‘Walker there is no path…’

At the same time as I started to run barefoot, I also started to learn Spanish – the two practices coincided. I had tried to do both before, but I hadn’t been able to follow through with either!

With barefoot running I got injured, and with learning Spanish, well – I just stopped when I came back to England… I didn’t realise at the time – it’s incredible, the 20/20 vision of hindsight – I didn’t realise, how integral both learning Spanish and running barefoot were to be to one another.

I started learning Spanish with Maricarmen in August 2016 – I immediately really loved my lessons… And after awhile, Maricarmen introduced me to Antonio Machado, a very famous Spanish poet… She thought that his work would resonate with me, and in particular the poem…. ‘Caminante no hay Camino…’ It continues… ‘Se haces el camino al andar

Walker… There is no path… You, make the path by walking it…’

His words resonated with me… Machado goes on to liken our past to standing on a boat – looking behind, and watching the wake  disappearing back into the sea… Like it never happened…

So it resonated very deeply with me, because of course, there is no past – there’s only now, and there is no future. So therefore, truly, really, there is only the step we’re in.

All that exists is this moment. All that exists is this step. There is nothing else at all…

Now it is one thing to understand this, to play with the concept… But to experience it fully, is quite another… To be so fully present, so fully in the moment, to experience that there is no past and there’s no future…

There is only now.

And of course to do this there is much inner work to be done, as all the time we are ‘reacting’ out of the hurts from our past, then of course we cannot be in the present moment…

With the experience of clearing the past, and being in the here and now comes a great trust… But there needs to be trust first, to be able to let go fully of the pain from the past… This means that we have to feel this pain whenever it arises in the experience of now.

We must be prepared to do this, in order to freely and fully connect to the absolute present… And from this clarity we are then able to fully trust that new impulses, which are not connected to our past patterns and scripts, will then emerge from within us.

This is what we often call our ‘inner voice’.

There is no voice in reality – and we often call it our ‘heart’s desires’, but really there is no ‘heart’s desire’… There is only the silence inside us, which is our true self…. What emerges from this silence we can trust – and we might describe this as our soul’s path.

However, of course to connect to our silence, we first have much clearing to do and this often entails many paths following our ‘heart’s desire’ and the voices inside us! And so life is an endless paradox, and often seems a riddle and an unsolvable puzzle…

But as we clear and clear over lifetimes, the impulses that arise from the silence within us – and that we follow – can be backed up with our mind, and it’s brilliant use of being able to action these impulses… And so this poem, ‘Caminante hay no Camino…’ spoke to me.

‘Walker there is no path…’

Months went by and my barefoot running became stronger… In May 2017, I took a sabbatical from my work, and now I was free to just run and to write and to be in the sun…

All my life, I had seen this was my future – to run free of pain in the sun, and to write, and here I was living this – the opportunity to live this way had arisen as part of my path of clearing… I had also began a Youtube vlog where I was charting my barefoot journey, and in it I had voiced an idea that during my sabbatical, I was going to run and write.

I had an idea that I would be running on beaches all over the world, and that this would be a lovely way to spend my Sabbatical! To run all over the world… On lovely beaches by the sea and to vlog and write about my experiences!

And so it came to pass that in the July 2017 my feet were stronger, and my body was stronger and suddenly forty miles in a week in my bare feet naturally emerged from my being… There had been a process that I had surrendered to…

I had really lived in each step. I had let path be made by walking it. My bare feet led the way, and it felt like my feet were ‘entities’ of their own, and that they were directing the way my life was going…

One day I was sitting in the sun enjoying the freedom of my sabbatical… I had been running that morning, and I was writing a blog.

Laurie Lee the author, of one my favourite books ‘As I walked out on midsummer morning…’  Unbeknownst to me, had penned his words to this exact town where I am writing this book… Almuñécar… ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ had spoken to me when I read it forty years ago, in the same way that the Antonio Machado poem spoke to me now, both reflecting the freedom of the journey unfolding in front of us – trusting the path…

And on this day, as I sat musing in the sun – it came to me that I would like to run the whole length of Spain in my bare feet… Right from the North coast to South coast.

