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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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….

 

 

 

The Mission…

It’s a bit of a rainy grey day today; but I am now inside looking out, rather than outside looking in…
I have many layers on… I have just counted them – five!
I am warm enough now, but the four I had on earlier weren’t quite enough…

I hadn’t realised it was raining when I appeared at the front door of Casablanca this morning, until Emiliano said ‘lluvia’… Ah yes! ‘Mucho lluvia’…

I went back upstairs to take my leggings off – wet skin felt a better option than soggy leggings – and to get my chaqueta… I came back downstairs and after an ‘hasta luego…’ to Emiliano, off I went into the lluvia, day two of seeing what 25k a day in bare feet will feel like…

I enjoyed the run, despite the tropical coast resembling a cold rainy day in England.

Yesterday, for day one of ‘the mission’, it was a beautiful sunny experience…. I broke the run up into ten minute sections, where I walked for the first minute and then ran for the next nine.

Running in this way creates – for me – a meditation on the move… I simply carry out the plan I’ve planned!  All I have to do is run along, ‘paso a paso’, completing a ten minute section and then doing another.. There is nothing else, until it all stops.

I have always enjoyed running alone.

It is a completely different experience to social running, which I also enjoy. Social running is like a ‘run philosophique’ where there isn’t necessarily much attention to the actual running – but more to the companionship and the dialogue, which weaves and twists in the space between, creating something new, deepening the bond, as the kilometres unfold…

But running alone, of which I have done a lot, is very different.

For me it is a space of silence… Sometimes thoughts and ideas arise up, sometimes insights or processing of events, conversations… But often – as in these last two days – there is no thought – except when I am chatting to you in my vlog of course!

Just the step, the run, the body moving along on planet earth, soul in motion.

Some years ago Anadi went to train in China for ten weeks with the Shaolin monks, and he told me that they believe running to be the best way to clear tension from the body.

I see this can be true; but it can also be a place where tension is built, especially when there is an attachment to an outcome; a goal, a time to be achieved.

This doesn’t mean that goals and aiming for times cannot be part of a meditation… In fact they can be a huge part of a meditation because it is in setting a goal that we find out how attached we are to it… And are therefore able to see where letting go, clearing , relaxing, trusting – simply staying is the step is needed….

This is how ‘the mission’ is a meditation….

Yesterday I celebrated completion of 25k covered, by paddling up to my knees in the sea…

Today I skipped the paddle at the end, as although the rain had ceased, the temperature hadn’t risen much… A hot shower felt more appealing! I did the same run as yesterday, because the dark, the rain and the low temperature meant that an easy route felt the most supportive of my plan.

Also today’s ‘meditation method’ was that I ran with a bit more intent for 5k then very easy for 1.25k… This done four times brought me home with another 25k under my belt.

My feet were a bit sore at the end, but they have all day to recover!

 

Happy New Adventures, Happy New Year…

Happy New adventures, happy New Year from Gatwick airport Hilton Hotel.

I love it here, it is one of my favourite ‘homes’, big expansive beds, deep baths and my little gym which feels like it is my own private space; I have hardly ever had to share it…

Anadi and I are sitting in Costa Coffee, and soon we will collect our hire car and drive to the New Forest where we are staying in a lovely grade 2 listed hotel which was built in 1627… It also has the New Forest’s only gin bar – perfect for Anadi!

We made this plan when we saw that the coming year would be a very different one… We decided we would come and see 2018 in here before taking off on a very new stage of our adventure together.

Because it will be together, but apart for the first few weeks…

Anadi is going to stay in the UK and carry out the same sort of ‘sales tour’ here as he did in South Africa. He has been working hard on iSportsAnalysis all the time we have been nomads – four years – and this stage is new… He is now the front man of his creation…

And I am going to Spain, I do not have a plan – not until March 23rd anyway when I set off Barefoot Across Spain – but in preparing for this, it seems my path unfolding  is to keep running and to keep learning Spanish.

