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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

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

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

Happy New Year!

1 Jan

I am wishing you true joy for 2015 and whatever it takes to get there.

happy 2015

How do you go about increasing your joy? Start with clarity and conscious intent. Be clear about what you want and why. Go to the root cause of what is in the way of your happiness. Then set a conscious intention to give yourself what you need. Find tools to support your intent, such as creating an intentions collage.

To be clear sounds easy, doesn’t it? But often we get caught up in side aspects and deviate from the path to our bliss. You may think, If only i had xxxxx dollars my troubles would be over. or, If only i had a house in xxxx my life would be so much happier. Or, If only i was a size S i would find a partner and all would be bliss. However, while the money, the house, and the partner may give you temporary joy, they may not be the solution you are really yearning for.

Here is an example from my own life. As a teenager i always dreamt of studying fine art in Paris. When the time came to apply for university, i decided to study methods of engineering in Berlin instead. I loved Berlin but i did not relate to the milieu among engineers. But why did i choose it? Because i had a strong need for security and a financially stabile future, after my father had become an invalid as the result of a stroke. Of course, i could have found job security elsewhere, even in a field that was closer to my heart. The trouble was that i did not know how to listen to my heart, and any advise i received did not take into account what i was passionate about: beauty, visioning and the workings of psyche. It took me many years to become clear and rectify my choice. Today i know better.

Here are some tips for you If you want to begin the new year with conscious intent.

1) Question your motivation. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you plan on changing jobs? Why do you long for a partner?

2) Break it down. Once you go deeper and realize that, for example, you feel lonely and hope that a partner would relieve your loneliness, begin to think about things you would enjoy sharing. Then think about people who you can approach and invite to share activities. Or, the other way around, think about activities you enjoy and find groups and venues that offer this activity.

3) Define new goals. Continuing with the example, now you can state the goal of finding good company. Next, find concrete action steps. Make plans with friends, and go and participate in activities.
Hopefully, the result will be that you experience less loneliness and feel more fulfilled. Being less needy will increase your sex appeal considerably and, over time, you may meet a potential partner naturally, through sharing activities you love.

As always, i am available for coaching if you decide to get support. Find more info at evaruland.com.

Happy 2015!

How easy is it to be grateful?

19 Nov

With Thanksgiving around the bend, there is a lot of talk about gratitude. From boosting your happiness to improved health, there are real reasons to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude is easy when golden opportunities fall into your lap or when you fall in love. It is also easy to be grateful when you are comfortable and without worry. But what about those days that are challenging?

how easy is gratitude?

Yesterday, i was not feeling well. I went through my day and skipped doing things that were not essential. In the evening i soaked in a hot bath tub by candle light, and drank a grog—a northern European home remedy, in my case consisting of a shot of aquavit with hot water—to sweat out the bug. Then i went to snuggle up under a cozy comforter and topped my medication with Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic flu remedy).

What does this all have to do with gratitude? When you’re not feeling well or when things don’t go in your favor, the last thing most of us think of is gratitude. Can you remember ever thanking your boss for firing you? Or being grateful to your partner when they dumped you? Usually, our thoughts are caught up in our misery. We focus on the negative, not on any upside. Most of us need a little distance to see the positive that can arise from a negative experience. After finding new opportunities, or meeting a more loving partner, we can, in hindsight, see the wisdom in negative experiences. For example, i can look back and say: Yes, i thank the guy who broke my heart 20 years ago. Without that experience i would most likely not be living here in California and writing this newsletter to you.

The big question is, how can i gain a positive spin on experiences that do not please me in the moment? I can use the power of my intellect, my insight, and my experience with the ways of the world. Coming back to the example of coming down with a cold or flu, i could be grateful for the simple home remedies i have learned. I could also tune into gratitude for a warm house and indoor plumbing that allows me to effortlessly pour a warm bath. And, i could tune into gratitude for all the times when i am not sick, when my body works well.

In more serious cases of disappointment, frustration, and pain i can train myself to see the opportunity for growth. “Wow, i am invited to look at this issue some more!” “I can get closer to healing my fear of [fill in the blank].” Or, i can say: “Wow, the universe has something else in mind for me. What could that be?” I am not saying that this is a universal truth. I am aware there are really tough challenges that are not easily turned into obvious opportunities. Sometimes, we have to surrender to the darkness and make peace with existence. Sometimes the only question to ask is “What can i do to make it easier to go through this?”

