Saturday, July 31, 2010

Name Change

Why did I change my name to “Ultra Monk?”

1. I have been a Course in Miracles student for 3 years. Had these three years been under a monastic authority, I’d be making monastic profession; and I’d get a new name.

2. I am one hearted with God. The word “monos” from which monk derives is one. Monks are one hearted, they attend God. Though I don’t live in a monastery, I am a monk. God is the focus of my life and has been for umpteen years.

3. Yesterday, I went to lunch with my boss. He asked me about friendships. I had to mumble through some cover up story. Add that to the way people tell me, “you need to get out more.” I can’t explain to a non-monk what it is like for God to be my entertainment, Friend and Advisor. As a monk, I really don’t spend my time as most people spend their time. I have not much to converse about and little relationship to the typical conversation most people would have about their lives. To a non-contemplative, spending time with God is nonsense. If you haven't done it, I can't explain.

4. I have a dream of fitness. Yesterday, reflecting on an incident with my trainer, I realized how much more there is for me to do in the arena of stretching and strength training in order to realize peak performance. I can do it. It means an even greater time commitment. Truly being an athlete is a monumental job, monumental beyond belief. As much as I currently do, it is not enough. And I intend to keep growing in the ethos of an athlete. I even ordered the foam tube she recommended for me.

5. A monk has few possessions. I possess little. No people, property, pets, plants, privileges, pride, prerogatives or posterities. I have no fat (really). I do have the holy instant, the real relationship, forgiveness (ACIM style), Christ vision and inner peace. I live in silence.

-Got up at 5:30 with alarm.
-Read in the ACIM Text 20.VIII.1: “Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the “Something Else,” and What was never lost will quietly return.”
-ACIM workbook lesson: “I will be still an instant and go Home.
-I worked out for an hour on the machines. “Only A Game” had a story about ultra-marathoners.
-Got to the park at 7:30 and ran very well even if it was hot. I was going about 10.2 min/mile the first 10.8 miles. I would have slowed down after that, but Yvette joined me on the fifth and sixth laps; and she is a tad fast. I ended up doing about 20 miles, 7+ laps, 3h22.
-Yvette is God’s gift of a friend to me. She just came along and decided to run with me. I don’t really have any friends. My conversation with her today is the longest I’ve talked since I went to Canada in May.

In July, I did 86 hours of aerobics plus 18 strength workouts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

LIFE vs life

I feel the need to clarify something. Or just express my happiness for the clarity I have.

LIFE is divine. It is in each of us and everywhere; except the body/material world because that is an illusion. life is the tiny mad idea which wanted to be special so left God and made this illusion. life is ego-life and material world life. life is a delusion.

When I celebrate LIFE, I am looking beyond the physical, beyond the illusion to the truth. The truth is that we are love, God is love and there is nothing else. Love is constant, benign, peaceful quiet, unchanging, eternal.

This idea explains to me why I feel like adult life is so much play acting. Making chemicals and being responsible for systems to prevent them from killing us is still play acting. Earning money and paying taxes and taking care of the car are play acting. Now I know why my career has never been of that much interest to me. Deep down, I know it is meaningless in comparison to LIFE.

life is an illusion, a dream and not real. The ego is the emperor of the illusion. The emperor has no clothes. Look at the ego and realize how meaningless it's dream is. The reality of love is much more attractive as soon as you realize it is even there.

Others don't really want to hear that life is not real. This is why I don't associate with others very much (outside of work). People want me to believe their lives are real, real important, really bad, really worth prayer. But life is just entertainment; or more accurately, a distraction from LIFE.

LIFE exists quietly beyond the illusion. We are one in LIFE. Laying quietly on my bed, I enter the part of my mind which is beyond the body. The true existance of my mind, as an idea in the Mind of God, is not in a physical brain. As a solitary athlete, I can also expand my mind beyond the physical. During exercise, my body seems to be the focal point, but actually, endurance is a way to disengage from it. Truely, endurance takes me out beyond, especially if it has no goal, no award to win, no time to beat.

Today is the anniversary of my entry into A Course in Miracles. I am on chapter 20 of my fifth reading of the Text and lesson 180 on my third working of the workbook.

