Preparation time….

Many years ago I woke up in the night to hear a voice speaking clearly to me… It was very early in the morning, about 3am. and the voice said…’When you decide on a course of action, be certain, because others will follow you…’

I took this counsel very seriously… My energy is such that I gather people, and when I suggest things, they tend to join in…!

And so in the years between 2003, when I heard this voice – and 2017 when the idea was born to run across Spain in my bare feet… In those intervening years, I continued to embrace my main expressions of writing, running – training for a variety of races – and working as a guía and sanación, whilst all the time moving towards my dream of living a life of doing all those things in the sun…!

But I held back from anything that might involve a lot of people, because I recognised the truth of those words…

‘Once a course of action is decided others will follow…’

I took that very seriously…

I’m very glad I did, because in July 2017, when the idea to run across Spain in my bare feet was conceived, it immediately had a life of its own. It became more than just a run across Spain… That would have been something very different just to set off on my own adventure – quietly, privately…

But this became a journey for many, not just me… It became something that I was sharing, and inviting others to join me in.

The time it took to be ready to ‘set off’ was almost the same time it takes for a baby to be created – nearly nine months long… The idea was conceived in July and I began running at the end of March…

It was however, a smooth journey to the start line – the road unfolded in front of me right from the very beginning… It was almost like it had already happened, and I must now live it to find out more about it, and about myself…

It felt to be a ‘pilgrim’s progress’ – a Peregrinaje – an internal journey … And as it transpired it was also a transformative journey for many of those who joined me on the path – and not only those who came along on the actual journey – but also for those who listened and watched my daily progress through Spain via social media. I witnessed the journey touching many people.

The idea was born and I was the messenger… It was almost like I was being given a task and within this important role, there was going to be great opportunity for growth – therefore, I must not question, but just follow…

It was of course, very much a physical journey and one that was going to be reliant on my body being fit enough, and my feet being strong enough, and so I planned a training program…

But even that was very smooth… I simply plotted the miles I must run….

I chose a weekly training load of 40 miles because my feet had run it on their own – I realised that I had just run forty miles in one week… I hadn’t planned it, so there was no push to it – it had just occurred… ‘We’re feeling strong’ they had communicated… Just as this idea was about to be born…

I saw that my feet held the wisdom and so I reckoned that if they had happily run forty miles all on their own, then they would be willing to run forty miles every week… And it transpired that they were…

It made sense that my long run on a Sunday generally needed to be the distance that I would be running every day as I journeyed across Spain – twenty five kilometers… In truth I didn’t do exactly that, but I ran between twelve and fifteen miles every Sunday…

My job was to get my body and my feet very, very strong and very, very fit.

And the best way to do this was to run…!

I looked to see if there was any way that I could make the soles stronger more quickly – but every single thing I read gave the same advice – run barefoot!

So I ran barefoot – unless it was very cold, or the ground was very uncomfortable and then I put on my Skinners socks… But essentially I just ran barefoot all over the place.

There was a building of excitement… I broadcast the journey out into the world… I wrote about it, I spoke about it..

And in Spain too… I went to a Press Conference in Granada where I had to sit at the head of a table full of journalists who fired questions at me in Spanish!

I was starting to be interviewed on the radio in England too, articles were being written, and a television news program filmed me running on Eastbourne seafront in my bare feet.

In Spain I was asked to do an interview for a newspaper in Spanish – my first interview in Spanish on the telephone…! When I saw the article in the newspaper, I was delighted that I had managed to communicate my story and my journey as a metaphor for our life journey – in Spanish!

Essentially I was talking about the journey we’re all on… I was communicating about living fully… How do we live fully?

If we truly stay fully in the step, and feel everything – the feet being the metaphor for this – when we can feel everything that goes on within us, and fully experience this life…. With all its sensations, sensitivities, everything… Then we are fully present.

Within being fully present and within experiencing absolutely everything, we will start to know our true selves…. Whether it is the wonderful taste of a bar of chocolate, or the first sip of coffee, or a fabulous meal – anything to do with our senses and taste… Or when we listen to music and its most absolute beauty touches our body…When it’s hot or cold outside and our body feels the sensations – when it’s in pain – when it’s at ease; everything at the physical level of being in a human body…

And to fully feel every single emotion too… Every feeling that we feel and so to clear everything within us, to feel absolutely everything.

If we feel an emotion rising in us, whether that be off anger, hurt, any feeling; even if we have an extreme feeling of excitement – or a welling up of joy…

If we feel every single one of them, it means that by feeling – we can drop down into the place of silence which is beyond all of those feelings – and more especially beyond the thoughts and stories associated with those feelings…

If we give ourselves the absolute permission to feel everything – and practice this – then we won’t attach any significance to wanting to stay with those feelings… Or more importantly get attached to the patterns and stories associated with them… Or act out of them as they are often from the past.

Instead we fully experience ourselves in this very moment – and any emotions triggered in the present, but associated with past events have the opportunity to be fully felt, and so healed as if they were happening for the first time…

And also feelings of joy and love, of being in love, of excitement – of amazing delight… If we experience them fully, then we won’t get attached to those, any more than we would try to reject the feelings of hatred, pain, disappointments, frustration…

If we absolutely properly experience every single thing, on this human journey; Then we are able to experience ourselves as consciousness experiencing itself – and gradually over time we will become the witnesser to our experience here…

Beyond the attachment to our ‘self’ is the place of absolute silence and a realisation of our true self.

To be absolutely fully present in every single step, moves us towards a place off the deepest possible relating we could ever have – first and foremost with our essential selves – and from that space we can relate to others in an unconditional way….

from a place of true love.

