Creating the Proper Holding Space for Healing

Learning to empty ourselves of unresolved emotions is the first step

Our Beloved Family,

As part of my lifelong dedication to anthroposophical medicine, I’m always investigating unique healing herbs and homeopathic substances from all over the world. Because of this, it’s been on my bucket list for years to visit the Miriage Freres tea room in Paris, France. Founded by brothers Henri and Edouard in 1854, the company offers a very large selection of the most exotic gourmet teas in the world. Fortunately, some of their products are available online and in other locations. The last time I had the pleasure of enjoying one of their custom blends, it got me thinking as to what was the most important part of making a great cup of tea. Was it the perfect blend of ingredients or the special way they were harvested? Perhaps it was the quality of water or how it was brewed. Then I realized that regardless of whether it’s exotic or ordinary, the most important part of making tea isn’t any of these things. No matter how fancy the ingredients may be, the tea won’t do you much good unless you have a cup or container in which to hold it.

In the same way, much could be said about the healing process. Yes, we all want to be well and experience the richness of a healthy life, but in order to create that we must first learn to become a container ourselves. We must be able to bring forward and hold our unresolved emotional issues that have been brewing just beneath our consciousness and supporting our physical illnesses. Of course, working through long suppressed psycho-spiritual pain can quickly bring our emotions to a boil. The process isn’t comfortable or easy, but when we can hold the experience and bear the heat of it, something amazing happens. As the process draws out all the lessons and realizations from our painful experiences (our spiritual nutrition), the misunderstandings, misperceptions and misidentifications we have about ourselves fall, like the sediment from the tea leaves, to the bottom of our cup and are washed away.

Holding the emotional aspects of our physical illnesses in consciousness so that we can work through them without judgments distills our spirits down to their true essence and we discover who we really are free from denial, blame, resentment, guilt, hatred and so on. When we discover the unconscious connection between our emotional pain and our physical pain, we give meaning to our suffering and hold the experience in a lighter way. No longer is disease merely an experience we must get rid of, but one which we must learn from. When the emotional healing begins to unfold, the body reacts in kind because we understand that our pain has a deeper purpose.

Psychotherapist, Wilfred Bion, developed the container/contained theory. He said that in order for us to process our emotions properly, we must be able to contain them. That doesn’t mean suppressing them. It means holding or being present with our feelings in a conscious way that allows us the dignity of our own emotional process while we experience it in a non-judgmental and empathic way. This is one of the greatest acts of self-love. Only when we empty ourselves completely of unresolved emotion can we create a holding space where healing can reside.

This month we celebrate mothers, the experts at teaching us the art of emotional containment. If a baby mistakenly walks into a glass door, he may bump his head or even fall over. In any case, the child becomes upset because he doesn’t know how to contextualize his experience and bursts into tears in a state of uncontained emotion. Immediately, the mother comforts the baby, modeling for him how he is to be comforting and compassionate with himself while openly expressing his emotions. She may even explain or show him how to walk around the glass panel instead of trying to go through it. In this way, she contextualizes his experience and provides a reason for his suffering. In the end, his painful experience is given meaning and makes sense to him, supporting his return to emotional equilibrium. This is how we are supposed to have learned to contain or process our emotions as adults, but if our parents were not contained themselves, then they couldn’t give us what they didn’t have, but it’s never too late to learn.

When our emotion is uncontained it flies all over the place, usually outward at other people as projections and blame before it turns inwards as criticism, guilt, resentment or something else. In the end, it’s the physical body that becomes the theater where this drama of negative emotions plays out instead of in conscious awareness and the heart, the climax of which is always dysregulation and often, dis-ease.

The dénouement of a drama is the moment(s) after the climax where all the unexplained pieces of the plot come together and everything finally makes sense. When we become ill, we immediately want to know all the facts about why disease occurred, what we can do and how this story will end for us. In other words, we want to make tea without a cup, but we’ll never taste its soothing sweetness unless we provide something to contain it. Both healing and tea making require a container before the process can begin. No cup, no tea; no containment, no healing.

A sculptor creates a beautiful bowl from a block of stone by knowing which parts to keep from the experience and which to throw away. In the same way through emotional containment, we make ourselves vessels where the alchemy of healing can begin by knowing what to keep and what to discard from our emotional experiences.

Milda Morse wrote a beautiful poem called Tear Catcher about a small glass vial that women once used to catch and contain their tears while their husbands were off to war. When we can honor the pain of our past by containing the full force of our emotions, our tears will become a prism through which we will see our experience differently, and our story will begin to reveal its secrets to us at last. This epiphany that reveals why life is the way it is for us is what allows us break the chain of unconscious behavior and prevent passing down our un-containment and bad emotional habits to the next generation. In fact, you might say our own emotional healing is what spiritually inoculates our children from inheriting the emotional aftermath of their parents, grandparents and so on.

A sculptor creates a beautiful bowl from a block of stone by knowing which parts to keep from the experience and which to throw away. In the same way through emotional containment, we make ourselves vessels where the alchemy of healing can begin by knowing what to keep and what to discard from our emotional experiences.

Spiritual philosophy tells us that in order to manifest anything, we must be something and do something before we can have the something that we want. In our case, the tea cup is the state of being known as emotional containment. The water is the state of doing, maintaining ourselves within the dynamic flow of life events without resistance so we can receive the guidance our containment provides us and take the best possible actions. Right thinking followed by right choices naturally leads to having what we desire.

One of Rumi’s most famous poems is called Guest House. In it, he teaches us emotional containment by recommending that we welcome in each joy and sorry as it comes to call at our door, for each one has something to teach us. It would benefit us to be a good host to our emotional guests who usually won’t leave until we’ve fully appreciated the gifts they’ve brought us. In the meantime, you might even offer them a cup of tea during their stay.

On behalf of our children I would like to wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day, beginning with my sweetheart, Dr. Sami.

Light & Love in the Month Ahead,
Drs. Sadeghi & Sami

Please continue reading for a great way to give yourself a restorative detoxification experience at home.


Dr. Sadeghi & Dr. Sami
Dr. Habib Sadeghi D.O., is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. With more than 15 years of direct patient care, he provides a comprehensive knowledge of revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. Through a unique and individualized approach to healthcare that includes evidence-based, Western medical interventions and intuitive Eastern healing modalities, Dr. Sadeghi has been able to achieve astounding results in patient cases that were otherwise deemed hopeless by traditional medicine. Read biography 
Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami is a dual specialist in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. She has served as a clinical instructor at the University of California Los Angeles, as part of both the pediatric medicine and dentistry programs, becoming one of the creators of the Children Health Advocacy Training (CHAT) curriculum. Collaborating with pediatricians, Dr. Sami designed one of the few residency training programs that incorporates a whole body approach that includes aspects such as breastfeeding, nutrition and child development. Her practice is based on total body wellness, a philosophy that recognizes the synergistic connection our emotions play in our physical condition. It also emphasizes the correlation of a healthy mouth, jaw and airways with a vibrant, energetic body. Read biography
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