As I do every morning. I got up at 3:30 and spent an hour in spiritual study and meditation. Then I worked out on ex-machines for 50 minutes. Then I ran for 50 minutes. Today I ran in my new UA reflective hat. Tonight I go to the torture of my massage therapist.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pondering Anniversaries

I got to thinking about anniversaries because 7/29/07 is the day I first picked up A Course in Miracles and started reading it. I thought at the time that I would need to study the material for at least five years in order to have a small grasp on its meaning. I have read it 5 times and am still plowing my way through it, although I've slowed down. Now it takes me about 10 months to finish it as I ponder each passage and listen to the Voice for God as I read.

August 8 is another important day in my life. I quit drinking on that day in '85. I got kicked out of the monastery on that day in '03.

All three of these events have dramatically impacted my life. Other things about me have been the same forever. I've been a runner since age 13. I've been an engineer since I graduated with my MS at the age of 23 (well except for 4 years as a nun). I've been a vegetarian for decades. I've practiced contemplative prayer for decades.

Some things come and go. Harley-Davidson came and went. Men came and went. Roman Catholicism came and went. Employers come and go. The roof over my head comes and goes. Cars come and go.

My early morning spiritual practice has been unshakable since I was 23. I spend the first hour of my day pondering a spiritual text. I read it slowly and then let God speak to me about it. I never take a vacation from this as it is the most enjoyable activity I do. It is also the time that I design my life. Whatever happens to me on any given day is always framed in the spiritual text. I never look at anything without the lense of the spiritual text.

My big race was last Saturday. My next big race is August 14 (Fallsburg Marathon). In between, I return to daily workouts. After my spiritual study, I do about 90 minutes of exercise (both ex-machines and running). In the evening, I usually do either a free weight or core workout and another 20 min on the ex-machines. What seems odd is that I exercise now more than ever; even more than when I lived in the country and had a two minute commute! On the weekend, I usually fit in ten or twelve hours of workout.

Did you ever grow up? I think of my parents and they seem like such "adults" to me. I think of the nuns and they seem like such "adults" too. I think of my self as a girl with a job who works out. I have a responsible job, but I don't feel like that is a weight on me. I just come in and do the job and then go run.

I might need a cyber-cake for my 3rd ACIM anniversary.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Ultra Life

Friday evening I drove 200 miles and began a 31 mile race, finishing around 7 am Saturday morning. Then, I downed a glass of protein, rinsed off in the shower, went commando style in my clean clothes, and drove the 200 miles home.

Yesterday afternoon, I ordered some new socks. The smartwool socks work great as far as preventing blisters, but they were too tight around the ankle; preventing good fluid flow and causing heat rash on my legs. Get this: the Lunar Trek night was barely over and I am planning the next race? I have run 2 ultra-marathons and 2 marathons this year; and plan on at least one more marathon and two ultras. What cheek?

I slept a good hard 10 hours last night. I woke up with the usual stiffness but no injuries. Am I too old for all nighters? Many people my age say that. It is an excuse. All but a few are tired after 7 hours of jogging, no matter what their age. I may or may not like staying up all night, but don't blame quitting on age. Blaming anything on age is a self sabotaging event and guarantees you get more of the deterioration. You'll continue to think you are powerless over "aging" yet it is your own thoughts which are creating and accelerating the process. I got my period today: a nice flow of bright red blood to remind me of youth!

I did a stretching/legs/core/free weight workout and 90 easy minutes on the ex-machines.

I worked on my diet spreadsheet to incorporate my trainer's latest suggestions.

My obsession with training and racing is not sick. It is an embrace of the Life, the Spark Which Enlivens All Beings. We all have it. For many it remains dormant and life is a drudge. Some find ways to embrace the energy and bring it forth in various ways. Mine happens to be fitness and endurance.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lunar Trek - An Ultra Dark Night

Here I am in Scandia High School before the start of the race.

How could a dirt road in northern Kansas be so tough? The Lunar Trek kicked my butt. 50K done in 7h14. A night of sweat and bugs and footing that was just a tad difficult or a tad up or down.

