Freedom…

I ran with naked feet in the clouds; into the hail, the rain and the snow. Feeling the earth and the jagged rocks beneath my feet, and yet protected from them by my Xero Shoes.

These ‘shoes’ are based on the way of the Mexican Tarahumara tribe, who  protect their feet by simply tying bits of rubber to the soles of their feet, to avoid damage from sharp rocks and stones…

Discovering ‘Xero shoes’ has literally changed my life… The mountain trails are now open to me again… My feet move like they are shoeless and they certainly can feel the elements!

I love being barefoot; I love feeling my running form return, my body becoming more and more flexible; fitter and more free.

I have already travelled a long way, learning in each step, I tread along the running path – mastering my art; with the knowledge that I will never fully master it… Which is why I love it…. There is no end, no finish line.

Because true mastery comes through committing to investigating deeply, its every aspect, it’s every nook and cranny; in order to let it go completely…

The path to freedom through the body, through experiencing everything… Every sensation, every feeling – every aspect of this human life… To be lived fully, the yin to the yang. The extremes of experience and feeling. The highs and the lows… The conflicts and the pain; the joy and the love…

Through being fully in every single experience, we are set free… Because living this way brings us always to the present moment.

And in this moment we can heal our past, and create a different future.

Through feeing every single thing that courses though us, we can heal that which is unhealed from whence it first arose – and in so doing create a new future, with new possibilities, free from the patterns of the past…

It is in committing to my running path that all else flows…

Everything else just unfolds; like running across Spain barefoot, learning Spanish and working in the lives of others as a Sanacion – the Spanish word for healer…

I have taken three sabbaticals now, and each time, I rest for awhile from working in the lives of others, and each time I have let go completely, thinking I may not return to that work…

Each time I have spent more time running, attaining high levels of fitness again … And then there has come a time when almost of itself my work with others returns – the door opens again within me; and  people come a knocking once more…

 

 

Train hard; fight is easy…

I was reflecting the other day about my school days… The desks all battered, and bulging with exercise and text books – there was an inkwell in the left hand the corner… And right beside my inkwell, I had stuck a little sticker…

It was a cartoon of a martial artist in a whirl of action… The caption below was ‘train hard; fight is easy’… I liked those words, they worked for me.

In part, this was because I have always been someone who absolutely loves training.

I began a daily exercise routine at just six years old, when I would join my father for this morning squats, press ups and much more… Which he continued to do right until just before his death…

In addition to this, I liked him to accompany me to the playing fields at the weekends… I would get him to time me running the length of them, again and again… In the beginning  it was just because I liked to see what was possible, how fast I could run… Could I run faster…?

At fifteen years old when I started to train in more earnest, this little sticker spoke volumes to me…

It still does…

‘Train hard; fight is easy…’

But… Training hard does not mean pushing hard…

Training hard means applying ourselves consistently progressively and optimally – and loving it!

Last week when I achieved running five days in a row of 25k a day barefoot with relative ease, I recognised that the capacity to do this, has come through training hard for sure…

But that now, the most important thing is… As Chris Finill one of Britain’s top ultra runners, who ran across the United States from the north to the south coast – route 101 – wisely says…

‘Stay out of the red zone…’

He was advised this, before he set off on his epic journey, by someone who had failed in their attempt to cross the states; and it is something I am acutely aware of…

However my innate nature isn’t to push – or to desire to go into the red zone… My nature is definitely to challenge myself and to investigate; to explore to adventure and to see what is possible…

But I certainly far prefer having fun doing so…

As a younger person, I did often push, but this came out of my hurt, my childhood wounding, my pain… I started to push to win approval, to be enough, to be loved.

Of course I learnt – in the end  –  the hard way… Because the push brought break down – always…

And of course, the only way that we can receive love is to love ourselves… As Jesus said ‘Love others AS yourself…’

When we learn to love ourselves, we can become love… And we discover that we naturally love others from this space, and whether we are loved are not becomes unimportant… But of course the paradox is that then love is reflected all around us; from the inside out…

This can of course, be a long road to tread – this road to love.

