Thursday, June 30, 2011

Personal Multi-day 2011, day 1

I got up at 3 am and did my spiritual study of Brunton. Then started my running. First, in 3h25, I jogged 14.04 miles. Then a pit stop at my apartment. Then, another 3h46 of really slow jog and walk for 13.1 miles. Total of 27.11 miles in 7h11. All of this was on the hills of Riverside.

Training expands the physical capability. In my craw sticks a need to prove it is also viable spiritually.

I need to get beyond what is said by others, and find my own spirit.

The power behind getting out of bed and continuing the endeavor might be my main proof of spiritual involvement.

I just read last year’s July multi-day report. I am beyond where I was.

I am doing it my way. I am doing what I need to do.

It is now 4:20 pm and I am sure I’ll be able to walk tomorrow! I just walked in the 98F heat over to my mail box and back. So I know tomorrow will be ok, after more recovery and a warmup.

I am alone in my apartment so I can think about the Why? question.

I run a lot everyday. A high level of fitness enables racing; but it also enables a personal multi-day. Personal multi-days are the high point. They mean more to me than races. They are a unique melding of ego deflation, prayer, contemplation, mental inventory and rest.

In a way, the personal multi-day calls into question all of my spirituality. The private unofficial nature of a personal multi-day is a replica of my spiritual study and growth. My only official spiritual training could be considered retreats in the monastery where I spent several days with a true spiritual master. Outside of the monastery (the other 30 years of spiritual study) has been on my own. I have grown. My running has grown over the years too.

How humbling it is to complete a personal multi-day of 100 miles and not get a t-shirt. How humbling to have friends and colleagues react with scorn or misunderstanding. Feeling misunderstood is a constant source of growth for me. So in a way, the personal multi-day is an instigator of growth.

Completing a personal multi-day requires small decisions. Like today, my only goal was to make it out of bed when the alarm went off. No further goal was set; but I secretly knew, if I don’t get out of bed, it will be too hot to go outside and run. And then, for the second part of the run, the only goal was to go back outside and walk. No running required. After another 2.5 hours, I realized that I had to quit any sort of jogging and just walk, or there’d be no tomorrow. Knowing when to walk.period, is important.

My intention for each and every thing I do, each and every day, is the spiritual conversation, the task of knowing my soul. The personal multi-day is just a venue which I use. It’s not more important than the daily go-to-work spirituality; but it is different.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Task - To Receive....

....the Gift. The Gift is Endurance. Endurance is my soul What other characteristic would be proper for a soul, which has existed since before Abraham was.

All it takes is getting out of bed at a properly early hour tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I'm worried about that. Will I? Do I have the connection to the soul which will get me up?

How humiliating to realize I want to receive my soul's gift but may be unable to overcome my own sloth. And further, that I would justify my sloth; somehow saying that it was meant to be.

The only thing is to be silent. Still the thoughts. Wait. Drink the clear water as it flows from my heart. Love begotten; and in patience I run.

I sit in premonition. I ponder this prelude. I hope. I pray. I kneel. I bow my head. I realize I don't know God and don't have a clue and am powerless over the mish-mash of ego thoughts which are all I ever have.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Be Not Afraid...

....I go before you always.

Its a Christian hymn right? But to me, I think of the who-goes-before-me as my soul or inner self or Self.

This morning was beautifully cool with no thunder storms today. I had some extra time so I ran for 90 minutes and this song is what popped into my head. I am also thinking a great deal about my 5 day weekend. I have a personal multi-day planned. A big question is my character. Can I step up to the plate of self transcendence because I want to; even with out a formal race environment? Will the inner person get me out of bed?

It will be hot and sunny this weekend. Getting started early will matter. I have planned out what and how. Execution is whats left.

Execution powered from within is what many lack. Lack of execution apart from a group is the reason why St Benedict started monasteries. He said that most don't have the inner strength to do something on their own, but will do it in the safety of the group. And that is why monasteries follow rules: to ensure they execute their plan.

So Thursday morning, when the alarm goes off, that is my personal private starting line for self transcendence.