But more often we look ‘outside themselves’ for that connection, that relationship – because we don’t have the understanding that we must feel everything, and be responsible for everything we feel without projection or distraction or numbing…

The sense of the true self can get covered over by the feelings that have been suppressed – feeling our feelings and recognising that they are to do with us – that there is no one else to blame – sets us free…

Because the feelings keep rising up, so then what can happen is then they get projected ‘outwards’…. So instead of them being about the experience of the person, instead they can get projected onto what is in front of them.

Whether this is onto another person, or a situation, or other people – all sorts of things. But the projection goes out and it’s whether that projection of disappointment, anger, frustration or even a projection off extreme wonder, joy, amazingness… If it gets projected onto others, rather than being a recognition of our own amazingness, creativity, wonder, fabulousness – or our own feelings of anger, hatred, disappointment which are at the deepest level always going to be to do with self – and the separation from ourselves.

But if we can’t feel the feelings, we can’t know ourselves…

The important thing on this journey across Spain, was going to be about staying in the step and about letting the path reveal itself

We had Jack and Maggie doing an amazing job of plotting the route… But I didn’t know the route, and I didn’t know what I was going to feel on the road… I didn’t know what was going to occur.. Jack and Maggie worked very hard to plot a route all the way across Spain from Suances in the North, all the way down to Almuñécar…

While that preparation was going on, my preparation was broadcasting it, letting people know and, of course, within that the money started to come into to support the Friends of Sussex Hospices, and Fundación Cudeca…

After twenty weeks on 40 miles – I committed for the next eighteen weeks which was going to lead up to the start date on March 23rd, I committed to upping the mileage, but I didn’t set a kind of a demand from what happened and I ended up averaging fifty four miles a week for the next eighteen weeks and sometimes I did some bigger weeks. I think my biggest weeks were sixty seven miles…

I never approached the total mileage that I was going to be doing during the challenge, which was going to average eighty four miles a week for the seven weeks while I was crossing Spain…!

I didn’t approach that really ever except from one challenge I came to Almuñécar in January and I did one five day section where I did twenty five k a day, for five days and it was an interesting experiment, because for one thing it rained twice during that time – and my feet didn’t like that!

I became aware that rainy conditions weren’t great for bare feet because it softens them, and then the running road is a bit like sand paper really so I was aware of that, and I was aware that 25k a day wasn’t difficult for my fitness levels… So I knew how fit I was and that if the weather conditions weren’t good then they would be vulnerable…!

I also knew that there was nothing more I could do…

I recognised that I was as fit as I could be – my feet were strong as they could be – and that I had to just let go of anything that might I might be concerned about – and I saw there wasn’t anything in me that was concerned…

I knew that I could do this…

I knew in some ways that I had already done it… I remember having a conversation with Maricarmen, and she said to me… ‘You’ve already done this – now you’ve just got to go and experience it and enjoy it…’

And she was absolutely right. There was something within me that knew that the journey had been completed, that the challenge was not, in the end, going to be about making my way across Spain – I knew that I could do that. Even though as it happened, there was huge physical challenges for me, but somehow that wasn’t it.

There was something bigger, it was a pilgrimage, and it was it was going to be a travelling pilgrimage. It was traveling retreat. It was going to be about something very, very big, in truth, Barefoot Across Spain was much more than just the journey, running from one end of a country to another…

It was a pilgrimage of transformation.

 

 

 

Back to the very beginning

I understood from the very beginning that we are born of consciousness,  children of god, of the universe… I was brought up with this concept – and I was brought up with the idea of the big bang – from whence this paradigm, this universe emerged.

I also grew up with the gospels… ‘And the word was god and the word was with god and the word was god…’ and I recognised at very young age, in fact I came in with the concept, that ‘the word’ was everything that is this paradigm, and that we were all the word, which was love – the word was with god/love – the word was consciousness…

That we were all expressions of consciousness, and on that day when ‘the big bang’ happened, then consciousness was able to experience itself in every single respect… From the darkest dark; the most horrible, horrible to the lightest light –the most beautiful beautiful… And every single aspect in the spectrum – all aspects… Because this paradigm of yin and yang has to be in perfect balance – and so there will always be equal measures of dark to light…

And lifetimes and lifetimes of experiencing being in a human body has meant we can experience this paradigm, with the illusion of separation. By being in a body and being in effect separate, has meant that during the human journey we are able to experience our energy – and when we start to remember and see again, from whence we are born, when we start to be aware and more conscious – the journey to clearing our energy begins…

We can start to ‘work it out’, rather than ‘live it out’… We can start see things within us, in reflection of other people – and we can make choices and elect how we live and eventually free ourselves from the samsara…

Free ourselves from the chains of the body and so be free…

I remember understanding this when I was eight years old. I was sitting in church listening to the vicar… He was giving us a sermon about the serpent with tail in its mouth… That this was the journey the soul needed to go through – to go into and clear all the darkness, to be able to free up from the lower energies – the levels of envy, greed, anger, guilt, hate, everything in the lower chakras associated with fear and survival – in the darkness of the shadows – and also of course in the shadows can lurk feelings of judgement, pride and superiority – ‘I’m better than you’ – all of those need clearing too.

So – I understood that we must go through into the shadow – into the darkness; to clear everything, to enable us to return to the place of silence and peace… And that the serpent with tail in its mouth is completing the whole circle to wholeness…

I understood this when I was 8 years old – so for most of my life – the sermon was fifty one years ago – has been journeying with a commitment to experiencing fully and so of clearing – and with an understanding of the consciousness from which we were born, and of life everlasting…

I deeply understood that I was responsible for my reactivity to situations and to whatever I encountered in relationship. and in knowing this, when I was fourteen I can remember recognising very acutely that if I was horrible to somebody it was worse than other people – because I had greater understanding and therefore it was ‘not okay’, because I had an awareness and I already knew how to clear reactivity, rather than act out of it…

This doesn’t mean I always succeeded!

