Claudia Cummins

Inspiring health and happiness in body, mind and spirit

A Blessing for Living Big

January 22, 2017

Consider the possibility that you are not you. Or rather that you are not the little self that you perceive yourself to be, with your small story and your passing struggles.

Consider the possibility that you are an instrument of the greater You of the universe, of the vital energy that longs to spread and stretch through the cosmos, reaching all the way back to the beginning and all the way forward into forever. 

Consider the possibility that you are infinite and real. Drop your small-minded obsessions with your transient self and struggles. Invite the vast vitality of the world to flow through you. Have faith. Live big.

Be bold enough to reclaim your birthright as a strong and beautiful messenger of life. Serve the world as an instrument of its kindness and peace. Shine brightly as life plays its sweet and soulful songs through you.

~~~

Questions for contemplation: When in my life do I feel small and when do I feel as vast as the universe? In what ways do I sometimes live too small, sabotaging my own bright light that longs to shine? How would it feel to stand in my fullest strength and light, living as big as the world allows?

~~~

This blessing was written for Claudia's January 2017 online immersion 
called Illumination: Entering the New Year with Rekindled Light.

A Blessing for the Body

January 11, 2017

I pledge allegiance to my body, which has served so nobly and so faithfully for all these many years. I offer thanks for my strong legs and fierce belly and clear eyes and wide-open heart. I acknowledge the incredible might and mystery that has kept my lungs breathing and my limbs moving and my hands reaching out to the wider world. 

Oh, dear, body, how difficult I have made your journey - sometimes deliberately and sometimes in confusion. Perhaps I've overworked you or underfed you or shunned or shamed you. I have shown you so little mercy and have given you few reprieves. And I have too often treated you as unworthy or unbeautiful or not good enough. 

I have even lived with the illusion that something is truly wrong with you (which means, of course, with me). I have labored with the mistaken assumption that with enough will and determination I might shape you into something other than who you already are.

And what you already are, my one and only portal to the world, is beautiful. You have taken me on unfathomable journeys and have led me through unexpected adventures. You have been my home for happiness and bright thoughts. You have enabled me to participate in acts of creation and deep care. You are my lifeline to the infinite and the vessel through which the world's greater light flows.

I pledge allegiance to you (to me), beautiful body. I promise, from this day forth, to honor and appreciate your strength and your steadfastness. I promise to take good care of you and to offer you ample opportunities for nourishment and fresh air and rest and delight. I pledge to treat you with same compassion and tenderness that I strive to offer all beings. I bow to you (to me). Thank you for being my home in the world.

~~~

Questions for contemplation: In my heart of hearts, how do I feel about my body? Who might I be with a more friendly and affirming set of thoughts about my physical self? What steps might I take to practice more effective self-care in a way that offers my whole being greater affection and respect?

~~~

This blessing was written for Claudia's January 2017 online immersion 
called Illumination: Entering the New Year with Rekindled Light.

Yoga in the New Year

January 3, 2017

Yoga in the new year has begun!

Winter is a wonderful time to dive into the practice and to reap the benefits of its many gifts. The quiet light of the season urges us to turn inward, to move gently and to tend to our inner being. I encourage you to spend a little time this month on your mat, either at home or in the company of others.

Beginning this week, I have classes on Wednesday mornings from 9 to 10:30 at the Butterfly House and on Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 in the ballroom of The Renaissance Theater in downtown Mansfield. You can learn about them here.

In addition, there are still a few spaces open for our second Hatha and Harmony gathering on Saturday morning, January 21. This class, which features yoga and live classical music in a warm and welcoming environment, will be held at OhioHealth's Wellness Center in Mansfield. This is a unique opportunity sponsored by OhioHealth and the Mansfield Symphony, so even if it's been a while since you've dusted off your yoga mat, I highly recommend it. You can sign up here.

