Running Salvation

I am a troubled soul. Maybe all souls are troubled but they keep quiet about it. Most alcoholics I know think that they are troubled because they have an \”alcoholic personality.\” I know this idea comes from Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, but I do not agree with it. I think to be human is to have a troubled soul; and alcoholics use alcohol to deal with it.

My spirituality has been what I use to deal with my troubled soul. And I\’ve come to believe it is not my soul that is troubled. It is my ego. So every morning, I have to do something about my ego. My ego is always pissed that life hasn\’t been that great for it. My ego always hates the people around me. My ego always thinks God is not there.

I did my spiritual work this morning with exactly this outlook on the world. Its funny to spend the evening before feeling the strong call of God to inner silence and then wake up in the morning a complete bear. But, I asked for divine help, \”I need to see the light in me.\”

And so I went running: extremely warm out there, full moon, no T-storms, freshly cut slit in the cuff of my CWX capris made them finally comfortable, not very energetic so I ran slowly. I had about 80 minutes for this run. My mind was mulling over my emotional states and wondering if I am hopelessly depressed, again reviewing the impossibility of re-joining society.

And then the miracle. I can\’t remember exactly all the thoughts but I\’ll re-cap. I realized I can only go further into the belief that the world is an illusion and not worry about it. Then I was uplifted with the thought that I would be given whatever I needed for today. So my fear of the future and my difficult employment disappeared. I entered the now and realized God was with me now.

I am in transition from thinking this world is real to know this world is an illusion and identifying with my true self, which is in God. I am in transition from ego relationships to the one real relationship which we all have and are, the beloved Son of God.

Then, I thought, \”all I\’ve wanted for a long time was a life of contemplation of God.\” Contemplation of God is the call I heard at the age of 22 when I was in Israel watching Hassidic Jews pray. Contemplation was the real reason I sought monastic life. Contemplation is the reason I began ultra running. Then the thought came that everything was a gift and contemplating the gifts was contemplating God. This completely diffused my hatred and fear of a certain person. They became gift not enemy (which is the point of spirituality IMO). Nothing more need be done than to realize this. Then it struck me. The reality of God is that I am now in a total embrace of love and everything is gift.

I totally believed this for a brief instant. I saw the light for a brief instant.

Now that was a successful run and it is for enlightenment that I run.

Choosing Again

Students of A Course in Miracles have heard of this choice. Heck, Ken Wapnack wrote a whole book on it.

It struck me this morning that what I have been doing the past couple of days is choosing again: I am as God created me. God is love and created only love. Anything I think I see which is not love is an illusion of my own making and and error in my mind. I can at any moment choose again and get help from the Holy Spirit.

Why do I think this? I was thinking alot on Tuesday during my run about how I cannot re-enter a normal social life, religious life, family life or even running life. When I took my running out of the race, I took myself off the page when it comes to relating to others. I wondered if I should hire a shrink to make me swallow my opinions and practices and go be a normal person. I wondered if I am depressed? I was experiencing the stress and tension that comes from an ego realizing it is outside of any sort of ego affirming activity and likely to remain there. To take your ego out of the race is a way to achieve solitude.

Then a little voice said, \”Why do you think there is something wrong just because you don\’t behave as others? You are free. Stop worrying about it and just be free.\” And I did stop worrying about it. Today, the choice became clear; and it is one I just re-affirmed. I accept that I am as God created me. I am love; therefore, I give up trying to fit in this world. What matters is the choice to be as God created me.

I hear the call to listen deeply to the inner voice. I want to continue giving it all I can.

Between yesterday and today: I cancelled my hotel reservation in Oklahoma for a 24 hour race in October; I corresponded with one of the racers in the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race which reminded me of contemplative running; I haven\’t kept up my running mania journal for 2 days. I got involved with contemplation because I wanted to sit in a room by myself and meditate. My monastic journey was an attempt to achieve solitude. I want to listen to God. So I have cancelled a number of other things. I want eliminate other things besides listening to God. That has been my downfall: too many worldly activites.

That deep inner silence is so attractive, I simply must go to it.

Personal Multi-days – Dream

Today I ran 27 miles in the park. Doing 9x1s at about 11.9 min/mile. Today, I recited Hail Mary\’s during the 9 minutes of running and the Our Father during the one minute of walking. This was like the Japanese monk who does 1,000 daily marathons and prostrates at shrines located along his path. The park where I run has no shrines, but I made a shrine out of time with the one minute of walking.

