Ultra-ACIM – 3 Days at the Fair Preperation

I am thinking about practicing hard core \”A Course in Miracles\” (ACIM) for my upcoming 24 hour endurance run.

Usually, during races, I come up with some phrase which is filled with light and love and peace. This time, I am thinking I will use lessons 9, 10 and 11 during the race. The purpose of these is not to cater to a romantic ego, but instead point out its delusional thought system.

\”I see nothing as it is now.
My thoughts do not mean anything.
My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.\”

For non-ACIM students, here is the punch line of lesson 9. \”…It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms. Yet that does not preclude applying it. No more than that is required for these or any other exercises. Each small step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it….\”

The reason I think these phrases will help me with my endurance run is because: they are true. But also, if I remember \”each small step will clear a little of the darkness\”, then I\’ll be a winner. To make meaning out of a worldly delusion is purely an ego exercise. I dare to let it go, to walk 75 miles without swag.

My last load of laundry is done. The trash is taken out. I\’ll now go upstairs and count out the undies and socks.

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Growing a Year

I have a persistent notion that if I could just go far enough or long enough or quietly enough, I could find God consciousness.
And so every month and year, I build this chart. The blue is the hours of workout. The red is miles. I have internal measurements which I strive for.

One reason I don\’t taper for races (and consequently hardly ever \”race\”) is that the taper reduces the hours and miles. I\’d rather have 80 hours and 250 miles a month  than a fast race time.

Day by day, slowly but surely, each month is formed, grown and then past. Another month starts.

This exercise is actually pointless. It is just something I like to do. Like endurance runs, who cares but me.

I do not understand life at all. I\’ve sought for spiritual depth. When I was young, I tried to find a husband. I spent most of my career saying I don\’t want to live in Houston. But I really like it here. This week, I spent some time on top of one of our units. I could see miles and miles of chemical plants. I love this sight.

This morning, I wanted to give my feet a break from running on concrete. So I did my workout indoors on my ex-machines. I had a great time. I had ear plugs in my ears and I turned my thoughts to A Course in Miracles. I could shut my eyes some of the time. The Versa Climber is especially a great machine for working the body endlessly.

I don\’t have to find God consciousness. It is quietly there all the time. I just remember it.

The Endless Path

If I had stayed in the convent, I\’d be spending the weekend sitting in this room with these elderly nuns:

I pretty much hate sitting around rooms going through namby pamby discernment exercises. It is not like manufacturing groups don\’t also have meetings and set goals. Its just that things move along quicker. We don\’t have to ask who we are.

I am gathering my things and packing my bags. I have an ultra-marathon on tap this weekend. I\’ll be here, doing this and looking pretty much like this:

This is a picture from 3 years ago; the last time I was in this race.

Instead of being a nun with no possessions. I am an engineer with a six figure salary, a car, a home and everything else. My own treadmill, elliptical, nordic track, ex-bike and weight set. I have a stock of 4 new pairs of running shoes in the closet.

Instead of practicing Roman Catholicism and sitting in Adoration before the holy eucharist, I practice A Course in Miracles and sit before the inner altar where Christ is. And long distance running is my prayer. Endurance is my meditation. The endless trail is my contemplation.

How long can I go? What will it feel like?

When I left the convent, I didn\’t give up Christ, or silence or contemplation. But a part of me can\’t forget them. If you asked me if I am better off where I am now, I\’d answer yes. But I still look back. I still look back.

And then I look forward. I look forward. The path is long. The path is my conversation with God. I am spirit, talking through Spirit in communication with Source.

Ultra Insanity

Incredible. Unbelievable. I\’m sure I am crazy; for running at least.

So, I have wanted to enter another timed endurance run. I can\’t completely explain why. Being on your feet for 24 hours does hurt. But, well, sometimes you just should.

I am going to a 50k endurance run in Missouri this weekend. I signed up for that because I wanted to see what shape I was in and to remember what it feels like. Then I planned to train all summer for a 12 hour endurance run in September.

But, I found out yesterday that I am scheduled to go to one of our plant sites in Massachusetts in May. Then I remembered that there was an endurance run nearby which I had figured that I didn\’t want to do since I am short on vacation and I am going to Canada at the end of May.

But, my boss said I could fly on a Friday and of course my air fare is on the company. So, why not go to an endurance run. It is not like I wouldn\’t spend all weekend running anyway. It is my only chance for a 24 hour run this year. My foot is a bit sore, but undergoing good treatment. But if my only goal is to remain on my feet for 24 hours, why not?

So, I\’m now all booked to go to \”3 Days at the Fair\” although, I\’m only in the 24 hour race.

It is my chance to feel the community of one of these endurance runs. It is my chance at extended running meditation for this year. I love the thought: Just go around the loop, thru night and day. Peaceful. Connected to the others. Miles piling up.

Here are some pictures:


The 3 Agreements

Many of my peers (new age yuppies, tail end of the baby boom) have read \”The Four Agreements.\” These seemed like wisdom when I read them.

Recently, my spiritual journey with Jesus and A Course in Miracles, has lead me to understand that there are 3 agreements which I can break. They are the secret vows that everyone of us makes with the separation concept.