But in each step we take towards love, the road reveals itself deeper and deeper into our hearts and souls…

And so it was on the running route, as it revealed itself in each step, that I was able to let go of the push and simply enjoy ‘training hard’….

With my body relaxed and in the zone, in the step, in each moment… My soul was set free to fly on land….

Chris said, that he travelled from the North to the South coast of America –  all 2,500kilometres – cautiously….

And I will do the same, from the North coast of Spain to the South coast…

In just over two months we all set off… I say ‘we all’,  because my adventure is now a fiesta; and we are all journeying together from Suances to Almuñécar.

In the same way that we all journey together through this experience of life…

From birth to death…

Treading each step of the way, making the path by walking it….

 

 

 

Connection, Communication and Reflection…

I’m sitting on a stone bench in the sun – it is a sunny bright blue sky day.
It is 14.21 in the afternoon and I have no plan.
 
 I am liking being here in the sun…
 
 This morning I ran along to ‘the other end ‘ of Almuñecar – there are two ends and I ran to the Vellila end, where the road turns into a beach, and then by clambering over the rocks I reached another beach… I ran back and forth on the deserted sand for awhile before re tracing my steps to breakfast… A delicious feast of orange juice, coffee – toast with chopped tomatoes, drenched in olive oil – fresh mango and natural yogurt…
 
 I am enjoying the solitude and the sound of Spanish voices all around me.
 I am enjoying the sun and the sound of the waves as my constant music, and the wind in the trees.
 
 I am enjoying the feeling of having nothing to do and nowhere to go…
 Almuñecar has a few souls who ‘wander about’ throughout the day; they all recognise me now because I keep returning to run barefoot through their town…. And now I am sitting like them in the sun, whiling away the hours in silence, watching the world all around…
 
 
Which of course is simply our reflection in every moment.
 
 I was sitting in departures at Gatwick airport, the day before yesterday, opposite a man… I wondered what our connection might be… We were in the same space having a similar experience, and I wondered if we were to ‘press pause’ on the scene and investigate – then not only the man nearest to me, but all of us could have an opportunity to discover what it was linked us all, and reflected ourselves in that moment…
 
 It then happened that the man, me and three ladies, who had been sitting next to me, ended up chatting in the queue to board the plane…
 
 The man and I discovered we were a year apart in age, and that both of our fathers’ had worked on Sierra Leone, and that the two of us spent some of our younger years there… We also found  that he was also journeying to Almuñecar like I was, and is intent on creating a different type of lifestyle…
 
 
The three ladies – in this (rather slow) queue to get onto the plane – exclaimed as we started to venture outside; ‘aren’t your feet freezing cold?’
 
 We laughed and I told them about all the different type of reactions I receive to my naked feet…  ‘And sometimes people just stare and stare as if I am a ‘rare creature ‘ that they have never seen before…’ I explained…
 
 ‘Well you are,‘ one of the ladies laughed… ‘You are a rare creature…’ and then she continued… ‘In the nicest possible way!’
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vallilla… The ‘other end of Almuñecar. My morning run…
 

This is us, full stop.

Another plane blog… I am flying off to Lanzarote with Anadi for Christmas…

Eighteen days in the UK has passed in a blink of an eye, and yet landing at Gatwick two and a half weeks ago, feels now like it might have been five years ago.

And when I met up with my godbrother Phil on Saturday- who I actually haven’t seen for five years – it was as if we had simply run out of hours on our last ‘get together’ – and had therefore arranged to meet for a coffee and cake a few days later to pick up where we had left off…

Time does not exist in any linear sense… This is all that I conclude from this.

If we are fully where we are at any given time, and reflect on the images and events around us, we will see ourselves therein – this is the only measure of time as we know it – do we recognise a cycle? Are we ‘here again’? – or does the landscape look different – or do we feel glad of the sameness and view it with delight, because we are living the life we truly want to be living.

