Sometimes a thought gets a hold of me and won't let me go. It's like I become obsessed with it. It starts with an insight usually while working with a client and then it pops in my head while washing dishes or it wakes me up in the early hours of the morning. It's like it wants me to know that I haven't quite gotten all of the pieces yet.
This thought above about Brave Spaces is one of those things. It came up in a conversation with a client and it won't leave me alone. So lucky you, you get to hear me ramble on to see if I can find the other pieces and then maybe find a little more peace myself.
I have heard many people make the shift from safe spaces to brave spaces and have understood the intentions behind this shift. I even agree with shifting away from safe spaces but every time I would hear brave spaces something in my body would twitch and I wasn't quite sure why. Then suddenly it hit me. Spaces are external and so much of what we are struggling with as a culture is that we want everything to be external so that we don't have to take responsibility for what is actually ours to do.
We want to blame the "system" for everything not realizing that we are a part of the systems we are in. We want to blame other people when we are triggered forgetting that a trigger by definition is rooted in our past not in the present moment. We want to make other people responsible for our own liberation not realizing that if someone has the power to liberate you then they can just as easily take it away and that's not true liberation.
So the idea of brave space gives someone outside of ourselves the power to make us brave. I don't think this is possible. Bravery comes with fear and is always a choice.
I was struggling a couple of years ago with feeling safe as I was starting to work with larger groups. I am an incest survivor and one of the gifts of my wound has been that I can know where everyone is in a room. I can feel where everyone is and what's needed for the group to move to the next step. As the groups were getting larger I couldn't feel everyone which made me feel less safe in the spaces where I was hosting. Then spirit said to me safety isn't an external condition but an internal one. That doesn't mean that danger isn't real. Whenever I am in the present moment I am never afraid. And I finally got it, safety is always between me and the divine.
In our book The InnerGround Railroad I wrote:
"A friend of mine was giving a speech on courage one day and shared that for the first time she noticed the word rage in the middle of courage. She went on to say that every courageous act has a bit of rage in it. What immediately popped into my head was something that I read years before in the book Iron John by Robert Bly, it says that anger is personal but rage is archetypal. This got me thinking, what if by definition courage is archetypal or communal as well? What if knowing this could help us to choose courage more often? What if the moment we choose courage and step into a courageous act we move from the personal into the communal? What if this is where we truly become one with ourselves and each other? Maybe this movement from our personal fear into honoring our collective truth holds the very nature of being alive."
When I think of what we have been calling brave spaces I think maybe what we are experiencing instead is brave people stepping from their individual fear into honoring a collective truth and in that moment it deepens the grove in the universe that makes it easier for the next person and the next person to choose bravery too. In his book Igniting Inspiration John Marshal Roberts says, "there are three ways to move something, body to body is force, mind to mind is persuasion, and spirit to spirit is inspiration." When I can get me fully in the room and I step into spirit my soul speaks directly to yours and commands you to meet me.
Yes, as a space holder I have held lots of spaces where people have chosen to be brave. And I would even go as far as saying that there are things that I have done that made it easier for them to choose to act with courage. But I would say that that thing has always been my own bravery that then makes it easier for the next person to choose. The only exception I would add is those moments when I really can get all of me in the room (these are far and few between) then I think we move from a place where we belong to each other to a place where we are each other. In those moments I can command you to show up and you don't have a choice on if you come or not because in those moments we are one. I am you. This is what it means to be connected.