Mostly it was a night. It was the type of thing I yearn for as an ultra-marathoner and contemplative: a dark night of the soul. The type of night where crap is about all you can think of to say.
On a dark road in Kansas, I got to find out how to be frustrated and patient, to keep going even though it hurts. I got to find out what I am made of, nothing really. I ran on through 7 hours of Kansas night, basically alone. For 4 hours, I breezed along. Its not like I suddenly hit a wall, but the last ten miles were hang in there time.
A 50k should be easy, right? Its only 50k. Its not on technical trails. Its not on mountains. I don't even have any blisters. It shouldn't of kicked my butt but it did. Little miss work-out queen, I can run forever everyday, had to work for this one.
After 4h30, passing the 20 mile aid station, I went on into the night. 30 minutes later, I knew I hurt and I wondered why I was doing this. Most of all, I thought if it didn't get light soon, I'd die. I'd wanted it to be light for two hours at least. Maybe most of my energy went into struggling with the dark, or wishing it wasn't dark, or just fumbling forward in the dark. I lived in a narrow petzyl world, able only to see that small circle of illumination in front of me.
In the dark night of the soul, the place I like to get to in ultra-marathoning, I reach the end of my human resources. I can't get to this place, so far at least, without being in a race. At home in the park, I just make a rational decision to stop because I've had enough for the day. In the middle of a dark night in Kansas, the only option is to go on.
As I approached the aid station which was about 25 min from the end, I teared up I was so happy to see it. A man there wore a t-shirt which said, "Recovery is an inside job." I knew what he was from his shirt. I told him I had 25 years. He related.
Finishing dark nights is an inside job. Going through a dark night is what recovery is all about. Egos have no authority in the dark night. Inside jobs are usually messy, but they leave you with joy. When I finally did get to the finish, I teared up again, so happy I finished. I'm an old fart. I run slow. I finish. The race director checked his list. "Oh," he said, "you get to pick one of these." He pointed to several beautiful slices of tree branch which had been lacquered and labeled, "1st Place." I was over whelmed to get a beautiful piece of wood.
Haha, I was the only one in my age group. I won!
(Contemplate that!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lunar Trek - Prelude

Yesterday, my plan was to get up this morning, work a half day, come home, eat and pack and nap, drive 200 miles, run 40 miles, drive 200 miles, and collapse at home.

Last night, I thought about starting a 40 mile race at 11 pm in temperatures still in the high 80s; and then wondering how I would stay awake for a boring drive across Kansas. What about that plan sounds like fun? I got my mind quiet and spoke my spiritual lesson, "Into His Presence would I enter now."

And then a quiet voice said, "Why don't you drop down to the 50k?"

Immediately, I knew that running 50k (31 miles) plus a 4 hour drive was much more do-able than running 40 miles plus a 4 hour drive. Ahem.

Many people never run at all. Many people never even run one marathon. Here I'm thinking how 31 miles is easy and 40 miles is beyond my capability given all the other circumstances. I have a long term plan for fitness. 40 miles could curtail or delay the next step. 31 miles adds to the next step.

Last night, after I contacted the race director and made the switch, I again entered my meditation. This thought came to me, "My fitness is for me." I love the time I spend everyday "training." Even if I never entered a race, I'd "train." No one but me has ever seen my abs, or pinched the thin skin of my stomach. I'm the one who likes me, no one else. In the quiet thought of my fitness, I realize that I don't yet know what I am building and developing. But the purpose of my fitness is beyond the material world and its shiney finisher's medals.

The question this morning was, "Why go in a race at all?" I go in races to get to some place in body, mind and spirit which I can't do under normal circumstances. In the case of today, I will be spending the night on a dirt road in rural Kansas, mainly alone. 31 miles is not my mileage limit. 6+ hours of movement is in my enjoyment zone. Running is a contemplation, not nirvana or the holy grail. It is time to connect with Heaven, not break your way in. We are already in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is already within. Contemplative running is just a way to spend time knowing that consciously. Contemplative running is my gift to Heaven and Heaven's gift to me.

So, I hope to stand at a starting line tonight at 11 pm, and see what the evening holds.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Merely Being an Athlete

(living room gym: bike, tm, ball, mat, weights, nordic track)
ACIM Workbook Lesson 169:

"Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real."

"Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is."

Today I've decided to do my workout in the solitude of my apartment. Yes, it is hot outside, but cloudy so it would not be too bad if I went running. Working out in my apartment takes away any purpose for the body. I have the opportunity to pause and merely be. In solitude, I accept the Love of God and relate to the oneness idea: God is.

The punch line of lesson 169 is: "By grace I live. By grace I am released."