As a little girl I was also a runner… I had set out on the journey of my life with an awareness of it being a spiritual path when I was very little, and I also had a big awareness of death right from the early years – and my mother – who along with my little sister Rosy, I’m sorry to say I was horrible to from time to time – died when I was 16 and ironically my path was open. In some ways she freed me… But it wasn’t what I wanted one bit at the time – on the human journey. I felt that my mother understood me completely and I felt completely safe with her – and now I was set loose to reclaim that within myself…

I knew that it was a finite time in the body… But I also came into this life as a Christian and I internalised from these teaching as that there was life everlasting, so this journey in this body wasn’t the end or even the beginning…

I felt it was a training ground…

And I was also barefoot… I have memories of just racing around the lawn in my childhood home, with much greater freedom than I was later to experience. This was before I took up the burdens in my life which were energies from lives past that I had brought in to work out….

An opportunity to do the work in the school of life here on planet earth.

I have a this memory of my bare feet hitting the grass running, running, running, because I came in to run… I came in to run, I came in to run… And I say that all those twice because I can’t exactly explain why – because I don’t think there is a ‘why’…

I just came here to run.

It is my art and the art of running is my expression… It is my element and it is how I paint a picture… I have just always loved to run…

Teaching people and working with people has arisen from me working out how to free the chains that bound me up, and prevented my running from being the purest expression of art… Instead of that, it was often coming from tension, coming from pain – coming from some other place than its purest source….For of course when running comes from source, then like anything, what a joy and what an expression for others to see…

And I see that now – in truth, I have always seen it at some level; that for the whole of my life, my running has inspired people, my running has given people joy – given them something – given them permission to do what they truly want; what matters to them!

And so now I have reached the place I have always known… That I was born to run and that the most important thing is to have no fear. We must not fear what we are born to do!

And now having run across Spain in my bare feet where it became even more obvious that all I must do is run… I am very glad that I am still on planet earth to experience my life of running. I am glad to have journeyed and returned to where I began… I have come full circle

I am experiencing the journey of the serpent with the tail in its mouth and the words of T S Eliot are very resonant for me….

‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.

As a little girl racing around on the beach in Africa, and then racing around on the grass in my childhood home – racing around on the playing fields in our village; asking my father to time me running, running, running free as a bird, free – loving it… Trying my best go faster… Fearless, just running and seeing what I could do… Not saving myself, or holding back in any way…

Freedom in motion.

So here I am at fifty nine years old, having journeyed all this time to return to the place I knew, but to follow and know it, consciously.

The reason I’m telling you about these beginnings, these barefoot beginnings, when I raced around on the grass, and the reason I’ve called this book ‘Barefoot to Buddha’, is because this route to my own freedom has in part been through the running step. I’ve always known this, but sometimes denied it because I thought I should be doing something a bit more sensible than going running…!

When I was a teenager, I joined an athletics club and on the first day, I did track session on the grass. I went up with my friend Wendy because it was an all boys athletics club and I felt a bit shy and so she came with me and lay on the grass watching us all run…

I have a vivid memory of running around on this grass track absolutely in my element in my bare feet….

Every time I wrote something about my running in my channeled writing, I was encouraged by my guides to keep running.

Every time I asked the question…

‘What should I be doing’? I was always told… ‘Do what you were born to do, you were born to run, and in the run, you will become more free, more you, and in the run you will become in the step – you will become the run… And in becoming the run you will free others too, because they will see your light and your light will guide them to their own freedom’.

And so I knew this and yet there was something in me that held me back, some sort of guilt, some obligation, some feeling off needing to ‘earn’ my place on planet earth, some feeling that I was wrong, ‘a bad girl’… And that I therefore had to ‘do good’ to earn my place.

Of course, the irony of this was that it held me back from my true running expression, and then there came more confusion in the running step rather than joy.

But I knew my path deep down, and so I never ever really left it. I never stopped ‘working it out’, and I don’t mean in my mind, I mean through continual experience

I would run free, then repeat a cycle of ‘self destruction’ and so lose my way again in a mire of illness and injury…. From which I would emerge wiser, stronger, greater understanding…

I would write some channeled words again, and these words always reminded me…

‘You were born to run, get back on the running path. That path takes you where it will and you will be free. What you have come to do is run, everything else will come from that place… Remember this for the people who seek you to teach them, that the first place for you to teach from, is to be learning how to run free yourself… To free yourself from anything that holds you back from your true expression…’

And so I always journeyed onwards…

This is why in the very beginning the steps towards the Buddha were barefoot steps…

As the years went by, I raced in shoes – albeit light ones… But then one day, I read the book ‘Born to run’ by Chris McDougall and it spoke to me…

And I wanted to run barefoot again… But because there was a tangle still within me left to unravel, I went too fast too soon and my legs got hurt – my feet and my ankles were not strong enough for the pace I went, and I withdrew again for awhile from the barefoot path… There was still ‘working out’ to be done…

But by the summer of 2017 my feet were bare and my soul was more free than ever before…

The journey from Suances to Almuñécar was calling me and I was calling others to join me. Each week I was spoke, broadcasting the journey, and others became excited… They booked up flights to come to Spain to run some of the route with me. The media became interested too, newspapers, radio and television…. A woman running across Spain in her bare feet capturing the imagination of many.

