The path is made, by walking it…

I was sitting at the top of a table; microphones in front of me, a group of Spanish men were gathered around, and were asking me questions about my upcoming project to run from the north to the south coast of Spain in my bare feet; we were talking in Spanish… Of course!

It was like being in a dream…..

Maricarmen, my Spanish teacher and her husband Pepejesús sat to the side of me, solidarity, support… I answered their questions, and spoke in Spanish about my run across their land, about the metaphor of our lives from birth to death… How we are all on the same journey, that we can support one another and connect, join on the road and walk together in step – and in the step.

I was able to communicate how being in this moment, in this step is all that is required… How life will then unfold in magical and unexpected ways. I quoted Antonio Machado… ‘Caminante, No hay camino…’

Walker, there is no path.

And I spoke these words while living them…

It is way beyond my level of Spanish to be the ‘star’ of a press conference… But it was happening and I was there – so all I could do was trust the moment, stay in the step and let the next take care of itself…

I loved every moment, rich with the tapestry of this mysterious universe unfolding and revealing itself in front of  me

I was asked at one point… ‘What do you think it will be like each day, when you are running across Spain, barefoot…?’

‘Se hace el camino, al andar’, I replied, quoting Antonio Machado once again…

The path is made by walking it…

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…

 

 

‘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…

 

 

 

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….

 

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.

We know not the path another treads…

Anadi and I were ‘running across Gozo’ to Xlendi, all of 6 miles away… But we had arrived somewhere in the middle of the island, and definitely did not know which way to turn.

A friendly lady gave us very clear directions and then said… ‘You’re barefoot’! By way of explanation I said ‘Yes, I like it…’ and then carried on ‘I was born barefoot..’

This made us all laugh; but of course we were all born barefoot and our feet were designed to work well and carry us around without shoes. Some protection for uneven and ouchie ground and the cold is all that is really needed; and being in touch with the energy of the earth is said to have very beneficial effects on our body… The negative charge gives us loads of positive electrons serving as a good supply of antioxidants…

But this still doesn’t mean being barefoot is for everyone…

The path we all tread is completely unique, and it isn’t for us to project that we know which way another ‘should’ or ‘could’ go… We do not know the path another treads…

Of course there are ways that seem to be quite universal, we need to eat and sleep and drink water to survive in a human body – and breathe. We need to breathe…

But once again, we cannot truly comment on the choices another makes, as we don’t know the experiences their soul is here to experience… This whole illusion is a play on the stage of life, and we’re here to play… Sometimes quite violently and dramatically it appears – but the cycles of drama go round and round, so something is going on – even if it makes no sense to us at all…

I learnt a lot in my early 20’s when I ran my fitness centre; I learnt that people were going to ‘do it their way’, and so in setting fitness programmes the best thing was to create it to truly suit them, the amount they were genuinely likely to consistently do – whether that be once a week, three times a week or every day… And to truly find out the kind of exercises they were more likely to keep doing… I would also always enquire as to whether they really wanted to give up smoking, eating lots of cake and chocolate – rather than ever suggest they did. And if they didn’t, then work with the truth of their lifestyle.

I learnt to flow with my clients, and to work ‘with them’ from a very young age. I remember one lady very well, I can visualise her, although I can’t remember her name – she was in her late 50’s and had survived pretty well on drinking pretty much only brandy; she didn’t really drink anything else…

‘What else is there to drink?’ she had enquired… I tentatively suggested water, or maybe juice? She wasn’t very interested… But gently gently added a little bit of water to her diet… And quite liked it too!

In the end, people are going to do what they do. Sometimes, a person gets a health scare and completely changes their life; others carry on as before. Sometimes we are inspired by something another person does or says – and that point is a moment of change for us – like me seeing the barefooted surfers running on the beach… At other times, we just watch and carry on as we are…

I learnt very young that I wasn’t an authority on anything; but that I did have an ability to encourage others to be their own authority and to connect more to their own path, however less travelled or wayward it might appear to be… I was – I am –  good at helping others love themselves more and see themselves more clearly…

From a space of loving ourselves more, whatever we do or don’t do feels much better… !

Anadi and I ran ‘Barefoot across Gozo’ to Xlendi and back… Thirteen miles in all and then drove to Dwejra for lunch… This was the site of the famous Azure window… An enormous rock formation where the sea had created a huge window; but a few months ago it just fell into the sea one evening and now there is just the rock face left.

Gone in a moment, everything changed forever….

Soulfully Connecting

Yesterday afternoon I had such an enjoyable time, being interviewed by Sue Ellam of Soulfully Connecting… We had booked our interview three or four weeks ago, but first I lost my voice, so we booked again – and then I lost my voice and the internet!

But yesterday was the day… And I enjoyed every second.