I haven’t seen Phil in all that time, and in truth the wedding day of our mutual friends Steph and Nick – all that time ago – is the only time we have met.

But we immediately recognised a kindred spirit in one another then.

We sat beside one another at the wedding breakfast and then later on danced and talked – and then danced and talked some more – and I declared my heartfelt love for his open heart and his shining spirit.In being together again this weekend, it was evident that the connection is real and profound… So the time apart is not of importance; our relationship didn’t whither and die just because we didn’t spend time together….

In fact it has thrived. After we met we wrote to one another and acknowledged our appreciation of the meeting and of one another – then there was a natural space and we were not in touch…

Phil then ‘found me’ on linkedin…!

And on Saturday we journeyed through the portal, from our ‘electronic communication’, to meeting on a cold and wintery day at Finsbury Park Tube station – and we have been left with the delightful sense there is more to explore and create together…

It was a wonderful, funny, profundo, creative and celebratory time that we spent together…

There is no limit to love, it is expansive and all encompassing – Love is freedom.

If we do not feel free, it is not love.

Both in our relating and within ourselves.

If we love someone we let them go… In all senses of the word.

If we love ourselves we will free ourselves – and then of course it follows – that there will not be an ounce within us that would desire to hold onto another human being…

Phil is the author of ‘This is me, full stop.’ And this is the vlog we made together…

Coffee shop life…

I am sitting writing in a coffee shop… When we come to Winchmore Hill we take up residency in the Larder, but on Mondays it is closed, so I am sitting in a another, surrounded by much deliciousness and chatter and plenty…

Plenty of people and food and choices of smoothies, brownies, healthy meals and coffees…

Life is a coffee shop now, for so many… Or a bar.

As humans much of our life has always been spent preparing and eating food, and now there is more emphasis too on drinking coffee – and then enjoying more food and beer and wine – and more coffee.

And the workplace now doesn’t necessarily need to be in a workplace anymore, it can be wherever there is wifi; often in coffee bars – the world is changing…

But the world has always been changing for time immemorial – change is constant, movement is forever – Heraclitus the Greek philosopher known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe said…

“The way up and the way down are one and the same. Living and dead, waking and sleeping, young and old, are the same.”

Because of course there is seeming imbalance; to plenty, there is famine… To extreme wealth, there is poverty, to the light the dark.

To create the perfect balance, of yin and yang.

And we are also reminded that everything is unfolding as it should… Which of course doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be endeavouring to live fully, to care about things, to shift and change and grow and engage in passionately in projects; to make a difference, to make changes…

To be the change, to be the difference…..

Whilst accepting what is in every moment…

And so we continue to tread the earth plane, as we have always done… Waking and sleeping, feasting and experiencing famine…

Banqueting and fasting, winning and losing… Loving and hating; in war and peace…

And as I glance around the coffee shop, full of life being lived, connecting, communicating…  I reflect that this is just one small room in the vast planet…

But people are connecting and communicating globally through the amazing ‘telepathy’ of the internet, phones and computers….

We are one big global village…

 

 

Run and become free…

Last night I dreamt lots of vivid dreams… I really enjoyed it, it felt a very interesting night time journey indeed.

I woke not remembering anything, other than that I had committed in my sleep to do more running, and therefore was henceforth not going to do anything much more than run.

My meditation on the move.

The thought of spending more time running is very agreeable… The more I run the more I become.

As Anadi and I ran along today, I mentioned that sometimes running feels rather hard, but that I recognise that setting running goals is very good for my path of spiritual clearing, and transcendence.

I also recognise that running barefoot is a process that is taking me further into myself… Or rather is helping me to let go of my self.

Anadi and I drove to Rincón de la Victoria to run today. It is the town where we stopped for lunch with Athena Jane on Wednesday. I was attracted back by the long beach and a vista that seemed to go on forever.

