Tag Archives: nature

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

Awe + Wonder

9 Dec

Awe is a state beyond happiness. It puts you right into a state of bliss. You feel humbled and utterly grateful to be alive. The present moment is experienced as filled with an overwhelmingly beautiful wonder. When you are in a state of awe, happiness is not a question. Awe expands happiness into unknown dimensions.

I bet you have experienced awe and wonder in some form when you were a child. A moment that comes to mind for me is coming into our living room after dark on Christmas eve and seeing the huge Christmas tree (which, I knew, had been brought in that afternoon) 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 Christ child 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.

Nature can inspire awe.

Nature can inspire awe.

But you don’t have to be religious or a believer, or a child, to experience awe. Let me give you another example. I experience awe when i see an amazing performance, am in the presence of art that speaks to me, or hear music that resonates with something deep inside me. I remember going with a friend to visit an artist in his impressively big, almost palatial, artist’s studio, in the center of Berlin. At some point I realized that this was not a typical visit. I felt the presence of something tremendous. It was the combination of the more than life-size mysterious art, twilight-like lighting, and a entrancing song from Goretzky’s symphony #3 that touched my soul. I felt transported into a place of bliss that was almost unreachable, a diaphanous and fragile state, that felt like it would vanish at any moment, yet it was there and I was in it in that moment.

It seems to me that the key to my experience in that moment was letting go of control and of judgement. I allowed myself to take in the magic of the place, the art, the music, the unusual conversation. I was there to experience, and i did not have to be in charge of anything. Control is the anathema to awe. The more control we have the less we can experience awe.

How to cultivate AWE

Awe is something that comes to you, not something you can generate. Yet all it takes to feel the wonder of a moment is an open mind, the kind of inner attitude that Buddhists call beginner’s mind. If you can cultivate an open mind you are cultivating an aptitude for awe. You can train yourself to be more predestined to experience awe. Being open is the key, but how do you become more open?

– Try letting go of preconceived notions of what things, situations and people are and how they are supposed to be.

– Allow yourself to be curious. Try looking at the world with fresh eyes. Take in colors and shapes as if you have never seen colors or shapes before. Go out for walks and discover the wonders of nature. Visit galleries and open up to being drawn in by art. Let go of the notion that you have to understand everything.

– Take time to just be, without anything scheduled. In our hectic lives that is oftentimes not easy to do. But you can give yourself small windows of time throughout the day. For example, park your car 3 blocks from where you’re going and walk with your eyes wide open. Look at the people and dogs, cats, and birds; take in the front gardens around you. Look into people’s eyes without judging them.

– If you’re philosophically inclined, contemplate the odds of atoms joining to molecules and dancing in just the right way to create a tree, a child, a bird. Ponder the mystery of life perpetuationg itself: for the tree to grow seeds that generate new trees; for the child to be born and protected for years before it becomes an adult and has children of its own; for the bird to lay a fertile egg and create a new bird. Bow to the miracle of life. Cultivate reverence.

– Shed the stale mantle of “been there, done it.” Jadedness and cynicism are certain poison to awe. Tune into the amazing symphony of coincidences that were and are necessary to create the world around you and your life in it. Allow yourself to be receptive to the sense of awe and wonder that nature, life, and the ingenuity of ideas and art, can inspire.

Tune into Awe mode and get a head start on your journey to happiness.

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Any change takes awareness and discipline – most of us struggle with at least one of the two. It’s certainly easier to grow with the support and guidance of a teacher, coach or mentor. If you would like to explore working with me and getting me on your support team, contact me at eva_at_evaruland.com.

© Eva Ruland, December 2013