What does it mean to truly love other people, and how can we transform pain into compassion? Author Matt Kahn shares his wisdom.
Matt Kahn is a spiritual teacher, empathic healer, public speaker, and author. His second book, Everything is Here to Help You, was featured in the “Be Kind” box by Ellen Degeneres.
Matt has become a YouTube sensation with his healing and often humorous videos. With 21 million YouTube channel views, followers are finding relief from the challenges of daily life through his heart-centered messages. When the world gets crazy, help is here—one “I Love You” at a time.
His new book, All For Love, is reviewed in the July/August 2022 issue of Spirituality & Health.
The idea of holding space is extremely important in your book. Can you help us understand what this term really means and how it relates to love?
It’s important to define love beyond the electricity of romantic arousal. Beyond the chemistry that brings two hearts together, love is the interconnection of life that unites all things as one eternal consciousness.
When we are operating from a state of unity, we are not just excited about things that fulfill us personally, but in making contributions that support the betterment of all. From this perspective of inclusivity, I define love as inspired acts of service we offer ourselves and others, in honor of the equally important and unique journey of each person. Holding space is how we relate and interact from this greater awareness, offering love as inspired acts of service to support the expansion of each person’s experience.
What does the idea of holding space add to our understanding of active listening?
Holding space allows active listening to be offered from a space of purity. When I say purity, I am referring to how agenda-filled or agenda-free anyone’s intention is to actively listen.
Are we actively listening just to build up the right to have someone listen to us? Are we entering into active listening with the assumption that the listening goes both ways? It’s wonderful when it does, but it’s not always the case. This can build resentment and hostility and even lead to confrontation. Not only because the sharing and listening felt lopsided, but as a reflection of how agenda-filled our ability to actively listen may be.
Holding space reminds us that we listen as an act of loving service; making it safe for someone else to be seen, heard, valued, and honored—no matter how painfully their past makes the world seem like a scary, uncertain place to be. Because we are united as one eternal consciousness, the ability to hear another provides an equal feeling of validation for the listener. This means the deeper we listen, the more we feel seen, heard, and valued, whether anyone else seems interested in knowing our journey or not.
Of the ten essential principles addressed in your book, which one would you identify as the most powerful for ushering in a more just and caring society?
I would say patience. When we are patient, we are viewing life from an awareness of diversity. Through a lens of diversity, other people’s experiences are just as important as ours. As we begin living from the attribute of patience, you may see how no one is truly out to get you. Instead, they are navigating the terrain of their own journey with as much or as little awareness as they are capable of having. This doesn’t mean to stay in toxic environments or abusive partnerships. It means we are capable of making empowered choices without needing to vilify anyone too overwhelmed in their own experience to be more of a supportive character in yours.
Which of the ten essential principles might be the most difficult for people to understand and/or to put into practice?
Forgiveness is always a principle to introduce, but never one to overemphasize. Many attempt forgiveness as a means to an end. “If I forgive this person, I might get rewarded with a better experience or the hope of less pain.” While these are natural aspirations, we don’t forgive in order to trade up to better experiences. We forgive when it’s time to experience forgiveness.
This is why I taught forgiveness so uniquely in this book, to ensure each person could connect with it from whatever depth of authenticity they could receive it. Even when the first step of forgiveness is having the right not to forgive—as a way of giving choices and a voice to the parts that felt robbed of freedom and had the power of their voice taken from them as a result of some degree of loss, neglect, abuse, or trauma.
There are several places in the book where you speak to the importance of time in the process of holding space. Can you share some thoughts about why time is so important to this process?
How much time we spend nurturing our closest relationships and loving ourselves often reflects our awareness of diversity. This allows us to support the healing of others, which supports our own transformation, as well as the healing of all hearts.
When we don’t give enough time to love, we often have no time for our own self-care, tend to focus on individual gain over collective progress, and view from a perspective of impatience that creates more conflict to face versus more compassion to offer. This is why the transformative power of holding space is so important. It helps us make the most of our time, so we can meet the world as the future it is becoming instead of acting out a hurtful past that humanity continues to heal.
You write about coexisting in the presence of others. Can you explain that a little bit?
Coexisting in the presence of others is a way of acknowledging the equal importance of each person’s needs. Interactions are not just about having our personal needs met, but arriving in moments of compromise, where everyone can be supported, even when what someone needs becomes something you are unable to give. As we learn how to interact from a space of mutual agreement and reciprocity, each person can be valued without needing to find middle ground or only befriending those who agree with you.
From this perspective, holding space becomes our roadmap to bringing the beauty of diversity into greater awareness. It’s a supportive measure to amplify the unity that helps bring our divided world together in greater peace, equality, wholeness, and opportunity for all. And that all begins with you, your journey, your relationship with self and how incredible of a sacred space holder you are ready to be.