Be melting snow…

‘Be melting snow, wash yourself of yourself…’

Today I was talking with Maricarmen – en Español por supuesto – about my life’s practise of clearing the darkness, the karma from within me; I spoke to her of how I understood what I believed I was here to do, at a very young age, perhaps just seven years.

I can review the scene and see the child now…

She is sitting in the wooden slippy pew – vast to her then – with the soft robust hassock under her feet, worn into a nice kneeling bed with much use… It served as a perfect foot rest for the little girl.

She is sitting half listening to the preacher. The church has a musty smell, wafts of the scent from the greenery in generous vases of flowers, arranged by the wives of the churchwardens, mingle in.

As his voice rises and falls, she is watching the dust float up in the sunlight that is beaming through stained glass on this particularly sunny Sunday morning…

He has been speaking for a long time; she is letting many of the words float beyond her absorption, over her head and away, when suddenly something he is saying starts to speak to her; deep within her being, her belly, her very soul… He is explaining the circle of birth, life, death and rebirth, and the symbolism of the serpent with the tail in its mouth. He is talking of cleansing from our sins, of eternal life…

Suddenly she becomes aware of this cycle, in a visceral way – round and round and round… Lifetimes and lifetimes of karma and she understands… How to return to the place of pure love, freedom, the godly state within…

And she understands she has work to do.

The preacher is saying that we must clear our own darkness from within to remember who we truly are.

That day, the young girl fully understood.

I was sharing this story with Maricarmen, and she said… ‘It reminds me of some words that Rumi said…’

‘Conviertete en nieve que derrite. Limpiate de mismo’

Be melting snow… Wash yourself of yourself…’

 

Birthday brunch in Bronte

This morning I ran down to the cricket field – my socks already have holes in them after 20 miles… But I decided they have a few more yet to run…

I arrived on the wet green grass, under a grey cloudy December day… And an unexpected impromptu interval session emerged… I ran 8 x 5 minutes with a minute jog, around and around the circumference of the field. I enjoyed it a lot.

The more running I do, the stronger and fitter I feel… Rather an obvious thing to write of course; but it is more noticeable for me now that I am ‘starting all over again’ in my new barefoot life.

It feels that miracles are occurring within my body simply through repetition rather than aggression… And of course the repetition can at times feel rather relentless… I reflected on this irony as I stepped into the cold British weather today – that my wish as a younger person, to be able to run forever, has come true…

I felt sadness then that my art, my expression in the running step must come to an end; I envied other artists whose mediums were through palette and brush stroke, or voice – actors artists musicians – and I identified with the hours of practise to perfect their art… I mourned early that mine was a short artistic life…

But now I find that this is not the case.

Perfecting my art is limitless and endless, and I am still learning my trade; deepening it, investigating it through repeating the steps day after day after day.

My meditation on the move

Later…

I am just back from a brilliant birthday brunch with Fi… I enjoyed it so much, celebrating with my friend – life a celebration.

We met in Bronte which is on the Strand near Nelson’s column…  When I look up at the famous structure, I can never help but remember Rowan Atkinson’s sketch, when he acted an outraged French tourist seeing sex organs all over London…

“The Post Office Tower? PAH! It is the Post Office prick! Prince Charles gets married in St Paul’s Cathedral, which looks like an enormous titty! The biggest titty in the world! Nelson’s column? PAH! It is Nelson’s willy!”

I have never been able to think of it as anything else since…

Fi and I had so much fun; we laughed a lot, which is an overriding memory I have of our runs together – we were often stopped in our tracks, bent double with laughter… And we affirmed today too, the value of those long slow fun miles – and the amazing magic effect they have on running form, almost without even realising it…

Here is our vlog from our meet up; of course I wore special jewels on my bare feet for the occasion….

The road less travelled…

I like my Hilton home; It is very comfortable indeed. I love my 24 hour  gym, right on my doorstep. I love feeling warm all the time, the deep hot bath, and the huge bed with clean sheets.

