Holding Space with Heather Plett

Jun 15, 2020

A few years ago, Heather Plett wrote a blog post that resonated across the globe. The viral post described her experience of learning what it means to hold space—the practice of compassionately witnessing, accepting, and supporting someone without judgement—by witnessing how the palliative care nurse cared for her mother in her final days. The response to the post catapulted Heather onto the global stage as a speaker, facilitator, and writer.

We are honored to be working with Heather on a book that provides guidance on how to “hold space” for yourself and for others. In a time of climate change, political unrest, violence, health crises, and recession, The Art of Holding Space: A Practice of Love, Liberation, and Leadership offers tools for transforming conflict, building boundaries, and increasing sovereignty in your own life. Read on to learn more about Heather and her compassionate wisdom.

What three words best describe you?
Compassionate, resourceful, curious.

What is your book about?
It’s about learning to be present in the midst of complexity, disruption, and transformation without needing to control it, fix it, or stifle people’s big emotions. It’s about showing up in relationships and in community in ways that honor each person’s sovereignty.

Whom do you most admire?
People who are raw and real and brave enough to step into hard conversations.

What is the last book you read?
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem.

What moves you to tears?
There’s a moment at every retreat I host (and sometimes multiple moments) when I get to witness a person cracking open in such a tender and sacred way that I can’t help but cry in the face of their vulnerability. It’s a moment when I know that transformation is possible.

Who is your favorite author?
It’s far too hard to pick just one, but I’m going to narrow it down to the poet Mary Oliver.

How do you like to unwind?
There’s a special stone bench surrounded by birch trees in Henteleff Park, near my home. Whenever I walk there and sit on the bench, I feel my whole body exhaling.

What is your personal motto?
I have two: “The outcome is not my responsibility.” And, “No emotion is ever a permanent state.”

Where do you find inspiration?
I find it in books, conversations, and the natural world. A lot of my inspiration comes from my community—the people who gather to learn together and make meaning out of the mess.