We ran 10 miles with ease and it felt to be a place I will return to… Soon I anticipate that my feet and my body will extend beyond the 10 and occasional 12 and 13 mile runs that I am doing frequently. I have only completed two 15 mile runs barefoot so far, but I can see the value of extending the distance now.

I can also feel how over many many years the clearing within me, is allowing me to simply run and become.

It is all I have ever really wanted to do, live a contemplative life, and run a lot!

Of course I have always ‘gone running’, but my bare feet seem to have ideas all of their own and have requested too that we run from the north to the south coast of Spain together next year…

Who knows what lies beyond that?

But I do see more and more that while I am journeying in physical form, enjoying the human journey; my spirit finds that the running road is a place of freedom, a place to let go…

A place where the madness and chaos of the matrix is stilled…

As the run progresses the body disappears and there arises the opportunity to recognise the samsara, the illusion that we exist in, and to know that we are so much more than anything we might ‘think’ we are…

The more I run, the more I become free… Ironically from any definition of myself; especially that of being a runner!

And yet I love to run, and so I will follow my dream… My night time dream of running as a way of life – and my waking dream of running to become free, and more me… Recognising that the transcendence that is occurring is opening me to an awareness that the me I defined myself by is vanishing…

We are all free already…

We are love, we are awareness; we are all born of consciousness and it isn’t through thinking ‘who are we..?’ that we discover we are so much more than we ‘thought’… It is simply through enquiring…

‘Who am I…’

 

The big rock stretch…

I am just about to go out to stretch on the top of the big rock…

It lends itself to stretching, a sort of ‘place to go’ like setting off to the gym or a yoga class… I am going to the big rock to stretch. If I take the ‘to’ out of the sentence then it seems even more interesting…

‘I am going to ‘the big rock stretch…’ I like it!

It is funny how we can change our lives by simply changing the way we view things. Stretching can sometimes feel a bit of a drag, but as you have perhaps seen in my vlogs, I like incorporating stretching into my life in a fun way; sometimes with cat companions on top of a roof in Morocco, or here on top of a big rock,..

There seems to be a bit of a theme going on here!

But it remains that as humans we create our reality through our mind; this illusion we live in can be manipulated simply by changing the way we look at it…

So a slightly overcast day where the sun hasn’t shone much, and going out to stretch doesn’t feel all that appealing can be transformed by the title

I am off to ‘The big rock stretch…’

I have also invited Anadi, and he is up for a big rock stretch, so that is the event of the afternoon – before it gets dark…

Darkness falls in a flash here; one minute light the next dark.

Perhaps it is like that everywhere but I notice it more here. sunrise and sunset always provide a dramatic spectacle and the big rock stretch will give me a wonderful view of the setting sun which even on a cloudy day can be a sight to behold.

And lunch was fun today… What do you want for lunch? ‘I think I’ll have chilli chocolate por favor…’ And so this is what I have had.

Who says lunch needs to be a sensible affair… Fun food has its place and the chocolate is the dark variety given to me by Athena Jane, so both the fact it is a gift of love and the fact it is dark chocolate mean that I perceive the lunch to hold very special qualities, magic in its energy; life enhancing, fun, slightly frivolous….

Again it is how we precieve things that can make a difference to our enjoyment of life. Although I wouldn’t choose to eat chocolate every day for lunch, I enjoyed it a lot today and I don’t have any part of me that feels I shouldn’t, or that it will harm me in any way, or make me fat.

There was a time when i was struggling with an eating disorder when my perception of chocolate for lunch would have been entirely different, and my attitude to the rigours of a daily training plan and ‘having to’ run / stretch/ do strength work were all a far more stressful event.

My life doesn’t look very different, but it feels different and I perceive many of the same things differently.

I have always been blessed with a fun energy and a sense of humour within all that has occurred in my life, which pradoxically helped me when I took life – at some levels – rather more seriously; but now it feels very different…

Essentially there is simply a level of deeper relaxation within me.