It feels almost like my ‘checking in’ point; where Anadi and I return to get further instructions (mail) and new clothes, vitamin pills, (parcels) anything that might be needed for our next mission

We are given warmth and comfort, and food in any many of restaurants to choose from in the airport, and the hotel itself… And then off we go for our next adventure!

Given that we are often in sunny climes, this might all appear rather strange… But as we tend to like warm countries out of season, where the evenings and nights are colder, and the buildings are not really set up for cold… They are more designed to keep cool in extreme heat.

There is something about the nomadic life for me that lends itself to always being open, never the opportunity to sink into any illusion…

When I was running today, I reflected on how running training – or any practising – is the absolute metaphor for the path disappearing behind us; and reminds that we make our path in life by walking it.

When a musician stands on stage and performs in an awe inspiring way, we do not see him or her trail onto stage with them, the hours and hours and hours of practise; all of that has vanished like the wake that the boat leaves, which vanishes – and the musician stands transparent on the stage.

Yesterday I added up the miles I had run over the past 20 weeks – because I have recorded them each day I was able to do this – to discover that for 20 weeks I have averaged 48 miles of barefoot running a week… All of it has vanished, but through running the path, it has revealed itself to me in the form of increased fitness, and new directions…

Along the way, ‘Barefoot Across Spain’ emerged as my bare steps became stronger and more and more adventurous…

I am on the train to Lewes, it is a sparkling bright sunny November day…. I recognise glorious Sussex and the many happy years I spent here, the Downs flash by, sun glinting through the orange brown golden trees; how I love this land… How I treasure the miles I covered on those green hills; the path I made by running them has brought me here and I cannot turn back, nor do I desire to; i treasure the road of of my life unfolding

Later…

I have just spent a wonderful time in Lewes… It is a town I know so well – I have spent a lot of time in coffee shops there right back from the late 80’s when I first moved to the area…

I can remember Bill’s restaurant when it was a small fruit and veg shop with a few tables for wonderful coffee and cake; we watched it expand, my friends and I, when we met there over the weeks months and years – to a much bigger coffee shop and now of course Bill’s can be found in towns all over Britain…

Going back to the same place and seeing the changes is an interesting experience. I know the streets and I know the feel of the place; some of it is unchanged, some of it is expanding, growing, developing…

but I was aware of a newness, as if I was there for the first time. New – yet the same – a huge history of time spent and yet only the moment.

I spent a wonderful lunch time with Kathy and then coffee with Ange… Two people who I met at almost the same time…

Many years ago – almost twenty – here we are with all those shared years and we meet now, all joining in a project – Barefoot Across Spain…!

The fact that I am barefoot now seems entirely natural to us all… I arrived at Lewes Station in my sparkling jangley barefoot sandals given to me by my friend Fi- on a bright crisp, quite cold November day… Kathy scooped me up and admired by sparkly feet and whisked me to lunch in Pelham house, a beautiful refined hotel, delightful delicious dining…

Kathy is the chair of Friends of Sussex Hospices and over the years I have witnessed the amazing work she has done; but also the fun she has generated in the projects and her heart… Her heart has been at the centre of all she does, and I am delighted to be sharing in a project with her…  And my bare feet lead the way!

I now have no discomfort within me now when I wander the land barefoot; it is the path I am treading and it is opening huge vistas of untrod lands to me, and meeting with Kathy and Ange highlighted the friendship and love I am receiving on my road less travelled…

Ange and I have been meeting in the Real Eating Company for the past 15 years… We have a tradition of eating almond croissant with our coffee… It is part of our meet up – and I have not discovered almond croissants to compare outside the UK – yet!

But I enjoy it as something I do in the UK and always with Ange – like the tostadas y aceite are a part of what I do in Spain.

Food and connection to the land we are in, to the people there and to each other, is one of the joyous ways we humans connect and share and have fun!