That said, for all of us there are many easy things to be grateful for. What are 5 things you can come up with? Anything goes.

Here are some examples, meant to inspire you to find your gratitude for today:

“I got a parking spot right in front of the theater.”
“That chocolate was delicious.”
“It was nice talking to my friend on the phone.”
“I am going on a dream vacation!”
“I got to read a little before going to bed.”
“My daughter did her homework without being asked.”
“I enjoyed a wonderful walk on the marina.”
“So glad my friend is feeling better.”
“I love this new book.”
“I sat with my cat/dog for an hour.”
“It felt great to be acknowledged by … today.”

To read up more on gratitude, and the wisdom of paying attention to the small things, check out my blog entries What went well? and The Magic in Gratitude.

And if you are in the Bay Area and want to do something special for yourself, treat yourself to my Gratitude Collage worksop this Sunday afternoon. This is a great workshop to bring a friend to. You share the fun of creating, plus you up their chance at happiness. I make it easy to be generous with my Gratitude Special: 2 for $130

Sunday November 23 | 2-5:30pm | Berkeley | Register at http://evaruland.com/collage_gratitude.html

© Eva Ruland, November 2014

What went well?

2 Oct

Generating Happiness: Part 1
Researchers and practitioners agree that gratitude possesses a magic power to bestow happiness. Why would that be? As brain researchers have found, our brain is structured to respond to the negative. Negative information sticks with us immediately, even minor negative experiences, whereas it takes an average of seven repetitions to remember minor positive occurrences. This neuro-mechanism is an evolutionary trait of the Paleomammalian brain in complex vertebrates, including humans, meant to improve their chance to survive. Think about it this way: when you live in the wild an inbuilt alarm system that registers danger and does not allow you to ignore it but prompts you to act on it, is a powerful, life-saving advantage. However, our life conditions have changed. In today’s world, there is little need for this inner alarm system. In fact, for many people today this trait of our Paleomammalian brain complex is an obstacle to happiness and well-being. For us, the question of how can we free ourselves from the constant alarm of this sensitive system has become important. Since it is hard-wired into us, we will not be able to disarm the system. But we can retrain ourselves and our brains so that we notice the positive more. How? That is where gratitude comes in.

gratitude

Gratitude is a marker of a turn toward the positive. Our inbuilt alarm system prompts us to create mental lists of problems. It nudges us to pay attention to all that goes wrong and to emphasize bad experiences. Practicing gratitude aims at turning the emphasis toward the positive. That does not mean that our Paleomammalian alarm system becomes defunct. It continues to exist. But, when we begin to list positive experiences we add a new dimension. By practicing gratitude we create new neurological pathways that begin to register the positive. Instead of mentally listing everything that goes wrong, listing things that go right adds a new perspective. We create a new positive feedback system. Gratitude trains us for a more positive outlook. And what does a positive outlook do to us? It conditions us to more fully enjoy life.

How can you begin a gratitude practice?
Today, i want to invite you to widen your understanding of gratitude. In the most widely used sense of the word, gratitude is directed toward generalities. We are grateful to our friend for supporting us; we are grateful to our mother because she gave birth to us and hopefully nurtured us. We might be grateful for nature, or grateful to the earth, because it sustains us. These are all incidences of the general sense of gratitude. If you get stuck with this sense of gratitude your list may be short and full of repetition. You might soon feel silly writing down the same things every day. That’s why i suggest that you expand your understanding of gratitude to specifics. Think of things that went well and include them in your list.

What went well?
Mentally, revisit your day and note the moments in which you felt good: remember the cozy moment with your pet that gives both of you comfort; the moment of heart-to-heart connection with a friend over the phone; the understanding smile you received from a clerk; the way your body relaxed after you exercised; your delight in a beautiful flower. Even finding a parking spot right in front of your destination, or an easy commute, make for things that went well. It does not matter how mundane these incidents are, or how fleeting the moments of pleasure. All that matters is that they uplifted you for a moment, and that you take note of something going well. Start a journal and begin to write down your what went well moments.

