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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

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Will 2018 be a good year?

1 Feb

Many people around me say that 2018 will be a good year, mostly referring to politics. I too feel that there is more hope for the future. But how good a year 2018 will be does not only depend on politics. It also depends on you. 2018 will be as good as we make it.

I have started the year slowly. Even though i led a couple of year end and New Year’s workshops, i felt the weight of winter slowing me down. Not that it’s terribly cold here in Berkeley—the temperature hasn’t gone below 37 once. It’s the short days and the long succession of gray days that made me want to stay inside and focus inward. Plus, i am still integrating the rich experiences of my Australia trip. Luckily, turning inward and making room for my soul to feel comfortable (translated from the German ‘die Seele baumeln lassen” meaning to allow yourself time to process and to be) are perfect winter activities.

Finally, i am also beginning to plan ahead. The things that i want to focus on are: one-on-one coaching, guiding small groups through the SoulAlchemy process, and launching SoulAlchemy as a virtual program.

For those interested in SoulAlchemy, the virtual program will start on February 27. Registration just opened. You can sign up at http://www.evaruland.com/alchemy.

If you have been longing to make your life more nurturing, more fun, or otherwise more satisfying, come and bring these longings to coaching. I’d love to help you gain clarity, and support you as you begin to take steps toward manifesting your soul’s desire. I currently have three coaching spots available. If you have any questions or are not sure if your situation lends itself to coaching, just ask. Drop me a line and let me know how to reach you by phone and we can talk about it.

Let’s make 2018 a good year!

© Eva Ruland, February 2018

More Freedom and Joy through Forgiveness 

10 Oct

While holding on to resentment freezes relationships and creates enemies—none of which is instrumental in making your life happier—there are great benefits to forgiving: it relaxes the tension between people, creates more connection, and gives you the freedom to continue with your life free of grudges—it makes energy available that can directly go into experiencing more joy.

The question is: how easily can you forgive? For me, forgiveness was hard to learn. In the family i grew up in we had our feelings but did not talk things through. Holding grudges was how we responded to things not going as we hoped or expected. I used to hold grudges forever. I could point exactly to the moment when a sibling, parent, or later my husband, did something that offended or pained me and would rub it in years later. “See, you did me wrong. How can i trust you now?” was my rationale. Not forgetting was my way of protecting myself from more hurt. Did it work? No. It took me years of meditation, happiness studies, and insight to learn that i not only hurt the other with my attitude—i also hurt myself by creating a bullet-proof separation between me and them. I freeze the relationship and make it conditional.

Nelson Mandela said: “Holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Forgiving does not mean to let the other off the hook and give them free license to continue with their thoughtlessness or abuse. Forgiving embraces their humanity and ours. They did something callous, imperfect. We were hurt by it. These facts stay. The basis of forgiveness is understanding that—paired with the hope that we can learn. We can learn to be more mindful of the other, and we can learn to not take everything personally. When someone lashes out to hurt, it usually has to do more with their past than with the present moment. Forgiveness can help break through old patterns. The energy that motivated the one who hurt our feelings is dispersed when we forgive. If we don’t forgive, we who got hurt take on the role of the victim and the negative energy intrinsic of being a victim attaches to us. We enter a karmic loop of perpetrator and victim and stay in it until we can forgive.

My most powerful example of the relief that forgiving can bring is forgiving my father. He was aloof toward me, and the only times he seemed to look at me with the eyes of fatherly pride was when he showed off my skills at the piano or pointed out my excellent grades in math to visiting uncles. In private, he was harsh and at times abusive to me. I grew up deeply wounded by his lack of positive bonding with me and held a life-long resentment that turned into “i hate my father” when i was a teenager. One day, already in my 30s, a continent away, and divided from him by the veil of death, i decided to clear my relationship with him. I went on a profound shamanic journey with the clear intent to speak my truth to my father. I did not expect what happened. He spoke back to me and expressed how sorry he was for failing me. He explained his situation and made me see that his lack of expressing care was not meanness directed at me but a part of his situation and human limitation. He asked for my forgiveness and i granted it. This gesture of the heart set me free from decades of pain and changed my relationship patterns more than anything else.