Eating and drinking, loving and laughing together all over the world.

 

We are all meant to shine…

If I had wanted to draw attention to myself, I have certainly discovered the way!

Especially as we woke to another wild wet day and therefore the people on the ferry were the first to look aghast, or interested and curious as I padded happily across the wet car deck – it wasn’t cold at all…

And then again in the airport, the looks ranged from taking note, to smiley fun connection, to surprise, to ‘bravo’ to shock…

It is no wonder my feet have become stars in themselves; entities with characters all of their own, who love to be seen and show off to the camera, every time it points their way!

The funny thing is, throughout my life, if anything, I have shied away from the beam this energy of mine shines to herald my presence…

This may not be very evident to those who know me, and the unstoppable life force that flows from me and has often got me the attention I claim not to want! ?

But paradoxically my feet shedding their ‘clothes’ has forced me into my own limelight – where I too am standing exposed and naked – and asked that I stay where they are stepping; that I follow and simply travel the path I am making as I run wherever it leads me…

Because I don’t truly have a plan; although of course running all over the world in my bare feet is a sort of plan… But because I have no firm plan – then more than ever I am asked to trust my new world with no defining name to give myself…

Ha ha… except of course I am now the barefoot runner, the barefoot guru and even the barefoot beauty…!

But I do not ‘identify myself’ with any of them… And this is the freedom.

I have no definition I give myself, because in our world we often project onto one another some sort of definition, to make some sort of meaning to our world and our relationships…

But how wonderful if we stopped ‘defining’ ourselves in any way, and instead simply stayed with the expression of ourselves, our soul in motion in every moment… That we trust that the ordinary is the extraordinary now and now and now….

That we trust the magnificence of our true nature, our unique aspect of the whole, that is shining bright all the time if we would allow it… How wonderful to all allow ourselves to the in our own limelight and see what happens next…

For it is not our darkness of which we are truly afraid, we are often comfortable with the pain, the blocks, the cycles of repetitive stuff; but what if we shed all that and stood in our own transparent naked step and revealed our light to the world.

As Marianne Williamson writes…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

Three thousand realms…

My perfect morning…

We woke to blue skies and sunny warm; a complete change to yesterday… And at the top of a vista looking over to Ramla Bay, a glorious rainbow arced over us with magic in its beauteous curve.

And after running around my 10k loop feeling relaxed and strong and chatting away to one another, I came up with the best plan ever.

‘Let’s go to captain Spriss for breakfast’, and so soon we were sitting in the lovely blue haven, enjoying the best Cappuccinos and I was aware that again and again and again, I come back to the inner truth for me, that I came here to run; to find out what is revealed in the steps , to make the path by running it and everything else springs from this.

It feels so intrinsic to me, and it has always been thus, despite debilitating injury and times where it all felt too hard… Again and again the running path calls me back like a musical instrument, my feet and body ask that I must always play to discover the song therein….

And then sing it to the world.

I was so inspired by the thought of the barefoot half marathon in India yesterday, that I suddenly as if it were a new dawning rose in my soul; a deep knowing about what I want to do with me life…

The direction revealing itself…

I announced it to Anadi over dinner; I want to run all around the world, and across Spain, and maybe I will run across other lands too… But I can feel how deeply these feet of mine and the running steps know where they are leading me and then any writing, teaching, talking, sharing myself – whatever I do will spring from these steps I take.

Anadi was unsurprised, because in truth its what I have always done! I have always run, and I have always seen what these steps of my reveal, there is no change and yet it feels brand new.

Like a re birth…

Setting off again and again… Because there is no past and so it is all new… In each moment I am being re born, so although the journey might look the same in many ways – it is also entirely new… The energy is new and the lands I visit will be new even if they are the same.

Because we are creating it as we go, and so the very same experience with different energy will reveal new things, create new life, bring new love to our heart and communicate more light in the world.