Be not afraid.....I will set you free (is how the refrain ends).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dream of Endless Running

Running is freedom from ego bondage and the shaping of character. It enables being soul.

I don't take a day off running/exercise because it is a spiritual practice. It is training in non-decision; that is I already decided to pursue Spirit, so no more decisions are needed. It is being; that is, it is constant. It denies sloth and keeps the pattern of degenerative society at bay. It is a maintenance of solitude. It is a practice and prayer of eternity. My dream of endless running is eternal love.

It is Monday morning. I was up at 3:12. A line of ferocious thunder storms just passed over head. But, now, it is over and I can go out for a run. See you later.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Out of Pattern

Finally my own words to describe not only my life, but why I think its emotionally difficult. I live outside the pattern of normal society and so I feel friction all the time.

As far as being a woman: I don't use my body for sex. I work in a man's career with all men.

As far as religion: I've struck out on my own.

As far as fitness: I'm a freaking ultra-marathoner for gods sake.

As far as diet: not only vegetarian, but I have switched away from the traditional high carb diet.

As far as entertainment: I don't ever do it.

So really, no friends, no voting, no career ambitions, no family, no holidays, no alcohol or drugs, no TV, no lots of stuff.

I like me the way I am, but I feel friction for not-going-along. But I am rejoicing right now as I've finally figured out what to call it. I'm rejoicing because I understand the direction of my psyche. Being out of pattern is not something I can change. Its probably hardwired into my brain. I somply can't go be a normal person; that would cause worse emotions than the ones I feel for my differences.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What was said...

...while I ran and had to remember later.

This morning, I ran a one mile loop at a place called The Sanctuary. It is a tiny place of nature. I ran 21 miles; 1.5 hours in a gentle rain. Thunder boomed overhead, but it was not a serious storm and I decided to defy it and keep running. It is a magic thing, long distance running is. I maybe don't feel like I can run 5 hours at the start. I only think it. But, as the day wears on, it materializes one lap at a time. I just keep going.

Then, I was laying on the bed this afternoon, pondering my quest for my soul. The most wisdom I seem to have is: I don't know. There is no glory in it. When in doubt be silent and wait. At least I'm not destroying myself by watching TV and eating cake. I wish....I ask....

At last, trying to resolve the inner issue, Nature repeats what it said this morning:
Lap after lap, I watched the turtle dig its way into the mud.
An egg fell from a nest in a tree.
The deer were nibbling grass, and then ran away.
The squirrel did not budge from the branch on which it was sitting.
An occasional flower and brilliant green trees and grass.
Lots of water in the water fall.
A pretty little blue bird.
The runner kept running.

From my position on my bed, I thought to myself, "Doing nothing, being nothing, is a very difficult thing. Seeking my soul, I seem to achieve nothing."

And again, a soulful reply, "only love could have wondered about the turtle, or been sad about the egg, or noticed how delicate the young deer was."

And so I know that all is within me and looks out from me. There is no other place for it to be. I am it and it is me. We are that consciousness and there is no other.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Yes Prayer

Umm...yes. Just say yes.

If you want to complicate it, say "yes love."

Why? Because if your life is a conscious spiritual journey, then everything has a spiritual meaning and I want all of it.



Of course I am totally aware of how frowned on austerity is. I've been told how it is wrong to be hard on yourself. I've been told how the austere life doesn't mean anything. I've wondered myself if the desire is not an ego driven attempt to think I am more holy than everyone else.

But I am drawn to less. I can feel it deep in my guts. I don't want all the fanciness or excess or facade. I am making my stand. What I am getting at is the deep feeling in my guts: a need for the imperishable substance of my soul. Cookies and cake in the material world will not satisfy.

My weekly rolling mileage total is at 70.4 miles. Yesterday, I did something new: I ran around trees. That is, I found 5 trees in the parking lot next door which are fairly close together and in uneven grass. To run figure 8 loops around them is an exercise for the ankles and a little bit for muscles not directly on the front of my legs.

Here is a picture of me finishing my last race.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Task - Decision....

...again resolved today: I will pursue the spiritual path to where ever it leads me. Being a spiritual athlete is true. I accept my path. Fitness is part of self transcendence and, hence, part of the spiritual path.

