antidote for righteousness, for entitlement, for this notion that if I hold an opinion that I believe to be big enough, it disqualifies me from having to act like a reasonable human being. And, in the name of some greater whatever, I have the right to mistreat people.

I think holding space is what helps us unravel righteousness, heal the core wound of division and really help us wake up out of this weird righteous entitlement spell where we can actually meet one another. We can be united in the differences that make us so unique. We can unite out of the pain we all feel even if different circumstances brought it about, and we can actually get interested in knowing one another instead of hiding behind righteous standpoints and trying to figure out which side people are on. I think this is the perfect time in history for holding space to really open up that hiding spot and heal that wound on a very deep level.


TS: Yes. The book is called All for Love. What’s the connection between space, the nature of space and love?


MK: I think that in my experiences of awakening, I had spontaneous realizations that I was pure spaciousness. I could say pure spacious awareness. And in that spacious of awareness, in that no-thingness, out of the no-thingness came this cascading infinite capacity of love. I often define love as an act of service and the space that makes up the entire universe. The one living in all forms lives as love, as an act of service for all beings. The more we get to know the spaciousness within ourselves—and of course we can only know the spaciousness within ourselves by creating more space to engage with ourselves—the more we find that we are spacious, formless expressions of divinity dressed up as people, but in that space as we really get to know it. There is nothing in that space but love, to know ourselves as truth, and to see that truth in others no matter where they are in their journey.


TS: I’ve been speaking with Matt Kahn. He’s the author of the new book, All for Love: The Transformational Power of Holding Space. Matt, terrific to be with you. Thank you so much. You’ve inspired me to hold space with more wakefulness, more presence, more heart-centered consciousness. Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to Insights at the Edge. You can read a full transcript of today’s interview at That’s If you’re interested, hit the Subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you feel inspired, head to iTunes and leave Insights at the Edge a review. I absolutely love getting your feedback and being connected. Sounds True: waking up the world.

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