And this can make al the difference, letting go of tension within us, clearing all the reactions when we tense up against things…

Noticing how we perceive things, how we see things… Keeping an eye on our habitual thoughts, which way our energy turn when ‘things happen’ that we didn’t expect or maybe don’t like much.

Could we look at it differently? Could we press pause before we go down a habitual pattern of response?

The wonderful thing about being human is that we literally can change our lives by changing our attitude…

Rosa Gin…

We flew from Valencia at 10pm last night on a tiny little plane with roary engines; it seemed we climbed up and up only to start to land almost immediately; and there we were in the airport we know so well.

A swift ride to our home for the night – holiday inn express and we were in our room by 11.40pm…

We stood in the room for a minute of two, ‘I feel like having fun… Let’s go and have a drink…’ I said –  the almost non drinker!

So we went to the bar and Anadi ordered a Larios G and T, I saw a Rosa Gin – it looked full of delicious delight, and it was…

Huge fish bowl glasses full of clinky ice and lemon and then our potions of fun.

The man behind the bar asked me if I spoke Spanish and instead of saying ‘I am learning’, I said yes and so we spoke Spanish and he told us about his travels to Thailand and that he would like to travel more, but that he works so much.

We had fun and the gin went to my head, but I didn’t mind

When I woke this morning and I could still feel it in my head, but I still didn’t mind, it had been worth it!

After breakfast I stepped out of the door to find somewhere for my morning run.

One of the best legacies of being a lifetime travelling runner is that I have no anxiety or worry about heading out of hotels with no idea where I am going… An airport hotel can be a bit limiting, but I found a 1200m loop around all the parking and hire car places and lapped it until I had covered 5 miles…

I really enjoyed it, it was sunny warm, blue skies and lots of people on their way from or too the airport. An atmosphere of movement and journeying while I ran round and round and round…

And now we are sitting in our new office, waiting for the plane to arrive from Gatwick carrying my artist friend Athena Jane on it…

She has just done another big project, transforming a whole school into a gallery with 400 young people creating art during art week and making a huge mosaic with all of them, as well as 350 pieces of their artwork, that has occupied her time completely. Her deadline was 2pm yesterday when the Bishop  ‘A nice man in pink, who was rather jolly’ arrived  to view the incredible spectacle…

Meanwhile Anadi and I are in our transformed bar of the gin fun, it is now our office. Providing concentrated silence and space…

But we create the space, always the space responds to us, it doesn’t matter whether its an airport or a cafe or a holiday inn express in Espana or Gozo of Inglaterra… What matters  is the space within us, if it is still and quiet then there is no anxiety or need to create the perfect environment; but then of course the environment reflects our inner state and so it goes…

 

 

 

Feeling free and having fun….

I am sitting in the launderette watching our clothes whirl around in lots of bubbles and soapy suds.

I am having such fun, I arrived here to find a guy in bare feet doing his washing.

I went over to an empty machine, and was busy in the corner trying to make it work, but it wasn’t giving me a program to choose, and I was a bit confused and kept re reading the instructions to see if I had missed something…

The young man came over and told me the machine was broken, but that if I didn’t mind waiting his washing was finishing in 4 minutes…

We started to chat and I discovered that he is in the middle of a 3 month journey on his bike all alone. He has cycled from Belgium and he is following the coast around the edge of Spain covering 70 kilometres a day…

He doesn’t speak Spanish, but he says he doesn’t need to, he can say please and thank you and is able to get food – and he says he doesn’t need to speak much…

He has a tent with a cover for rain and a cover for mosquitos and in 7 weeks he has only used the mosquito net. He told me that he lies at night and looks at the stars, and he listens to the animals around him, and that he is free.

His name is Felix, he is 19 years old and has just finished his studies. He told me that his plan when he gets back to Belgium is to start work, and then keep travelling.

Felix told me that he likes being barefoot, I asked him what it is about it he enjoys….