The idea arose from within me – and once it had arisen and I spoke it out it had a life of it’s own…

First I shared it with Anadi, who thought it a great idea – and then I asked our friends Jack and Maggie, who live here in Spain – if they would be prepared to support me and help with planning the route – there was an immediate ‘yes’ from them…!

And none of us ever looked back…. The idea was conceived…

The route was to start in Suances on the North coast of Spain – and then I was to run all the way past Madrid, and onwards, flying south, to arrive back here in Almuñécar on the South coast…

I decided I would like to arrive on my fifty ninth birthday, May 12th 2018…

I thought I would be able to cover 25 kilometers a day, with one day of recovery (for my feet mainly!) every 6th day… This meant it would take seven weeks, so I would need to start on March 23rd 2018…

And so I began to train for this event, and also to invite others to come and join me on the route… It also seemed very natural that I would run to raise money as I journeyed, for the hospice movement ‘Friends of Sussex Hospices’ in the UK… My brother, Stuart, suggested it was important I raise money for a Spanish cause too… And so we chose Fundación Cudeca in Malaga.

Why the hospice movement?

Because my friend Kathy Gore is the Chair of FSH, and also because their message mirrors my own life’s journey, and my work in the lives of others…

Although the people in the hospices are in the last stages of their life on planet earth; the whole message of the hospice movement is about living fully… It asks those who are dying… ‘What matters, you? Not ‘what is the matter with you’?

And this is what we can all ask ourselves… ‘What matters to us’? Not what’s the matter with us?

A celebration of ourselves and our expression in our lives, rather than any criticism…

Reflecting within on what matters to us… How do we truly stay in our own unique step, and allow ourselves to express ourselves from the truest place within us….

Introduction to Barefoot to Buddha…

At the end of July 2016 I hurt my back… I experienced really deep sciatic pain that went on and on and on for about six weeks. It was a very big process because the pain was very, very deep – like nerve pain is, I couldn’t get any rest from it… As the days went by, the pain wore me down and suddenly I accessed deep down this feeling of despair, there was this flash within me that came up and said…’If I can’t run, then I might as well die…’ It was really helpful to me to find that sentence… It showed me that I still ‘defined’ myself by running, rather than ‘was’ running – and so it showed me that still, I was not free…

It just arose from the pain, within the pain of the jangling nerves, and in catching that thought that came out of the pain or rather that feeling… I was aware that there were still binds tying me that meant my running wasn’t a clear expression of my soul.

It wasn’t my artistic expression dancing around the planet. It wasn’t my spirit in motion. It meant that my running was still emerging from some unresolved ‘stuff’, from tension, from some place where I still needed to prove myself – or to run for someone else – or to run away even – from pain and a vestige still of self hatred.

I recognise that the whole of my life, my running journey has been a journey of discovery, a journey of finding out, a journey of clearing so that my spirit could dance free… Because when I came first onto the planet; when I was first born, I did run free!

The moment I could walk, I ran…

I ran around like the wind and I raced around as free as a bird in my little bare feet… And it was only over the years that the tension and the pain and the need to run to prove, the need to run fast to earn love, to gain recognition blocked the path of true expression.

And so my life became a journey to set free the expression off my spirit – and I recognised that the tensions, and the processes, and the events of my life, arose as part of my unique energetic makeup, which for sure I had created over lifetimes, for lifetimes and lifetimes… Working it out, living it out, working it out – in order to clear the way for silence and freedom.

And so during July 2016 when this pain was with deep within me – and the whole way through August too, I was able to reflect that even though I was now fifty seven years old, and although I had been working to clear this pain for forty years; another layer was peeling away, getting me closer to the centre, like peeling the skin of an onion…

I believe it was when I was seventeen years old that I first recognized that my running steps had started to become ‘locked in’ – and it was at the same time almost exactly that I started see this and begin immediately to unravel and work to unlock the pain… At the same time, I read the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull… A phrase in the book that struck a chord in me was the one where Jonathan is saying that…

‘Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than thought itself in a form you can see, break the chains of your thought and you break the chains of your body too…’ This spoke to me, and I knew it to be true, even though as I read it I was unwittingly becoming more chained by my thoughts!