I have broken my agreements with: fear, hatred and guilt. I no longer believe these are true and I am no longer totally vulnerable to them. I don\’t believe the ego\’s lies without question. I think I must have accepted Atonement somewhere along the line. I am/have forgiven myself. So I do not have to go along with any agreement to hate anybody, be afraid of others or feel guilty for my dream.

In this, the pain disappears and the Son of God is free. I walk with the living Christ instead.

Today I am on Lesson 287: You are my goal my Father, only You.

Who would have thought when I got kicked out of a monastery that I\’d go on to a greater Communion?

I am getting ready for a 50k race next weekend. So, I\’m going a bit easy on myself so I\’ll be ready. I\’m feeling competitive. At the same time, the 10 day Self Transcendence Race is underway in Flushing Meadows, NY. I also truly year for endless time on the trail. My body cannot do 50 miles a day for days in a row, so the Self Transcendence race is out of the question.

But I still go for hours as suits me. Even walking uphill on the treadmill fills my need for endurance. Endurance activities are merely a dream of eternity, where I truly am. Accepting Atonement, the dream is undone and I live in eternity.

Post Traumatic Knee Disorder

lol!

In November, in a fluke walking incident, I strained my ACL. I didn\’t know what was wrong, and running wasn\’t affected too much. I didn\’t know if it was something that would heal on its own. But finally in January, I decided to see a sports med doctor. The guy didn\’t know alot, but I did get an MRI. Then this sports med doctor said I had a mild ACL strain. But go see a knee orthopedist.

Yesterday, that finally happened. The ACL is healed. There is another problem with my knee cap, which is damage from when I was growing up. Nothing to do about it now except stay off stairs as much as possible and don\’t do anything like squats or lunges or wall sits; or ride a bicycle with the seat down too far. The ortho doc asked if I was a runner, then didn\’t bother to tell me to stop running. He knew I couldn\’t do that.

Well, if I\’m to have this problem, it is a good thing I now live in Texas where there are absolutely no hills to run on.

So, as an endurance athlete, I continue with my life of working out. Today, I jog/walked for 4 hours. This is the longest time I\’ve done in a month. As I lay on my bed this afternoon, I was contemplating my afternoon workout and my run tomorrow. It is impossible: my legs are a bit sore, my left heel is screaming as usual and I am planning more.

What is wrong with my brain? Why do I do this? Why do I sign up for 12 hour races when I know full well that my legs will be painfully tired from it?

After much contemplation, I can\’t say it is for glory as it used to be. It is not for a spiritual reward as it used to be. It could be for the experience of camaraderie I feel in such lap type endurance runs. It could be just to be. It could be for nothing. It could be a retreat into peace.

Post ACL, I feel more tentative; even as I watch the force of my will inexorably drive me forward.

Summing Up Religious Experience

I am finishing the book \”Varieties of Religious Experience\” by William James. If you have not heard of it, maybe that\’s cause it was written more than a century ago. I have enjoyed it as it is a great analysis of individual spiritual experience vs institutional religion from a scientific methodology. The book is woven through with ideas from \”A Course in Miracles,\” which was not written until 70 years later. The book clearly shows the foundation of Bill Wilson\’s spiritual theories (Alcoholics Anonymous). The book quotes almost no scripture and does not at all approach the subject of Jesus and his divinity.

Religion or spirituality is about me and who God is to me. Even the societal pressures to conform to the predominate religion has an affect on me personal relationship to God. The conclusion for me: I have sought God for decades. I believe some higher power has been active in my life. I have no proof of the existence of said God. My life is more meaningful if framed in the divine relationship and divine presence.

For some religious people, church is following a commandment of the deity. \”Do this in remembrance of me.\” If they don\’t do it, they are guilty.

For some born-again Christians, God is an emotional satisfaction built on an effective emotional experience.

For atheists, no-God is true because there is no evidence of God; and most if not all God-experiences can be traced to physical properties.

I can\’t say my spiritual study is emotionally satisfying. I can\’t say I follow commandments from God because of fear of guilt and damnation. I\’m one of the ones broken free of the Bible\’s false grip of authenticity. I can\’t say I have any proof of God\’s or Spirit\’s existence.

All I have is a mental tenacity that wants to connect to Spirit and receive help from Spirit. In this condition, any sense of presence fails me. However, I truly find comfort in reciting my spiritual creed. My God is a solid rock upon which I stand. I\’ve never gone down too far nor up too far.

My life is not my own. That is one of the most soothing statements ever.

I create my running out of freedom, not ill health or some doctor\’s advice. So my purpose in it is divorced from the reason why most people take up exercise. For me however, the pursuit of infinite endurance has been a lifelong interest. My running is a constant in my life, a steady state. The energy of endurance and the energy of prayer are one and the same, intertwined as if making love.

I return to what I said above: my spirituality is about me. If I get the promotion at work, its because I let some higher power work out the details and give me intuitive thoughts if I need to know something. I am yet a tangle of negative attitudes and thoughts. This tangle is my unhappiness with life. Supposed spiritual practice has loosened the grip of negativity and allowed for success in peaceful living. I still wander aimless on the earth. I have no final goal unless you call some spiritual mountain top my goal. What I need is spiritual help and I do believe I get it. I admit my belief is a delusion; perhaps even a dishonest and corrupt soul sickness. Part of the reason I seek solitude is to sort through this soul sickness.

And so starts my Sunday workout: 4 to 5 hours of endurance.

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 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.