My waffling around of late has had more to do with work. Work is part of the path; but where is the line between spiritual work and ego work? Where do I make my stand? Where do I say, "I am afraid of letting the bosses see I am not totally committed to this company," and must give time and energy to running and prayer. And so I face my fear: if I am not committed, will I get laid off?

And so I come to my soul with the fear, consciously. And so I let spirituality be the foundation and everything else is for spiritual growth. Material world losses can lead to spiritual growth as much as material world promotions. It all takes discernment: what is my soul saying to me? Surrender to my soul is what makes possible the idea that all is for spirituality.

And then I must return to my decision. I choose spirituality despite my ego's qualms and fears and attempts to seek security in the material world. No, I want spiritual connection more.

My weekly rolling mileage total is 63 miles. I went to see my LMT on Monday, so my legs feel great right now. New shoes also help. I am thinking about this weekend and the opportunity to run. I am thinking about my upcoming personal multi-day, which starts next Thursday for 5 days. My personal multi-days are also my personal self transcendence race. I am still working with The Zone diet and learning to plan meals which are exact ratios of protein/carb.

Check out the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence blog by Uptal:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Task - of being and living

Yesterday I ran in a small half marathon road race. It was the first race this year that I have actually tried to race. I only decided to go in it on Thursday because my legs were feeling good and I wanted to do something different than my usual ultra training.

I ran very well: right at 2 hours. And second in my age group. I have a cool t-shirt and a nice medal. But really, I expended a ton of energy running at that speed. It cost me a pound or two. That disturbs me a bit as I don't really have it to lose.

This morning, I slept in, even though it meant doing any running in 90F heat with humidity. Then I had a leisurely coffee, breakfast and spiritual study.

During my sleeping in, I had my first dream I can remember that involved alcohol. That is, I was stuck in some place with some people I think were sisters. We decided to buy alot of alcohol and drink it because we were stuck in that place with nothing to do so it wouldn't matter if we got drunk. But, just before going out to buy anything, I said, "Wait. I can't. I'm an alcoholic." And this is true. But in the dream, alcohol was a symbol of alot of things of society which I refuse to do, but which is acceptable to others. I simply will-not-go-along-period.

 I've just finished a new book by Meg Funk, something about depths. She is the Benedictine sister from Beechgrove Indiana who was responsible for getting me kicked out of my monastery. This book was in 3 parts: her live before Bolivia, her almost drowning in a river in Bolivia and her life after Bolivia where she tries to make sense of the spirituality from the drowning experience.

Suddenly this morning, I had a new take on my own monastic experience. I was born spiritually when I was 22 on a street in the city of Old Jerusalem. Then there was a long period of growth. Then there was my 4 year monastic experience; which I now see as losing my life. I mean ego deflation at depth and culminating in the ego's worst nightmare: loss of validation in all areas of my life.

As I came out of the monastery I had a choice: go be a normal secular person or continue on the spiritual path. I chose the later; but I did not know at the time what it's primary difficulty would be: continued denial of the ego. See, it is a solitary path without a physical teacher and no validation from any person or institution. It is totally an attempt to listen to my inner being and well, just be. Its been almost 8 years since I left the monastery and only now do I have a handle on the fact that My Soul alone rules in my life.

The vagueness of purpose totally bugs my ego; which is probably why I get confused at work and seek promotions. Also, being an athlete doesn't seem like a very important spiritual activity or life purpose. Even my own salvation, spiritual growth or purification seems a waste because there is no reward on the earthly plane.

The solitude in which I live is so easily criticized by my ego. A life of prayer and peace is not exciting or worthwhile for an ego. Given these complaints however, I don't take up a new activity. I merely sit in silence some more.

I face a blank wall, or a path into fog and darkness, or a corner I can't see around, or a door not opened.

Almost all my teaching says that to seek God alone is futile, egoistic or wrong. There is an occasional spiritual master who has a different story; but still, it is hazardous to live a self directed spiritual life. but yet here I am. I have searched many groups. I can fake belonging on a physical level but it is never genuine. God is here in my heart and I return again to the silence to commune.

