Running the Heart Sutra

Walking on the tm tonight, I felt the need to retreat into nothing, yet work out in the nothingness. I believe I can go nowhere in my ultra-retreat. This is the heart sutra:

Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body. The body is exactly empty, and emptiness is exactly body.

I have a new paradigm: the work out paradigm. Some people live in a paradigm were they run only for fitness or when they are training for a race, a goal, a purpose. People view aerobic activity as something only done within limits: those of injury, time, “balance” or “got tired of it.” But what if you lived in a paradigm where you could work out without injury for endlessly long periods of time. Is this heaven for you? It is for me. I finally see it. I have developed a method for continuous working out as long as fuel goes in. I like this. It is not a punishment or some method for “digging deep.” It’s just enjoyment of a state of being. It used to be “challenging myself.” Now it is the enjoyable norm.

So, in emptiness, there is no body, no feeling, no thought, no will, no consciousness.

In the solitude of working out in my living room or running endless laps in a tiny park, I get to the place of no consciousness; only being. In the state of pure being, Oneness is found and the innocence of Life is found.

In the old paradigm, you see a person running and running and think they are hurting. In the new one, it is painless, unlimited happiness. My 5 day ultra-retreat starts Wednesday after work.

First Ever Jellification Workout

Today I did something new. I spent 5 hours on my ex-machines. I discovered the jellification workout. I mean after spending 4h40 min doing 20 min shifts between ex-bike, treadmill and Nordic track, I felt like jello as I got off the Nordic track the last time and lurched over to the bike for a final 20 min. Part of the beauty of this workout is I did not aggravate a single tendon. I exercised pain free for 5 hours; merely burning energy and generating endorphins. I loved it!

So now, I have to share my plans. I planned to start a 5 day mini-personal-multi-day beginning Thursday. I can’t really run for that many hours every day. But I could run for 2 or 3 hours and then work out on machines for a number of additional hours. How many additional? What am I made of? You see, if I just run, I\’ll reach a limit. If I add in the non-traumatic ex-machines, there might not be a limit. It becomes a matter of mind and energy, not pain. OMG! What I could do is alot.

So, I need to ponder and set a goal. I won’t be tapering or by any means coming into it fresh. In fact, Wednesday will be a short work day as I go to an off-site workshop that day. I want to challenge my brain to do what the body is capable of. I want the experience of doing what I never have before and beyond what I thought I could. My initial guess is 7 hours a day. That is probably an underestimate, but all I can imagine right now.

Morning After Reflection

Today I slept until 6 am. Yesterday’s 5 hours of sun seem to have pushed me over the top and broken me. The good news is that I did not wake up limping. I woke up in lethargy.

I find myself at a moment of truth: It is not how far I went but how long, not the difficulty of the trail but the long term patient endurance of the workout. Anyone who has a seeker’s mind and determination will seek the edge of their envelope, their cloud of lethargy, and push through that cloud to something else, the extraordinary. There beyond the cloud, with enough patience, an extraordinary world is found. But that extraordinary world vanishes into memory as the seeker stops to rest for the night.

In the morning after doldrums and dregs, the seeker’s mind finds a thick lethargic cloud between their current state of consciousness and that extraordinary state. It may seem like a physical action generates the energy to get going again, like drinking coffee or eating. But the physical world action is really a lagging illusion which follows behind the seeker’s mind. That is, my seeker’s mind has already begun movement through the cloud of lethargy as I begin to feel like I will get up and go today. The feeling of hope, which I follow and experience as ordinary reality represents the fact that my real mind is really always in the extraordinary reality and I am hearing its call and allowing its grace to pull me into the extraordinary.

For today I define the cloud of lethargy as ego. Whatever I see in the cloud that holds me in this world is ego. Even prideful things can hold me in this world. Even religious trappings can hold me in this world. Fame and fortune, donuts and steaks can hold me inside the cloud of lethargy.

As a seeker, I use endurance to shut down the ordinary, the cloud, and join the extraordinary. The extraordinary is the real home of the Son of God (our one Self).