Because when we keep clearing the imagined past, and the blocks to our energy therein then every moment opens to the infinite possibility of the infinite!

The Buddha teaches that there are three thousand possibilities in every moment, which means that when we embrace this idea we can draw on our courage and resilience and open to expansion in our lives… This is the core belief of Nichiren Buddhism, and they practise accessing this space, this moment to open themselves and others to this expansion, this infinite possibility

Many people feel very stuck and afraid and often cling to what they know; but the Buddhist scholar T’ien-t’ai developed a meditative practice to enable people to perceive the boundless extent of their lives at each moment. He called it “three thousand realms in a single moment of life”  Ichinen sanzen.

It is the practise of always remembering that the entire universe as we see it exists in a single moment; the Nichiren Buddhist practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo whilst holding the true Buddha nature the heart is said to actualize the principles of the Ichinen sanzen in the lives of those who practise.

I love the chant… But I don’t always do it every day; but I do enjoy the resonance of the energy that connects me to the expansion and possibility in every moment and to the innate Buddha nature within us all…

My feet are leading the way!

I had a lovely surprise this morning… Whilst I was getting ready to run, Anadi said ‘Can I come..?’ We haven’t run together since around his birthday on October 7th, due to all manner of circumstances seen and unforeseen.

I have become so accustomed to running alone, and Anadi is very busy with his work, especially since his South Africa trip… So I was just setting off as usual…

I really enjoyed running with him again, the miles passed easily and delightfully through the sandy brown landscape and buildings of Gozo, under a clear blue sky, bright sun; warm air… The smells, somehow reminding me of distant summers past.

I noticed the different qualities in the experiences of running alone and running together…

Together a space for me for ‘run philosophique’, or ‘run silent’, together, just being in the step together, sharing the experience…

Whereas alone it feels to be an uncovering, a discovering in each step more about the step… Feeling the land, being the land… Recognising the universe within, reflected in the moment, and the vista and energy all around… Breathing, being, transforming…

Both states are of such value.

To run together is a connected space; there is nothing ‘getting in the way’. Conversations on the run feel expansive, limitless – like the space they take place in.

I have enjoyed some of my best far reaching and lengthy conversations over long runs; bonding, creating, sharing…

The whole occasion lends itself to possibility; to change, to resolve, to new things being discovered, to problems being solved…

And today, we both ran barefoot on my loop, which magically measures exactly 10k door to door. The roads in Gozo are very bumpy, and rocky and uneven in places, but like last night my body and my feet enjoyed the variety. There was a softness in the air and in the energy… And the familiar sight of a beautiful church every which way we turn, rising up, seeming to embrace us, holding us in their expansive arms.

The Gozo ‘open top site seeing bus’ rumbled by, full to the brim of folk being shown the island, its magical places and its history…

Some of the people noticed our bare feet… Jaws dropping, turning to one another; the naked feet still causing a stir. But I am getting to realise that my feet love this. I am starting to see that this is the plan they had all along. They want to be seen, to be noticed, they are ready…

And then later this morning after my Spanish lesson, Maricarmen said that her husband Pepe Jesus, wanted to speak with me about an interview with the paper, and being filmed for television about my run across Spain…

My feet are getting their way, and they don’t mind a jot that my mouth isn’t quite up to speed with the Spanish speaking bit…

My feet are getting their way and leading the way… !

 

And yesterday I received a book I have been waiting for! ‘This is me, full stop’. It is written by a friend of mine called Phil… It is a wonderful book!I talk about it here…

 

A time for every purpose under heaven

I am once again in a hotel room in Almuñecar, lying on my bed writing my blog…

My friend of many years – most of my life – Wends is lying on a bed opposite me reading. We are both of course without shoes… And I am strongly reminded of us as teenagers in the holidays… hours spent lying about in each others bedrooms, reading Jackie magazine which then ‘progressed’ to Cosmopolitan / ‘Cosmo’!

don’t remember putting shoes on very often, and in the very hot summers of 75 and 76 we were often lying by the river, not only without shoes, but without any clothes at all…

Long hot sunny summer days… We would cycle to the river, hide our bikes under the hedge and then carrying a blanket, food supplies and a pile of books, and then set up ‘camp for the day’ and lie about reading on the grass instead of our beds… Occasionally taking a dip in the river  with the fish and the reeds.