I need to move forward. This involves continuing down the unknown purposeless path.

Today I did go out into the heat. I had no goal but to seek self transcendence in the act of walking out the door. I had a load of water and some protein bites. 4 hours and 42 minutes later, I had jog/walked 17.3 miles on the hills. I wore my desert hat and it totally helps to keep the sun off your neck. Even if I hadn't run a race yesterday, I don't think I could have gone faster today. the faster you go, the higher your core temperature. I would have had to have access to ice water, frequently, to go any faster. At the slow speed, there was a heat balance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Task of Just Being

I was reminded in my reflection this morning that my goal was to "just be."

The rest of this blog is me musing through my various conflicts related to career vs just being.

I had forgotten the goal "to be" and become stressed over the pressure at work to move ahead. It is very difficult for me to stop trying to push myself up the organization (even with corporate sanction); instead being content with a great salary and lots of time for running and contemplation.

Do I feel friction because I'm going against cultural pressure? Is it my own ego that can't tolerate an average work life? I also have difficulties with not really caring about the business. That is, I care about doing a good job, but companies come and go in my life so I don't get overly concerned with corporate attachment. Where I work now, you better believe that all the forces push towards corporate attachment. Since I don't want to attach, I feel a powerful fear of being found out for the impostor that I am. The body of the corporation doesn't want job competence but a commitment to the group.

As I write this, I see how this situation is exactly the same as how I felt in the monastery. I was at the monastery for the purpose of spirituality. I didn't really care that much about anything else; though I always planned to hold up my end of the responsibility for income.

My long term desire has been to be a spiritual scholar and an athlete. Results of spirituality lead me away from the main stream of society. One result is fear that society would withdraw its sustenance from me. And then how would I make a living?

Work is not separate from spirituality. But when work takes on a spiritual frame work, how decisions are made about it change. But this change in out look can not be discussed with other managers because they'd detect my betrayal of their corporate culture.

To "just be" is not a logical goal for a human being. This goal rubs my ego wrong in every possible way. Hence, my ego is always pushing me to achieve something.

To do my job at work is to "just be." To run laps or lift weights is to "just be." To attempt to formulate a traditional career path and carry it out seems to me like an acceptance to focus energy on career instead of "just being;" because dear reader, higher levels of management require higher quantities of time and commitment.

I live with tension as I was asked, "what are your goals?" I kept my mouth shut, pretending I didn't know. But really, I have secret goals for self transcendence. In the name of that goal, I let the daily corporate friction wear on me.

I will get up every day and study spiritual texts, work out and go to work. I will feel the fear of the corporate culture. Either I will be assimilated or cast out as a foreign object.

Some day, I will have acceptance and be at peace.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meditation Result

I got quiet. I approached my inner silence in a questioning mood. Immediately, a thought:

I am not done with silence; or the re-making of my physical body.

I will continue to run laps and lift weights; as a prisoner does while he waits for release.

I think the only way "love" crosses my mind is if I do it. But really, Love reminds me of Itself; and Silence is not done with me.

The ultra-runner contemplative has entered a half marathon this Saturday. I have lost 3 pounds in a week on The Zone diet. Its time now for my evening workout.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Limits of My Emotions

Yesterday, I realized that I reached a hard edge to what I am able to handle. It is the first time I've ever reached this consciously. It has happened unconsciously before. That is, I didn't realize what was happening; I just reacted.

So when I consciously made the connection, I thought, "my emotional make up simply cannot tolerate THIS." So, I can decide to stop, realize I have a character shortcoming and leave it alone. I am like a person without a leg, only it is a mental flaw. Will power won't stop my emotions from controlling me.

The only way to change is to offer it up to my soul for healing. Again, this must be done consciously and specifically.

This character flow is related to trust in certain situations. The facts of the matter have little bearing on my emotional reaction or the barrage of thoughts which spring up to stress me out. I can see the fear; but there is nothing I can do about it. I also can't deny it. Fear controls me.

In fact, this situation has been eye opening. Like, wow, I really am controlled by fear and my life has been shaped to avoid certain things because they are just too overwhelming emotionally.

