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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

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Summer of Strength and Hope

21 Jun

Today, i start with gratitude. I am grateful for my life, my relative safety, the love and the possibility that surround me, and i am grateful for everyone who touches my life or allows me to touch theirs. Today, i am also grateful for all those who rose up to protest the separation of immigrant families, and those who donated to help reunite children and parents. No child emerges from a separation from their family unharmed. As someone who suffered a separation at age 2, i know first hand how traumatizing such an experience is and that it changes who we are. It makes us less trusting, more defensive, and creates beliefs of not belonging, of not being wanted, of not being safe. These beliefs are harmful to the individual and they are harmful to society. It’s a long and difficult journey to undo them.

Summer solstice, the time when the sun is at its highest and brightest in the sky, is a time of celebration and of enjoying our success. Today, i celebrate the power of this collective uprising. It gives me hope where fear of a moral breakdown of the magnitude Germany experienced in the 1930s had surfaced. We have a long way to go to undo the harm that the current administration has caused socially and environmentally, and yet, today i feel hopeful.

Hope is one of the core ingredients needed for conscious change. Hope is an element in making something possible. You have to have an appealing vision before you, and you have to harbor the hope that you can manifest your vision. Those who are not able to tap into possibility are lost in deep depression. Many are. As a culture and as individuals we are extremely vulnerable to hopelessness. Many of us go through the experience of feeling stuck in a dark hole with no apparent way out.

So, on this summer solstice, i want to invite you to allow hope in. To celebrate what you have, and let your awareness shine on it as bright as the sunlight. Perhaps, just perhaps, you can even allow yourself to celebrate the discomfort with the things you want but don’t have, personally or culturally, as a force to bring you toward them. These discomforts might be the grit that propels you to the long wished-for new level in your life. If possible, i want to invite you to embrace hope.

If you can connect with hope and can feel the possibility of a shift, consider contacting me to explore ways i may help you. This might be your time to explore coaching, for an individualized gentle path to transformation. Or, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and more drawn to group work, consider joining me for the Silver Queen trilogy (starting on July 14) and/or SoulAlchemy starting in September.

Please continue to let your voice, values and truth be heard. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Wishing you a joyful summer!

Much love,
Eva

© Eva Ruland, June 2018

Processing Down Under

26 Nov

Greetings from Australia. I’m in a beautiful valley in the bush of New South Wales where I have joined a team of volunteers at a retreat center. We work long hours expanding the retreat center and spend the rest of our waking time together in practices for personal and spiritual development. At this point it is 4 weeks since I arrived here and it feels like a good time to reflect and share some of my experiences and insights with you.

Our group here consists of eleven people—9 volunteers and 2 leaders. As we are half an hour driving distance away from the next town there are no distractions. The only other living beings we meet are kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, exotic birds such as colorful parrots and the mythic looking lyrebird, and every once in a while a cow or an echidnaThe eleven of us constitute the human faction of this ecosystem and we are family, colleagues, friends, and mentors for each other. We spend 15-16 hours together every day, except on Sundays when the official program ends at 2pm.

How long has it been for you since you spent 15+  hour days with a group of 11 people? For me, it’s been almost 40 years. Frankly, as someone with a nervous system that is easily overloaded, I am surprised how well I have been doing. But don’t get the wrong impression–it has been amazing and it has been hard. In summary, the first week was about arriving and adjusting and I constantly struggled to keep up. The second week my nervous system frequently shut down making it impossible to track where certain things were. I lost my phone (most importantly functioning as an alarm), all kinds of paraphernalia such as sunglasses and protective safety glasses, and even my toothbrush. All of this caused more stress, irritated people around me, and made me more vulnerable. I had an emotional mini-collapse when, within the span of 5 minutes, three people addressed me with criticism or had a tense tone in their voice. The third week I had to contend with physical pain (lower back pain, something totally new to me), and the fourth week I spent facing some of my less charming traits mirrored in a person I was teamed up with. Lots of opportunities for struggle and for growth and transformation!

Here in a nutshell is what I’ve learned so far:

Always add at least 1 mm wiggle room when building something for a 3-dimensional fit.
My vulnerability allows others to understand my process.
The deeper I allow myself to feel, the bigger the potential for transformation.
Defiance is a mechanism that walls me off from others.
Rigidity and the wish to control are rooted in fear.
Kindness toward others generates ease and engenders kindness.
Gentleness, kindness, and generosity are the most powerful tools. They melt the heart.
Surrender and trust are cosmic superpowers that draw in higher support.

Time to go and join my team and experience another adventure of a very human kind.

11 years later — a true story about consequences of loss

5 Sep

I am back from Germany and had a great time. The biggest blessing i experienced in Berlin was community, and the greatest gift i received was the support of a very capable friend who offered to help me and my four siblings sell my mother’s house which has been empty for many years. We siblings have dragged our feet—my sister local to the house who was my mother’s caretaker and is the main heir has been too emotional, and those of us far away did not feel in charge, as we are only secondary heirs. But after years, even from the distance across the globe, i have become upset about the situation. It feels disrespectful to my mother’s memory to not deal with the estate (the house has been neglected and is in disrepair). So, when i set off to go to Germany, facilitating a settling of my mother’s estate was my major objective, next to spending quality time with my 5 year old niece Stella, my sister Anne, and some other people close to my heart.

