Earth-Air-Water-Fire-Space

Last week was spent wandering amid ferns and ancient redwoods, bathing in foggy mist and salty sea air, and meditating on the dancing flames of a campfire (mindfully and responsibly cared for). There was no cell reception, electronic distraction, or 24/7 news for the vast majority of the trip (thank goddess). For me, there is no better way to restore and replenish body, mind, and spirit than being in nature.

Walking as close to the earth as possible (bare feet, oh yes) is utterly grounding. Breathing the fresh air under a redwood canopy–deeply refreshing. Burbling water, crashing waves and salt spray–so cleansing (those fabulous negative ions, yes please). The deep, radiant warmth of a fire felt, sinking into bones and soothing the soul. Spending time watching the flames dance, and letting all else fall away–a recipe for clearing the mind and creating space to simply BE.

I believe, deep in my soul, this is how we were designed to live. Connected with all other beings, and to this beautiful blue planet that sustains us and supports us. During times of chaos it is imperative that we remember life is more than just our small selves. We are made of stardust, and to stardust we shall return.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”― Nelson Henderson

I am in the midst of creating a meditation series that reflects what my meditation practice looks like. The first one is up and ready for you! (Find it here: https://vimeo.com/468731804) This first meditation is about learning to ground ourselves in the present moment through somatic body awareness. It is an invitation to rest, breath, and connect. Carve out 15 minutes in your day, find a space where you can be uninterrupted, plug in your ear phones, and drop in.

In closing, I wish you many, many opportunities for connection, grounding, and replenishment.

Made With Mantra Malas

One day my favorite much-used mala broke. I set about re-making it, and haven’t stopped knotting since! During my early teens I had a passion for making macrame jewelry. It was tiny, intricate work that I loved very much. Making malas has reconnected me with that early creative drive.

Japamala (mantra recitation) is a significant part of my yoga practice, and I use my malas to recite mantra during meditation. There are 108 beads (not counting seed beads, extra decorative elements, or the guru bead) on a full mala. Each round of 108 recitations is like sending out 108 prayers to the universe.

My little labor of love is now LIVE on ETSY! I design and hand-knot unique one-of-a-kind japa malas. I also offer custom made-to-order malas, along with repair or restring of an existing mala. Each mala I create is imbued with mantra as I knot. My intention is for these small offerings to bring peace to each wearer/user. It would bring me great joy if you checked my little shop out. Please share and/or favorite! 🙏🙏🙏

Look for the NEW! CUSTOM MALA JEWELRY link in the menu. Or, click the link below.

Made With Mantra Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeWithMantraShop?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

Musings on wash tubs, chaos, and change…

I have a very early memory of my grandmother’s basement.  She still had one of those old-school wash tubs with a manual hand-cranked ringer on it.  The world of modern appliances had moved on considerably, but for some reason my grandmother still had a manual wash tub in her basement. What I remember is the darkness of the basement, and the strange wonder I was feeling as I watched the wet clothes being squished, flattened, and pulled into unrecognizable shapes.  

This year feels a little bit (make that a lot) like being put through that ringer.  Here we are in September, and many changes have happened in my life.  Landslide shifts in what my work-life looks like, my mom needing personal assistance as she navigates another health scare, and an out-of-state move (goodbye California, hello Oregon!)–all while living with a global pandemic, political and social upheaval, and wildly insane climate-change driven wildfires and heatwaves (can we call it apocalyptic yet?).  These are huge, stress inducing changes.  I keep trying to clean, straighten, find some order, some normality, anything to keep the chaos at bay.  But, maybe what is needed is to lean into that chaos.  What if rather than turning away from all of the feelings of worry, frustration, anger, or fear, I really sat down with them and had a conversation?  Not in a let me wallow in them kind of way, but in a curious, interested, and compassionate kind of way.