I particularly enjoyed having the space to talk about, investigate and share my spiritual journey… We talked about my running journey, my barefoot journey, my nomadic journey, my work journey – which are of course all  part and parcel of my spiritual journey… Because Sue asked me a very interesting question…

‘What came first, your running journey or your spiritual journey…?’

I thought for a little while and then answered, ‘my spiritual journey’… Because that is all there is for me. The word spiritual means ‘not of the body’, and the whole of my life has been a journey in recognition of being a spiritual being on a human journey… This has meant facing all the challenges that have arisen, and to truly acknowledge the times when I have been invested in the human journey rather than trusting my spirit…!

I enjoyed the hour immensely and the video is here

 

We woke today to grey moody skies; the air was still warm, so as we stepped out into the street and the rain began to fall, it wasn’t of much concern to us… Warm rain, warm roads, rather lovely.

And the run was lovely; there wasn’t too much rain, it seemed to be that we were running behind it as the roads were slick grey black wet – and slippy in places too – perhaps it was oil from the cars, or if we ran on the white lines… Thunder rumbled around us and the sky lit up now and again with a sheet of lightening, and we ran on… Enjoying the beauty of the dark blue sea, the grey skies, the ferry blending in to her surroundings as she approached the harbour.

We returned home just as the drops were becoming bigger… Suddenly the whole island was enveloped in a sheet of pouring rain. We could hardly see anything out of the window; the harbour below, Camino island and Malta – just across the water – all vanished behind a screen of grey insesant rain…

A river appeared gushing down the rocky hill beside our apartment and the road outside was flooded in a few minutes.

We were aware of how tiny this island is, a little piece of land in the middle of the sea and the elements raged around us. Power glory might…

And then it stopped, the translucent watery light returned revealing our washed surroundings… The internet was gone, the roads had rocks strewn across them and the water flowed down like a little stream that had always been there.

The landscape had been changed, washed, watered within minutes.

So within so without…

It felt to be nurturing nourishing, cleansing. A reflection of energy, freedom, expression, expansive…

Lively, free and clear!

 

 

 

Addressing, releasing, clearing…

The alarm woke me at 6.18am, which never used to feel very early in my ‘past life’, but in my current life –  my life with Anadi – it certainly does, as bedtime is never really before midnight…

I had actually set it for 6am, but at 4.18am had woken for a wee, and changed it to 6.18 as I liked the idea of two more hours in bed!

But the sight of the sun rising above Gozo harbour made me very glad that I was up and very soon I was out of the door.

It was a cloudy warm day and  I wore my Skinners socks because I can run faster in them on the road… I don’t need to watch out quite so vigilantly, and I don’t need to slow down over the uneven ouchie bits, or on the scattered stony sections at the side of the road, when I jump there to avoid the cars!

I had a treatment booked with Gerhard and I wanted to run and breakfast first… The run was a delight; I am loving the feeling of flow that my increased fitness is bringing. …

A lifetime of running…

It is a joy to keep practising and perfecting my art; a quest that never ends and I delight now in the ongoing investigation – the exploration to find the perfect true point, the balance, the silence, the body’s centre point.

I can feel where there is slight imbalance, an uneven holding in my shoulders, a very slight twist in my left hip – and now I just notice these things… I also notice the slight improvements that are occurring over months rather than days. I was last here in Gozo a year ago, and returning is allowing me to see the improvements, to recall how I was then – and to recognise where I find myself freer now…

You see I was always in a rush to ‘get there’, to be ‘free’, ‘free in my movement’ and ‘free of pain’… What I didn’t see back then, was that the ‘whole thing’, the orientation of ‘wanting’ to be free, ironically kept me locked into the very energy that I needed to let go of!

I met Gerhard two years ago when I was looking for a ‘sports massage’… He offers so much more. He is a gifted healer, and his orientation is towards clearing… Perfect.

I had booked a three hour session. The first hour was spent in a clearing exercise where he asked me questions related to organs in the body, places I might be holding emotionally, any conflict within, any emotional injuries, any issues I might want to work with.

I loved the hour; my processes are paler these days, but this is where it is so important to notice. It can be easy when feeling clearer and lighter to stop noticing the subtle energies which still need addressing, releasing, clearing.

It can be even more important to go within and clear as the subtle ‘holding on’, can still keep us from freedom, expansion, silence.

After the clearing, he gave me a two hour treatment, starting with a sound healing bath from two Tibetan singing bowls which he placed on my back… The sensation was incredible, and then the massage with some gentle subtle manipulation; my body loved it and I was not there…. I floated out of my body, I left it behind so that it could let go of any tension.

I am going again next week, and Gerhard has agreed to make a vlog with me – so you will meet him then!

And then rest of the day has unfolded easily meeting Anadi for lunch and spending the afternoon writing…

A perfect day….