I tell you about this not to cast blame on anyone but to share a story of loss and its consequences. Underneath my sister’s procrastination (the house was left to her) was an overwhelming sense of loss with which she was left more or less alone. It may be that my family’s situation is particularly extreme as we siblings have dispersed in all winds, living on three continents, in time zones so different that talking to each other on the phone regularly is almost impossible. But i know that my sister’s pain and isolation is not an uncommon occurrence. Major losses are super tough challenges. And it does not matter much whether it is the loss of a parent, a friend, a partner, a close family member (including pets), or the the loss of one’s long-term relationship, one’s health, or one’s youth. The shock of death and separation, the scariness of major health problems, and the depressing cultural implications of dwindling youth are not only hard to face—we are usually not prepared for them and most have no support structures to help. When this loss is the death of a loved one there might be a lot of sympathy, but there is usually little capacity to be in the presence of grief. When the loss is that of one’s youth, often there is not even sympathy.

For the last two years i have been offering Midlife Alchemy. My intention with it has always been to offer a structure that provides the space to reflect, process, and find support in times of loss, impending loss, or during a major redefining of one’s self. I want to fill the cultural gap around loss and offer a place that encourages authenticity and trust, inspires self-reflection and sharing, and becomes a place for emotional healing and transformation. With Midlife Alchemy I am offering the kind of space and support here that i wish my sister would have in Germany.

Midlife Alchemy is not just about loss. It is about embracing what is and connecting with your inner strength in the face of what life presents you. It is about reconnecting with your true nature so that you can gracefully unfold and be the beautiful being you came into this life to be.

A new in-person Midlife Alchemy group in the Bay Area is forming this month. We will meet on Thursday evenings. You can find more information at http://evaruland.com/MidlifeAlchemy. Please don’t hesitate connecting with me if you are interested but have any questions.

What color is your blossom?

31 Mar

Spring has started with sunshine and a show of lush green and the first blooms. It is as if nature put on a perfect show to teach us a lesson—that we are at our best when we show our innate beauty, that which makes us unique.

Spring is a celebration of new possibilities and of differences. Flowers come in different colors and shapes, and so do humans. Some of us are high endurance people, others are sprinters; some of us have a firm grasp on facts, and others are more ethereal and easily travel into the realm of imagination. I see us all as unique flowers, contributing to the beautiful tapestry of life.

Spring is your time to embrace your uniqueness and celebrate it. It’s the time to get yourself out and show yourself in your you-ness. What is your unique color? What does your blossom look like?

I offer 3 different ways of supporting you in making strides toward being yourself more fully.

Coaching. In this completely individualized approach the focus is on you, where you’re at and where you want to be. Coaching supports and guides you in taking a new kind of  responsibility, that of agency. This is the deepest approach to self-discovery and has lasting effects. Ready for a life-changing journey? Read more here or contact me.

Midlife Alchemy group. I guide you and the group through a transformative process of self exploration using writing and imagery. Sharing in the group creates a community and accelerates insights. A new midlife alchemy group will start in May. http://evaruland.com/MidlifeAlchemy

SoulCollage group/workshop. I guide you in the process of connecting with your soul through images. This is a quick+easy approach to self-discovery. Repeated participation is highly recommended. Check out dates and sign up: http://evaruland.com/soulcollage.html

All 3 approaches have specific benefits and lead you to experience profound change in how you see yourself and your world. They work well in tandem—the more attention and time you invest the faster you’ll see change.

If you need help deciding on where to start, contact me. We’ll talk about it and i will help you choose what’s best for you right now.

Happy spring!

© Eva Ruland, March 2016

Gifting—Now and Then

5 Dec

Gifting is an art. With so many options available, gifting has not become easier, it has become more difficult. How can you make sure you get the right thing? Most of us have already so much, more things than we need. We have the means to go and buy ourselves that book by our favorite author, the sweater that feels so cozy, or a beautiful trinket for our house or garden. Where does that leave gifting? Here are some thoughts on the nature of gifting and how gifting has changed over time.

In the northern hemisphere the holiday season is a time of darkness and cold. For our ancestors the dark season was a time of rest, as the days were short and the cold didn’t allow for much work outside. It was also a time of gathering around the fire, keeping each other company and minimizing the use of resources such as wood for warmth and candles for light. It was a time of storytelling and handiwork (such as needlework, knitting, and carving), some of it creative, much of it utilitarian. Some of the handiwork would be for personal use, some intended as a gift for a dear one. The grandmother would knit socks to help keep the grandchildren warm. The granddaughter might adorn a simple napkin or apron with a stitched pattern and so add a touch of beauty to family life. The father or grandfather would carve a new bowl or make a toy to delight the kids. By the time of greatest darkness, when the festival of light, Hannukah or Christmas, came along, trinkets of appreciation were passed on. Families and friends shared what they could conjure up, showing that they cared.

