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.

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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.

My Life God\’s Life – The Contemplative Struggle

What do you care about? Anything important?

God is my life. I have no life but God’s. There is no \”my life,\” only God.

Actually, if you think about it, there is no life anywhere that is not God’s.

In the evening, I like to shut my eyes and turn my mind to light and just lay there with it.
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To run races or not? Ultra Monk sits still and listens. I listen to my ego\’s side and my soul\’s side. There is conflict and tension as I am no longer an unconscious primitive thinker just automatically participating in ordinary life.

Out running this morning, I had to admit that going in races no longer feeds my soul. In addition, while I remember the glory days when racing fed my ego, it doesn\’t do that very much any more either. I remember the good old days, but know I can\’t go back to them. Racing is like an old friend. We were tight once, but now our paths have diverged. We don\’t have that much in common, so we get together less.

When I went to the monastery, more than ten years ago, I was choosing contemplation as the thing I wanted out of life. One of the purposes of monasteries is to provide a living environment away from distractions where people can pursue contemplation without the scrutiny of the world. Since I don\’t live in a monastery, I have to create the contemplative space myself and be responsible for making the choices which maintain its integrity. Going to a race is counter-productive to contemplation.

Contemplation is still the thing I want out of life. Maintaining a contemplative life is difficult. I worry that people see it as stupid, boring and glum. I want to defend it with attractive stories about blissful union with God. But any monastic knows that contemplatives fight emotional battles, what used to be known as demons in the desert. Paying attention to God requires time, and it is not some wonderful rewarding activity. The purpose of contemplation is not selfish. Its purpose is merely the answering of a call to attend something other than ordinary life.

A satisfied soul is quiet. A satisfied soul is no different than the runner who asks nothing from the running.

Lethargy in the Backwaters of Summer

“Ever since humanity was able to recognize a divine existence within themselves they have been trying to seek it out, and bring it forth from within. It is never easy to establish a constant inner oneness with this divinity, as so much of our outer nature tries to deny and negate even the very existence of this part of us that lies within. The very nature of our bodies and minds is to only to accept physical lethargy and try and ride the mental merry go round that really leads us nowhere.” http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/08/02/every-step-brings-me-closer/

The perfectionjourney blog is a daily reflection on the 3,100 mile race, which is winding down this week. Several men have finished. Two or three runners have been running every day, but not enough to get to 3,100 miles; maybe only 2,900 miles!

My workout was again disconnected from the world today. I spent the last couple of months looking forward to the Lunar Trek. Now that is over. I am signed up for some more races, but they aren’t very much on my mind. Maybe I haven’t recovered my energy. Maybe it is too hot to think. Maybe I have really shifted to a new reality and I don’t yet understand what it is about. Maybe my desire for inner oneness has claimed my running life, and running has disappeared over the horizon, beyond where the ego can perceive.

The daily volume keeps being driven higher. I keep working on the weights. My diet has shifted a bit. The increased protein has added a couple of pounds. I am silent. The noon-day devil circles, looking for an opening.

I ponder inner peace. I realize that keeping my hands off worldly goals and glorious plans is necessary for the contemplative life. The Holy Spirit must make the decisions. All things are for spiritual progress and not ego satisfaction. Peace is really quiet. Peace is and un-ripple pond. A person can work out in peace; but for me at least, as soon as there is an agenda, ego worry enters.

The contemplative life is a tricky thing. It must be wanted more than anything else; or the ego will sneak in and hide it. I must be willing to keep it consciously; no matter what else is going on in my life. I must be contemplating the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, not allowing ego agenda to creep in and take over unconsciously. It shouldn\’t be that God is so hard to remember; but for those of us with egos, remembering God must be a conscious project.

I lay on my bed in the evening and seek God. When I workout, I put a thought of God in my mind and keep it there.

Give Me Your Blessing Holy Son of God

Before I went to the monastery, I lived in the main stream of society. I wanted to join with my social group and be one of them. I sat around discussing others and expressing my opinion about this and that, eating whatever and watching TV, cheering for football teams.

Then I discovered contemplative prayer. I began to notice more consciously what exactly I was thinking and make decisions about it. I began to see social functions, entertainments and behaviors as distractions from the spiritual.

I went to the monastery. The cloister took me out of modern society and the main stream of life. The monastic formation provided additional education in contemplation, and time to sit and ponder my thoughts and emotions. The unconscious could no longer hide from me. Contemplative practice is a delving into the dark depths and they become conscious as light is shined on them. The more I did this, the less I was controlled by the unconscious.

I got out of the monastery with this one idea: Love is the predominant mode of existence. I continued my contemplative practice. I tried to re-join secular society. For awhile, it seemed that I was successful in re-joining and gaining an honored place among the people. Until I began to a) question the Church and the Bible, b) start additional health and alternative spiritual studies and c) moved to the country.

I became an outsider, once again outside the main stream of society yet not in a religious cloister, a non-religious solitary. I was free to look at society and ponder it apart from religion. I found my emotions to range from anger, fear, hatred, arrogance, annoyance, incomprehension and pity. I saw magnificent spirits behaving in disgusting and very small ways. I didn’t want to be so judgmental and opinionated, but that was how I was. I knew I was no better.

Then, I moved again. I now lived once again in the middle of my former society, even working at the same location as I did before the cloister. I can’t re-join society because I don’t agree with its norms.

Just this morning, I had this imagery of how I perceive at this point in time. It comes on the heels of my experience volunteering at an ultra-marathon. As an aid station volunteer, I enabled some humans to go through the transcendence experience to get beyond the merely normal runner and be ultra runners.