I knew it was a pilgrimage…

All the time I spoke with people, and they would ask me why? And I would reply; ‘I don’t know, it was my feet’s idea. My feet made the decision and I must follow them…

I was following my feet, my bare feet… I was following my running feet because they had always known the way if I’d let him show me.

At last I was following them and seeing where they would take me.

About Living….

And so immediately this journey became more than just about me going on a barefoot run across Spain! It was about living, about the journey of life – from birth to death – but also about staying in the step we are in… Being present to each moment… It started as an idea about running from the North to the South coast of Spain…. But in reality, it was about living – about being fully present.

This huge journey from Suances to Almuñécar – in my bare feet – became a metaphor of all of our journeys from our birth to our death…

Where on this planet there certainly appears to be a past, the present and a future… We are born, and then we journey through this life, and then we die…

Therefore it can be a very challenging concept that there is no past. There is no future… That actually we are in this moment, and that is all there is – and in fully experiencing each moment, we can come to experience that this whole universe – this whole incredible experiences is but an illusion…

And so can experience planet earth is a crucible for us to see our energy, where it flows – where it is stuck; to feel it all… To see and experience our unique vibration and energetic make up in a body.

We have the opportunity during our lifetime, to feel things – to feel and experience.

The samsara of this planet, the Yin to the Yang, mean that we are able to feel extremes – physically of hunger, of satiety – of cold and heat, of lack of plenty, but also emotionally, fear and ease, joy, sadness, hate, love… Fully experiencing these things, fully recognising all of the feelings within us.

And through feeling these things we can clear them and we can come to experience the silence from which we are born. The stillness, consciousness itself, which is beyond the duality of planet earth and this whole universe…

Being here is an opportunity to feel everything, absolutely every single thing.

And if we are completely able to be present, we experience life as Zen.

If we experience everything – every desire, if we taste every morsel of food – experience every feeling in the body and we are prepared to fully feel, until the point where it clears from us – whether that’s extreme joy, extreme pleasure or excitement… Passionate love and kindness – to extreme hatred, violence, jealousy, envy… To feel all these energies be able to feel them fully….

But without staying trapped in a story, or a projection of the feelings outward…

The responsibility is to feel them without attachment, without blame or projection, without distracting from them or numbing them down…

When we do this, we clear them and we can clear the pain from when it first occurred – even if this is lifetimes ago…

When we allow ourselves to feel without projection and instead to drop between the thoughts and the stories – we can find the space for the clearing to occur, and go beyond this world, to a place of complete silence…

And then we are able to be in the world, in the samsara of this whole experience – but not of it….

Treading the path in bare feet, was for me, another metaphor for this… Because walking without shoes, I can feel everything through the soles of my feet

Planet earth is also a wonderful mirror… Because we have the illusion of separation – because we have the illusion of ‘the other’ people… We get the opportunity to see ourselves – because in truth there is no other.

There is only this moment there is only us…

So every single person who we deem to be ‘outside us’ and separate and nothing to do with us, is actually a reflection of us!

Knowing this and looking at another as a reflection of every aspect of ourselves, leads us to become whole…

When we see every relationship as a mirror, then eventually we reach the point where we do not have a relationship with others, as such – we have only relating, and love – for there is only one true relationship, and that is with ourselves.

When this is whole and healed, then we can experience every single person without rejection ; experiencing the truth that we are one – there is no separation – only love…   Where we are not trying to get anything or expecting anything from the other – because we are totally aware, and have come to experience that there is no other… And there is only this moment…. Here and now…

But to experience this we must first engage fully in the rough and tumble of the illusion of separation and of fully relating without fear, of having relationships! Of living fully in every moment in every experience and doing the best we can to take responsibility knowing that there is no one to blame…

And so Barefoot Across Spain became a metaphor for life, a metaphor for beyond life… A metaphor for silence and for the step… A metaphor for the place of absolute truth, the way, transcending samsara.

Samsara is everything on this planet earth… We’re on the journey from life to death, and if in that were able to transcend the samsara and be in the silence all the time, then we are enlightened.

The Buddha, who was an enlightened being, said that there are three thousand possibilities in every moment…

He taught us how to be present, to be completely in the here and now, in this very moment, and in each moment, there is the whole universe. And within the universe there is every possibility…

We each have a unique, energetic makeup made up over lifetime’s lifetimes since the big bang, when the silence became manifest… We have created this part of the energy of the whole…

So there we are always contradictions. Life is a paradox… There is no other – but we all have a unique, energetic makeup of our own field.

This has occurred as we’ve come to experience being in a body, and created our energy over lifetimes… we are all waves in an ocean of consciousness…

Initially we lived lives unconsciously, surviving, connected to fear… But then the glimmer of consciousness arrived, and the understanding that it was possible to clear the energy and experience consciousness in the body…

To clear it, clear it, clear it to a place of freedom where the whole planet earth could be a playground, a place to joyfully dance and enjoy freedom and true love in the experience of being in a body.

 

‘Walker there is no path…’

At the same time as I started to run barefoot, I also started to learn Spanish – the two practices coincided. I had tried to do both before, but I hadn’t been able to follow through with either!

With barefoot running I got injured, and with learning Spanish, well – I just stopped when I came back to England… I didn’t realise at the time – it’s incredible, the 20/20 vision of hindsight – I didn’t realise, how integral both learning Spanish and running barefoot were to be to one another.

I started learning Spanish with Maricarmen in August 2016 – I immediately really loved my lessons… And after awhile, Maricarmen introduced me to Antonio Machado, a very famous Spanish poet… She thought that his work would resonate with me, and in particular the poem…. ‘Caminante no hay Camino…’ It continues… ‘Se haces el camino al andar

Walker… There is no path… You, make the path by walking it…’

His words resonated with me… Machado goes on to liken our past to standing on a boat – looking behind, and watching the wake  disappearing back into the sea… Like it never happened…

So it resonated very deeply with me, because of course, there is no past – there’s only now, and there is no future. So therefore, truly, really, there is only the step we’re in.