I leave on January 3rd, and Anadi stays – we both have a sense of really and truly stepping into the unknown, but that it is a new adventure unfolding and that the path will, as always, reveal itself…

There is some trepidation that comes and goes within me, but I have learnt to listen to the space between my thoughts, between my fears, between even what I may feel I ‘desire’ or ‘want’ at certain times… And that in dropping into this stillness there, my soles journey is continuing…

This is the space I trust and this is the space I am walking into in 2018…

Que sera sera…

 

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 more you know…’

I love writing on the plane from Spain….In fact I love writing on any plane…

I just liked the rhyme of the first line (another…! ‘I am a poet and do not know it!)

We left a rather chilly but beautiful Almuñecar this morning; the sun was rising and the fishermen were casting their lines under a silver lined cloud… We were already late in leaving, but I raced to the beach to look out for a last time until I return in the New year….

I have been listening to one of my Español teaching tapes. My intention this week was to ‘up’ the running and ‘up’ the Spanish in preparation for my big run across Spain next spring… It feels fun to be doing this…

So far I have run 16k a day for 5 days – although today I will take a day off; and I love learning Spanish…Committing to do more of both feels strangely freeing; uncomplicated… There really isn’t anything else I would rather be doing.

I like living a life that is immediate, in that I finish the thing I am doing in sections, but that it is also limitless and never ends…. I love my forever and ever goals; perfecting the art of running and developing my Spanish…

I love it that there is no end to either; like life everlasting…

I said to Maricarmen yesterday that I feel fortunate in being able to hold two opposing states in perfect balance… One the delighted feeling and enjoyment of witnessing my improving Spanish, whilst at the same time the feeling of being such a beginner – and at times having the experience of understanding ‘nada’….

But as there is no end, it doesn’t matter… No importa

And as Maricarmen acknowledged, it is the understanding first hand of the philosophy of Aristotle… ‘The more you know, the more you know you don’t know…’

I like not knowing; I like living in a not knowing stance.

Although sometimes you wouldn’t think that when I ask Anadi for some insight… “What is happening?” ‘What do you think it means?” – He will never answer me; he laughs and says ‘There is only now, and so we don’t know the future…’

I like it that he doesn’t answer… I don’t really want to know anything; because in truth I enjoy the not knowing stance and it is one of the reasons I like being in Anadi’s company…

This doesn’t mean that either of us aren’t putting into practice necessary steps towards where our heart and soul is directing. In his case his business is his focus and for me running always running….

But we still practice being present within these actions…

‘Tether the camel and trust in Allah…’

And so we landed at Gatwick, and after collecting our hire car, we headed up the M25, which was ablaze in the light of a glorious sunset…

 

 

 

Little Red…

I am sitting on the terrace in the afternoon sun; Jane and I are thinking that it will soon be time for coffee; our breakfast went on until lunchtime and then we went on a shopping spree just as the shops were closing for Spanish siesta…!

But it meant we had a nice walk and then came back to where we had eaten breakfast, and have been happily whiling the time away here ever since.

Today I discovered an endless road, it climbed up and up and up into the hills. I had arranged to meet Jane and Anadi for breakfast at 10.30, but realised I wouldn’t quite make it back in time…

I texted them both and then raced off back down the hill, celebrating the joy of my new life, where I am free to run and run and meet my friends ( late!!)  for breakfast that goes on all morning.

The long road wound its way into the hills and seemed to disappear into a new possible future, and represented my life now.

It feels like a new beginning and although I am not quite yet 60, I am on my way there and I am excited about the re birth this brings, in Japanese culture…

Maricarmen has told me all about this… She and her husband lived there for some years and the 60th birthday is a re birth called kanreki, which goes back to Japan’s adoption of the Chinese zodiac calendar. On reaching 60 it is traditional to receive a red cap, and vest, that mark having completed a full cycle of the twelve-pronged zodiac calendar.

New born babies are also wrapped in red and called ‘little red one’ – and at 60 years old, the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.

I loved hearing about this tradition and it feels very fitting for me at the moment, when I have within me a sense of new beginnings, new possibilities… Everything as if it is just beginning; and my 60th birthday only 18 months away!