Another phrase that struck me was when Jonathan seagull was teaching Fletch gull how to fly, and Fletch gull said… ‘Are you saying I can fly’? And Jonathan replied… ‘I’m saying you are free…’

Those two phrases struck me so much. My whole orientation from the moment I was born had been ‘freedom’… How to be free!

I read this book when I was seventeen years old; Ironically at the same time as I read these words of inspiration I was also chaining myself in; I was locking myself into my own cage – one of pressure and ‘got to’s’ and ‘have to’s’, and ‘not good enough’s and ‘not fast enough’ and ‘could do better’s’…

At the same time as society, family, external pressure was reflecting itself in the energy blocks I had come into clear – at but same time I was reading the route to freedom.

My soul was reminding me of what I knew… But here I was locking myself in – so it was a real juxtaposition.

But we cannot be free of what we haven’t yet worked through – and so for forty years I journeyed on a running path that was both my salvation of my nemesis; because running was my expression, it is my expression – it is my soul in motion on planet earth – it is the thing I came here to do. But it was also the place where my self-hatred showed up…

I was born to run – but of course and it being the thing I came to do, also meant that there were lifetimes of energetic creativity or creation that I had made myself – that was still there to be unraveled and cleared, so that I could set myself free.

I saw too that all that was necessary was to clear the way to be silent in the step of my running path; because in setting myself free – the light of my free self could guide others to be free too, because they can see their own way in my reflection, to find their own freedom

And so, in August 2016, I recognised that this was a deep, deep process, and that the pain was necessary to free me, and that if I stayed with it, and felt the despair, and felt the grief, and felt the loss…The loss of my own freedom, the loss of my own joy – and at the same time really let go of anything that was within me that was still running for anybody else but myself, let go of any part that was running for any ‘thing’ to do with anything, other than my own expression…

And so the days went by, the weeks went by, and although the pain eased somewhat – it still hurt to run.

And then in early September I travelled to Lanzarote with my husband Anadi… One day we were walking on Famara beach together… It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and I was enjoying the walk, although my body was still in pain. It was still impossible really, for me to run. I had tried, but it hurt too much… Then I saw the surfers on the beach, they were warming up in readiness to go into the surf on their boards. They – of course – all had bare feet, and they were running up and down, doing some exercises, and then running again, as part of their warm up.

As I watched them this flash of an idea came into me… “I wonder, I wonder if I could run in my bare feet without any pain…

I started to imitate the surfers, my feet were already bare… I jogged gently along the sand and found immediately that there was a freedom in my step… Anadi and I ran along the beach together – I suppose we ran for half a mile, and my body didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt me, and the nerve pain that had kept flashing through my thighs when I tried to run, that too had gone – my knees didn’t hurt either – the restriction and tightness had lifted.

And so unknowingly, that day I began again on a barefoot journey… But the bare feet were emerging from the ‘letting go’ – paradoxically – of running for any reason other than to run; to become the run, to lose the self in the run – the bare feet were emerging in the Zen of running

I had spent forty years ‘knowing this’, and gradually peeling back the layers – to uncover what I already knew – that I needed to simply ‘let go of the attachment to an outcome’ – this wasn’t about not having a goal, it wasn’t about not creating something – steering the ship – it was about truly letting go.

And this time, I really and truly did let go…

I had ‘let go’ so many times before – and scoured off another layer or two – because I ‘understood’ years and years ago, that my running was a spiritual journey…

I knew it was a journey to experience staying in the step. I knew it to be a journey of Zen…

To learn through my running how to live a life of being in the here and now.

Whenever in the past, I really was in the ‘here and now’ – whenever I let go of a desire to win or run fast for anyone else other than me, and to stretch for the stars just for the fun of it – when I just loved doing my best, reaching high, because I loved to find out… Then my running released and my spirit soared…

Because of course trying to win and trying to run fast in themselves ARE fun if there’s no attachment to an outcome – and I don’t mind – when I don’t mind if I don’t run fast, then there’s no harm – because within the trying and the striving and the stretching for excellence; and for seeing ‘if it’s possible’ – then within that there can be opportunities for great growth…

But of course whenever we try to win to ‘prove something’ or if we want to ‘win to get power over anyone’, or to achieve a fast time because of a misguided belief that it might make us immortal in some way… Then of course this can be very stressful and lead us away from ourselves rather than towards our truest self…

So for forty years I had known this and sometimes, I truly experienced that I was free and I let go – and then unbelievable freedom of movement and speed and flying on land occurred.