All that exists is this moment. All that exists is this step. There is nothing else at all…

Now it is one thing to understand this, to play with the concept… But to experience it fully, is quite another… To be so fully present, so fully in the moment, to experience that there is no past and there’s no future…

There is only now.

And of course to do this there is much inner work to be done, as all the time we are ‘reacting’ out of the hurts from our past, then of course we cannot be in the present moment…

With the experience of clearing the past, and being in the here and now comes a great trust… But there needs to be trust first, to be able to let go fully of the pain from the past… This means that we have to feel this pain whenever it arises in the experience of now.

We must be prepared to do this, in order to freely and fully connect to the absolute present… And from this clarity we are then able to fully trust that new impulses, which are not connected to our past patterns and scripts, will then emerge from within us.

This is what we often call our ‘inner voice’.

There is no voice in reality – and we often call it our ‘heart’s desires’, but really there is no ‘heart’s desire’… There is only the silence inside us, which is our true self…. What emerges from this silence we can trust – and we might describe this as our soul’s path.

However, of course to connect to our silence, we first have much clearing to do and this often entails many paths following our ‘heart’s desire’ and the voices inside us! And so life is an endless paradox, and often seems a riddle and an unsolvable puzzle…

But as we clear and clear over lifetimes, the impulses that arise from the silence within us – and that we follow – can be backed up with our mind, and it’s brilliant use of being able to action these impulses… And so this poem, ‘Caminante hay no Camino…’ spoke to me.

‘Walker there is no path…’

Months went by and my barefoot running became stronger… In May 2017, I took a sabbatical from my work, and now I was free to just run and to write and to be in the sun…

All my life, I had seen this was my future – to run free of pain in the sun, and to write, and here I was living this – the opportunity to live this way had arisen as part of my path of clearing… I had also began a Youtube vlog where I was charting my barefoot journey, and in it I had voiced an idea that during my sabbatical, I was going to run and write.

I had an idea that I would be running on beaches all over the world, and that this would be a lovely way to spend my Sabbatical! To run all over the world… On lovely beaches by the sea and to vlog and write about my experiences!

And so it came to pass that in the July 2017 my feet were stronger, and my body was stronger and suddenly forty miles in a week in my bare feet naturally emerged from my being… There had been a process that I had surrendered to…

I had really lived in each step. I had let path be made by walking it. My bare feet led the way, and it felt like my feet were ‘entities’ of their own, and that they were directing the way my life was going…

One day I was sitting in the sun enjoying the freedom of my sabbatical… I had been running that morning, and I was writing a blog.

Laurie Lee the author, of one my favourite books ‘As I walked out on midsummer morning…’  Unbeknownst to me, had penned his words to this exact town where I am writing this book… Almuñécar… ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ had spoken to me when I read it forty years ago, in the same way that the Antonio Machado poem spoke to me now, both reflecting the freedom of the journey unfolding in front of us – trusting the path…

And on this day, as I sat musing in the sun – it came to me that I would like to run the whole length of Spain in my bare feet… Right from the North coast to South coast.

The idea arose from within me – and once it had arisen and I spoke it out it had a life of it’s own…

First I shared it with Anadi, who thought it a great idea – and then I asked our friends Jack and Maggie, who live here in Spain – if they would be prepared to support me and help with planning the route – there was an immediate ‘yes’ from them…!

And none of us ever looked back…. The idea was conceived…

The route was to start in Suances on the North coast of Spain – and then I was to run all the way past Madrid, and onwards, flying south, to arrive back here in Almuñécar on the South coast…

I decided I would like to arrive on my fifty ninth birthday, May 12th 2018…

I thought I would be able to cover 25 kilometers a day, with one day of recovery (for my feet mainly!) every 6th day… This meant it would take seven weeks, so I would need to start on March 23rd 2018…

And so I began to train for this event, and also to invite others to come and join me on the route… It also seemed very natural that I would run to raise money as I journeyed, for the hospice movement ‘Friends of Sussex Hospices’ in the UK… My brother, Stuart, suggested it was important I raise money for a Spanish cause too… And so we chose Fundación Cudeca in Malaga.

Why the hospice movement?

Because my friend Kathy Gore is the Chair of FSH, and also because their message mirrors my own life’s journey, and my work in the lives of others…

Although the people in the hospices are in the last stages of their life on planet earth; the whole message of the hospice movement is about living fully… It asks those who are dying… ‘What matters, you? Not ‘what is the matter with you’?

And this is what we can all ask ourselves… ‘What matters to us’? Not what’s the matter with us?

A celebration of ourselves and our expression in our lives, rather than any criticism…

Reflecting within on what matters to us… How do we truly stay in our own unique step, and allow ourselves to express ourselves from the truest place within us….

Introduction to Barefoot to Buddha…

At the end of July 2016 I hurt my back… I experienced really deep sciatic pain that went on and on and on for about six weeks. It was a very big process because the pain was very, very deep – like nerve pain is, I couldn’t get any rest from it… As the days went by, the pain wore me down and suddenly I accessed deep down this feeling of despair, there was this flash within me that came up and said…’If I can’t run, then I might as well die…’ It was really helpful to me to find that sentence… It showed me that I still ‘defined’ myself by running, rather than ‘was’ running – and so it showed me that still, I was not free…

It just arose from the pain, within the pain of the jangling nerves, and in catching that thought that came out of the pain or rather that feeling… I was aware that there were still binds tying me that meant my running wasn’t a clear expression of my soul.

