How to Hold Space: Compassionate Systems Facilitation for Cultivating Generative Social Fields

By Mette Boell & Julie Diaz

To lead the Compassionate Systems Framework well, whether through a workshop or more indirectly through process work, it is essential to have an inner anchor of emotional grounding and an intentional awareness of the quality of the social field that is present in any given situation. These are skill sets that are often implicit to masterful facilitators. This particular orientation is what we call “systems awareness”. It is grounded in contemplative cultivation as a necessary bridge to become clearer about one’s inner landscape in order to be able to be with others as “legitimate others”– allowing people to be who they are, without having an agenda on their behalf – practicing neutral present awareness more consistently.

We currently have 14 Certified Compassionate Systems Master Practitioners attending this advanced program who live and work in Canada, Denmark, Singapore, the United States, and several who work across multiple countries. Our current program began in October 2022 and will continue through February 2023. With them we have been exploring what personalized, embodied facilitation looks and feels like, and in the process make more explicit what it means to hold space for people and processes. 

We launched this current cohort in October 2022 with a week-long retreat held at The Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York. There we designed opportunities for participants to immerse themselves in the experience of “retreat” and contemplative practices for their own growth, as well as time to practice holding space for one another. Below you can see several photos of our time together during the retreat.  

Since that time, these same program participants have been receiving additional capacity building and practice opportunities via regular program community calls. Most have also volunteered to lead guided meditations for our global community at Global Contemplative Calls, virtual contemplative convenings that we offer at no cost for all introductory workshop alumni.

Below is a testimonial from a current program participant:

    • “Prior to 2018, I did not have a mindfulness or contemplative practice. I never took the time to breathe, sense into myself or calm my mind. I was on auto-mode chugging away at all the many tasks in life. Like Soren says, I was busy “doing” and not “being”. After completing my master practitioner certification program, I was still a human-doing and not a human-being, increasing my anxiety and emotional responses to stress and creating what I thought of as “a crisis in a bottle”. The questions I asked myself were, “Do I ‘shake well’ before I open the bottle? Will I pour out like Pepsi (explosive) or like orange juice (well-integrated)?” The How to Hold Space program provides me with the tools necessary to practice how to pour things out like ‘orange juice’, not only for myself but also for others. I’m happy to say that I’m now on a journey that requires me to practice working with the tools I was given to become a master craftsman. The connections and work done in this space are nothing short of amazing.”Tyee Chin


THE PERSONAL MANDALA – a guided practice
Hanneli Ågotsdatter and Søren Munk from the Center’s Contemplative Faculty created a guided practice of the Personal Mandala which may serve as a foundation for the tool Mandala for Systems Change.

For more information about this program and future opportunities, please contact Julie Diaz at



Mette Miriam Boell
Co-founder and Executive Director | Center for Systems Awareness
Co-founder | MIT Systems Awareness Lab | USA


Julie Diaz
Program Manager | Center for Systems Awareness


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