Take a moment to look at the photo accompanying this article. This little girl is being held—cradled—within a profound holding field. And it’s not just the physical embrace. Look at everyone’s faces, their smiles. There’s joy here, love, acceptance…qualities that are palpable, energetic. How different would this group hug feel if everyone were angry? Or sad?
In biodynamic craniosacral therapy, we call this space the relational field. It gets called other names, too…therapeutic presence, holding environment, held space. All refer to a shared field of awareness and energy, centered by a practitioner who is grounded, heart-centered, and deeply listening.
Think of this field like stepping into a warm, energetic bath. You may not consciously feel it—though perhaps you will—but your whole self responds. And it’s perhaps the most important aspect of any healing session.
The electromagnetic heart
Consider the fascinating research being done on the human heart field by the HeartMath Institute. Both the brain and the heart generate electromagnetic fields. This activity is what doctors measure as brain waves and electrical signals on EEG and EKG machines. But the heart field is by far the larger and more powerful, extending several feet around the body. And it has some interesting characteristics.
For starters, our heart fields intermingle. They are detectable between people near each other—even when they’re not touching.
Second, the heart field contains data. The heart encodes and processes information, such as emotions, transmitting it electromagnetically throughout the body…and beyond.
Third, the electrical coherence of your heart field changes depending on your emotional state. Emotions like anger or frustration make it less coherent. Emotions like love, compassion, and appreciation make it more.
Add all that together and HeartMath postulates that a practitioner’s caring emotions may get electromagnetically transmitted to their clients, perhaps even at a distance. More research is needed, but in my professional experience, this transmission definitely happens, including at a distance.
The ground of healing
The relational field is the entry point to healing together. It’s where we meet, in this warm energy bath. The more coherent, grounded, and caring I can be, the more your body can attune to that, let go, and settle. And that’s when the body’s self-healing mechanisms really turn on. That’s when the deepest healing processes start.
Not everyone had this kind of attuned relational field growing up, first in the womb, and later in the holding environment of the family. For many of us, that field did not often—or ever—feel like the little girl’s field in the picture. But those early experiences can be rewired in connection with a skilled person. The relational field is the ground where this healing emerges.