Sunday, July 31, 2011

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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

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." 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).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

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.

Friday, July 15, 2011


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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What if.... 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.

The Task - Listening

It is Saturday in the middle of a hot summer. I slept in, so no early morning coolness for a run. I don't know if I will go outside at all.

As I did my evening reflection last night, I pondered the great silence and the frustration I feel as a human being. The best answer is just to kneel in awe at the great silence, realizing it is so much more magnificent than me; and the ceasing of my activities and thoughts produces the best me.

This morning, having slept late, I also took my time with morning spiritual study and inner listening. I wonder if a trek in the hot sun would be an enactment of a Saharan quest. Like many, I have the desire to trek through the desert, as Jesus, coming out with some greater wisdom or higher consciousness. But we cannot trick God. An hour on the treadmill in my living room might produce just as much. But if I go outside, the fat people in their graden will see me and wonder. The guy who always weed eats will see me and wonder. The guy who runs with a younger stud on roller skates will wonder. The two people who walk their dogs will wonder.

In a practical sense, I am taking it easy this weekend because next Friday night I have a 50k race. This race is a trek: under the full moon in northern Kansas corn and soy bean fields.

Running in the sun won't produce God. It could reduce ego.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Task- Approval

I've heard it so often, "You shouldn't care what other people think." And logically, I agree; but that doesn't stop my fears from rising and ego thoughts going crazy whenever I do something against the authorities in my life.

This one lesson, trust Soul, could be the most important lesson of my life.

I frequently go against the grain of society. When it happens at work, I have a ton of emotional stress. Stepping outside the box at work is so frightening. Spiritually speaking, its rubber meeting the road: do I practice metaphysics or do I believe and react to the fear. Do I allow fear to define the boundaries of my life or not?

To thine own self be true, or thou canst be true to no man.

I was asked to be the head of a charitable fund raising campaign at work. This sucker is a big deal and it speaks well for my reputation that I was asked to be in charge. But I have secretly hated that charitable organization for my entire 30 year career, and the annual corporate arm twisting to give so the corporation can meet its goal.

I would do a horrible job. I can't take on a task I don't believe in just to further my career. So I said no. Saying no is the wrong answer in relation to corporate politics and the future of potential advancement. I shot myself in the foot in this regard.

Spiritually speaking, I need to learn that this world is an illusion and I can't be hurt by anything. In terms of ego deflation, it is very hard to go against my ego's rule of pleasing authorities. I have decided to stop living in fear. But that means I need to learn the lessons I've asked for in order to end the fearful life.

To thine own self be true, or thou canst be true to no man.

The principles of metaphysics which I am trying to learn often put me at odds with ordinary society. And I am afraid to be found out by the people of the world. My decision to be a scholar and an athlete puts me at odds with career advancement because the corporation does not get first place in my life. And, boy do I feel fear over these things. But I need to be able to stand my ground. Fear is not real. Fear is a brain chemistry function, not truth. My perception and interpretation for why I think I should be afraid isn't truth. I need to be able to stand in my truth.

This is so hard for me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Personal Multi-day 2011, day 4 and 5

Day 4: Is it a multi-day if you decide to sleep in and then do cross training for your endurance? Not really I guess. After 3 days and 78 miles, I decided I knew where I was at fitness-wise, but that there was no need to push beyond the edge and injure myself. I also decided to let go. My Colorado running vacation to Silverton 1000 will be a running vacation regardless of whether I come home with a belt buckle or not.

Haha, yes, voluntarily let go of the trinket and focus on the meat; being the best athlete I can be. So on day4, the weights got lifted, the full range of core got completed and I otherwise used my ex-equipment. Oh, and sleeping is important too. Balance, an athlete must be balanced.

In the afternoon, I again thought of the Brownville half marathon to take place on Monday the 4th. Race starts at 7 am and is a 2 hour drive. I'd need to get up early. I was tired of long slow jogging in the sun.

I prayed to my inner self as I went to bed: help me to get up and have the courage to drive on back roads to Nebraska in the dark.

So I woke up at 2:40 and made it out of bed. It wasn't a terrible struggle, but I felt this icky resistance to the gift of energy I'd received in waking up. My whole life seems to be about overcoming these resistances.

I got to Brownville in plenty of time. It was a small town, but about 250 people from several surrounding states had showed up. The race was on two lane highways which seemed to always be uphill; and I did great at this. I finished in 1:57. I am so amazed at this. I spent 3 days running 78 miles in the hot sun. Another day cross training. And the final day I run a half marathon at a 9 min/mile pace; even though I never do a lick of speed work in my training.

Laying on my bed in the afternoon, I could feel the surging energy continuing to flow. In the aftermath of the race, the energy turned into a magnificent hope for success in all my life: spiritual, athletic and technical. The gift of energy to get out of bed was transformed into giving to all the undefined energy fields. The river was wide open flowing. The energy field is love. I knew I was loved because of the energy flow.

So thats the end of the most fabulous vacation. I loved this multi-day since it was not all drudgery. It was all love.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Personal Multi-day 2011, day 3

Today, I again got up at 3, started running at 4. Finished 27 miles in 7 hours. I have brought myself to exhaustion. 78 miles on hills in 3 days.

3 pm- I wanted this. Being exhausted and in pain, I don’t ask why. I feel pain. It’s beyond reason and hence incomprehensible to the ego. Spiritually it is a humble kneeling position and gratitude for all that is. What? How could I write that?