Now I have a fresh memory of what it feels like to run more than a marathon 2 days in a row. I had not really planned to run 27 miles today. I just went to the park with a large amount of sports drink and Gu and decided to go as long as I felt like it. I actually went fast the last 2 laps because it was very hot. I made the decision to do 10 laps during the 8th lap. And I wanted out of the sun, so I went faster. Go figure where that speed came from.

I started running ultras because I was inspired by the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race (about 12 people run/walk around a block in NYC for 16 hours a day and try to run 3,100 miles in 52 days). What inspired me was the meditative aspect of doing endless miles in this manner.

My inspiration lead me to try ultras. I\’m still fascinated by the idea of mentalling spiralling inward to Silence as many boring miles are completed. Earlier this year, I completed 80 miles in 20 hours in one mile laps. My mind does find such a thing soothing, but the body is pretty whipped after about 50 miles. I\’m trying to practice contemplation, not worry about whether my foot is broken.

I\’ve been in the habit of attempting personal multi-days whenever I have a long weekend. Last summer when I was laid off, I ran/walked upwards of 6 hours every day.

Today, as I was running I sort of got an idea of what I would like to do for my next vacation, 11/20 to 28: 10 ultras in 10 days. The plan would be to run/walk around the park 10 laps (27 miles), 10 days in a row. And see where my mind takes me. The physical part is hard but not that hard as running is slow. The mental part is very hard. Most people undertake their endurance feats in the venue of an organized event. This helps them to honestly finish without \”quitting.\” Part of my mental journey is to do a thing without the measurements of other people.

This plan is tentative. As always, if I complete it, it will be one step at a time.

I Give My Mind to God

This thought came to me last night: what I want is a life of total reliance on God. Period.

Now today: Another Saturday. Another Saturday spent both running and in the aftermath of running. This morning, I ran 16.2 miles in the park and then another 9.7 on the trails. Considering this all took 5:45, I feel good. In a sense, this morning was a personal best. I had not done the trails before with that many miles already on my legs. I saw no less than 3 baby turtles in the sanctuary.

I run in peace in the sanctuary of my mind as well. My running stands in solitude, with my mind and my spirit, an incomprehensible mirror of the contemplative life, a doorway to another world. I am free. My running is my spirit. My life is devoted to God in contemplation and solitude; a way of life whose value has no worldly equivalent and whose truth cannot be grasped by the ego mind.

I let God guide me. I see that things do indeed change. I see them differently. I am a solitary contemplative, celibate, sober, A Course in Miracles student, long distance runner. The joy of these things is not understood by others; but I see that I no longer feel angry about that. The anger has been my problem. Slowly, I have given it to the Holy Spirit. Now, it is light and I see light all around me. I see beyond this world and no longer hold it hostage to my ego needs.

So, I will again go running tomorrow. For now, I will sit quietly, looking inward at the light of Christ, maintaining its presence as the one thing in my mind. I will drink clear water.

Contemplative Push Comes to Shove

The superhuman stance of not racing. Putting my money where my mouth is. Working out without the t-shirt or the medal. How do I live up to my theory that there is no meaning in races beyond the ego?

There is a 10k race in my back yard. Historically speaking, a medal in my age group is a piece of cake. There is a 50 miler about 2 hours away. I could whip down to a hotel room after work and spend tomorrow wondering why I am there.

Instead, I think I need to swallow my ego and just go running like I always do, and spend the afternoon in contemplation. Either I give up my addiction to racing or not! Either I detox or not! Either this is my choice or not!

Now, I am at work and have a meeting to lead. See everyone later.

Saturday\’s ACIM LESSON 232

\”Be in my mind, my Father, through the day.

Be in my mind, my Father, when I wake, and shine on me throughout the day today. Let every minute be a time in which I dwell with You. And let me not forget my hourly thanksgiving that You have remained with me, and always will be there to hear my call to You and answer me. As evening comes, let all my thoughts be still of You and of Your Love. And let me sleep sure of my safety, certain of Your care, and happily aware I am Your Son.

This is as every day should be. Today, practice the end of fear. Have faith in Him Who is your Father. Trust all things to Him. Let Him reveal all things to you, and be you undismayed because you are His Son.\”

A Falling Star

\”The Holy Spirit offers you release from every problem that you think you have. They are the same to Him because each one, regardless of the form it seems to take, is a demand that someone suffer loss and make a sacrifice that you might gain. And when the situation is worked out so no one loses is the problem gone, because it was an error in perception that now has been corrected. One mistake is not more difficult for Him to bring to truth than is another. For there is but one mistake; the whole idea that loss is possible, and could result in gain for anyone. If this were true, then God would be unfair; sin would be possible, attack be justified and vengeance fair.\” (ACIM text 26.II)

When I think I have a problem with someone, I need some way to look at it other than my own. One thing to do is to turn the problem over to the Holy Spirit. A key point of ACIM is to realize that what I think I see is what I wanted to see. It cannot be a correct perception because God is love and would only create love (period I might add). So if I am bothered by the world, it is because I am not seeing things correctly; and so I turn to the Holy Spirit for help in seeing things correctly.