The lethargic cloud can be pushed through, superseded, dispersed, in a variety of ways. I choose fitness. So every day I work out. Even today: I woke up in the dregs with red splotches of heat rash on my legs and soreness in my shoulders from carrying a hydropak yesterday. At first, exercise seemed out of the question. As the physical world me drinks coffee and completes spiritual studies, my seekers mind has metaphysically moved forward through the lethargic cloud and sees already the sunlight of the extraordinary.

The feeling of hope is the call to move into another reality. The feeling of getting through the cloud is the joy and gratitude I experience every morning after about an hour’s workout and as I run to the top of a hill. I look behind me and see many who never attempt to get through the lethargy.

Fitness is my way, my truth and my light. Fitness brings me to joy and gratitude. In the extraordinary beyond the cloud of lethargy, I am in communion with truth, the Son of God, our one Self. Joy and gratitude are Jesus.

Joy and gratitude are my true home. I follow my seeker’s mind. I set my seeker’s mind free to soar beyond the cloud of lethargy and into joy and gratitude.

A Mortal\’s Saturday Run

Today, starting at 5:30 am at 80F and ending about 11 at 85F (counting pit stops), I ran approximately 23 miles of 8x2s in 5h21 min. It was a put up or shut up run: it’s easier to think you’ll run 5 hours than it is to actually do it. So I made sure I did it. I thought it was much hotter than it was. I lost track of laps so counting conservatively at 14 min/mile.

My ankle hurt before I even got started. It was sore a lot of the run. I ran to emulate the Self Transcendence runners who just work their way through the pain. Is that stupid for us ordinary mortal runners? Or do I believe in it enough for it to work for me? Whispered quietly, “Spirit Flower, you run and work out far more than most of the ordinary runners. They only ran one hour today.”

Today’s ACIM lesson:
Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. I will not value what is valueless.

Here is where rubber meets the dirt with my running. What is important about the run is not what was going on at the material world, illusion level. What was deeper? Forgiveness. As I wanted to see forgiveness, I saw my thoughts about others as valueless and I let them go. And surprisingly, the other people responded by saying things to me which they normally don’t, even though we see each other every week. The most enlightening question came from a big ol’ fat man who got started walking even before me and was there at least 2 hours. I usually just think how terrible it would be to be that big and fat (and ugly). Today, as I approached him one of the times, I thought my forgiveness prayer, “I want to perceive truth.” I realized I admired him. As he got right to me, he suddenly looked up and said, “How did you get here?” He had a material world reason for asking that question, but metaphysically speaking, it a deep question which only the Holy Spirit would ask. Two other people were obviously the Holy Spirit’s witnesses today.

I also realized that if I forgive myself, I am forgiving all because we are one Self.

For what reason would I slog through a hot 5 hours jog? I saw my own injuries as valueless and let them go. Then, I found myself running without pain for awhile. During my run, I realized that we humans value ourselves when we conquer our pain. Pain is our big kahoona when it comes to self admiration. I kept thinking how great I was for enduring heat and pain. I kept thinking how I admired the Self Transcendence runners for overcoming their pain, pushing through it, getting beyond into some other world.

I do not have cancer so I am not running for my life. I am entered in a couple of races, so that is a reason to say I am “training.” But what really is at the bottom of it? Not my life. But maybe Life Itself. When I run to just be life, I am joining Life Itself.