I was as free as a bird again….

But then out of this freedom I started to run fast and to record fast times and to gain success… Ironically this all came about out of freedom – but then I would forget, and the dark energy pushed again out of fear, out of need, out of insecurity – of a sense that I needed now to ‘hold onto ‘ this form – and once again I would drop into the abyss of an attachment to an outcome…

On reflection when I lost sight of my truth and instead desired a sort of immortality through my running – inevitably each time I lost sight of my own light; I would become injured or ill and be reminded again of my true path….

And, it seemed I would have to start all over again…

But in September 2016, I shed my shoes and I also shed the pressure of a lifetime (of lifetimes!) I shed at last the need to try to run to earn love, or to run to please – my father or my coach, or any manner of other people around me… Instead I just started to let my feet dictate. I let my feet lead the way….

And what an incredible journey.

It was tough initially for the body to run without the support of trainers. I left my shoes with in Lanzarote, because every time I went to the beach – it was a good experience and I could run. At the end of the three weeks that we were there, I was able to run five miles on our beach, but when I put my shoes on my body hurt again. On the last day, I went for a run on the track in my shoes and my body hurt again. And then it happened that a woman and her child turned up too, and they ran around and around in their bare feet. So, there and then, I took my shoes off and I ran round the track in my bare feet and I felt no pain.

It was now October and I was transitioning, and still my body didn’t hurt if I wore very light vivobarefoot shoes… I ran only ten times that month because when I had run seven miles, eight miles in these shoes, my legs ached from the new effort so much and they were tired. So, I did a lot of strength and conditioning in the gym, and I let go off any goals I let go of any mileage aims…

I let go off everything!

I was going back to basics… I was ‘letting go’ which I had known for years was all that was required…

I went right back to the very beginning, to a time when I didn’t have any goals; I didn’t add up my miles… I just went for runs, and worked on aligning my body, strengthening my body, running as it wanted to run

And so the days the weeks went on and my running was now again a joy because it was all about finding out… I had gone back to the very beginning …

And then another step!

On January 22nd, I gave all my barefoot shoes to my friend Jane and was left with only beach socks … It was another huge liberation for me and my feet wanted to dance, they wanted to run… I remember padding round Eastbourne, because I was in the UK for ten days – it was freezing cold -4! And there I was running around in socks – it felt like freedom – it was freedom for me.

I came back to Spain in the middle of February and shed even my socks. Now I was running barefoot on the road…

So through September October November December January – for five months my feet were adapting, they were getting stronger and I could run barefoot on road, on beach and on the track – and I was loving it… I loved having no goals I loved being free, I loved the whole feeling of barefoot running…

My running seemed to have purity again, it seemed to have an expression and a path it was leading me on…

I was slowly fully remembering again that it was what I have come to the earth to do, because in following my running I’m following my soul and by following my running it’s giving me the opportunity to properly clear, to properly be free to properly be courageous and brave – and properly live what I came to live out…

To let go, to let go off everything – and of course ultimately to let go of running… To let go running – and then I found I was still doing it….

In the same way that consciousness is being able to be in this body, but to have let go of it… And then to just be in the world but not of it… Being able to live in the silence space beyond the samsara, beyond the yin and the yang, beyond the duality and therefore be able to play on planet earth…

To have fun!

And so with my bare feet I started to play, I was starting to truly live as I’d always known was possible…

When I was a little girl, I knew that we could live on planet earth and enjoy the experience and really know that it was just an experience; and that this body is just the vehicle – and life is a way to experience energy and to therefore clear energy…

And to know that this is just a flash in the eternity of our existence, here we are a spark of the infinite consciousness we are all born of…

We are all born of consciousness and we are experiencing our own unique energy playing out in a body on planet earth.

And as 2017 unfolded – I was able to experience this in deeper and deeper ways than ever before…

Through my bare feet.

But of course my bare feet were only an expression off a deeper letting go…