It is reminiscent of the 3rd step of AA: \”Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God…\”

After I turn a problem over to the Holy Spirit and admit I must be wrong, it is oh so easy to do it over and over, whenever the thoughts take up the incorrect litany of life: how unfair how I think it is and how I should go straighten it out.

This morning, I was practicing my turning over as I was out running. I had just had a resentful thought and asked the Holy Spirit for help when I looked up and saw a bright falling star. It was as if the Holy Spirit had said, \”Stop it!\” I mean really loud, I suddenly understood that I needed to let the stars fall. Let them go. Let God decide for me. I have no opinions because I don\’t see things correctly.

Herein is real peace.

ACIM Problem Solving

Theoretically, I have a problem. It is only a problem when considered in terms of this world and my ego: someone isn\’t behaving the way I think they should and I fear its effects on me. No need for the specifics of form. What I just said is the content; and it applies to all my problems.

But A Course in Miracles provided me with some help today (25.IX1, 7, 9):
\”Are you willing to be released from all effects of sin? You cannot answer this until you see all that the answer must entail. For if you answer \”yes\” it means you will forego all values of this world in favor of the peace of Heaven.

To give a problem to the Holy Spirit to solve for you means that you want it solved. To keep it for yourself to solve without His help is to decide it should remain unsettled, unresolved, and lasting in its power of injustice and attack.

The little problems that you keep and hide become your secret sins, because you did not choose to let them be removed for you. And so they gather dust and grow, until they cover everything that you perceive and leave you fair to no one. Not one right do you believe you have. And bitterness, with vengeance justified and mercy lost, condemns you as unworthy of forgiveness. The unforgiven have no mercy to bestow upon another. That is why your sole responsibility must be to take forgiveness for yourself.\”

Nuff said!

I had a great 93 minute run this morning.

Paradigm Shift – Mulling Over Endurance

The normal way of doing things is to decide on some achievement for a goal. Train for the goal and then go in an event to prove you did it. Tell every body and have them congratulate you on your accomplishment. Most people then shift their exercise routine depending on what the next goal is.

It feels so revolutionary for me to say, \”I\’m going to do an endurance event because I want to without proving it to anybody.\” It goes against the grain of society to be an ultra-runner but never enter an ultra. \”Who cares?,\” is the reply.

For me, the interesting point is that the shift in purpose, which produces a lack of worldly result, is an emotional challenge to live with. How many of us are able to sit quietly with huge accomplishments and get no credit for them? A thing becomes not-of-this-world if it has no publication. Yet, the thought that produced the hidden thing and brought it into secret existence is real and affects everything.

What kind of world would it be if we took credit for nothing and expected no reward or recognition? There are people who live like this. I hypothesize that their impact on creation is dramatic, if unknown.

It takes superhuman strength of character and intention to be an achiever who no one knows about. You have to not care about the money or the recognition. Yet we are trained to use recognition and money as our motivations.

I want to plan an endurance event. Since it is my event, I have to decide \”what for?\” and decide the parameters. It is something I will practice on Saturdays and Sundays; while wondering if I can pull off many more days during Thanksgiving.

I do not want an extreme of intensity such that I have to rest for more than a day. I know that if I run more than about 6 hours of 9x1s at 12.1 min/mile, I\’ll have to rest my legs the next day. So if I want my endurance event to be more than 6 hours and more than one day, I\’ll have to lower the speeds and/or include cross training. Since I do my own grocery shopping and food prep, there is a limitation on how much I can do.

If I did an IronMan, I\’d be a slow one; guessing 20 hours. 50 miles takes me 12 hours on an easy course. Here are some more endurance examples. The 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence race female averaged 50 miles a day, but about 3 miles per hour for 2,760 miles and 52 days. Some people run several 100 mile races a year. Japanese monks (very few) complete 1,000 days of walking meditation, a marathon a day plus prayers and chores.

I\’m mainly involved in a mental game here. I should say that there is not a hope of divine revelation thrown into this event. It is an exercise in endurance without exterior motivation. In fact, I suppose it is purely a way to exert myself for no reward. Why? Just to answer an interior call to contemplation. If I have not the perseverance and determination to complete endurance without a goad or a reward, then I cannot expect to persevere at prayer either. I guess that is the bottom line of my endurance demonstration.