5h21m is the longest I’ve run/worked out in a long time. Why 5h21min? Why run ultras? Why run at all? I\’ve been running all my life so the question is not just for today. If I\’m done thinking I\’m great because I can endure, then why? Today was also the annual Western States 100 mile trail run. Whoever finishes that will receive far more accolades than these 11 miracles in NYC. Some others ponder the question. Those who are running and volunteering at the 3100 mile race:

http://www.3100.ws/2010/06/26/1744/
Journey To The Unknown
Many people try to understand why a handful of runners would want to run day after day for almost two months around about one half mile concrete surface during the summer months in New York City. Most of these runners have done it more than once, so there is even more reason to wonder why they would want to do it again after experiencing the tremendous challenges and difficulties involved in such a very long and arduous journey….But the words may still not make any sense to those who have not experienced the race in some way or another…the impossible can be done, And the Universal Energy Can be unleashed, To raise our standards And lift our minds Beyond the limits of our broken bodies And faithless thoughts, To reveal the Beauty and the Power Of life’s long and arduous Journey to the Unknown

Running for Life

I have an ultra friend who is a prolific racer; going in perhaps 20 long distance races a year (not counting short stuff like marathons). I found out that she has cancer; the second time in seven years. IMO: she has been running for her life.

(In what I am about to say, I do not insinuate that this person ate or drank her way into cancer. But that I know so many people who eat or drink whatever trash in complete ignorance of the human dignity which they are destroying.)

I was reflecting on her in comparison with my own physical fitness; and all the fine affirmations and guidance my trainer gave me today. My endurance has grown in the last few weeks, mainly from cross training. I eat a very clean vegan diet with certain superfood proteins. I am not running out of a momentous situation; but still, I run in honor of all creation. My life is my gift.

I disdain junk food and alcohol of any sort. I don\’t trash my body or my mind; especially not my mind where my God consciousness connects. I keep myself at a high level of being, untrashed, in honor of a divine Magnificence which reaches from the life present in each cell to beyond the cosmos to the ineffably abstract light of Love. I AM is I AM everywhere including the illusion of time where Spirit Flower dreams her existence.

In my dream, I am multifaceted. Part of me plods along in a human body and hundred dollar running shoes. Another part of me knows only soaring in a pristine clear atmosphere of undisturbed pure light. The soaring part is united with all minds and The Mind of our lover: I AM

Non-Performance Running

Running just to be.

Early in the morning, I arrive at the top of a certain hill. By the time I get there, I’ve worked out on machines for 45 minutes and then run 25 minutes. As I make my way down the other side, I feel the energy of fitness and I love it. I don’t live on the same page as most people, let alone most 50 something women. I know there are other women in this town who quietly go about the business of being an athlete, being extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. I like that idea.

What called me to spend 2 or so hours each weekday on exercise; or 5 hours each weekend day? My mind is very quiet and I am not on a quest and I have no goals. Yet I’ve been working out like a fiend lately; and want to only do that. I have been feeling the limits of the endeavor as I build fitness. I have the desire for endlessness which comes from the extremely long workout, the endless workout.

All my life there has been something pulling at my heart strings. It is not endless running exactly. It is what is behind the running; the place where my mind goes during a workout.

What called me to run also called me to contemplation. Spirituality precedes any potential supportive role that exercise might have on the consciousness of God. I love the spiritual program of contemplation and action I have found. With the help of the Holy Spirit, one can perceive a world peopled only with holiness and embraced by a loving peace.

Swell! Sweet! Cool!

God Consciousness

From the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence Race blog
http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/06/21/learn-to-be-in-the-heart/
“I learn that I need to be in the heart and stay there…When one does this then the discomforts of running and also the discomforts of life itself remain at a manageable distance…to focus on one’s inner cry. This comes …. only when one recognizes that they indeed have an inner thirst and inner hunger for something higher within oneself. \’For this I am very grateful that I feel this inner hunger, inner cry, or love of God\’…”

It is a good morning to muse on The Beyond, God Himself. A Course in Miracles has given me food. For 8 more days, I will have one thought as part of a review exercise: “My mind holds only what it thinks with God.” A subsidiary review thought for today is: “Let me remember I am one with God.” This morning, as I sat down for my morning text study, I totally got stuck on this one line (17.IV.1): “God established His relationship with you to make you happy…”

The power of ACIM is not to use these thoughts as affirmations and repeat them mindlessly; but to allow them to permeate the ego’s defenses against them (usually numbness) and allow them to be the reality that you are.