A Little Light in the New Year

December 30, 2016

For the last few years, I've been writing little pep talks to myself to help me move through each day in more sane, balanced and loving ways. These writing don't fit neatly into any particular genre. Some days they feel like prayers, some days like blessings, and some days like poems. I've taken to calling these notes to myself illuminations, since in them I hope to inject glimmerings of light into each day.

In the new year, I'm so happy to share some of these little packages of light with friends and family who are also looking for ways to steady themselves and to live close to their deeper values and loves. I'm offering these illuminations as daily posts throughout the month of January, and I hope you'll consider joining me for this online adventure.

You can learn more about Illuminations, or even register, at this link.

Whether or not you join me, I send you big wishes for many beautiful, inspiring, centering and uplifting moments of brightness and illumination in your new year!

*****

Widening the Family Circle

December 22, 2016
If you are ever lucky enough to be introduced to my dear friend Linda, you will instantly feel at home in her presence. The first thing she will do when you walk into her home is invite you to sit down at the kitchen table while she steeps you a cup of tea.

She’ll ask you where you’ve been and what you love, with all the warmth of a beloved auntie. She’ll pull a book off the shelf that she thinks you might love and offer to let you take it home with you. She’ll fetch you a sweater in case you may be cold, and if the day grows long she’ll put a pot of veggies on the stove just in case you’d like to stay for supper. And I’m quite sure that, indeed, you will want to stay. Everyone wants to linger in her presence.

Linda is one of those beautiful souls who takes on both strangers and intimates as family the very instant they meet. There is no waiting period, no litmus test. The connection and the communion are almost instant. You have shown up at her front door, and therefore you are kin.

DEEPER CONNECTION
Sometimes I wonder what might happen if we were to follow Linda's example and reach for some deeper level of connection with everyone around us. What if we were to take on everyone we meet as family, offering them the same warmth we would give a beloved cousin we haven't see in months? (And I use family here in the best sense of the word, considering us as a highly functioning family that is truly looking out for one another’s best interests.)

I have a feeling that our lives would change dramatically if were able to widen our hearts enough to welcome everyone in without exclusions. For starters, we'd treat both friends and strangers with greater kindness and mercy. We'd have fewer enemies. And we'd work a little harder to find common ground with everyone we meet. Mother Teresa alluded to this possibility when she told us, "The problem with the world is that we draw our family circle too small."

The ancient sages teach us that we are all family, when we stretch out our sense of self to its greatest reach. They teach us that enlightenment rests in seeing ourselves in others and in recognizing others as our selves. For surely, we are all children of whatever light it is that has brought this world into existence and keeps the planets spinning year after year. And that makes us all kin.

It takes so much energy to defend ourselves against one another, anyway. We waste a lot of time sniffing each other out before deciding whether we are friends or enemies, whether we are comforts or threats. Why not simply decide in advance to respond to one another with warmth and care, recognizing us all as members of the same team?

NO MORE STRANGERS
When this finally happens, our values will more closely reflect the goodness of the whole rather than the needs of any individual. Our minds and our hearts will be stretched and softened. No one will be left out. We will feel less lonely. We will save ourselves as we save the world, simply through inclusion. And there will be no more strangers left anywhere.

Perhaps you’d like to try taking on Linda, or someone like her, as a muse today, offering your own brand of familial warmth to everyone you meet. Why not act as mother, father, sister, brother, auntie, nephew and cousin to all, just as an experiment, just to see what happens?

You might learn that your favorite check-out lady at the grocery store has recurrent migraines, but that doesn’t matter because her husband is returning home  tonight from the military. You might learn that your mail carrier has been working overtime to support his three young children, and though he's tired he's thankful for the extra work.

You might be invited to hold your former babysitter’s own new babe, slipping into a tender state of communion when you gaze into those just-born eyes. You may be moved to call a long-lost friend to let her know you miss her presence in your life.

And, you may even learn that your crazy uncle still shares many common bonds with you, even though you voted differently last fall. Through all of this, you will end up feeling a little more at home in the world, a fuller participant in the beautiful and lovely flow of life.