And so I mount my ex-bike for the first interval of what turns out to be a 3h20min workout split between the bike, the treadmill and the nordic track. Most of the time is spent on the nordic. I spend most of the time with my eyes shut. Nothing to see or do but burn calories, exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and ponder the lesson.

By grace I grace I grace I live....

At first, I have not a clue what is meant by grace.

By grace I am grace I am released....

Still nothing.

Time goes by. I do have a few reflections on my method of working out. I have entered a reality of suspended-animation-of-sorts. Within this cocoon, I focus intensely on one thing: grace. WTF is it?

I allow silence to permeate my workout. I realize the non-optionality of silence. Everything in this world is a distraction from God.

Imagine being an athlete in this silent cocoon of a one bedroom apartment. Imagine being an athlete for its own sake; that is, with no ego benefit due to a lack of public component. No one sees or knows who or what you are. The purest form of being an athlete is to just be one, period.

By grace I live: I surrender to God. By grace I am release: I need do nothing. I need stop doing anything which interferes with knowing the silent Presence (duh, most of every outside activity).
By grace I live. By grace I am released.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Business As Usual

Maybe I have reached a place in fitness where I always wanted to be: 5 or 6 hours of working out is normal. Worked out several hours today? Yes, business as usual.

Today I went 27 miles of 8x2s in 5h05min. I felt strong the whole way. I felt like running that far every Saturday is my new normal. I used to think a 3 hour run was something to tremble over. Now, its more like 30 miles is a distance I might have to ponder.

How did I get like this?

I've been changing my body over the past 10 months. I've been doing more cross training and more weight lifting. I've been losing the fat.

But success at unlimited fitness comes first from the spiritual level and then the mental level. Inertia needs to be over come. Before it manifests as a physical action, there is a spirit-mind-body process. First, a spirit becomes conscious of a desire to wake up, or move, or be alive. Then, said spirit cries for help. Help arrives from Source; always. The spirit has to accept the help. The help may or may not be accepted. The barriers to acceptence may need to be taken down through a spiritual practice. This letting go is part of the process of overcoming inertia. Help accepted, barriers lowering, the help flows into the mental level. Here, in the mind, what happens? Has this mind joined sufficiently with spirit to receive the flow? Or is this mind still enamored with the ego's material world? The spiritualized mind will take spiritual help and translate it into overcoming inertia. The ego mind will take spiritual help and turn it into fat, or poor health or old age, or ______(you name it).

What am I trying to say and why do I try to say it? I am grateful for what I am. I am happy with what I am. I'm more at peace with myself than ever. It seems to be because I am not worried what others think about my life. I used to worry that I should "get a life." Or find a way of life that others would respect. But all I really want is to run for miles and have rock hard abs. Well, that and communication with God. I've been promoting that my fitness is a function of spirituality. I am promoting that putting spirit first enables me to over come the inertia of death. I am promoting spirit. Yes.

God doesn't need my help. I just want to share my happiness.

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Life and the Messengers of Love

Very sweet! This morning, I had a 2 hour run on a bike path in Eagle Idaho. There was a rushing river of clear mountain water on one side of the path and up-scale well landscaped houses on the other. I had to run the gauntlet of sprinklers for one stretch (brrr...). An old guy on a bike passed me twice. He said, "just 300 more miles and you'll be in Oregon." I said, "I want to go to Kansas!" He said, "Thats back the other way." Excellent, excellent.
I spent the whole run reviewing my career and my life's twists and turns. The reason is there is a job opening at our plant here; but I don't think I would want it. I was just shaken as I had encountered the HR lady late yesterday afternoon, since she was in charge of the area we had just audited but she interviewed me since our findings had been pretty small. Shook me up.
Workbook lesson 167: There is one life and that I share with God.

A Course in Miracles Texy 18.IV.A:
"Relationships in this world are the result of hoe the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion (fear or love) was called on to send its messengers to look upon it, and return with word of what they saw….The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send…they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind…If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more."