I ponder God because I want a God consciousness. I don’t want a reality where God is absent. I don’t want a reality of fear and annoyance towards others. I don’t want a reality where any one relationship has taken over my life and consciousness to the exclusion of God. I allow myself to stop and ponder the implications of a relationship with God. I allow God to permeate me. And then I just go through the day knowing that I am not alone. If I become afraid or angry, I can be assured that my ego has spoken, but I don’t have to believe it’s interpretation of things. I am a thought in the Mind of God. How come I don’t know it? How come I see a world of deprivation instead?

My fitness level is fabulous. I got up at 3:45 this morning. After my spiritual study, I spent 70 minutes on the ex-machines. I have no injury issues from my 42 mile weekend.

Perfect Long Distance Weekend

From http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/06/20/turns/
\” ‘the sacred loop.’ Those who come back again and again, clearly recognize that the inspiration that calls them here is as significant as any holy pilgrimage. There are no prostrations, no ceremony of any kind, it is instead an all encompassing dedication of the complete being; body, mind, and heart, to a much higher purpose, than can be seen with our mental vision….Doing it with devotion, but also with dynamism, and courage. Letting go of all the things in your life that stop you from being the best that you can be….Aspiring for something just beyond the barrier of impossibility and perhaps just around the next turn….he finds himself focusing on God’s grace and compassion…\”

Today, I woke up at 4 and turned off the alarm, which was set to go off at 4:30, thinking, oh heck, let’s work out inside today. I got enough sun yesterday. I got up at 6 and checked the weather: cooler than yesterday starting off at 73F/23C. Then the LSD bug hits me. The dream of endless laps takes over my mind and I decide to go to the little park with the half mile bike path and just go around for awhile. I get out the door at 7 and at 7:05 see that the little park is closed due to flooding. I decide to check out my favourite park in Parkville. I drive by and decide that people are getting by the one problem area from yesterday. Good; as I simply cannot face the levy another day.

Before going running this morning, I wrote this: The ego is not just big-headed-ness or prideful self-centeredness, it is the entire thought system of this world, which is antagonistic to God and chooses to believe it is not the holy Son of God but a separate body (bodies) with special features (better-ness) and special relationships (love and hate), instead of knowing it is the One holy Son of God, an idea in the Mind of God and of one continuous nature of Love immersed in eternal benign constant peace, joy and light, with no specialness at all.

Today I did 8 and 2s for 22 miles and 4h44 minutes. This was much easier than yesterday where I mainly jogged with very little walking. Today I had on one pair of smartwool anklets and compression knee socks and the sugoi compression shorts. So far, that’s my best bet for avoiding heat blotches and I think the compression knee socks help the achilles. FWIT: my achilles feels very good now, 5 hours after completing the run. That is so swell! I can hardly wait to work out again tomorrow. I can hardly wait for my 5 days off starting July 1: time for a personal multi-day.

I could say I\’m \”training\” for an ultra; but really, I don\’t need to be spending that kind of time every weekend just for an upcoming race. I just like it. I\’ll be out running as much as possible whether I\’m signed up for a race or not.

My attraction to long distance running is not for the glory or the specialness of it; but rather the opposite. My frustration with talking to most people about it is attempting to explain the spiritual depth of the experience and get away from surface level issues of speed, placing qualifications, awards, etc. The dregs of a long distance weekend are the closest I come to being just a soul, with no ego at all.

Crimony, it is so awesome that I ran 20 miles yesterday and 22 miles today. Just impossible to explain how wonderful that is to me.

Self Giving

This morning, I ran back and forth on the levy for 4h20. Temps were between 77 and 88F, good south breeze, sore left heel and inner ankle, wore the Camelbak hydration pack, used 80 oz of Succeed, 2 Gu and 1 S-cap. Today was the first long run where I used two pairs of smart wool socks (trainer\’s suggestion). I think this idea was an improvement because the padding on top of my foot was thicker.
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It was mainly sunny with a deep blue sky. The wildlife was deer, and numerous birds; the Kansas meadow lark, martins nesting under the freeway, and lazy Canadian geese.