When we speak our truth and open up to hear the other who also opens up to share their humanity and their truth, we gain freedom. If you haven’t yet, start to experiment with forgiveness. See what happens when you let go of resentment and invite the other to let go of defensiveness. Be prepared for amazing results.

*You know about the season of forgiving if you are Jewish. As we are approaching Yom Kippur we are in the midst of the season of forgiveness. In Jewish culture the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the holy time of reviewing the last year, clearing and resolving troubled relationships, and resetting for a fresh start. This life review does not just lead to making resolutions to become a more patient parent or more loving partner; it leads to naming one’s shortcomings vis-a-vis others and includes asking their forgiveness. And in turn, others may come and ask yours. It’s the season of forgiveness. I feel that we all can learn from this tradition that honors awareness and emphasizes relationships and community.

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

Let go and be yourself

31 Jan

A while ago a came across a poem of great beauty and wisdom that i want to share with you and reflect on. Here is the poem:

She Let Go by Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. 

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

I believe that this poem describes a key to happiness. The letting go described here is the letting go of judgement of self and others, the letting go of the wish to please. It is the letting go of expectations, our own and those of others, and of fears. Our world changes drastically once we let go. While everything around us might continue to be the same, how we experience it changes for us once our attitude changes. Just imagine life without being self-conscious or worried. Once we let go of expectations we not only let go of a major source of stress, we also side-step disappointment. Once we stop caring about what others think and expect, and throw our own harsh inner critic in the wind, we make room for our essence to unfold. We become more ourselves.

Once we free ourselves from playing a role and squeezing ourselves into a box of expectations that doesn’t fit, we gain authenticity. We finally become true to ourselves. We shift from living a life dictated by outside factors to living our soul’s longing. When we do that we connect with the river of joy. This river of joy runs through us and every animate being. It springs from the source and runs through our soul. Once we take down our walls of defense and pretension and allow our soul to shine through, we automatically connect with this river of joy. It is as if “the sun and the moon shine forevermore.”

————

Having trouble letting go? I can help you. Choose a modality (coaching, SoulCollage, or Midlife Alchemy) that resonates with you, or contact me at eva_at_evaruland.com.

© Eva Ruland, January 2016

The healing power of visualizations

29 Apr

The healing power of visualizations

Last week i conducted three healing visualizations, two for private coaching clients, and one for the women of my Midlife Alchemy Deepening group. The results are phenomenal. What seemed to be impossible before now can happen—and does! When the heart heals and makes peace, the world becomes your ally.

4thConnection

In my practice this week, there were different wounds that needed healing; but there were common threads. The most common thread is that all of us have suffered emotional wounds. They need tending to and healing. Customized visualizations are powerful, efficient tools to help healing old emotional wounds. Last week has made it clearer than ever to me how important the healing of the heart is, and that this healing is what i am called to help with.

My specialty is facilitating change on a deep, lasting level. Customized guided visualizations that lead you to a safe place to stretch yourself, and healing visualizations play an important role in my tool box for achieving this deep and lasting change. And, yes, you also get to travel into the future through visualizations to see your potential and get in touch with your heart’s desire. As my client you have either experienced a future journey already or we’ll get to that.

Where do the visualizations come from? Many future journeys are a standardized templates and used by many life coaches, healing visualizations are not. I channel them from the depth of the unconscious. I carefully listen to what i hear from whom i am working with. Then i allow myself to delve into the ocean of knowing and surf on the wave that offers itself. What it takes is intuition, trust, presence, and experience.

Is this hokey? No, it is not. My method is solidly backed up by psychological research. Over 100 years ago, Carl Gustav Jung started his groundbreaking work on the collective unconscious that connects us all. In the last several decades, the psychology of healing and positive psychology have affirmed the tremendous benefits of visualizations. What i do is in alignment with cutting-edge research.

I make my gift of transformational visualizations available to both my private coaching clients and to the participants of my alchemy groups. If this speaks to you, contact me for a consultation, or sign up for a group.

