Heard and Held

Jul 25, 2017

It was supposed to be a regular coffee date.


I waited for you on the patio at Starbucks, with my tea steeping in front of me and the cars zooming past to my left.

I was nervous.  I had made up a story in my mind that you were a Very Busy Person, and that I should feel honoured that you would take the time out of your day to meet with me.  And I know that you were and I definitely was, which is, I suppose, why I felt that way.

When you arrived you gave me a hug that dissolved the nervous tension in my stomach, and we sat down and began to talk, immediately and without reservation.


You leaned in.

I leaned too.

You listened.


I felt as though something in your eyes, or maybe it was your heart, reached out and gently held my words and the feelings they were charged with.  You looked at them, those words, from every angle.  You investigated their tone and their weight and their purpose.  You saw what might be filling the spaces between them, what might be underneath them, and you asked me to tell you more.

And I did.  

Because, I have realized, one of the things that hurts the most – the thing that makes my chest sink and my heart to feel open and raw – is to feel as though my words fly out of my mouth and hit a brick wall, and slide, defeated, to the ground.

But here, as the milk froth in my tea fizzled and flattened, you showed me what it felt like to have my words truly and deeply heard.

You offered me no solutions for my quandaries and self-doubt, but I realized that though I thought that’s what I wanted, just having someone to sit with in all my uncertainty was what I really longed for.  It was healing.

The experience was so new and rare for me that I stood up after our conversation had wound to a close feeling a little bit flustered – like you do when you’ve been complimented or have heard an unexpected “I love you.”  Like I had been so honoured, so valued, and so nourished; I wanted to give you something in return for all that you had given me.

The hug I gave you as we parted ways was, in my mind, woefully inadequate compensation for what you had just done for me.


You showed me that being heard and held might be the greatest gift, the most healing service one person can do for another.


You, a coach yourself, showed me the true value of what I, too, can offer the world when I cultivate an ability to deeply hear another person’s words.


Thank you.

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!