Preparation time….

Many years ago I woke up in the night to hear a voice speaking clearly to me… It was very early in the morning, about 3am. and the voice said…’When you decide on a course of action, be certain, because others will follow you…’

I took this counsel very seriously… My energy is such that I gather people, and when I suggest things, they tend to join in…!

And so in the years between 2003, when I heard this voice – and 2017 when the idea was born to run across Spain in my bare feet… In those intervening years, I continued to embrace my main expressions of writing, running – training for a variety of races – and working as a guía and sanación, whilst all the time moving towards my dream of living a life of doing all those things in the sun…!

But I held back from anything that might involve a lot of people, because I recognised the truth of those words…

‘Once a course of action is decided others will follow…’

I took that very seriously…

I’m very glad I did, because in July 2017, when the idea to run across Spain in my bare feet was conceived, it immediately had a life of its own. It became more than just a run across Spain… That would have been something very different just to set off on my own adventure – quietly, privately…

But this became a journey for many, not just me… It became something that I was sharing, and inviting others to join me in.

The time it took to be ready to ‘set off’ was almost the same time it takes for a baby to be created – nearly nine months long… The idea was conceived in July and I began running at the end of March…

It was however, a smooth journey to the start line – the road unfolded in front of me right from the very beginning… It was almost like it had already happened, and I must now live it to find out more about it, and about myself…

It felt to be a ‘pilgrim’s progress’ – a Peregrinaje – an internal journey … And as it transpired it was also a transformative journey for many of those who joined me on the path – and not only those who came along on the actual journey – but also for those who listened and watched my daily progress through Spain via social media. I witnessed the journey touching many people.

The idea was born and I was the messenger… It was almost like I was being given a task and within this important role, there was going to be great opportunity for growth – therefore, I must not question, but just follow…

It was of course, very much a physical journey and one that was going to be reliant on my body being fit enough, and my feet being strong enough, and so I planned a training program…

But even that was very smooth… I simply plotted the miles I must run….

I chose a weekly training load of 40 miles because my feet had run it on their own – I realised that I had just run forty miles in one week… I hadn’t planned it, so there was no push to it – it had just occurred… ‘We’re feeling strong’ they had communicated… Just as this idea was about to be born…

I saw that my feet held the wisdom and so I reckoned that if they had happily run forty miles all on their own, then they would be willing to run forty miles every week… And it transpired that they were…

It made sense that my long run on a Sunday generally needed to be the distance that I would be running every day as I journeyed across Spain – twenty five kilometers… In truth I didn’t do exactly that, but I ran between twelve and fifteen miles every Sunday…

My job was to get my body and my feet very, very strong and very, very fit.

And the best way to do this was to run…!

I looked to see if there was any way that I could make the soles stronger more quickly – but every single thing I read gave the same advice – run barefoot!

So I ran barefoot – unless it was very cold, or the ground was very uncomfortable and then I put on my Skinners socks… But essentially I just ran barefoot all over the place.

There was a building of excitement… I broadcast the journey out into the world… I wrote about it, I spoke about it..

And in Spain too… I went to a Press Conference in Granada where I had to sit at the head of a table full of journalists who fired questions at me in Spanish!

I was starting to be interviewed on the radio in England too, articles were being written, and a television news program filmed me running on Eastbourne seafront in my bare feet.

In Spain I was asked to do an interview for a newspaper in Spanish – my first interview in Spanish on the telephone…! When I saw the article in the newspaper, I was delighted that I had managed to communicate my story and my journey as a metaphor for our life journey – in Spanish!

Essentially I was talking about the journey we’re all on… I was communicating about living fully… How do we live fully?

If we truly stay fully in the step, and feel everything – the feet being the metaphor for this – when we can feel everything that goes on within us, and fully experience this life…. With all its sensations, sensitivities, everything… Then we are fully present.

Within being fully present and within experiencing absolutely everything, we will start to know our true selves…. Whether it is the wonderful taste of a bar of chocolate, or the first sip of coffee, or a fabulous meal – anything to do with our senses and taste… Or when we listen to music and its most absolute beauty touches our body…When it’s hot or cold outside and our body feels the sensations – when it’s in pain – when it’s at ease; everything at the physical level of being in a human body…

And to fully feel every single emotion too… Every feeling that we feel and so to clear everything within us, to feel absolutely everything.