Not everyone will respond in kind, for sure. But that's okay. We'll just keep widening the family circle as best we can through openness and inclusion. We'll do our best to breathe a little fresh air into ourselves and everyone around us. And bit by bit, together we'll create a happier and healthier world, simply by recognizing our common bond, our shared existence, our kinship with everyone and everything.


This essay was written for Dwelling in the Heart, Claudia's 2016 online lovingkindness immersion.

*****

Illuminations

December 15, 2016
I am thrilled to invite you to join me in an online adventure called Illuminations: Entering the New Year with Rekindled Light. In this offering, each day in January I'll share a small helping of insight designed to help cultivate happiness and peace in the year ahead.

Illuminations is an opportunity to launch into our new year in a slightly different way than we typically envision. Rather than resolving to make big outward changes in our lives - commitments that often dissolve within weeks - this offering invites us to consider making gentle inner shifts in our thoughts, in our beliefs, and in our attitudes. My hope is that the immersion will inspire us to live in clear and balanced ways in the world, not just in the new year but in all our days to come.

This offering is a simple one. Each day in January, I will share a single image, a few words, and three quiet questions for contemplation. The words I offer come in the form of what to me feels like a blend of blessing, prayer, poem and aspiration. (If you have seen my handmade book Illuminations, then many of the offerings will be familiar to you.) And the questions are designed to help you unpack those words and contemplate them further, in a way that hopefully opens new windows of possibility in your own life.

In Illuminations, we'll explore the wisdom of slowing down, the power of paying attention, the sweetness of living deeply, and the importance of living in love with the world. We'll find ways to quench our thirst for a more genuine sense of ease and balance in our lives, and we'll cultivate a deeper feeling of being at home in both ourselves and our world.

OUR MONTH TOGETHER
As in past immersions, all of the month's content will be housed on a private website, so you can easily find all of the offerings in one place. In addition, the material will be sent out early each morning by email, so you will find it waiting for you as you enjoy the first few sips of your day.

And, as in my past immersions, nothing is required of you other than a willingness to receive the small daily packages I send your way. There will be no papers to write or tests to study for. Any or all of this can be done at your own pace and in your own way. The offerings will work best, in fact, if they are considered suggestions and explorations rather than commands.

Save the emails for a quiet moment in your day, or ignore them completely and just head on over to this site when you have a chance. Skip any passage that doesn't appeal to you (although it's always a good idea to be curious about that which you resist). And return to those that feed your soul as often as you like.

AN INVITATION
I am so happy to offer this course and I hope you will consider joining me. I've been writing these little blessings for several years now, and have enjoyed the challenge of sharing age-old truths in ways that I hope speak to our modern souls. Writing these illuminations has also been a way for me to grow clear in my own values while connecting in beautiful ways with others. I very much hope that Illuminations will add clarity, happiness, and renewed light as we move through the dark days of winter and beyond.

I have set a suggested fee of $25 for the course, but if that feels excessive for your budget, you are welcome to set your own price. And in the spirit of holiday giving, I am inviting each participant to share the course for free with any friend who is new to my online immersions.

To enroll in the course via credit card, please, click the "Buy Now" button below. If you have questions, prefer to sign up via check instead, or if you would like to join the course but are hoping to pay less than the suggested fee of $25, please contact me here. Once I receive your registration, I will contact you to add a friend to Illuminations at no additional cost, if you like. I even have a virtual gift card for you to share with your friend!

Thank you so much for your interest. I hope to share a little new year's light with you soon.

Holiday Restorative Workshop

December 1, 2016
To my local friends: I hope you'll consider joining us this Saturday, December 3, for our annual holiday restorative workshop. We'll meet at MindBodyAlign's Butterfly House from 2 to 4, and will spend time moving gently, breathing with ease, and settling into some of the most gloriously relaxing poses that yoga has to offer. The fee for the session is $20.

I love this opportunity to steady and fuel ourselves for the wonderfully crazy holidays ahead. My hope is that the workshop will fill us with peace and goodwill that will shine brightly all the way into the new year!