Archive | November, 2018

Gratitude in times of challenge

22 Nov

As we are approaching Thanksgiving i am rattled by mixed feelings. On one hand, there is so much i am grateful for. On the other, there is a sense of grief and devastation prompted by the biggest fire i have ever been close to.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have not been able to freely enjoy what many of us take for granted: the air. For one and a half weeks the air was loaded with toxins and heavy particulate matter from the Paradise fire. We were advised to stay indoors and wear face masks when going outside. And in comparison we were the lucky ones. Those in Paradise lost their homes, their pets, or even their lives.

These past 10 days have been difficult. They were confrontational in a internal way.

In my coaching practice clients were talking about feeling depressed. It’s easy to be depressed when the sky is gray and smoggy, the air thick, and we cage ourselves in to protect our health. And all the while the fire continued to rage and burn everything in its path: woods, buildings, animals and people who are trapped. The situation was out of control and that made it so deeply unsettling. How can we be energetic and project positively into the future when there is no sense of safety, of refuge?

In the SoulCollage workshop this past weekend we made cards that reflect our inner devastation. How can it be possible that a tragedy of such magnitude would happen in California? If we here in beautiful, technologically advanced and wealthy California cannot be safe and protected, who is? Other cards expressed our longing for water, and with it the longing to be soothed and safe.

This year my gratitude list is long, but it is accompanied by a list of grievances. It is hard to live with uncertainty. It is hard to viscerally feel destruction while breathing, to know that the particles in the air that are hazardous for our health, burned something that was precious to somebody else. And it’s hard to look toward the future—a future that will likely bring more fires, more hurricanes, more horrors.

The underlying question, for me, is ‘How can we restore balance to this planet that is so out of balance?’ Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Successful planetary change must include all of us—necessitating an ubiquitous acknowledgement of global warming, and the commitment of all of us individually and as nations to make inconvenient changes.

If it was easy, we would have solved the problem decades ago. We have not. And while it’s easy to despair and be stifled by overwhelm in the face of such an unlikely collective effort, i am reminded of the notion that change starts within. To me, the new question is ‘How can i create harmony within while doing my part in creating harmony in my environment?’ And how can i calm myself when confronted with a sense of doom?’

Here is what i can do for myself:

1) Get enough sleep. Without it, i wrack my health and my capacity for strength and resilience.
2) Celebrate what i have. Focus on gratitude.
3) Strive to find the positive in a challenge.
4) Meditate daily. 20 min consistently is enough to make a difference for me.
5) Choose simple nurturing activities such as exercise, a walk, or connecting with a friend or loved one, or listening to uplifting music.

Gratitude is a fundamental pillar to happiness. In my list it is only preceded by the necessity of getting enough sleep. And, for most of us challenges to our inclination for gratitude are real, not just when the biggest fire in California’s know history rages. It is a year-round endeavor to keep our mind calm and our spirit turned upward.

This Thanksgiving we all are grateful that the fire is over. That the hurricane and tornado season is over. In California we are grateful that the rain just started, however late in the season. We are grateful for clean air to breathe.

And, as we are celebrating Thanksgiving i can’t help but turn to spirit and acknowledge our amazing ability to survive. As we recover from the shock and heal the trauma we can turn toward thriving again. This time, let’s consider the greater balance of nature and find ways to keep the earth’s balance intact. The earth provides everything we have.

I am grateful for this beautiful planet, and i am grateful to you for reading this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

© Eva Ruland, November 2018

Advertisements

When the apocalypse seems near

13 Nov

outside it looks as if we’re close to the apocalypse.

my mind wanders and wonders:  how long it will take until humans have destroyed what created them and what keeps them alive: this planet that supports life as we know it.

in a random conversation with a stranger i met while walking with my N95 face mask, this cynical stranger said that the fires make more room for new development. this ignites the fire inside of me that wants to lash out and cry:

“when will we humans finally understand that life is not about making more money and having more things. it is about celebrating what we have, treating it with respect, and sharing generously. it is about learning to realize that we are all bound together. if one of us hurts, we will all feel it sooner or later. the hurt will come back to haunt us, either in our dreams or in the form of outright hostility and war. when will we as a nation understand that the future will only be joyful if we start to connect with the basic conditions that create joy today?”

—– frankly, the air quality—or lack thereof—in the last days has depressed me. it is the manifest symbol of so much that we need to overcome, leave behind. it seems an impossible task. ——

for me, the terrifying hurricanes and the huge wildfires of the last years are not only great tragedies but are also painful signs of planetary imbalance. how do we restore balance?

i am reminded of the tenant of eastern philosophy that teaches that what we want to see we first have to create inside ourselves. the question then morphs into “how can i create more harmony in a time when i am upset?”

here is what i can do today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow: i can do my best to keep myself centered. to not lose perspective on what really matters. to celebrate what i have. to speak my truth and stand up for what i believe to be true.

on a practical level, for me, this means to keep practicing these things:

1) meditate — this focuses the mind.
2) choose to stay positive. (ask: what is the learning opportunity in this?)
3) celebrate what i have. focus on gratitude.
4) choose simple nurturing activities such as exercise, or a walk, or a connecting with a friend or loved one, or listening to uplifting music.
5) get enough sleep.
6) stay grounded and get one thing done at a time.

following this prescription creates more resilience and greater strength. it allows me to stay present with what is while staying centered and true to my values. it helps me move ahead in large or small ways and to do my part in co-creating the future.

about me: My name is Eva Ruland and i want to be a part in changing the world. I do this by guiding women on a path to more clarity, more self esteem, and to more self empowerment. Read more at evaruland.com

The photo is by Luke Flynt. Thank you for sharing it at unsplash.com!

© Eva Ruland, November 2018