Happy and Resolved!

Today, I did my usual Sunday morning sleep in. The problem is that, in the summer, sleeping in can mean its too hot to run. Today was such a day (sunny and headed to high 90s temp, not couting humidity). After getting up, I read the blog for the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race. I was interested in how the female runner was. She had ran 2,800 miles and then pulled a calf muscle and was hardly able to walk. But she had showed up at the course anyway to keep walking. This inspired me to try and do something outside even though it IS too hot (can\’t keep your body cool).

My drinks were already made so I quickly shoveled them into a cooler and headed to the car. I decided to drive 25 miles north to a park that had a very hilly but 90% shady bike path. I got in 18 miles before it was really too hot. My car thought it was 97F in the sun.

Then, my usual afternoon of shower, eat and lay on the bed reading and reflecting. I did my meditation even though I realize it might just be brain chemistry I\’m initiating. But I got this intuitive thought: Pittsburgh or no Pittsburgh, I am going to raise the bar on my thinking. That is, no matter where I live in the material world my project of mental re-programming is the priority. I do get to choose different from society. You can re-wire your brain. My choices may only be a shade different, but they are ground breaking in the evolutionary sense. So I am resolved to keep going.

I also added up my mileage for July (325 miles) and 96 hours of workout (includes cross training but not core/strengthening). This helps me feel positive about my Colorado running vacation.

But somehow, my resolution plus the running today have caused me to feel happy. Somehow, the dopamine reward cycle got triggered and I feel happy. I feel happy about the future, partly because I am no longer dependent on Pittsburgh for my self esteem. I am free to feel happy about myself and keep doing the work I think is important regardless of where I live.

Happy! Yes!

Running Meditation

Paul Brunton, book 4: Meditation is really the mind thinking of the Soul.

Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain: I do not know if there is no God, but I do not believe in God, and have good reasons to think that the concept of God is socially and psychologically constructed.

What\’s really in the depths of my heart? Nothing really. That\’s the truth that touches me so deeply.

When ever I exercise, I feel my psyche extending into eternity, into the depths of silence. Today, I went for a wonderful 4h30 min run. It was partly in the dark hour before dawn, and partly in a forest. I loved just jogging along. It was for this private bliss that I did not go to any 50k race last night. As I was quietly just doing my thing this morning, I realize that part of the good was that no one was standing around either counting laps or timing me. I was free to just jog as much as I felt like and then stop. There was no one to judge me. I hope that\’s what heaven is like.

Believe it or Not

I am in the city where our corporate HQ is. I am going to an interview for a promotion tomorrow.

I am in a mental state such as I\’ve never been. I\’ve been dismantling my religious belief systems for a few years. And I\’ve been reading books about the brain lately (ie how do we get beliefs). So sitting on the airplane, I thought about the dichotomies and I thought about my beliefs about myself. Here is a simple layout.

If I get the job:

  • is it because God or a higher power wanted me to have it?
  • is it because I created it from my own thoughts?
  • is it luck?
  • is it talent?

If I don\’t get the job:

  • is it because I think I\’m not good enough?
  • is it because I never get what I want because the cosmos doesn\’t give it or my thoughts are screwed up?
  • is it because I\’m somehow a bad little girl?
  • is it because nobody likes me?
  • is it because of politics?
  • is it because the competition was truly better?

So you see, whether I win or lose, I\’ll probably make up a story about why this happened or what it means. That\’s my point. I see how we make reality what we want it to be and imbue it with irrational spiritual idealizations. The story may or may not involve God. The story may or may not involve my psychology. The story may or may not involve thoughts creating reality. The story is likely to involve some irrational belief system to which I adhere unknowingly. But I will believe the story.

Except for once in my life, I am aware of what my mind does. I can actually choose detachment or ambivalence. I don\’t have to believe anything. Letting go to this extent is going beyond some of my former boundaries. My only chance of ever having an original thought or experiencing freedom of thought is to buck the ancient and modern programming in every way I can. It is likely that there is no truth.

If I keep this up, I\’ll someday soon enjoy a sunset just because it is. Period.

Re-wiring the Brain

It seems so incredibly easy, I don\’t know why I didn\’t think of it earlier (or read it in someone\’s book). I did this on a body worn out from running 5 hours on hills in the current 90+F heat. I think exhaustion is what made my body so comfortable on the operating table (haha, my bed).