He says he likes to feel the floor, and that it is fun.

He does have some shoes as he is covering many kilometers, but has also been cycling in flip flops for some of the time; he was joined by 4 Italian guys at one stage, who were incredulous at the guy cycling in flips flops…!

He told me too, how when he was at school he shed his shoes and that every student looked at him, and the head teacher ‘told him off…’

I have invited him to come and find us in Spain next year and join me for some barefoot running – He might well appear…

‘It’s fun’ of course struck a chord with me… ‘Have fun darling’ was the legacy my mother left me; and I am certainly doing that, even or especially in the launderette!

This morning when I was running around the park alone, I had a feeling of immense freedom. I was aware that over the past few years there has been a deeper surrendering to giving myself permission to run and have fun.

I have always done both things of course…

But there were often threads of oughts and shoulds , or ought nots and should nots pulling me back or pushing me in directions I might not wish to go.

Felix talked about feeling free, and about having fun.

It is no coincidence that we met today.

With many earth years between us, our energy still reflects lifetimes of finding out what freedom truly means… And we meet here, in a launderette in Spain, both of us here experimenting and experiencing on planet earth within the confines of a body and the beliefs and structures of others…

How to be free, and how to have fun….

 

Running Crazy in Valencia…

Anadi and I have just wandered back bathed in blue from above; such a vivid azul that the sky feels touchable, so bright and clear and expansive…

Today we rose rather early as the race start was at 8.30am, and even two days back in the UK had adjusted my body clock somewhat, so it was like a 7.30am start… Early, but fun.

We met with Malcolm in the foyer of the hotel and he guided us to the race start. It is one of the things I love about Running Crazy trips; no planning or finding out needed. Malcolm does it all for us…

And so we made our way with the crowds over the bridge to where the throng of people were gathering… So many people, but I liked it.

I notice so much has changed within me over time. I didn’t used to like standing in a huge crowd; and there was always a vestige of anxiety about the possibility of tripping and falling amongst so many runners all tearing off at once.

We had to be in our pen, 20 minutes before the start, quite a long time to be huddled together…

But I was very relaxed, the sun shone. I enjoyed the music of the Spanish language all around me, and the time till the gun went flew by.

The race itself was a delight. I was glad of my Skinner’s socks as it meant I could concentrate on running fast, without being slowed by any of the metal bits across the road, ouchie stretches or cobbled parts. I was able to just run…

I felt amazing. The pace was comfortable and I crossed the line in 44.31 – and I ran a very unusual way for me; the second 5k was almost 30 seconds faster than the first. I am usually the other way round!

It highlights that long slow distance is a good way of training my body. I have averaged 48 miles a week for 20 weeks and have hardly done any interval training; and the times I have thrown a bit in, have certainly not been at the pace I ran today!

Many of my barefoot miles are very slow distance indeed, as I walk the ouchie bits and only run faster on clear stretches of beach or grass or really flat road.

Anadi and I were chatting about my result as we walked back from the race finish. ‘It’s because you’ve cleared the tension’, he said, ‘it’s created the space for the run to just come out of you…’

And it has. I keep saying that since shedding my shoes, it feels like I have a whole new running career ahead of me; I feel as if the past is nothing to do with me. It is a story I can tell if I am asked, but it has no hold.

The story of our life can be a heavy weight, especially the longer we have been here! But although I can remember it, it feels as if I am shedding everything that I ever associated as  me and in its place is limitless possibility, freedom of expression and love of the moment, my fellow human being, the friends I make at every turn, and carrot cake and coffee! ?

Anadi and I are going to jog around the park now in the late afternoon sun, and take in the energy of this beautiful City. I get to know a place by running it, being in it, breathing it and feeling it.

Today I ran through the history of it; I am not a natural site seer, but I love to be in a place, merge into the energy and experience the place I have landed in.

And what better way than running through it with thousands of other human beings; doing what we love; being in the step!