While I can’t control the world, or the politics that run it, or the fear generated by it all–what I can control is how I respond.  I am sure that most of us have heard the Chaos Theory concerning the wings of a butterfly.  What it’s really trying to say is that tiny changes in a big system can affect everything.  How does this work for me?  I work on the one thing I can change–myself.  What are the roots of my triggers?  Why do I think/feel/react certain ways when x, y, or z happen?  Once I know, I have the power to choose a different, and better, response.  It can be very interesting, very revealing work.  This is radical self-care. 

“In chaos, there is fertility.” –Anais Nin

Some of 2020 has been undeniably bad, but some has been outstandingly good also–like purchasing a home. Another gift has been re-connecting with creative source.  For a while during my teens, I nurtured a macrame jewelry making passion.  It was tiny, intricate work that I loved very much.  A broken mala that I wanted to continue to use, put me back on the path of jewelry and mala making.  It’s both a meditation and a creative hobby that brings peace and joy.  

My new office/video/zoom/yoga space is a blank canvas that I am in the process of envisioning–from choosing a new desk and shelf set, to what color to paint the walls, to how to organize it all (the Virgo me LOVES this).  In this space, I will be creating programs, meditations, and videos–some live, some pre-recorded.  I can truly say I am excited for what is yet to come.  Please do stay tuned!

In closing, I invite you to connect with what brings you peace and joy.  It’s there, waiting to be discovered.  And, like a bee that harvests nectar from a sunflower to make golden honey, you too will create peace, joy, and be part of the tapestry of change that will spread throughout the world.

Know Better. Do Better.

Let me begin by saying right now–this newsletter is heavy. It is a reflection of my heart, which at the moment is feeling very, very heavy. By nature, I am a very private and contained person. But, right here, right now, there are voices calling (shouting really) for me to open up, to listen deeply to friends and to strangers who are BIPOC. Their voices are utterly valid, and they are in pain. It’s past time for me to sit with that pain, theirs and mine. Because, yes, I am feeling discomfort, guilt, shame–many, many things. There can be no turning away from it. It’s real, and it’s lived. 

This is THE yoga.  The yoga of ahimsa–non-violence in thought, word, or deed against another human being, or myself.  The yoga of svadhyaya–self-study, in what ways are my actions, my perceptions, my belief systems both conscious and unconscious causing harm to others and myself. And, the yoga of tapas–self-discipline, to transform myself by sitting in the fiery discomfort of breaking habitual thought and behavioral patterns. It’s necessary, and absolutely essential work.

We are all human beings, but we are not all free. This is my yoga. I invite you to contemplate yours. And, as we sit with what is happening internally, and externally, be kind with yourselves, and with others. We have all walked different paths, and find ourselves in different places. As one of my teachers said, “model truth and compassion.” Let’s all be the change we wish to see in thought, word, and deed.

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free. And, may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.”
Find the prayer here:  https://vimeo.com/400370987

Live Like It’s Spring

“Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring.”
–Lily Pulitzer

I have been having recurring dreams about emerging from a cave, holding up a shielding hand as I squint against the ultra-bright light and warmth of the sun.  My steps tentative.  My head tilting back subtly, as I take slow, deep breaths.  I feel my lungs expanding, my spine lengthening, as I release my arm beside me and simply stand. Time seems to slow down, as I feel the ground beneath the soles of my feet, the heat of the sun, and the caress of a soft breeze against my skin. This is, perhaps, what it feels like to be free.  Aware of the earth that supports me, the sun that warms and strengthens me, and the air that sustains me.  

 “You and I possess within ourselves at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives.”
–Werner Erhard

These past weeks–months, really–have been an incredible shift in how we all live.  What will we find when we eventually and slowly begin to re-enter the group life stream?  What have we uncovered–discovered–about ourselves during this very special time?  What have we let go of, and what do we take with us?