If we feel an emotion rising in us, whether that be off anger, hurt, any feeling; even if we have an extreme feeling of excitement – or a welling up of joy…

If we feel every single one of them, it means that by feeling – we can drop down into the place of silence which is beyond all of those feelings – and more especially beyond the thoughts and stories associated with those feelings…

If we give ourselves the absolute permission to feel everything – and practice this – then we won’t attach any significance to wanting to stay with those feelings… Or more importantly get attached to the patterns and stories associated with them… Or act out of them as they are often from the past.

Instead we fully experience ourselves in this very moment – and any emotions triggered in the present, but associated with past events have the opportunity to be fully felt, and so healed as if they were happening for the first time…

And also feelings of joy and love, of being in love, of excitement – of amazing delight… If we experience them fully, then we won’t get attached to those, any more than we would try to reject the feelings of hatred, pain, disappointments, frustration…

If we absolutely properly experience every single thing, on this human journey; Then we are able to experience ourselves as consciousness experiencing itself – and gradually over time we will become the witnesser to our experience here…

Beyond the attachment to our ‘self’ is the place of absolute silence and a realisation of our true self.

To be absolutely fully present in every single step, moves us towards a place off the deepest possible relating we could ever have – first and foremost with our essential selves – and from that space we can relate to others in an unconditional way….

from a place of true love.

But more often we look ‘outside themselves’ for that connection, that relationship – because we don’t have the understanding that we must feel everything, and be responsible for everything we feel without projection or distraction or numbing…

The sense of the true self can get covered over by the feelings that have been suppressed – feeling our feelings and recognising that they are to do with us – that there is no one else to blame – sets us free…

Because the feelings keep rising up, so then what can happen is then they get projected ‘outwards’…. So instead of them being about the experience of the person, instead they can get projected onto what is in front of them.

Whether this is onto another person, or a situation, or other people – all sorts of things. But the projection goes out and it’s whether that projection of disappointment, anger, frustration or even a projection off extreme wonder, joy, amazingness… If it gets projected onto others, rather than being a recognition of our own amazingness, creativity, wonder, fabulousness – or our own feelings of anger, hatred, disappointment which are at the deepest level always going to be to do with self – and the separation from ourselves.

But if we can’t feel the feelings, we can’t know ourselves…

The important thing on this journey across Spain, was going to be about staying in the step and about letting the path reveal itself

We had Jack and Maggie doing an amazing job of plotting the route… But I didn’t know the route, and I didn’t know what I was going to feel on the road… I didn’t know what was going to occur.. Jack and Maggie worked very hard to plot a route all the way across Spain from Suances in the North, all the way down to Almuñécar…

While that preparation was going on, my preparation was broadcasting it, letting people know and, of course, within that the money started to come into to support the Friends of Sussex Hospices, and Fundación Cudeca…

After twenty weeks on 40 miles – I committed for the next eighteen weeks which was going to lead up to the start date on March 23rd, I committed to upping the mileage, but I didn’t set a kind of a demand from what happened and I ended up averaging fifty four miles a week for the next eighteen weeks and sometimes I did some bigger weeks. I think my biggest weeks were sixty seven miles…

I never approached the total mileage that I was going to be doing during the challenge, which was going to average eighty four miles a week for the seven weeks while I was crossing Spain…!

I didn’t approach that really ever except from one challenge I came to Almuñécar in January and I did one five day section where I did twenty five k a day, for five days and it was an interesting experiment, because for one thing it rained twice during that time – and my feet didn’t like that!

I became aware that rainy conditions weren’t great for bare feet because it softens them, and then the running road is a bit like sand paper really so I was aware of that, and I was aware that 25k a day wasn’t difficult for my fitness levels… So I knew how fit I was and that if the weather conditions weren’t good then they would be vulnerable…!

I also knew that there was nothing more I could do…

I recognised that I was as fit as I could be – my feet were strong as they could be – and that I had to just let go of anything that might I might be concerned about – and I saw there wasn’t anything in me that was concerned…

I knew that I could do this…

I knew in some ways that I had already done it… I remember having a conversation with Maricarmen, and she said to me… ‘You’ve already done this – now you’ve just got to go and experience it and enjoy it…’

And she was absolutely right. There was something within me that knew that the journey had been completed, that the challenge was not, in the end, going to be about making my way across Spain – I knew that I could do that. Even though as it happened, there was huge physical challenges for me, but somehow that wasn’t it.

There was something bigger, it was a pilgrimage, and it was it was going to be a travelling pilgrimage. It was traveling retreat. It was going to be about something very, very big, in truth, Barefoot Across Spain was much more than just the journey, running from one end of a country to another…

It was a pilgrimage of transformation.