The how of starting a gratitude practice
The word practice implies repetition. Our psyche and our body are slow to change. That’s why it is important to create a structure with built-in repetition. Make writing down your what went well moments a daily habit. Choose a regular time everyday to make your journal entries. It’s most powerful to choose to do the exercise just before going to bed or in the morning, just after waking up. At night, your positive thoughts can effortlessly flow into your dream world. In the morning, you start your day on a positive note. But if neither of these times are practical for you, find another recurring event and connect your journaling with it, for example before you go to lunch. List at least three things that went well in the last 24 hours. Stick with the practice—repetition is what creates a habit. In the beginning you might have to think hard to come up with your list of three moments. Over time, you will notice that your lists flow with more ease and grow longer. If you miss a day, forgive yourself and get back on track right then and there with a new journal entry. Your journal is your witness. As you fill it with positive moments you give credit to the positivity in your life. The effect of training yourself to notice what went well is astounding. All of a sudden your life seems to change from a life that is full of problems and things missing to a life that is full of grace. Try it. Stay with it.

© Eva Ruland, October 2014

Embracing the inevitable — Accepting aging

26 Jun

When i was a teenager i thought of myself as old. By the time i got close to thirty i didn’t want to have anything to do with being old. Being old then seemed to mean being settled in. I was not ready to settle. My thirties brought lots of adventures, the biggest of them being my move from Berlin to San Francisco. I became a student again and i was filled with youthful energy, the energy of exploration and possibility. At 42, when i married a man who is 7 years younger than i am, i felt in my prime. When he met me first, a year prior, he thought that it was amazing how i could pass for 28, unless i had spent the night on a red-eye flight. That was flattering. At 43, i had a major car accident. I lost my short-term memory, chunks of my mid-term memory, and my sense of equilibrium and physical balance. I could not walk down stairs without holding on to a railing and carefully testing how much i had to lower my foot before stepping. Even though 4 weeks earlier i still had been a youthful 42 year old, now i felt like 84. I am sure you have no trouble believing that these changes were a major shock to me. From then on i had ample opportunity to look at what defines who i am and how my age and aging play into my sense of self.

You have probably heard people say that there is a blessing in everything. In the case of my accident, i could not see the blessing for a rather long time. Now i know that it taught me the value of intuition, broadened my sense of self beyond the brilliance of my mind, and gave me a practical lesson in accepting what is. In a way, my accident prepared me to accept the fact of aging. And, just as i was pro-active after my accident and invested energy in re-training my brain and nervous system, now i am pro-active in training my brain and my body to stay fit, hopefully for a long while. I hope to maintain as many capacities as possible for a long time to come. As to my skin, i continue to take care of it and admit to a good deal of vanity. Yet, i know better than to compare myself with others, particularly those who are a decade or more younger than i am—which many of the wives and girl-friends of my husband’s buddies are. This is my life, not a competition—yet another hard earned insight at which i arrived only over time.

Dare to be yourself.

Dare to be yourself.

Aging is a challenge that most of us are not prepared for. Not only is it not a subject that is taught in schools. Culturally, aging is treated as if it is something to be ashamed of and that we better hide. I say it’s high time to change that. And the best place to start this revolution is with myself. How do i view my own aging? As something i deny and plaster over, or as something i embrace and play with? I have decided to go for option 2. When you see me, you’ll notice that i began to consciously show some gray, the badge of aging. I do it my way and juxtapose it with a bright red. That’s where the play comes in. To my surprise i have gotten many complements for it, particularly from young people. I am growing old, i show it, and i am beautiful. What would it take for you to participate in this new movement of embracing yourself fully, including your age, and say, “I am growing old, i show it, and i am beautiful”?

If you find this article inspiring, please pass it on to others. And if you would like to embrace yourself more fully, i’d be happy to have a conversation about how i can best help you with that. When you look at it as an adventure in self-discovery where you get to set many of the rules, midlife + up can have its own appeal. Let’s savor it!

News! On January 12, 2015 i will start a special workshop addressing midlife issues through reflection, personal writing, coaching tools and art. It’s called Not Young, Not Old, What Now?  Intro To Midlife Alchemy For Women. Come and explore, take stock, and develop a new perspective on where you are at in life. Interested? Read more at http://evaruland.com/MidlifeAlchemy/index.html

We will meet on Monday evenings.
Hope to see you there!

© Eva Ruland, June 2014