It wasn’t my artistic expression dancing around the planet. It wasn’t my spirit in motion. It meant that my running was still emerging from some unresolved ‘stuff’, from tension, from some place where I still needed to prove myself – or to run for someone else – or to run away even – from pain and a vestige still of self hatred.

I recognise that the whole of my life, my running journey has been a journey of discovery, a journey of finding out, a journey of clearing so that my spirit could dance free… Because when I came first onto the planet; when I was first born, I did run free!

The moment I could walk, I ran…

I ran around like the wind and I raced around as free as a bird in my little bare feet… And it was only over the years that the tension and the pain and the need to run to prove, the need to run fast to earn love, to gain recognition blocked the path of true expression.

And so my life became a journey to set free the expression off my spirit – and I recognised that the tensions, and the processes, and the events of my life, arose as part of my unique energetic makeup, which for sure I had created over lifetimes, for lifetimes and lifetimes… Working it out, living it out, working it out – in order to clear the way for silence and freedom.

And so during July 2016 when this pain was with deep within me – and the whole way through August too, I was able to reflect that even though I was now fifty seven years old, and although I had been working to clear this pain for forty years; another layer was peeling away, getting me closer to the centre, like peeling the skin of an onion…

I believe it was when I was seventeen years old that I first recognized that my running steps had started to become ‘locked in’ – and it was at the same time almost exactly that I started see this and begin immediately to unravel and work to unlock the pain… At the same time, I read the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull… A phrase in the book that struck a chord in me was the one where Jonathan is saying that…

‘Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than thought itself in a form you can see, break the chains of your thought and you break the chains of your body too…’ This spoke to me, and I knew it to be true, even though as I read it I was unwittingly becoming more chained by my thoughts!

Another phrase that struck me was when Jonathan seagull was teaching Fletch gull how to fly, and Fletch gull said… ‘Are you saying I can fly’? And Jonathan replied… ‘I’m saying you are free…’

Those two phrases struck me so much. My whole orientation from the moment I was born had been ‘freedom’… How to be free!

I read this book when I was seventeen years old; Ironically at the same time as I read these words of inspiration I was also chaining myself in; I was locking myself into my own cage – one of pressure and ‘got to’s’ and ‘have to’s’, and ‘not good enough’s and ‘not fast enough’ and ‘could do better’s’…

At the same time as society, family, external pressure was reflecting itself in the energy blocks I had come into clear – at but same time I was reading the route to freedom.

My soul was reminding me of what I knew… But here I was locking myself in – so it was a real juxtaposition.

But we cannot be free of what we haven’t yet worked through – and so for forty years I journeyed on a running path that was both my salvation of my nemesis; because running was my expression, it is my expression – it is my soul in motion on planet earth – it is the thing I came here to do. But it was also the place where my self-hatred showed up…

I was born to run – but of course and it being the thing I came to do, also meant that there were lifetimes of energetic creativity or creation that I had made myself – that was still there to be unraveled and cleared, so that I could set myself free.

I saw too that all that was necessary was to clear the way to be silent in the step of my running path; because in setting myself free – the light of my free self could guide others to be free too, because they can see their own way in my reflection, to find their own freedom

And so, in August 2016, I recognised that this was a deep, deep process, and that the pain was necessary to free me, and that if I stayed with it, and felt the despair, and felt the grief, and felt the loss…The loss of my own freedom, the loss of my own joy – and at the same time really let go of anything that was within me that was still running for anybody else but myself, let go of any part that was running for any ‘thing’ to do with anything, other than my own expression…

And so the days went by, the weeks went by, and although the pain eased somewhat – it still hurt to run.

And then in early September I travelled to Lanzarote with my husband Anadi… One day we were walking on Famara beach together… It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and I was enjoying the walk, although my body was still in pain. It was still impossible really, for me to run. I had tried, but it hurt too much… Then I saw the surfers on the beach, they were warming up in readiness to go into the surf on their boards. They – of course – all had bare feet, and they were running up and down, doing some exercises, and then running again, as part of their warm up.

As I watched them this flash of an idea came into me… “I wonder, I wonder if I could run in my bare feet without any pain…

I started to imitate the surfers, my feet were already bare… I jogged gently along the sand and found immediately that there was a freedom in my step… Anadi and I ran along the beach together – I suppose we ran for half a mile, and my body didn’t hurt, my back didn’t hurt me, and the nerve pain that had kept flashing through my thighs when I tried to run, that too had gone – my knees didn’t hurt either – the restriction and tightness had lifted.

And so unknowingly, that day I began again on a barefoot journey… But the bare feet were emerging from the ‘letting go’ – paradoxically – of running for any reason other than to run; to become the run, to lose the self in the run – the bare feet were emerging in the Zen of running

I had spent forty years ‘knowing this’, and gradually peeling back the layers – to uncover what I already knew – that I needed to simply ‘let go of the attachment to an outcome’ – this wasn’t about not having a goal, it wasn’t about not creating something – steering the ship – it was about truly letting go.

And this time, I really and truly did let go…

I had ‘let go’ so many times before – and scoured off another layer or two – because I ‘understood’ years and years ago, that my running was a spiritual journey…

I knew it was a journey to experience staying in the step. I knew it to be a journey of Zen…

To learn through my running how to live a life of being in the here and now.