First, I took a nap. Waking up from the nap, I didn\’t feel my body as I moved not a muscle, just started meditating. I was meditating as per usual saying, \”my soul….my soul.\” Then I thought, \”Want to rewire your brain? Just use your mouse.\” And so I imagined using a mouse to pick up one end of a synapse and drop it somewhere else.\” It was cool.

I have beliefs which I know are not true; yet they still affect me emotionally. Being a mindful person, I see when these wrong beliefs are active, but I can\’t help myself feeling their emotions of fear and self denigration. So, I can now re-connect the synapse on-the-spot (don\’t need a special environment, just do it).

Sun Worship

I was reading someone\’s poetic reflections on the beauty of nature at sunrise and sunset. It sounds good on paper, but my American life in the city doesn\’t provide anything charming or mystic about the sun. Its just plain old freaking hot; so turn on the AC.

I do have an inner sun (the God part), which I could say is the only sun I appreciate. If I appreciate the mysticism of nature, its more in the silence of predawn hours when I am out running. Or the call of the first bird. This morning, I ran in the predawn heat and humidity; but it was peaceful.

Should I stop believing in God since I have no proof? I am the type of believer who says, \”Who then made all this?\” The physical world is an illusion. The energy behind it is more what I mean by creation.

I\’m also the type of believer who says, \”Into your hands I commend my spirit.\” After I surrender my life like that, I really do feel at peace with what ever outcome happens. If I was merely an animal, I wouldn\’t need to do this consciously. If I was merely an animal, I wouldn\’t have to decide if I want to live either.

Deep down under all that I am, before you get to the God part, is hatred for being alive. I am aware of it, and its effects on my life. I don\’t know what the cure for it is; so I just deny it power over the life decision and give it donuts instead. That seems to work!

My Current Running Ethos

I run because I have nothing else to do. This is intentional. I have designed my life for maximum running.

That I would decide to have nothing else scares many people. Or, it causes judgement. The decision is very different from people who run for exercise or run for speed and awards and accomplishment. I do get these, but I run without them anyway.

I was a runner when I was a nun; without a chance in hell of going in a race.

This morning, I woke up at 3:10, my usual time and got out of bed. I did my usual spiritual study and hit the roads by 4:15. I slow jogged for 5.5 hours. It was all completely uneventful. Nothing to see. No points of interests. Just me and my sweat, slow jogging, hills and ever increasing heat. Nothing good can possibly come of this. But I really want to go out again tomorrow. We\’ll see if sleep wins.

Moderation

In some ways, moderation is something that has been invisible to me. Yet, I am a moderate.

See, I am way above average in many areas, but not a prodigy in any of them. For instance, I might appear an extreme runner to many many people, I really am not at the very extreme of either distance or speed. I am really really good at engineering, but lack certain other business motivations which would allow me to have a stellar career. I love spirituality but because I don\’t live in a monastery or haven\’t truly had a marketable experience of enlightenment, I have to live in the world and be tested by worldly experiences.

Because I am a moderate, I am not able to sink totally into any one thing: running, work or spirituality. So I am over all a balanced person. Because of balance, I am able to obtain peace. Yet my peace is within a raging storm of desire and temptation: running more, working more or meditating more in order to obtain something just out of reach. And so the one practice I must use is letting go, which keeps me in the center of the storm. I must let go of unrealistic objectives and accept the one objective I have which many wish they had: peace.

And because of balance and the practice of letting go, I have the benefit of a constant stream of intuitive information, a steady stream of precious diamonds leading along my life. If I don\’t recognize and appreciate the diamonds, then they are nothing but rocks to trounce into the dirt.

Today, I had a half day of vacation. So I got up at 3 as usual and did my hour of spiritual study and reflection. Then I went for a 3 hour run. Then I went to work to lead a hazard analysis meeting. Then I came home napped and did more spiritual study. The beauty is that guys who normally hate HAZOP meetings like to come to mind because they find it fruitful to the safety of their manufacturing processes. The beauty is that I have had a fruitful time of reflection this afternoon. The beauty is that I will get to do a full round of core exercises this afternoon and ride my ex-machines in my air conditioned living room. All the while pondering the balance and seeing the pearls and watching the storm around me.

Every Stress is for Pondering

So, I\’d really like to be a \”real\” ultra runner; but see that I\’m not. As I\’ve decided not to race this weekend due to heat, I feel a certain shame. See, I know people run Badwater (and back). I know people run the race I\’m not going to. Other people run 100 mile races. Other people run 3,100 mile races. I see that I can\’t get these things together.