I don’t know, it’s just what came out. Now, I must go dunk my feet in cold water, wait for the flames to go out and reflect some more.

 In my spiritual study this morning, I realized how little I can count on my ego. That is related to the ability to get out of bed. Or eat/not-eat based on decisions. It’s amazing to discover how powerless I am over myself; how little will I have. I cannot rely on my ego for control. But there are times when I do accomplish a decision. These times I attribute to a cooperation with some inner power stronger than my ego: my soul. This multi-day is an experience of cooperation with my soul. No other way could I arise at 3 during vacation and spend so long in the heat. My ego fails at actually doing things; though it dreams magnificently.

4:30 pm – Post eating, sleeping and iced foot bath, the dream of endless running returns. The impossible dream, to remain unfulfilled. Is it some defect of character? What is its meaning? Approval? Validation? Would I finally be good enough? Personally, I don’t think it’s a character defect. I think it’s the feeling of my soul. I think it is the feeling of an eternal love, which I express by endless running.

 Well, near the dawn hours this morning, I could connect with the presence of spiritual power around me. It wasn’t the Himalayas, or a beach at sunset or a primordial forest. It was a quiet suburban street in Missouri. This feeling of presence is why I have the dream of endless running.

 After about 8, some dog walkers came out and other runners. People are starting to know me. They say hi and make me laugh with some joke. One runner noticed me take a gel, and this was the second time he passed me, he asked how long I was going to be out there. Another man who is always weed eating holds up fingers for how many times I have passed him.

 Today, I felt better than yesterday and decided to run another lap. However, on the far side of the lap, I realized I didn’t have enough drink left (I really start guzzling as the day heats up). I decided to chance refilling my pak in a fountain. I haven’t got sick yet!

 Now, my feet and legs feel good. I have no injuries, but as you might guess, things do hurt a bit after 27 miles. The hills and heat zap me. But I keep thinking: maybe I could run around the sanctuary a little tomorrow. I could sleep a little later since it is supposed to be a little cooler.

 Wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Personal Multi-day 2011, day 2

Started at 3:48 am. I completely filled my hydro-pak with ice, EAS soy protein and Heed.

Very decent 24 miles this morning in 80F (27C) going up heat. I felt better than yesterday, especially at the end. Well, I went 3 miles more yesterday, but walked more. Now, a few hours later, my legs feel better than yesterday.

Anyway, what’s this doing? Helping me believe in myself. If that’s all I get out of such a humiliating bunch of statistics and wasted time, then humongously worth it. For a woman of experience and long time self-responsibility, I sure have no confidence apart from the safety blanket of other's approval.

During the run today, I was remembering the last time I saw my mother; and feeling guilty about it. And then remembering the money conversation with Sister Pat, while I was in Sand Springs. And then remembering how I wanted to be St Francis when I was 23 and give all my money away. Part of my hope in joining a monastic order was to completely give away all my money. What that really means, in today's reflection, is giving away responsibility for my life.

And then realizing how afraid I am at work that I’ll be found out for a individual/non-team player, and asked to leave. Boy, do I depend on the approval of others for my safety.

Related to others approval, others approve of training for racing and winning. The nonsense of the ultra slow long run cannot be explained and does seem like a waste to my colleagues. In fact, I've been told: there are more important things than running. But not if running is my spiritual expression and spirituality is my number one interest. I haven't been able to explain this to my colleagues.

I was remembering my past and feelings of fear which govern my life and integrating that with the nonsense of a personal multi-day and Colorado multi-day where I win a belt buckle. And, in that context of thoughts, I realized how my life needs to be free.

Later, I thought, "I feel like an albatross flying a long slow journey to freedom." I had a vision of a large slow bird flapping its way free of the earth. Like those big old planes so aptly called flying albatross. So I googled "albatross around your neck" and got this: The word 'albatross' is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.

My unique, experience filled, solitary life is both a curse and a possibility of freedom. I've always lived in the curse.

Long distance runs are time for reflection. And if you are careful, you can catch thoughts which are usually unnoticed, like about my mother or Sr Pat or fear. Connecting this to the albatross, I can see how I am working on freedom as I complete an amazing but seemingly useless exercise.

What Zen exercise was not seemingly useless; yet you realized later how deep and valuable it really was?

My life is not really my own. I am aware of this in some way. My life is a waste in the worldly sense and I allow this because I think all lives are useless. I can’t think of anything to do but keep studying spiritual masters, run, work, reflect.

Freedom from bondage is freedom from the fear of others, and belief in the inner spirit.

Part of what I am learning this multi-day is how it feels to put out maximum effort several days in a row. Also, even if my paces are slow, part of ultra training is time in the heat and on hills. Doing the time in a comfortable gym is physical training but not the right kind of mental training. Marathoners do long runs, probably faster. Ultra marathoners do long runs, and then do another the next day. For a multi-day, I need to be mentally prepared and physically confident that I can run mega miles 3 days in a row. Hence, conservation of energy and low impact speeds are necessary for me.

Maybe I’ll have more to say on my thoughts later. Thoughts matter and I am glad to have caught my mind in some of its secret ways.

Here already is another thought: I want to have an original thought, or a "real" thought as A Course in Miracles would call it. Maybe I do have real thoughts, but they are buried under past thoughts, or not noticed. Wow, that would be cool: to notice a real thought!

I am running for my life.