Coming home, after eating, I checked the daily blog for the 3,100 mile self transcendence race: http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/06/18/self-giving-journey/

“Those countless days of sun and heat and cool and rain will just become part and parcel of a gigantic embrace… One can hope that the tough cruel days of pain and fatigue will be quickly forgotten but most likely they will not. Aches and pains will haunt them for a long time after. But what should endure are those divine moments in which their hearts rose up and they were no longer bound by the earth or even their own humanity. When they recognized that tantalizing thread that connects us all with the divine. That they see that God himself is ultimately acting in and through them, and through us all… ‛ it came to my mind the reason that I am here is self giving’ ”

Is it self giving for me to do what I do? I ran back and forth thinking today’s ACIM lesson, not understanding it but repeating it, instead of thinking any of my own thoughts:

\”With nothing in our hands to which we cling, with lifted hearts and listening minds we pray:

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Only salvation can be said to cure.
Speak to us, Father, that we may be healed. \”

But now I say, “Salvation is acceptance of our innate holiness.” As I run back and forth, embracing holiness instead of judgment of others, I am self giving. If I run back and forth instead of sitting on a cushion or in a church, so be it. All places are of God. The boring flat levy in some background location in hot humid Missouri is just as holy as the Himalayan cave or religious cloister. To say again, to embrace “my” holiness is to give it to all because we are one.
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I will spend the rest of the day gathering myself; and tomorrow do it again.
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Well, that is all that ever happens to me on any given day anyway. Self giving really depends on intention, not any actual activities. My intention is to give up the ego thought pattern which judges others; and instead see only holiness. For truly, seeing holiness, I am seeing God.

Transcendental Inspiration

From http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/06/13/the-hour-has-come/

\”Something happens here that cannot be measured or marked or photographed or questioned or reasoned with in any way. There are days in which you could be standing right beside it and be blind to it. On other days you could be on the far side of the world and yet still feel the inner thrill of what is taking place here and be as much a part of it as if you were entered in the race as well.

The 3100 is not for the masses. It is just for those who believe that life is not just about muscle and mind. It speaks clearly to those who believe in the unlimited capacity of heart and spirit and who believe that Self-Transcendence is not just for 11 brave runners. Self-Transcendence is the inevitable destiny of us all.\”

Heard about the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race? It is a race where runners run around a 0.5 mile block in NYC for 16 hours a day daily, until they complete 3,100 miles. This year, 11 runners are entered in the event.

This event is what has inspired my ultra running career. It is the running equivalent of a zen practitioner spending a year meditating alone in a room. As the man alone in a room inspired my pursuit of contemplation, the 3,100 mile race inspired my contemplative running.

Truth is, most of my long runs are done in this very boring fashion: either around a 2.7 mile loop or back and forth on a 3.7 mile levy. My 80 mile run was at an event conducted on a 1 mile loop. In October, I plan to do it again at 24 The Hard Way.

I am mainly a no adventure runner. I\’m running for hours in order to speak to my God. I get a brief taste every morning. Every morning, here is my typical schedule:
– Get up at 3:30 am
– Spend an hour studying and meditating on A Course in Miracles Text.
– Work out on machines and/or go running in the dark. While running, keep mind on the daily lesson from ACIM.
– Shower and get to work about 7. Stay at work until 4:30 (more or less).
– Drive home, eat and nap briefly.
– 7 pm, contemplative core, or meditative dumbells.
– Another 30 minutes or so of reflecting on the ACIM daily lesson, and silent meditation.
– Go to sleep.
– On the weekend, instead of going to work, I run laps and sleep more.

That\’s my life, a daily attempt to stay connected to The Presence.

It takes time and intention to stay connected. You have to want it more than anything else, or you won\’t stop and listen to that which is beyond human hearing or see that with shines quietly from beyond the illusion of this world.