How humbling it is to admit this about myself honestly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Determination... succeed at The Task.

Its that self transcendence time of year. The 3,100 mile Self Transcendence Race has started. 10 runners will run around a block in NYC for the next 52 days, covering the distance in daily chunks of 50 to 70 miles. Enlightening blog is here:

This race is what inspired my urge to complete ultra-marathons. It is also a microcosm of my life.

Last night, the man next door was talking in his room at about 11 pm. So I installed ear plugs thinking I'd wake up as usual at about 1 am to take them out so I'd hear the alarm at 3:11. I slept all the way to 3:11. I don't remember hearing the alarm and I thought it was about 2 am until I looked at the clock and saw it was 3:11 am. Anyway, I made it out of bed. Getting up at the alarm time was my only goal for the morning. The reward was an extra cup of tea and spiritual study. Study is part of The Task.

Part of my spiritual study included the question: why be an athlete?  The power behind my training comes through a channel which tunnels out of my metaphysical heart. I have successfully opened the channel. It has nothing to do with measurable performance; as in how fast did you run. It has everything to so with determination to do the daily and improve on the daily parameters: time, strength, diet, fitness, consistency. Fitness is part of The Task.

My mind has been on "Teachers" all weekend. I have a mentor at work whom I'm still trying to figure out how to relate with. I've also been reading about spiritual teachers. It seems I am able to finally list out those I've met in person (Pascaline, Rubin, Ludi, Meg, Rose Marie, plus numerous encounters with messengers) and those I've met in books (Merton, John of the Cross, Brunton, Palmo, Sri Chinmoy, Jesus, Buddha, Rand, Heidegger, at least). I've actually been touched quite alot. I needed to accept the validity of the spiritual connection which is there even if the teacher is not physically present. Learning is part of The Task.

So while I know I need to continue to study, when I asked the question in my early morning silence, I thought: I am the guru. As arrogant as it sounds, it is a deep truth.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beyond the Group

"The general direction of his thoughts and deeds - rather than those thoughts and deeds themselves - as well as the ideal he most habitually contemplates, is what is most important and most significant in his life." (Brunton)

It is somewhat odd to me. Being at peace is also quiet. I have no great spiritual inspiration for you dear reader. I don't know that I have any real thinking going on in my head. I will refrain from endlessly quoting other peoples books, as you can go read those yourself. the mental silence in and of itself is worth silent contemplation.

This morning, I ran 20 miles along the levy. It took me 3 hours of thinking about my new Zone diet and my September Silverton Colorado race, before I decided to take my mind off the world. For the next hour and a half, my mind was only on a bit of my spiritual creed, "In the holy instant, Thou I see. Thou art miracles come forth as love." And that became all.

My weekly rolling mileage total is 76 miles as of today. 3 days this week, I took 2 hour runs on hills. This did wear a bit on my patella tendon. Then, last night, I tried something new my trainer told me about: galloping lengthwise on my step platform. I think 25 min of that touched some new nerves in my hip joint. Last nights workout was a total of 110 min of cross training. So, 20 miles on a flat levy today didn't hurt anything more, but the legs were tired.

I read a book by Dr Barry Sears this week about The Zone diet. I was interested because it is a performance enhancing diet and athletes use it to get in the zone. My trainer has also studied the main theory from others than B. Sears and she agreed with the premises. I have lost 2 pounds I didn't really have to lose, but the body fat percentage shifted. My run today didn't cost me any weight which is a good thing.

It is self transcendence season. That is, the 3,100 mile race gets started tomorrow. This race fascinates me and I look in on it every day, as well as e-mail the lone female entrant, Surasa M. About 10 runners will run/walk around a 0.5 mile block in NYC up to 16 hours a day until they achieve the 3,100 mile total. Seems boring but it is really about meditation and self transcendence. This race and my desire for self transcendence is what started my into the ultra-running realm.

Now I think I will lift weights and listen to A Prairie Home Companion.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amazing Grace

Look around my one bedroom apartment. Besides the single bed, the study table and the kitchen, all you see is exercise equipment. And, for over a year I've not had much social contact except for work.