Gifting needed preparation and work. It was a sign of devotion, an acknowledgement of connection and care to pour ones labor into a gift. Later on, when crafts, trades, and the first industries changed society and currency became more common, gifting became the art of knowing what someone wanted and accruing it for them. That might have included asking help of a cousin or a merchant who ordered an item that was not easily available locally. Books and fine fabrics were shipped long distances to bring joy. Gifting was still work and the one gifting usually received pleasure from the joy their gift engendered.

Somewhere in the last century, the West reached an unprecedented level of wealth while simultaneously having access to fast means of transportation and communication. Mass production dropped prices, and mass consumption was born. The result of this was that many material wishes could be made true for most Westerners much more readily then at any time before. And this had its affect on gifting. The threshold for acquiring things dropped so low, that buying gifts became a chore you take care of in one day of massive shopping. For a while gifting become an exchange of things nobody needed.

Today, most of us in the West are privileged to have not only our daily needs covered. Most of us have more material goods than we need or can easily store. We have the means to go and buy ourselves that book by our favorite author, that sweater that feels so cozy, or that beautiful trinket for our house or garden we were charmed by. What we have less of is time and leisure, a sense of belonging and of purpose. Our lives have become complicated and stressful. So, what do we do with that innate longing to show our appreciation through gifting? Here is a suggestion: give the gift of a creative experience this holiday season. Find a class that offers an easy approach to creativity (or self reflection) and get a gift certificate for it. Give a gift that creates an opportunity to slow down and create something, or to explore one’s self in a way most people usually don’t ever find time for. A collage workshops to set goals for the New Year makes for a great gift, and so does a coaching workshop that helps participants integrate and become clear on what matters. Even more creative is SoulCollage®—a way to explore one’s interior world. I have all these available as gift certificates at evaruland.com/gifts.html, helping you make wonderful, meaningful gifts that will not add to the landfill.

May your holidays be sweet, cheerful and bright!

© Eva Ruland, December 2015

Winter Pleasures and the Psyche

2 Nov

In the few last days i have experienced a major shift. Even though we still have warm and sunny days, the grape vine plant and the apricot tree begin to lose their leaves. The days grow shorter and the evenings have become colder. And i follow suit, enjoying hot chocolate and a good book. I am reading In the Land of the Long White Cloud, by Sarah Lark. The book is an engrossing story about early settlers in New Zealand and focuses on the lives of two young British women who agree to marry strangers, in a country they have never seen, half across the globe. The two have different backgrounds and different motivations but as the story unfolds they cross paths and their stories intertwine. Big adventures unfold for each of the women, some in the wild of nature, most in the wild of human psyche and interpersonal relationships.

in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Why am i so fascinated with this book that i would mention it to you? It beautifully illustrates the complexity of life. The many story twists nurture my psyche. The part of me that likes a good adventure is engaged. The part of me that is curious about other cultures and other places is stimulated. The romantic in me suffers for the misfortunes the heroines have to endure, and cheers them on as they carve their ways to more independence from oppressive situations. I am glad for their moments of joy, and hold my breath when they have to endure yet another violent fit by a man who thinks he owns them. I admire their resilience. In a way you could say that i live through them vicariously as i am reading the book.

The same happens when i see a captivating movie. I immerse myself, resonate with a character or situation, and have a strong reaction against another character or situation. We all do this—it’s a built-in function of our psyche. It makes us respond emotionally, with compassion, with rejection, disgust, awe, joy. Most of this happens to us unconsciously. The art of growing into psychological maturity—that which Jung called individuation—is the art of becoming aware of our unconscious responses. The automatic responses do not go away, but as we become more aware of them we enter a new level of self-knowledge and we start to enjoy ourselves in a different way. We learn to step outside of ourselves and chuckle compassionately at ourselves as opposed to becoming all worked up by whatever triggers us. 

I have a practice that helps me to get in touch with the rich depth of my psyche on a regular basis: my SoulCollage® practice. The other day, in Midlife Alchemy, i had a bunch of my SoulCollage cards out for an exercise. One of the group participants remarked “You really seem to like your unconscious.” Yes, i do. My unconscious is the biggest part of who i am. I better like it! And i suggest that you begin to make friends with your unconscious too. You might have heard the model of the psyche mirrored by an iceberg: there is a relatively small top above water—that’s the conscious mind—and a huge foundation invisible under the water—the unconscious. This huge invisible part of the psychic is hidden from consciousness but is nevertheless very actively contributing to our daily lives. Our mood and our likes and dislikes all arise from the depths of the unconscious. 

I love the adventure of lifting some of these hidden psychic auto-pilot systems into the light of day. Reading novels with awareness for nuances and my responses to characters and story twists can do that, watching certain movies with that same awareness can do that, and practicing SoulCollage can do that too. How do you connect with your unconscious? Give it a try. Next time you watch a movie or read fiction pay attention to your reactions. Or come to SoulCollage® and learn how to let your soul speak by tuning into the unconscious when you choose images for your collages. It’s fascinating way to delve into the greater Self.