On the road with colleagues, out of my routine, how easy it is to forget connecting with God.
While I was reminiscing about my life this morning, I was also thinking about the team building session the plant is having today and how I wouldn't be very happy with having to spend several hours on a raft with people eating meat and drinking beer and having meaningless conversation. But, I kept returning my mind to the lesson about one life. Looked at from the perspective of one mind and one life, we are one and I have no antagonism for colleagues. I don't take it so serious. I remembered what I read in the ACIM Text this morning and kept choosing the messengers of love. When I keep making the choice for the Holy Spirit and messengers of love, I find love in everything I experience that day.
OK, off to the airport. My shoes are wet from the cold sprinkler gauntlet!
Remember love, choose the messengers of love and have a happy day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spirituality Engineer Style

I am in a hotel in Boise Idaho. I slept in!

Here is my morning reflection:

I think of each person as an energy bundle which manifests as their life and activities. The vast majority have an average energy manifestation. If you integrate the energies, you might get more or less a bell curve. If you take the Fourier Transform, a spiritualized filter, you get an entirely different picture. The transformed spiritual filter is the truth of the Son of God (us) and what God created (love). The untransformed picture (humans being afraid, angry, prideful, selfish, cruel, sick and dying) is what the tiny mad idea I call ego made as its domain apart from God where it could rule instead of God. The point of a spiritual life, and dedication to transcendence, is to see the transformed picture and live with a spiritual consciousness. It is a different way of being alive which is much happier and extends its joy to others.

I look at myself and see differences in my health, fitness, philosophy, socialization, etc., from most other people. I see that in the un-integrated untransformed world, my energy rests off the peak of the bell curve, at one end of it. This dissociation from the norm feels like friction between me and others as my behavior doesn’t fit in with normal life. People want others to fit in with them; hence peer pressure, hence the uncomfortable feelings. I do not worry too much any more about how I feel. As I recognize that my life is a symptom of transcendence and as I actualize the spiritual consciousness in the world, the whole thing becomes happy. And then God lives both in the transformed picture and the untransformed ego picture through me. I become a bridging thought, a flow path. I live on a wave length which shifts the whole energy curve.

In the final analysis: this energy is Jesus. This light is the Christ, the holiness and spiritual innocence which lives in all of us and which I strive to see.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

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.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

An Ultra from the Other Side

Today I got up at 3:45 and did an hour of spiritual study. Then I went to the park and ran 10.8 miles. Then, I went to a 50k race and womaned an aid station.

This was my first experience volunteering at a race. I have run this race 3 times and I assure you it is brutal. The trails are highly technical, including extra mud this year and a need for ropes to get up one hillside. It was very hot, humid and hardly any wind.

Our aid station was at mile 5/20, but it takes the fastest runners nearly an hour and a half to get there. We had some casualties: some heat related, and one sprained ankle. We had a obstinate sixty something cancer survivor who was adamant about going on despite how it took her 3.5 hours to get to us. We let her go to the next station but called ahead so they could watch for her.

It was so hot, I was terribly happy to be volunteering instead of running. I actually could not imagine how I have survived this race. I got to see lots of people in rough shape. They were so grateful to have me pour cold water on their backs. In an ultra, people don't just run by and grab a cup of water and throw it on the ground. They usually need extended care and attention. We fill their hydro-paks, point out where various types of food is. Take a good look at their health. And away they'd go, leaving me in awe, and wondering how on earth they were going to make it (knowing they would).

I think that once you get running, the world shifts and what is impossible for by-standers is possible for you. Furthermore, you wake up the next morning wanting to do it again. This shift in reality is the beauty and agony of ultra-running. The ultra-race environment is very different from the marathon environment. It is small and quiet. Most people enter into intensely personal struggles. Everyone finds out who they are from the inside. Experiencing that other world where you can run and sweat forever leaves you with a call to return which is irresistible.

And we love it so we do it again!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Personal Multi-day - 5 Peace

I love this park!

This morning, I woke up at 3:50 and shut off the alarm which was set to go off at 4. And I slept until just before 8. Then I got up and did my spiritual study. At 9, I did a free weight and core workout (65 min) and went to the park. I ran 10.8 miles before the rain scared me off. After I got home, it was time for lunch. The multi-day is over.

I'm glad I did this multi-day. I am amazed that I arrived at today without injury. It was more than I've done before. I think I went to the edge of my energy capability. I realize what I am and what I am not. I enjoyed the time working out no matter that nothing was official about it. I know and that is enough.

