Archive | December, 2016

Turning on the inner light

18 Dec

We have entered the darkest time of the year, marked by the Solstice, speedily approaching. In the old days, without electricity, indoor plumbing and built-in heat, the dead of winter must have been hard not just on one’s physical body but also on one’s mental state. In my imagination, that’s when some of our ancestors created rituals of light to ignite the spirit of hope, celebrating the solstice as a turning point of the year and marking the rebirth of light. Christmas, Chanukah, Deva Divali and others all fall around this time in the northern hemisphere.

I grew up with plenty of magical moments that were a part of our December, and light played a significant role in them. There were the late Sunday afternoons sitting by candle light and sharing stories and treats. I remember that every Christmas eve there was a huge Christmas tree standing in the corner of the living room, lit with many candles and made extra magical with sparklers. Our Christmas tree inspired awe in us youngsters, each time it was ritually lit. I loved the sparklers and the old glass ornaments topped with a hint of frosting, and the figurative ornaments which sent me on imaginary journeys, the birds sitting on branches dreaming of long flights to the south, the little white angel with the snow-white hair, and the sleigh made from glass beads, ready to cross Siberia or go straight to the North Pole. Now, in my daily practice i try to tap into the joy and wonder i experienced on the Christmas eves of my childhood.

When we experience joy (or awe) we shine—our inner light shines through. I am sure that you have seen a friend’s or loved one’s face light up when they hear of something that brings them joy. The light generated through joy makes them shine. And here is a little secret: you too will shine when you learn to cultivate joy.

How can you make your light shine more?

If i have learned one thing in the many years of being a student, teacher and coach, it is this: What we focus on prevails. I have learned that in order to experience joy i must nurture the potential of happiness inside me. Today i want to share just three strategies on how to cultivate joy and begin to turn on your inner light.

1) Focus on the positive.

This sounds like a no-brainer but if you are used to finding potential problems in every situation—which is how our brains are programmed to protect ourselves from possible adversaries—you are facing an uphill battle. You are embarking to undo not just a life-time of habit but also millions of years of evolutionary coding. Nevertheless, taking into account the brain’s plasticity your chances are good. For the holidays i recommend this:

Create positive experiences:

  • Set the intention to do something uplifting for yourself, and possibly for others. Plan uplifting activities. Ask yourself these questions: What makes my spirit soar? What nurtures my soul? What brings a smile on my face? Who makes me feel relaxed and comfy? Who inspires me? Who makes me laugh? Plan a gathering with someone who makes you feel good.
  • Instead of being the devil’s advocate, play with being the advocate of the light. Find the positive where you would habitually complain and focus on the negative. Share with others that you are experimenting with taking a positive stand. Invite them to join you in the experiment.
  • Do something new. Set the intention to be open to new experiences. Try looking at the world through a child’s eyes.
  • Be willing to say no to experiences that pull you down.
  • Limit time with negative people. If you can’t avoid seeing them (because they are family, for example) let them know ahead of time what your plan is. Interrupt the day with a nature walk to reset you.

Sometimes, creating a positive experience can be as easy as smiling at someone. Try it!

2) Cultivate gratitude.

Connect with all the positive in your life and stop taking it for granted. Be grateful for all you are and all you have. No, it’s not silly. It is awesome that your body is serving you so well even if other bodies seem more perfect, and even if yours is aging or having other problems. It has been with you for so many years and done so much for you. Wow. It is a blessing that you have a roof over your head, with indoor plumbing and running water. It is wonderful that you … fill in the blanks. Try writing down a list of things, big and small, that you are grateful for every day. Want to read more about gratitude?  Click here.

3) Acknowledge yourself for all of your efforts.

Yes, that includes efforts that did not quite succeed. You did something—that’s awesome. Celebrate when you created a great experiences for yourself or someone else. Celebrate when you did something new or something that seemed difficult. Give yourself credit for all the little things that nurture you or others. You fed the cat, you walked the dog, you went for a walk, you made the phone call you were dreading. All these are things to acknowledge yourself for.

And with everything, the more you practice the easier it gets and the more you’ll notice that what may seem tedious at first works. Best of luck cultivating joy and turning on the inner light!

How can you make your light shine more?

Need help? Visit my coaching website and contact me for coaching.

© Eva Ruland, December 2016

Advertisements

SelfCare strategies for challenging times

3 Dec

The last weeks have been a major challenge for all progressives in this country. The normal reaction to a challenge that we can’t easily solve and that might have major consequences for our future and the future of the planet is to experience fear and feel stressed. Both the body and the mind shut down and lock into emergency mode. Over time this wears us down physically and emotionally. Mentally, it leads to revisiting the same loop of being caught in inescapable doom. We cannot think clearly and we cannot find a way out. We become the deer in the headlight with no way to go, or the hamster that runs and runs but never gets anywhere.

In times of crisis we need to take extra care of ourselves, especially when the crisis threatens our reality or we feel  our life as we know it crumbling away. In those times we need a refuge. We need to know where we can go to feel safe and find respite. For babies, that place is the mother’s bosom. As adults, we don’t necessarily have a bosom to rush to. We need to create our own refuge to survive the challenge or crisis. Where do you find refuge? How can you tune into serenity when the country (and perhaps you too) is unsettled after the elections? How can you enjoy the season and take care of yourself?

The greatest place of refuge for me is nature. It has tremendous nurturing energies and restorative qualities. For me, nature has the power to transform stress into inner peace, whether i hike the ridge of the hills here in the San Francisco East Bay, walk through redwood forest, or enjoy a long stroll on the beach. Even a short walk can be magical, as i was reminded last Sunday. We were heading to San Francisco to check on a friend’s cats and decided to go to Fort Funston for a walk, but because we were busy until mid-afternoon, and because i needed a moment to gather myself, it was 4pm by the time we left Berkeley. We reached the bleach just before sunset which was regrettable, but we were in for a treat. It was one of the most magnificent sunsets i have experienced. The photo  above was taken that evening and i share it here to give you a glimpse of the colors that evoked the supernatural even though the photo does not give full justice to the magic of the moment. We did not get to walk far because the tide came in fast but we enjoyed every moment of our 30 minutes on the beach and left with our spirits soaring.

In a way, winter is the season for refuge. When the days grow short it’s the time to lean more inwardly and give refuge to body, mind, and soul. It’s the season for quiet time and for creative expression. Winter is the perfect time to grab a hot chocolate and a book and find a comfy couch or chair, or a hot tea and some art supplies. Another refuge is sharing time with friends. In Germany we have a tradition of coming together on December Sunday afternoons when it’s cold and grey outside, light candles, tell old stories, eat cookies and other treats, and perhaps engage in an art or craft project. As you know, i love SoulCollage and this time of the year i feel particularly drawn to it. It’s creative, it’s introspective, and it furthers deeply nurturing community. It’s perfect as it invites you to delve into yourself, then emerge with the images you found as we share our collage cards in the group. The depth of the sharing is often awe-inspiring.

What is your refuge? How can you give yourself more of it? How can you give yourself quality (soul)time?

Need help finding your refuge? I have a Holiday Special that might be just right for you. The BreakThrough Package includes a private visioning session plus one month of coaching for only $450—you save $150. It might also be just the right meaningful gift for a dear one. http://evaruland.com/gifts.html

Wishing you sweetness and peace,

Eva