Now is the perfect time, if you haven’t already, to let things drop away that no longer support you.  Keep only that which is fulfilling and produces joy for you.  Modern life has a way of inserting extraneous and energy draining activities (think about how much time is spent on, say, social media).  These current times of SIP offer rich opportunities to observe “tapas.”  Tapas has been traditionally defined as practicing a “fiery discipline” (the root word ‘tap’ means ‘to burn’).  I like the definition given by one of my teachers: “It is a necessary, fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment to burn off the impediments that prevent us from being fully present.” [Jennifer Prugh]

For the past seven weeks, my tapas practice has been to sit with how I feel about LIVE virtual streaming.  So much about virtual streaming makes me very uncomfortable.  Part of me is amused by this.  Teaching live group fitness classes used to be a large element of my business.  The energy of that was very fulfilling for me.  Doing it in front of a camera (and seeing myself)–not so much.  But, I am committed to finding my voice in this new world.  And, so it goes.  I sit with the discomfort, I do different camera/lighting set-ups, I observe the reactions it brings up, and I practice some more.  

In the meantime, I have added a couple more videos to my Vimeo platform.  Find the videos here:

  • 20 Minute Standing Mobility Flow:  Elevate the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your neck, shoulders, hips, and legs. No equipment needed.  Bring your curiosity and willingness to explore moving in spirals and circles, up, down, side to side, and all around. https://vimeo.com/401159397
  • Warming & Balancing Flow: This session is designed to link your breath to movement, finding energetic balance between not too much and not too little. Flow from one shape to the next, connected to your in breath and out breath like water from one shape to the next shape. Open your hips, invite mobility in your spine, and create some length in your hamstrings and hip flexors.  Finally, you will have an opportunity to check-in with your breath and feeling self as we finish with a short meditation.  https://vimeo.com/403516615

In closing, I also want to offer you links to a few things that have been very supportive for me, creatively and energetically:

Stay well my friends!  Stay well.

Self-Care Tools

“When the storms of life come, if they come to me personally, to my family, or to the world, I want to be strong enough to stand and be a strength to somebody else, be shelter for somebody else.”
–Anne Graham Lotz

Self-care in these turbulent times are essential, not just for ourselves, but also for our loved-ones, our neighbors, our fellow human beings sharing this beautiful planet we call Earth.

I have had many moments over the last three weeks where thoughts, fears, and feelings have overcome me.  I know I am not alone in this.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by emotions, reach out and talk to someone, write it out, dance it out, get some sunshine, pet your beloved dog or cat, do yoga, do any positive activity that helps to balance/level out the intensity of the energy you are feeling.

Some of my self-care go to’s are:

  • Limiting my daily news exposure to once, maybe twice, a day–like a status check-in.
  • Keeping a daily routine of showering and dressing like I would if it were a normal day (e.g., no pajamas, wearing my AppleWatch–the activity tracker is a great motivator, putting on mascara–yep!).
  • Making a healthy, yummy smoothie every morning.
  • Getting out for a walk, or a bicycle ride, in the neighborhood every single day.
  • Meditation.  Every morning, first thing when I wake up.

Other resources:

And finally, I have been slowly (and quietly) creating a Vimeo video channel for a while now.  There you will find my past videos, and new ones.  Some are guided meditations that are useful for reducing stress (Yoga Nidra, Leaf Meditation, and 4-7-8 Breath).  The newest videos are active sequences designed to get the body open and moving.  Find the videos here:   Claudia on Vimeo

Stay well my friends.  Stay well.

Online Offerings

As we continue to navigate the waters of these strange times we are in, I am slowly working on adding more online video offerings.  Some are guided meditations that help you to ground and find peace.  Others are short sessions on improving active ROM.  My newest one is 20 minutes of standing leg strengthening and stretching.  My hope is that they are useful and helpful!

Please find the videos here:  Claudia Fountain on Vimeo

Stay well my friends!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

In these challenging times, may this form of compassionate prayer bring you some measure of peace.

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

OM SHANTI SHANT SHANTI

 

May all beings have freedom and happiness, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that freedom and happiness.  Peace. Peace. Peace.

To hear the chant:  https://vimeo.com/400370987