Whenever in the past, I really was in the ‘here and now’ – whenever I let go of a desire to win or run fast for anyone else other than me, and to stretch for the stars just for the fun of it – when I just loved doing my best, reaching high, because I loved to find out… Then my running released and my spirit soared…

Because of course trying to win and trying to run fast in themselves ARE fun if there’s no attachment to an outcome – and I don’t mind – when I don’t mind if I don’t run fast, then there’s no harm – because within the trying and the striving and the stretching for excellence; and for seeing ‘if it’s possible’ – then within that there can be opportunities for great growth…

But of course whenever we try to win to ‘prove something’ or if we want to ‘win to get power over anyone’, or to achieve a fast time because of a misguided belief that it might make us immortal in some way… Then of course this can be very stressful and lead us away from ourselves rather than towards our truest self…

So for forty years I had known this and sometimes, I truly experienced that I was free and I let go – and then unbelievable freedom of movement and speed and flying on land occurred.

I was as free as a bird again….

But then out of this freedom I started to run fast and to record fast times and to gain success… Ironically this all came about out of freedom – but then I would forget, and the dark energy pushed again out of fear, out of need, out of insecurity – of a sense that I needed now to ‘hold onto ‘ this form – and once again I would drop into the abyss of an attachment to an outcome…

On reflection when I lost sight of my truth and instead desired a sort of immortality through my running – inevitably each time I lost sight of my own light; I would become injured or ill and be reminded again of my true path….

And, it seemed I would have to start all over again…

But in September 2016, I shed my shoes and I also shed the pressure of a lifetime (of lifetimes!) I shed at last the need to try to run to earn love, or to run to please – my father or my coach, or any manner of other people around me… Instead I just started to let my feet dictate. I let my feet lead the way….

And what an incredible journey.

It was tough initially for the body to run without the support of trainers. I left my shoes with in Lanzarote, because every time I went to the beach – it was a good experience and I could run. At the end of the three weeks that we were there, I was able to run five miles on our beach, but when I put my shoes on my body hurt again. On the last day, I went for a run on the track in my shoes and my body hurt again. And then it happened that a woman and her child turned up too, and they ran around and around in their bare feet. So, there and then, I took my shoes off and I ran round the track in my bare feet and I felt no pain.

It was now October and I was transitioning, and still my body didn’t hurt if I wore very light vivobarefoot shoes… I ran only ten times that month because when I had run seven miles, eight miles in these shoes, my legs ached from the new effort so much and they were tired. So, I did a lot of strength and conditioning in the gym, and I let go off any goals I let go of any mileage aims…

I let go off everything!

I was going back to basics… I was ‘letting go’ which I had known for years was all that was required…

I went right back to the very beginning, to a time when I didn’t have any goals; I didn’t add up my miles… I just went for runs, and worked on aligning my body, strengthening my body, running as it wanted to run

And so the days the weeks went on and my running was now again a joy because it was all about finding out… I had gone back to the very beginning …

And then another step!

On January 22nd, I gave all my barefoot shoes to my friend Jane and was left with only beach socks … It was another huge liberation for me and my feet wanted to dance, they wanted to run… I remember padding round Eastbourne, because I was in the UK for ten days – it was freezing cold -4! And there I was running around in socks – it felt like freedom – it was freedom for me.

I came back to Spain in the middle of February and shed even my socks. Now I was running barefoot on the road…

So through September October November December January – for five months my feet were adapting, they were getting stronger and I could run barefoot on road, on beach and on the track – and I was loving it… I loved having no goals I loved being free, I loved the whole feeling of barefoot running…

My running seemed to have purity again, it seemed to have an expression and a path it was leading me on…

I was slowly fully remembering again that it was what I have come to the earth to do, because in following my running I’m following my soul and by following my running it’s giving me the opportunity to properly clear, to properly be free to properly be courageous and brave – and properly live what I came to live out…

To let go, to let go off everything – and of course ultimately to let go of running… To let go running – and then I found I was still doing it….

In the same way that consciousness is being able to be in this body, but to have let go of it… And then to just be in the world but not of it… Being able to live in the silence space beyond the samsara, beyond the yin and the yang, beyond the duality and therefore be able to play on planet earth…

To have fun!

And so with my bare feet I started to play, I was starting to truly live as I’d always known was possible…

When I was a little girl, I knew that we could live on planet earth and enjoy the experience and really know that it was just an experience; and that this body is just the vehicle – and life is a way to experience energy and to therefore clear energy…

And to know that this is just a flash in the eternity of our existence, here we are a spark of the infinite consciousness we are all born of…

We are all born of consciousness and we are experiencing our own unique energy playing out in a body on planet earth.

And as 2017 unfolded – I was able to experience this in deeper and deeper ways than ever before…

Through my bare feet.

But of course my bare feet were only an expression off a deeper letting go…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life, in this moment, is…

I am sitting up in bed in Casablanca hotel… It is 2.41am. Sleep is eluding me and so I have decided to turn on the light and write.

In the mountains I sleep and sleep – nine, ten and – once even – eleven hours a night. But tonight I am wide awake. My balcony door is open, and the sound of the waves outside is… Rhythmic, continuous, peaceful, alive…

Tomorrow morning I leave here to return to England, and on Tuesday I will fly to Suances, in readiness to start my journey ‘on foot’ back here to Almuñécar…

On bare foot!

The road really and truly will be made by walking it; and running it….As Antonio Machado advices ‘Se hace camino, al andar…’ You make the road by walking it…

And I have no idea what the road holds… In the same way, that every day of our lives we have no idea what each minute will bring.

It is this mystery that can lead us more deeply to the silence and trust within us… To the true joy of life, of living…

In the space of the moment where we know not what is ahead, we are in a position to fully experience what is occurring right now…

In this moment… In every moment we are here, there is so much to be experienced.

Right now, I can hear the sea, singing softly, caressing the land. I can feel the silence in this room. I am aware of the slight throb in my left middle toe, where the nail has been lost, through running a lot in the mountains…!