I was totally at peace with going back to sleep. It is good that I follow such a message when it comes. As I lifted weights, I thought consciously how peaceful that was and how at peace I am. During running, I thought of my life as the reflection on top of a calm pool. Yes, I can see activities in the reflection, but I know I don't need to respond. I keep the water calm and look deeper into the depths.

I think running is part of my conversation with God because I am nearly always focused on conscious contact with God the whole time I am running. For example, my spiritual lesson for today contained this little stream of thoughts: “I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind, I light all minds, which God created, one with me.” I could jog quite easily to the gently flow of these thoughts. I kept my thinking inside the stream of these thoughts. Gandhi said, " the change..." Well, keeping my mind in the light is the way I am the change. Running is a great time to train my mind to stay where I want it and not wandering down dark and frightening corridors. I look beyond the fearful reflections of the world which are on the surface of the pond and attempt to distract me from the depths underneath. yadda yadda.....thanks for coming with me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Personal Multi-day - 4 Emptiness

Today I got out of bed ok. I thought I better start out running early because of t-storm prediction and what was on the radar. I got to the park about 5:20 and it was still mostly dark. My first lap felt extremely slow. After 2 laps, I had to go to the shorter lap because of the fireworks barricade. Then, I quickly lost count and just ran for time.

Was it stupid to run for 5h56min? I don’t know. I don’t know what I accomplished. There was nothing romantic, euphoric or seemingly wonderful. Except whenever I got myself into the moment, I felt infinity. It was hot. I peed a lot. I worried about drinks. I worried about weather. I watched the clock in order to make sure I walked the 2 minutes. My legs hurt after a long time. I think my slow speed makes me look bad.

Well, not that bad: some teenage boys that I passed after 5.5 hours asked me if I was training for Ironman.

Sitting here now, I wish I had an answer. I am staring myself in the face. I ran 5h56min today and I have no answer as to why. I’m feeling depressed, empty. Fear lurks: What if I wake up in the morning and my legs feel ok and I do it again? Emptied, not hungry at all, I sit here.

There is a war going on outside. Some people call it our country’s birthday. How fitting that the people of this land think that large numbers of explosions celebrate a nation under God. Oh yeah…and getting drunk.

I read the blog of a man named Anton. He ran the Western States 100 mile race in 15+ hours and came in second. The 3,100 mile race goes on and on with 11 runners running 55 to 72 miles each day. I am a 51 year old lady contemplative who thinks running is a conversation with God.

What I did today is never done by the masses of people. Those who do run that long usually do it for t-shirts and medals and “official” times. A small few do it in the name of “training” for some future race. A tiny one or two or three do it just to do it.

The spirituality of running is not in the suffering or the record book. It is in the endless time for contemplation, just being, just running. I only know the point after I ask God; and then sit in silence. I asked today and the reply was, “Enjoy being empty.”

Hands off. Let it go. I have no purpose or point. I have a pair of shoes, a bottle of water, a bag of Gu and a little park with a dirt path where I can go around and around. The endlessness of it is tremendous, sacred, holy to the bone.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Personal Multi-day - 3 Commitment

Day 3 of Personal Multi-day: solo race against myself.

Today I met what I came here for. It was a challenge to get out of bed this morning. Not because of tiredness or soreness, but because of a recalcitrant ego. My ego is worried about the why of this personal multi-day and thinks it can win out by with excuses, and saying it doesn’t matter. No one will know. I will know. I am accomplishing something in the mental and spiritual realm, precisely because it appears so valueless in the material world.

I faced a little battle of no vs. yes. I weighed the excuses vs. the plan of action. I listened to the insidious question of “Why?” The question is allowed to defeat the soul or answered by the will in support of the soul. My life blood, my vitality, is dependent on the outcome of this mental and spiritual struggle.

It must be spirit who ascends above the ego in the darkness as I choose to get out of bed. To get up and work out for a third pseudo-50k-of-sorts, for no recognition, is antithetical to the ego. How is it that some transcend these ego cesspools and some sit in them? How did I want the spiritual sunlight enough to get out of bed and work at the foolish task of endurance?

1. Somewhere I developed the desire for spirit above all else in life.
2. I surrendered to the call and began to follow it wherever it went.
3. I have tremendous gratitude to spirit for the feeling of Presence I find whenever I stop to consider it.