‘I am looking forward to being sixty’,  I said to Maricarmen, this week, and then I shared with her a story from last weekend when I flew to Valencia. I sat on the plane with two young women Hannah, and Jess both 27 years old. they were on their way to run the marathon… I told them my little red story, because I was explaining the excitement I have for my ‘new running career’… It transpired that their mothers’ are a similar age to me, one is 60 already and the other 57.

Both young women said that they were eager to share the Japanese tradition with their mothers, when they returned home after their marathon…

Maricarmen echoed my enthusiasm… ‘Yes’, she said, ‘I am too very excited to reach 60 and start all over again…’

Later on, she was  watching me make a note in my book and she commented that I have now completed a year with each of my 3 new challenges… Being barefoot, learning Spanish and writing with my left hand…

‘You will need some new challenges…’ she laughed…

‘No no…’ I said,  ‘I have only just begun with these three, I have only just set off…’

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.

 

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…

To our own self be true…

A rainy windy run today! In fact it was quite cold… Especially half way round when I was running into the wind, with the rain tumbling down… I gave myself the out to take the left hand road, that was coming soon at the bottom of the hill – if I wanted to – which would take me back for a 10k run rather than a 13k run I had planned…
It was the giving myself the opportunity to do less, which meant I carried on in a relaxed fashion, and as the left hand turn approached, I checked in – yes I was wet, and a little bit chilly – but I was enjoying the run and feeling good, and not that cold…

So I went past the road and carried out the original plan and enjoyed my training immensely – I was wearing my skinners socks too, which made it more comfortable for my feet, and I was able to run along a bit faster on the ouchie, uneven road which kept me warm.

Of course I recognise that sometimes we are on a route where it appears there is no out… But relaxing is still the key, while we make the journey…

I can remember years ago when I was racing and had been consistently winning a series of races… I was having a bit of a battle, this particular day, to maintain my winning streak and so I let go and decided that I didn’t mind if the top place went to another runner… I let my foot off the throttle, and then found myself imagining the headline in the local paper…

‘Gates surrenders winning streak’ and I didn’t mind – but then, as I ran along, I thought, ‘I might as well see if I can maintain it, and create a different headline…!’ I found a new gear and went on to win once again…

This of course was in a race where I had the capacity to win… But we can apply the same inner conversations wherever we are and in whatever situation.

The secret is to not make winning or doing well – or anything we do – a moral issue… There are so many statements about ‘never being a quitter’ or ‘carrying on whatever’; but really and truly our life and whether we carry on or stop anything is completely up to us – it is our own journey.

And it is not for someone else to decide whether it is the right or wrong thing. If we are happy with our decision then if this touches someone else’s belief system, and they show disapproval or disappointment – then the ultimate place of peace is to recognise that this is to do with them, not us.

I had a lot of practise with this as a younger person, as I kept making decisions that disappointed my father; but when I review my life I am happy I made the decisions I did. I am also glad of the inner conviction that I was born with, that allowed me to continue with them even in the face of dissent, and not much life experience.

There are times to leave jobs, change route, change direction, leave relationships – to stop.

And as I mentioned earlier, sometimes when we know that we want to stop something, but there doesn’t seem an immediate way to do this, for all manner of reasons…

In this instance, acknowledging our feelings and relaxing into the space we are in, accepting what is can help us reach either the end of that particular challenge… Or it can give us time to figure our next steps; or it can help us to find a way to be in the step of the experience however hard it is….

Because there are also times to carry on…

I have carried on with all manner of projects and situations when they have been hard, because I know that I am on the course of my soul…

Only we will truly know what is right for us, or when we must honour the course we are on, or change direction.

But first of all we may need to examine our stories and our beliefs, to really examine our paradigm… For this is where we will find out the ideas and ideals that we were given – and we can then look at where we internalised these ideas from… Was it from our family, our religion, our school, our culture, our society, our friends?

And then we can investigate whether they hold true for us now.

It is worth going deeply into the stories we tell, and those that are told about us… Do they resonate? Where did we get them from?

Where did I get the idea for instance that ‘No one remembers who came 2nd…’ That one caused me a lot of stress and distress – until I shed it for good… And even if the statements are true, does it really matter..?

To our own self be true… This is all that matters.