But really, if I run 50, 60 or 70 miles a week, the glass is more than half full. But my ego can\’t stand to be \”less than\” anyone. No really. I feel this tension all the time as I consistently take my dog out of the race. Feeling the ego frustration is important for spiritual growth. It helps my \”be in the world but not of it\” situation.

So you see, my ego work is ongoing.

This morning I went out for a nice 6 mile run. I wondered if I am an old or a young soul. I wondered because it seems like I still have a long way to go spiritually. But I have had an interesting and different life so far. I was brought up in Berkeley, California, during the Vietnam war riots in Berkeley, Haight Ashbury drug scene in San Francisco, Black Panthers and women\’s lib era. My family had plenty of money, so I traveled all around the world, we had a ski cabin in Squaw Valley and we kept private horses. I went to both public and private schools; hence experiencing racial tension first hand. I\’ve even come to see that being from a non-religious and alcoholic home has benefited me in some ways.

But I did get tapped on the shoulder by a conscious spiritual call at the age of 22. There is no mistake about this. I\’ve really made alot of spiritual progress, but I don\’t think this lifetime is the \”big one.\”

I seek inner quiet. This practice seems useless as in it has no productive results; except I might hear an intuitive thought now and then. But this practice is also the only one where I am not interpreting or judging; or thinking thoughts related to fear, anger, self denigration.

And then I run. And I run. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I plan to get up early and run for about 3 hours, then work for about 4 hours, then do an afternoon ex-machine workout. And this too helps me to find inner quiet. Inner quiet is self transcendence, my main interest in life.

How do you get to be wise instead of shallow? How do I go deeper into my depths? This is my desire and I\’m certain it involves solitude and silent meditation.

Endless Running – Now

See that map? Pretty hot prediction for Friday night in north central Kansas. That temperature causes me to pause and weigh my options, ponder my goals, discern my limits. Then there is nothing left but to go running right now.

See, I signed up for a 50k race which was to start Friday night. But I really do not think it will be very fun to: drive 4 hours to the race site, run in that heat at night for 7+ hours, get back in the car about 5 am, and drive 4 hours home, then crash in bed for half the day. What was I thinking?

I was thinking about endless running. See, I do long slow distance runs for the contemplative time. To do it on a lonely Kansas farm road in the middle of the night added a mysterious dimension since I can\’t actually see where I am going and my world gets reduced to the tiny circle of light my head light puts out. I wanted to do this in the race environment because there would be a definite distance and aid stations every 5 or so miles.

Unfortuately, the extreme heat takes the endeavor somewhat outside my physical capability. I\’ve been a distance runner for 39 years. I don\’t lie to myself about my limits. Its unlikely I\’ll make it to the race.

This morning, as I was out running at 4 am, I decided to accept the dark mystery which was surrounding me right at that very moment. And that I could do the same every morning this week. A darkened suburb is not quite the same as a cornfield, but for contemplation, the dark suburb is enough.

And so I just ran, unthinking, up here, down there, around there and again. The endless night of the long distance runner started for me this morning and will continue every morning just as it has for many years. Its up to me to remember that I\’ve been given the contemplative gift now. I don\’t have to wait for Friday night, or a race. Just run. That is the goal.

What if….

….you knew and understood that everything you thought and felt about life was based on brain chemistry which had evolved primarily in primitive and tribal man?

What if, as a modern person, you decided to buck the trend of these powerful chemical reactions which fire every time you do something against society, the tribe? You\’d feel fear. But that fear would not make logical sense to you. What if you also didn\’t participate in tribal behaviors designed to trigger certain chemical reactions in the brain which brought about bonding, obedience, pleasure, a sense of divine presence. And you also didn\’t eat a number of commonly used chemicals now found in our foods.

Now, you have decided consciously to NOT obey your fear and get back in the group. You have decided to continue the contradictory behaviors and try new ones as they seem to come up.

You finally realize that your world is different than the norm. You have made yourself into a sort of antagonist of society; but you behave well enough to appear somewhat normal. Not responding to the ancient fear emotions is difficult and perhaps triggers depression from time to time. Going against supposedly hard wired brain chemical reactions which produce difficult emotions, foregoing the offered pleasurable emotions of society, denying emotions power over your behavior and choices; if done long enough, the world slowly becomes a different place for you. You think differently. God does not seem the same. You have re-wired a few connections in the brain.

And so you keep up the not-going-along. Your body becomes composed of different energy. Love becomes the one emotion you freely engage because for you, it has no selfish focus. You go through each day as an act of service: smiling at others, helping them, laughing and listening to their conversations. And at night, you go home to silence. silence becomes just fine with you.