Namaste. I prostrate myself at your feet holy Son of God (all of us). I view society as a muddy swamp. Most of the people dance around the swamp, slinging mud at each other, laughing at each other, fighting, eating rotten fish, and slowly rotting in fetid waters. Yes, I have said what I think out loud. I am somehow on the side of the swamp as I quit participating in society. It is terrible of me to sit and look back. I don’t know exactly where else to go. I contemplate the swamp. I talk to God about my opinions. I wish I could have loving compassion without judgmental pity.

The only way I’ve found is to realize the swamp is an illusion. The swamp is not the holy Son of God, the truth of what God created, but my ego’s projected insanity. From this realization, once I accept it in my heart, it is possible for me to shift my perception and seeing from the dark swamp to the spiritual light beyond the swamp. I look beyond my ego’s mad illusion to the gently glowing spirit of the Son of God, innocent and loving as holy light. Believing the swamp I see with my body’s eyes is an illusion, I can consciously choose something different. I can switch to looking with my inner eyes and my spiritual mind. I divorce the ego and join my spirit. Thus, my reality is transformed. I see with the spirit that the Son of God is light and love; and live accordingly.

Love is the predominant mode of existence.

Peace.

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!

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.

A Season of Contemplation – Silence

Today is a day of silence. It is a silence which I have placed before motion, a pre-monition. I decided to take 2 days off running because I have signed up for a marathon race on Saturday. When I signed up, I thought I\’d do the race as a long run with chip timing. But the weather is perfect. Do you know how rare a perfect day is? So, I decided to rest up and let a few nagging pains subside. That way, if I feel like \”racing\” I can do so without fear of injury.

So, I had extra time for spirituality this morning. I find, after 2 1/2 years of study of a Course in Miracles that I am getting good at denying my ego\’s voice and listening to the Voice for God. In the denial of the ego voice, I find a great deal of inner peace, which is silent.

This morning, in the ACIM test (ch 10) I read this: \”The miracle is the act of a Son of God who has laid aside all false gods, and calls on his brothers to do likewise. It is an act of faith, because it is the recognition that his brother can do it. It is a call to the Holy Spirit in his mind, a call that is strengthened by joining. Because the miracle worker has heard God’s Voice, he strengthens It in a sick brother by weakening his belief in sickness, which he does not share. The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark. It is everywhere and it is eternal.\”

I liked it because in my skill at denying my ego\’s voice, I am letting go of idols and unifying with God. This leads in to my meditation on silence for which I started this blog:

Silence is truth because it is peace, nothing else. Silence is more real than this world. There are no idols in silence. Silence is allowing the balls to drop, allowing the illusions to fade. In silence, I drop my games and idols and projections; and step into the Silent Presence, Eternity, Love Alone, nothing else.

I no longer hate the people who have better, more successful idols than me. I contemplate: part of my brain (ego) interprets silence as failure rather than succeess. Part of my brain wants idols and fears silence. Without the hate, I see people as sparks of light, not as bodies doing things I don\’t like. What freedom to be able to immediately dismiss any ego opinions of others and just see light.

My value system is adjusting. I value the spiritual more than the material. I am willing to see my grievances as things my ego cherishes but which I am willing to give up. Now that is awesome. Yes, my grievances are not true. I only think they are true if I want them more than God. I get to choose whether to see others as enemies or friends; that is the gift of spiritual work and time in silence.

Communication

This morning, reading the Course in Miracles text, I came across this:

(voice of Jesus) \”God created every mind by communicating His Mind to it, thus establishing it forever as a channel for the reception of His Mind and Will…God created you by this and for this…the mind cannot totally lose the ability to communicate even though it may refuse to utilize it on behalf of being\” (4.VII.3).

This is an excellent passage to discuss meditating on scripture. If you are reading the text slowly and attentively, trying to continuously be awake and touched, a passage like this causes one to immediately pause. I need to stop reading and give this one some space and time. I need to comprehend the implications of what it says. My mind has been forever established as a channel for communication with God. Wow!!! This is it. This is the thing I was wanting when I started this spiritual journey decades ago.

After giving the passage a place of prominance on the altar in my mind (ie placed the Presence of God before my inner eyes); I hunker down, silence my own thoughts and gaze on the Presence. As I sit quietly, the communication occurs. It is abstract. My ego consciousness has no idea what happened. The results are not of this world. It is the peace which passes understanding.

And so, it is now possible for me to go outside and run back and forth for 20 or so miles. I go with and in communication, being the channel, receiving His Mind and establishing His Being. I am not really a runner, just a mind in awareness of Being.

What for?

In so far as anything is a contemplation of my soul, an entry into the inner spiritual reality which exists for everyone, then that thing is worth doing and being.

Running very much an example of the choice; either for magnificence or for littleness. Magnificence is the manifestation of spirit. Littleness is the pursuit of ego grandiosity. If I run a marathon in order to qualify for Boston, so I can brag about my BQ, then I have merely built up my ego and become little. If I run a marathon simply, just because I am, then I have joined my Creator in an expression of truth and I became solely spirit; magnificence.

The world appears meaningless and little. People shopping for trinkets and baubles with which to adorn themselves. People killing themselves with food and smoke. People vegetating their minds by parking them in front of TVs. I dis-entangled myself from this because I couldn\’t stand it for myself.

Even monastics participate in littleness. The resources of the monastic environment are squandered on religion and individual spiritual pursuit is annihilated. Monastic habits and emblems are more a badge of differentiation than quiet humility.

I ran 7 miles on the hills this morning. I contemplate my soul. I feel the rub of society. Tomorrow will probably be another one of those 20 miles runs. I run around or back and forth; but not to anywhere. I am not training for anything. I run just to run. In the darkness and the winter chill, I enter my inner being and touch my soul.