I spoke in a vlog recently of the powerful negative charge from the earth which when we are barefooted, means that we can receive and benefit from the electrons which produce antioxidants for our body. This, of course can contribute to good health on emotional and physical levels…

Wends and I clearly knew this as young people, intuitively… Many of us do; feeling the ground beneath our feet, the sun and the rain on our bodies can keep us very much here in this moment; in tune with the natural rhythms of nature… If we are in step with the rising and setting of the sun, if we cycle naturally with the seasons, then we are like the flowers that bloom when they are ready…

We no longer hold back trying to stay in the chrysalis or the bud,which of course is an impossible task – but instead we can open in the natural time in a way that is more fluid and flowing without push or pull back…

To everything there is a season and this is true of our own opening, our own remembering of who we are, from whence we came.

We cannot rush this process. Things of the spirit happen in their own time and if we try to take short cuts or try to be somewhere we are not, or push another to open – or to see something before they are ready – then it simply doesn’t work.

It cannot be any other way… ‘

To everything there is a season

A time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born
and a time to die
A time to plant
and a time to pluck what is planted

A time to kill
and a time to heal
A time to break down
and a time to build up

A time to cast away stones
and a time to gather stones
A time to embrace
and a time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain
and a time to lose
A time to keep
and a time to cast away

A time to tear
and a time to sew
A time to keep silence
and a time to speak

A time of love
and a time of hate
A time of war
and a time of peace

by Ivy Schex

I have quoted this poem before – but in essence it simply reminds us that we live in a universe of polarity… That while we are journeying and experiencing ourselves through the illusion of separateness as human beings, if we stay silent, if we learn to stay in the gaps between thoughts… If we live life as a meditation; if we find the silence in the turn of the breath, then we will know ourselves and one another through the polarity…

To return to know ourselves completely as love, as silence – first we must experience the push to the pull, the challenge, the heart break, the pain, the sorrow, the joy, the connection the winning and the losing, the yin to the yang…

And through travelling through lifetimes and experiencing that to everything there is a season, we will in time return to that place of pure love…

Fellow travellers on the path…

I am back in my little white house on the side of the mountain, where the router is deemed no more – Maggie came round to pronounce this, it seems that the lightening struck it and that was that…

I have also lost my pinhole glasses somewhere… But I am reckoning my eyes will simply have to up their game…

I ran along the seafront again as the sun rose… Sunrise and sunset light are very special for me in Almuñecar…

Last night Ange and I sat on the beach with the sky lit by what seemed to be a huge orange lamp – and this morning I ran towards a pink glow of soft light which bathed me in its smooth balm, as I turned at the end of the prom to make my way to a final breakfast with Ange before she headed to the aeropuerta…

I waved her goodbye until she was out of sight and set off back up back up to the mountains.

On the way I saw a young couple hitch hiking on the main road… I enjoy picking up people who are thumbing a lift, but as always I make my decision whether to do so or not in an instant flash…

They were holding a sign which said Orgiva – it is the biggest town on the winding mountain road – but when they had clambered in they said they were making their way further up the mountain to explore the Beneficio commune… I drove them as near as possible, before needing to drive on for Español at 12…

Beneficio is place where people go to live without any electricity or any type of comforts of modern day living… The drinking water supply is from the mountain spring and then the secondary supply is from a stream… They have compost toilet facilities and alcohol and drugs are prohibited … The accommodation is mostly light shelter like tents, but there have been some more permanent structures built included straw bale constructions…

The young couple were from Poland and were just three weeks into their travelling adventure…

We were talking about Beneficio and as the young guy said, they have no internet of course, but everyone knows about them because of the internet!