Way way back, as a pre-teen, I knew I wanted “something more.” I could see light from somewhere beyond my ridiculously shallow and tormented existence. I felt the pull at age 14 as I looked at pictures of B.K.S. Iyengar and tried to stand like a mountain, or swam laps by myself, or rode my bicycle in the Berkeley hills. I could hear a call even though I had no idea what it was or where to find it.

Back to the present. First thing in my kitchen this morning, I considered downing some vitamins and protein; but realized, “I am not going to die.” That is, my endurance task for the day was no longer so daunting that I had to carefully plan calories and electrolytes. I could mainly just go do it. As I completed the first 30 minutes on the ex-machines, I felt the inner doors of power flow open. I gave them permission to open. I allowed higher power to flow into my consciousness. The acceptance of this higher power is not magic powers but an attitude of connectedness to a power which provides all for all.

After 2 hours on the machines, I loaded up my hydropak and drove to the park. I had to park a ways away, due to a parade in Parkville, hence was carrying 50 oz of drink. It was starting off a humid 77F. I began my 8x2s at a slow pace. After 6 laps, 16.2 miles, I decided to just keep jogging instead of going back to do another hour on machines. I was in the running longevity zone: aches and pains were stabilized, I put more water in the hydropak and had 2 Gu stashed on me. I felt I could run forever. I felt oneness with ultra-runners all over the globe. This decision to keep running could have been a function of a heat deranged mind, but I just felt like I could gently keep going. I approved myself for another 80 minutes. When I finished, after 4h24min, it was 88F. I had done 21 extremely slow miles.

The sock combo worked great again and I had no heat rash on my legs: excellent. Oh…I love the new Nike swim bikinis under my shorts.

I have never worked out for 6+ days in a row before. I have never had my current level of fitness before.

More about commitment: my pondering during my run. What I am doing with this personal multi-day is keeping a commitment to myself. I thought about my monastic education. As a novice prepares for vows, one of the things they talk about is the commitment to monastic profession. It is a public vow and it is thought that the publicness of it helps the person keep it. At this point in my life I am aghast at the teaching. If I want something in my soul, I’ll battle avarice and sloth (ego characteristics) to the death in order to obtain my soul’s desire. It seems so cheap and fake to think other people’s eyes would have anything to do with how I honor my soul’s requests. The blood and guts of my life is to defeat ego and support soul. And that is what my personal multi-day means to me.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Personal Multi-day - 2

First off this morning, I wrote:

How many days, decades, lifetimes have been spent waiting for You?
We who sit, know He sits with us.
I am alone, yet part of many.
We quietly devote ourselves to The Awareness.

The great texts point us to It.
The Master said, "He is within."
I prostrate before The Master in gratitude.
I kneel before The Awareness in love.


There is no greater thing than to lay down your life for your Friend, The Awareness, Love Itself.

Do you think I do this to get something?
Can you not see there is no reward?
Except for The Knowledge, the richness palpating a hidden place within.


And so, I completed another pseudo-50k-of-sorts today. 2 hours on ex-machines. Run 16.2 miles in 3h09, faster than yesterday by a smidge. Then 1h5min on machines; went 5 min longer on the nordic track since I ran faster.

I have broken new ground: never worked out for 6+ hours two days in a row. I'm aware of those achieving greater feats of endurance. I'm pleased to see my own personal progress: back in December, I thought just the 16.2 miles for 3 days in a row was alot.

So, eat, sleep, get out of med in the morning and try again. I swear, this is happening courtesy of a power greater than myself.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Personal Multi-day - 1

Ok so, I have five days off work. I decided to stage my own personal multi-day endurance event. I wondered what I would do. I wondered what for.
It is not for anything. I've decided that right up front. My event is not for finding the holy grail or achieving enlightenment. It is just an environment of sorts, just a place to be...period.
Today, I worked out on my machines for 2 hours. Then I went to Parkville and ran 6 laps, or 16.2 miles, in 3h12, or 11.8 min/mile. Then I came home and jellified myself by doing another hour on the machines. That nordic track seems harmless enough but it is a jelly maker for sure.
After eating and napping, I realized that I had worked out for longer than it takes me to run a 50k (31 miles). It was a pseudo-50k-of-sorts. So that is my plan: 5 x 50k in 5 days. That is an endurance event beyond the box of what I have done so far.