I\’m not sure where I am going with this so I am sure more commentary will follow.

Solitary Running – Deeper

Today\’s lesson from A Course in Miracles said (in part), \”If I so choose, I can depart this world entirely. It is not death which makes this possible, but it is change of mind about the purpose of the world. If I believe it has a value as I see it now, so will it still remain for me. But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth… What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine?\”

So if I have thoughts like these, is it any wonder I let go of all things ego? Jesus said (in the Bible) his kingdom was not of this world. He said to lose your life to save it. I think Jesus meant to change your mind. ACIM teaches me how to change my mind.

Part of my solitary running is changing my mind about the purpose of running. I am changing running from racing and performance, to transcendence. Thus, the ego cannot have my running any longer.

Today, I went out running with the idea of endurance; that is to just go along at low impact for awhile. I decided to do 9x1s in order to go easy on my legs. I stayed only 4h07 min, or about 20 miles. I have time. I spend my time on this.

I jogged along nodding hi to the various other people using the trail. A key point was suddenly understood. If I have no special relationships, neither special love relationships or special hate relationships, then I can view creation as a unity. The unity is God and all of the people are God\’s Son. If I have not singled out any individuals for specialness, then I also have not projected any of my own dark thoughts. I can love all equally and everything is one continuum of God.

An extension of the idea of taking running away from ego: when I do an endurance event by myself, it is totally up to me to like it or not. Since it was not an official race, no one will care whether I did it. No one will cheer. No one will congratulate me for a 50 mile run done by myself. Even if I did tell someone, they would not react the same as if I had done it at a race. Running done in private has no ego reward.

But really, what does it matter to me? Next Saturday, there is a 50 mile race. I can enter the race on line, pay an entry fee, drive 2 hours to the race, wait around because I got there early, run 50 miles, drive the two hours home. Why not skip all that and just run the 50 miles from home? Because we want something from the outside world in return for what we do.

Bottom line: run 50 if you want. Don\’t ask for awards or acclaim. Do it for yourself, period.

I felt all morning that I wanted to plan a day where I did go more than 6 hours by myself. I want to try it.

Addition: When you live as a solitary, you have no atta boy pats on the head encouraging feedback from the world. You are no longer living your life as an actor on a stage.

Solitary Endurance

“Their joy is in the innocence they see.” (25.IV) This morning, I needed the Holy Spirit to give me a perspective on joy that was totally different than what I could think of by myself. From there, I was able to go running with the idea of peace: “Those who offer peace to everyone have found a home in Heaven the world cannot destroy. For it is large enough to hold the world within its peace… In you there is a vision that extends to all of them, and covers them in gentleness and light.” I went out into the park filled with peace (and this is how I celebrated 9/11, with a silent peace in my head).

What is the joy in the life of a solitary? I have never been able to accept that joy was really the temporary feeling of achievement in the world, or any of the entertainments people take part in. This morning, as I was not-going-in-a-race, I wondered about myself. Why do I run? What are the depths of my running? It is hard to notice the depths of my being while I am paying attention to others; even if I am having fun serving, the silence of God gets lost. Listening to the silence, immersing my consciousness in quiet, and stilling my ego, are what fill me with peace and strengthen me.

When I am unhappy, it is because I have denied my ego some worldly accomplishment. Maybe the practice of denying the ego comes from my monastic years; it is not part of A Course in Miracles (exactly). But what seems joyful to most people seems like ego feeding to me; and I deny myself those worldly pleasures. I don’t think of worldly pleasures as sin, but as distractions from God because they let the ego’s noise supersede God’s quiet.

I have been a runner over 30 years. I ran in a skirt while I was a nun. Yes, I’ve been in many races; but logged 999 times more hours just running. When I heard about what happened to people at the extremes of endurance, I heard about a state of mind I wanted. So I entered ultra-marathons. But I know, I’ve been working at endurance as my pathway to my soul since I was 14 years old. So I now am learning to run the hours alone, without the venue of a race and its associated ego traps.

This morning I ran 10.8 miles on the flat path and 9 miles on the trail. I ran for 4h17 min.

I did get the feeling about endurance which I love. To me it is a feeling of eternity, like my mind opens up or expands for a moment. During these moments, I also get the feeling I touched some greater depth inside. This feeling is my lure for long distance. I think it is why people run 100 miles or 3,100 miles or whatever. We want to touch our deepest inner being and stay touched; but our bodies aren\’t really up to it and we have to stop.