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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning…

Caminante, no hay camino; Se hace el camino al andar.

The soles of my feet are bare and within these pages I will bare my soul  … I am going to endeavour to write this as if I have no readers; as my unfolding steps reveal my path, my writing will record it, a memoir as to where they lead me.

Three days ago I was running in the mountains alone for four hours when it arose within me that I would start to write again; I stopped two months ago; my blog ended its run abruptly – from one day to the next… On finding my days in England full of Christmas commitments, I let go of the daily discipline… And I haven’t written since.

But as I ran silently and alone in the Alpujarra mountains, the urge to write rose again… But this time, without any intention of sharing; no social media tweets, or linkedin or facebook announcements that I had once again written something down…

My idea at first was to go right back to the very beginning, when each night I wrote in longhand in a journal… I started this practise at just twelve years old and I wrote each day, until at twenty one, I reflected on the entries of my late teenage years and now just starting out on a new decade – I decided that the daily inscriptions were too full of sadness and darkness… Too full of the unresolved pain; too full of despair that I would every emerge from the confusion of my turmoil.

My writings communicated the fear that my only release from my tortured mind, would be to die; perhaps then I would find peace – but no sooner had I thought this thought, than I was immediately tormented further with the absolute knowing that the body dead was of no gain…

For I knew that the agony would remain unresolved, and there would still be the need to investigate and find a way to release myself from the tight stranglehold of the deep existential misery, that I was experiencing…

And so I stopped keeping my journal – the entries too ‘oscuro’ and sad to continue with…  I threw away the big pile of books, charting my thoughts and feelings, my daily routines over nine long adolescent years.

And as I ran in the mountains this week, I thought to simply go back to the very beginning, to write longhand again in a journal each night…

But then I moved from that thought to one of typing my stream of consciousness onto a document and gathering the pieces of work together in a virtual folder…

And then I had this idea…

To record my writing here on my Soles Journey; but to not make the process a public one. To trust that if anyone finds my entries and enjoys reading, they will simply be a reflection of my own souls journey…

Going running…

As I ran up the hill, with wet leafy trees heavily drooping over onto the wet shiny, bumpy, uneven Dorset lane – I reflected on my life and how all I have ever really wanted to do is go running…

I love it, quite simply love it… I always have – and I love it even more now it doesn’t hurt…!

Much of my running career has been fraught with pain and stiffness and working out the hold ups, the stuck areas… Being conscious of the wisdom to always run with the slowest part of the body, and then not doing that at all… So it broke!

My Dad’s  engineering words echoing in my head… ‘The chain always breaks at the weakest link darling…’

I remember feelings of envy listening one day to an interview with a musician who had been a musician all his days, and he was still creating, making music, expressing his soul through his art; sharing his journey with us…

Stirring my soul

I recognised always that it was important to discover a way to ‘play my tune’, to ‘make my art’, to live my running step out day after day; to clear any feelings of envy and instead live fully my own truth…

Of course, I have always run; but at times it has needed to be ‘fitted in’ early or late and been squeezed out, so that it became an ‘also ran’ in my life rather than a main player.

There too, has been much of my life when running hurt; so although it was my heart’s calling – actually doing it didn’t feel good at all… A real juxtaposition… and then there were times that I feared I was destroying my body – and I did not wish to be ‘crocked’ as the years went by…

But the running step calls me always, as if it were what I have been born to do… The simple act of putting one foot in front of another, as most of us did when we were children, racing about… running – a natural movement. and one that in the past meant that we survived, running to gather our food and run away from danger…

Running to learn was my ‘strap line’ for many years, as I have learnt to so much, cleared so much on the running road… I was also acutely aware at times when my running times were very fast, and people would clap and cheer and celebrate my steps, that they were celebrating something that wasn’t the true expression of my art, not a clear and truly happy one anyway.

There was much tension and ‘push’ back then… Muddled eating, overtraining, huge pressure on myself to achieve some chimera that could never been reached…

And yet I could have done anything different… It was what it was. It was where I was then…

And now the running step is lighter brighter, more fun, more free. My feet and me go out to play.