© Eva Ruland, April 2015

Holiday Season the old-fashioned Way

8 Dec
Indiana Jones and Yoda at Imagination Park.

Indiana Jones and Yoda where there for the Holiday party at Imagination Park.

When i was a child in Germany, December was a fabulous month. Nature would bring us the miracle of snow, and at home there were many magical moments spread throughout the month. When my siblings and i were small children, my mother would sit the 3 of us on a sleigh and pull us through country winter wonderland. To this day i remember the sense of awe i felt looking at the transformation of trees and fields. When we were older we would build a snowman, and once even tried to construct an igloo. That was fun, and precious because snow was not easily to be had. It came or it didn’t. It was nothing you could go and buy in the store.

Apart from nature’s miracle of snow, we had plenty of indoor moments that elevated our spirits. From December 1st – 24th we had our Advent calendars. We would take turns opening the tiny paper doors, and marvel over a little picture or a piece of chocolate we found behind them. On December 6th we celebrated St. Nicholas Day, with treats of fruit, chocolate Santas and nuts. Every Sunday afternoon during Advent* we would burn one more candle on the Adventskranz, a reef with 4 candles, and sit around eating treats, and singing seasonal songs. I remember a Windspiel, a little metal ring with 4 candle holders on the periphery and a sort of mini fan standing up in the center of the ring. From the fan cutout angel shapes were hanging. As the heat of the candles rose up the fan began to turn, and the angels were sent flying in a circle, as if they were on a carousel. I was hypnotized by this little wonder.

The real moment of magic happened on Christmas eve when a little bell rang and invited us kids into the living room which had been locked all day. It was just after darkness fell and that tiny bell we heard was said to belong to the Christkind, the Christ child. Next, the double doors to the living room opened and our eyes went to the huge Christmas tree alight with candles and sparklers in the otherwise dark room. My father sat at the piano and both my parents were leading us in singing Christmas carols. I could sense the proximity of the Christkind who, according to the legend we were told, had just been visiting with my parents to drop off presents. In my state of awe it all made sense; i could feel the presence of the divine. It manifested in blissful, speechless elation.

Recently i read that the Greater Good Science Center at UCB received a major grant to study the effects of awe on well-being. Several studies have shown that what Kant called the experiences of the sublime–awe evoked by beauty, or nature, or something powerful or majestic—has been connected with more joy, satisfaction, and health. Nature is a store house of awe–inspiring places and occurrences. A study performed here in Berkeley showed that study participants were more likely to help others after contemplating the majesty of North America’s tallest Eucalyptus tree–which happens to be right on campus–than those who had been brought to the exact same location but had been asked to point their view in a different direction, to a science building. The experience of awe humbles us and lets us forget momentarily what otherwise may preoccupy or burden us. Lifted above egocentric self-talk, unstoppable mulling over the past and worrying about the future–things in which the mind engages readily–kindness emerges. The explanation for this increase in altruism is that in the face of something bigger than us we are more likely to feel the connection between all beings.

Brief experiences of awe boost happiness, kindness, altruism, and health. If you are not yet convinced yet, consider this: It has been shown that cytokine levels, cytokines being a marker for inflammation in the body, decrease in study participants who experienced awe. To me, just remembering the sweetness and the awe-inspiring elevation i experienced decades ago puts a smile on my face and gives me a positive lift. To inject a fresh dose of awe and sweetness, i joined friends with their 8 month old baby yesterday for an old-fashioned Christmas lighting event in Imagination Park in San Anselmo. (That’s where i took the photo with Indiana Jones and Yoda.) What can you do to present yourself with an experience of awe?

PS: For a gift that can instill awe in the recipient consider a gift certificate for a collage workshop–the gift of creativity–or one for coaching–the gift of transformation. Tip: those who do not consider themselves artistic usually are particularly awed when they leave my workshops with a self-created piece of beauty in hand. More valuable than the collage they take home is that they have discovered a new trait in themselves, creativity. They will be moved by the presence of creative energy within them and it’s sure to make them feel really good about themselves. Gift certificates are available at http://evaruland.com/gifts.html.

© Eva Ruland, December 2014