I am as of this time in a state of joy. See, I've been set free spiritually. A spiritual program consists of prayer, study, meditation, surrender and inventory. I can clearly point to what I am doing in each of these areas. After I dedicate myself, it is Grace that guides me. I am today totally happy and conscious of that.

I had to start my run at 6 am today as it is very hot outside. I ran 20 miles on a flat path by the river. It was a run filled with prayer. I found myself much at peace as I recited to myself various pieces of my personal spiritual creed.

Having finished my run by 11 am, I had more time this afternoon for spiritual reflection. I seem to feel connected and good. I discussed with the Silence the various things I'm afraid of or unresolved about. I turned my life over to this higher power. This doesn't happen to me that often so I notice when it does.

Now, I have lifted the free weights and am about to go out in the heat for a short walk. It is so incredible to be me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Conscious Soul Contact

All of us have a soul. But not very many try to know that soul. I know I have a soul because I get out of bed in the morning.

I know I have conscious real time contact if I accept that soul's help to get out of bed. Like this morning. What time I got up was optional. But if I want to go running for several hours, its best to get started early if its to be a hot day. But when the alarm went off at 4:45 on a Saturday, my ego began rationalizing about staying in bed.

I sat up. My eyes drooped shut again. I thought sleeping more would be great. Why be a runner anyway? Somewhere in this half asleep musing, I remembered that it is my soul who powers my life and my running. In order to run long distance, I need a significant amount of power. To run long distance on a 90+ humid day and start at 6 in the morning requires a tremendous amount of mental effort to do.

The fact that I am training for a race is not enough. Most people would look at my weekly mileage and say, "Aren't you killing yourself? What is some important about doing all that?"

Nothing, except it brings me to my soul.

Now, me and my soul are going to do sit-ups.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Task - Individual

If you are a Benedictine religious, you will learn about the gyrovages and the sarabites; and how the best kind of monks are the cenobites because they live in community under a Superior and a Rule. Roman Catholics are big on making sure everyone follows the tradition of the Church and not interpreting things for themselves. For a long time, Catholics didn't even have Bibles. They just listened to priests read the scriptures in Latin.

Buddhists have the Sangha as one of their treasures. Hindus have gurus.

We are so programmed to join groups and learn from others.

Jesus did not learn from others: He knew from within. Buddha rejected his teaching and found enlightenment from within himself.

So I am flabbergasted to be reading Paul Brunton who quite clearly indicates that a person must think for them self and find God on their own. Of course, he admits that not every one can do this; but for those with the resources, it is the only way to find truth.

I have the resources. After studying many books and religions and listening to many speakers, I find I can look within and hear intuition.

Today, I was meditating at home. I decided to do an intuition experiment. I asked inside, "Who am I?" The immediate answer was, "Boundless Energy." I certain have read something similar to this before; but these exact words are my own.

It explains alot. Especially since, just before doing this intuition experiment, I had reflected on my exercise potential.

What resources do I have? Time, energy, discipline, intelligence, perseverance, silence, solitude, meditation technique, a purified physical body, books, education, ability to listen, in depth exposure to at least 3 different philosophies, a divorce from society, sobriety. AND, I use my resources. Many people have enough resources but never use them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Do I know?

I have never experienced the big bang sort of revelatory experience which folks call "enlightenment." Most folks think you need this experience in order to say you have been enlightened.

I think I am a slowly dawning sunrise.

Something drives my life. I think it is soul. Without evidence of the highly emotional variety, I could say I proceed by faith. But maybe I proceed by hope. It could even be that my ego finds failure so unacceptable, that I keep up the spiritual study.

I don't know whether my insides are a long but firmly bottled hate and anger; or inner peace.

My spiritual life is like climbing a mountain. At this time, it seems as if I have left the beautiful meadows with mountain wildflowers and trickling streams. I seem to be climbing above the tree line into territory which is nothing but rocks. The delicious campfire meals are left behind. It gets colder and windier. The air is thinner. I keep taking one step at a time. I do not know when or if I will reach the summit; or if the summit will be revelation.

I just know I must keep going. Such is The Task.