I enjoyed picking up my young fellow travellers on the path.

They didn’t appear to think that being a nomad or not owning any shoes was at all strange and we chatted easily as I sped them round the hairpin twist and turns that is mountain driving…

And they were so young; 20 years and 18 years… The older I get the more time feels to be immediate, I’ve been here for 40 more years than they have and yet I felt connected to their adventurous courageous spirits immediately – and we were for 30 minutes contemporaries, the only difference is that I have had more time to go around and around to learn what I already knew deep in my soul at their age…

That we must trust ourselves, that we must follow our own path… Even if it is the road less travelled; that we must have fun and that we must recognize ourselves in each other…

Namaste I honour the spirit in you that is the spirit in me.

The extra forty years I have been treading this earth plane felt but a moment in time as I journeyed with my new young friends, the three of us immediately and fully engaged in the here and now…

 

We are all evolving…

I am sitting on the terrace of the little white house where I am staying; the October sun is bright and the day unfolding in delicious peace; I have the feeling of Sunday’s past, when there were no shops open and the day was for rest and recuperation, Sunday lunch a family walk in the woods and the Sunday afternoon film…

I am not going to watch a film, or go for a walk in the woods, but the shops closed reminds me of England 50 years ago… The pace of life here is one that seeps through into my own being and I can feel that if I were here for long, the days get shorter and the amount ‘done in them’ far less…

Different people, different situations and places all access different aspects within us, and it is valuable to notice and respond to the different parts having their say, finding their voice…

It is also important that we validate others and resist projecting who they are, or what they are… We are all evolving, changing, opening, closing, discovering, uncovering every single day… To really know ourselves and one another it is important to have a ‘not knowing stance…’ to go into every dialogue, every new day not knowing what it holds… Also to go into it afresh without a projection of who someone will be – or how they will be – as this limits both us and them…

It is simply an orientation, one of open enquiry, and a space without ideas or judgements… Because of course people do often act predictably, so this is about holding the space, rather than allowing ourselves to be duped or manipulated in any way – it is about clarity within ourselves, which opens to new possibility.

I can remember years and years ago, I was nineteen, and I was chatting with a new friend I had met on a running trip… He was twenty five years old and we were talking about divorce – I said… ‘People don’t think so well of divorced people…’

‘Yes the 19 year old me did say these words!

‘I’m divorced’, my new friend announced… ‘Oh oh, I don’t mean I think that, or that I think that about you – I just meant ‘people…”! I valiantly tried to back track…

Anyway, fast forward in my own life, to four divorces later – and I recognised the most important work was to clear any slight shard within me, which might somehow not think well of divorced people!

And of course in particular myself… All the time we think we are giving others permission to do or be something we won’t give ourselves permission to be, or to think then we are unconsciously blocking the channels of true safe communication…

For it is by accepting ourselves wholly completely, for all our mistakes that we come to truly accept others…

And then we are able to be open to who they truly are in any given moment…

Which can change at any time…

It is a mistake so easy to make, to project onto our friends, partners, children how we expect them to behave; which ironically can create the patterns, and yet we might see our partner or child behaving in a completely different way with someone else…

So as always, it is simply slowing everything down and truly listening both to ourselves and to others…

Later

I am about to go for my second run of the day.

I find running in the mountains harder and so I hatched a plan today to run twice each day and allow a little more ease for my body, rather than trying to go for too much distance… My plan is to run 5 or 6 miles in the morning and 3 or 4 in the evening, which will keep the volume up but in an easier way.

And days are very free… In the week days I have Spanish from 11 – 1, but otherwise my time is my own to write and run and rest in the sun…

nb: I have just read this over on Sunday evening before bed… I did watch a film!

I watched a Spanish film in the name of improving mi Español ?