12/07/2011 01:51 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2012

Habit #3: Holding Space

One of the functional practicalities of cultivating embodied awareness is the ability to hold
space as a teacher. Holding space is a delicate balance between sensing, feeling and action.
One maintains an awareness of one's own sensations in the body, the sense of the emotional
tone in the classroom, and the choices that are most beneficial and effective for the whole
class. In other words, the practice is to hold the curriculum lightly and allow for what is, to
guide the next movement... whether it's to contribute more information to your students,
facilitate discussion, assign an activity or take a brief break for integration.

Holding space is also a balance of attention. By balancing attention, I mean the subtle navigation between the cognitive elements of your curriculum objectives, and your bodily felt sense. In this way, we are holding the paradox of being slowed down, with a quality of open attention, even as there is work to be done. There is authentic engagement in the physical world, and an awareness of the territory and map, directly and simultaneously.

Try this: Before beginning a lesson with your class, pause. Take three deep breaths and smile. Breathe and smile until you actually feel joy. Look around the room at your class, and silently ask yourself: What is being asked of me, right now? What learning might take place if I spoke less, and asked more questions to evoke the content for today's lesson?

Most of all: Enjoy your Self. When you do, everyone else has a chance to experience that joy in you.