All that is required as we live this life, as we journey forth is that to our own selves we are true. If we do this then that is the biggest gift to the world. There is nothing else. There can be no good deeds or honourable works if they do not come from our truth. if we do things to be good, or to help or because we feel that is a better way to live in the world; then the energy is not as pure as if we live out our own truth… Any altruistic acts coming from us living our truth, will come from that clear energy…

If living my truth is playing on the hills of Dorset like I did today, in the rain and the wind, oh the joy! Then this is the route I must follow… We will always know deep in our soul the path we must take, and then all that springs from that will be true.

Osho said that the biggest contribution anyone can make to the world is to be conscious…

Consciousness springs from the silence within, the place of stillness beyond all the pull to wrong doing or right doing, good and evil – joy and sorrow – work and play…

Beyond these pulls on this plane is the place of silence, within us and all around us, and when we rest in this place; our actions will spring from consciousness…

And if going running is the what emerges, going running is the biggest contribution I can give… ? ?

Once we stand naked together…

Gatwick airport is our home for the morning… We came here early and I have four hours in one of my favourite venues… An airport!

I have always loved this inbetween world that I experience here and on a plane… As I journey onwards and inwards, I recognise that this reflects for me finding the fulcrum in the yin and the yang in this layer of human life that we think of as us, as real

Throughout my life, whenever I have seen and experienced the space between yin and yang, the place… ‘Before, behind, between, above, below…’ Then I have been better able to recognise the experience of life for what it is; a place for us to experience ourselves in a body through the wonder and horror of life on planet earth.

Increasingly I experience living in this space within myself.

It can be very easy to forget that this life is not ‘who we are’… That life here in this universe, is us experiencing ourselves – which is very different to the our life being who we are.

The words I quoted above are from John Donne’s poem, ‘To his mistress going to bed..’ As the title suggests, the poem requests she be naked with him… ‘Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,  As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be…’

I loved reading Donne’s poetry as a teenager, and I still do… He speaks to me in his own explorations, of transparency, nakedness, freedom and an awareness at the soul level that our bodies are not us, in the same way that we are not our clothes…

Clothes and shoes or not shoes can be a wonderful way of experiencing different facets of ourselves, displaying our unique energies, colours, vibrations…

But underneath our clothes and adornments, we are all naked….

And once we stand naked together, we can start to experience that there is a space of complete stillness at a deeper level inside us, where we remember that we are all one.

We are all born of love in its truest form – consciousness… The experience in a body is to be wondered at and embraced as we experience ourselves; but it can be made even richer if we remember from whence we came.

Remember our unclothed, unbodied state…

As babies we likely do remember, the eyes of a newborn, a young toddler, with their unwavering gaze show a closer connection to spirit; but the experience here can quickly take a child away from this knowing, this memory.

And as life unfolds in all its multifaceted joyous light and utter devastating horror, it is not surprising that we would forget and become consumed by the tragedy or attached to the joy.

This experience can be so terribly sad and devastating and so sweet with delight that why wouldn’t we believe it to be real.

But our spirits know that we are eternal, our spirits know that beyond this human journey is freedom, truth and love… Which we can then experience here, whilst still in the body – the still point beyond the duality.

But we do forget…

And so we can live out a whole life by default, adhering to a script or structure imposed from the projections of others who have also forgotten…

I was thinking these thoughts as I walked on the springy soft grass in the park. My legs and feet were aching in the night from their adventure on the forest yesterday… And so today I walked to the park and stretched on the grass.

My legs and feet said… ‘Thank you Thank you…’

As I walked on the lovely turf, I reflected that my feet are another way for me to be experiencing yin and yang, the soft springy grass, bliss! Or stony rocky path, ouchie! Without becoming attached in any way to either…

But to relax within it all, to allow the unfolding from within, through my barefoot journey.

Yesterday I listened to the interview with Denny of DizRunsradio and I heard myself say that I am a runner first… But it doesn’t ring true anymore… Since that interview something has changed.

I wrote yesterday that I felt another layer of ‘letting go’ when I was running over the sandy, grassy trails and hills of Sussex beauty and I don’t feel that way today…

This journey seems to well and truly mean I have ‘let go’ of ‘being a runner’ at a very core level…

My feet are leading me on a new path and I have no idea where it is heading…!