If we listen carefully to our body, it will speak – it holds all the wisdom – and my toe is asking that I rest awhile in readiness to set off on a big run in one week’s time…

My toe has spoken for all of my body…

Time to rest…

Except that in resting my energy is building and I am wide awake at 3.04am!

And 3.04am has a very magical feel to it; full of possibility… Full of the richness of this gift of life…

Today, my Spanish teacher Maricarmen read me some more words by Antonio Machado, about death, which spoke to me of living fully, here, now… They are in truth about this moment; about life…

‘Death us something we shouldn’t fear because, while we are, death isn’t, and when death is, we aren’t…’

 

Freedom…

I ran with naked feet in the clouds; into the hail, the rain and the snow. Feeling the earth and the jagged rocks beneath my feet, and yet protected from them by my Xero Shoes.

These ‘shoes’ are based on the way of the Mexican Tarahumara tribe, who  protect their feet by simply tying bits of rubber to the soles of their feet, to avoid damage from sharp rocks and stones…

Discovering ‘Xero shoes’ has literally changed my life… The mountain trails are now open to me again… My feet move like they are shoeless and they certainly can feel the elements!

I love being barefoot; I love feeling my running form return, my body becoming more and more flexible; fitter and more free.

I have already travelled a long way, learning in each step, I tread along the running path – mastering my art; with the knowledge that I will never fully master it… Which is why I love it…. There is no end, no finish line.

Because true mastery comes through committing to investigating deeply, its every aspect, it’s every nook and cranny; in order to let it go completely…

The path to freedom through the body, through experiencing everything… Every sensation, every feeling – every aspect of this human life… To be lived fully, the yin to the yang. The extremes of experience and feeling. The highs and the lows… The conflicts and the pain; the joy and the love…

Through being fully in every single experience, we are set free… Because living this way brings us always to the present moment.

And in this moment we can heal our past, and create a different future.

Through feeing every single thing that courses though us, we can heal that which is unhealed from whence it first arose – and in so doing create a new future, with new possibilities, free from the patterns of the past…

It is in committing to my running path that all else flows…

Everything else just unfolds; like running across Spain barefoot, learning Spanish and working in the lives of others as a Sanacion – the Spanish word for healer…

I have taken three sabbaticals now, and each time, I rest for awhile from working in the lives of others, and each time I have let go completely, thinking I may not return to that work…

Each time I have spent more time running, attaining high levels of fitness again … And then there has come a time when almost of itself my work with others returns – the door opens again within me; and  people come a knocking once more…

 

 

Train hard; fight is easy…

I was reflecting the other day about my school days… The desks all battered, and bulging with exercise and text books – there was an inkwell in the left hand the corner… And right beside my inkwell, I had stuck a little sticker…

It was a cartoon of a martial artist in a whirl of action… The caption below was ‘train hard; fight is easy’… I liked those words, they worked for me.

In part, this was because I have always been someone who absolutely loves training.

I began a daily exercise routine at just six years old, when I would join my father for this morning squats, press ups and much more… Which he continued to do right until just before his death…

In addition to this, I liked him to accompany me to the playing fields at the weekends… I would get him to time me running the length of them, again and again… In the beginning  it was just because I liked to see what was possible, how fast I could run… Could I run faster…?

At fifteen years old when I started to train in more earnest, this little sticker spoke volumes to me…

It still does…

‘Train hard; fight is easy…’

But… Training hard does not mean pushing hard…

Training hard means applying ourselves consistently progressively and optimally – and loving it!

Last week when I achieved running five days in a row of 25k a day barefoot with relative ease, I recognised that the capacity to do this, has come through training hard for sure…

But that now, the most important thing is… As Chris Finill one of Britain’s top ultra runners, who ran across the United States from the north to the south coast – route 101 – wisely says…

‘Stay out of the red zone…’

He was advised this, before he set off on his epic journey, by someone who had failed in their attempt to cross the states; and it is something I am acutely aware of…

However my innate nature isn’t to push – or to desire to go into the red zone… My nature is definitely to challenge myself and to investigate; to explore to adventure and to see what is possible…

But I certainly far prefer having fun doing so…

As a younger person, I did often push, but this came out of my hurt, my childhood wounding, my pain… I started to push to win approval, to be enough, to be loved.

Of course I learnt – in the end  –  the hard way… Because the push brought break down – always…

And of course, the only way that we can receive love is to love ourselves… As Jesus said ‘Love others AS yourself…’

When we learn to love ourselves, we can become love… And we discover that we naturally love others from this space, and whether we are loved are not becomes unimportant… But of course the paradox is that then love is reflected all around us; from the inside out…

This can of course, be a long road to tread – this road to love.

But in each step we take towards love, the road reveals itself deeper and deeper into our hearts and souls…

And so it was on the running route, as it revealed itself in each step, that I was able to let go of the push and simply enjoy ‘training hard’….

With my body relaxed and in the zone, in the step, in each moment… My soul was set free to fly on land….

Chris said, that he travelled from the North to the South coast of America –  all 2,500kilometres – cautiously….

And I will do the same, from the North coast of Spain to the South coast…

In just over two months we all set off… I say ‘we all’,  because my adventure is now a fiesta; and we are all journeying together from Suances to Almuñécar.

In the same way that we all journey together through this experience of life…

From birth to death…

Treading each step of the way, making the path by walking it….

 

 

 

The more I let go, the more the body runs free…

I am loving my day in the sunshine…

A tranquil day without much movement so far….

I walked across the plaza and down the few steps to the beach this morning and stood in the surf; then I walked back for breakfast and I haven’t moved far since.

It is a contrast to the previous five days where I have been engaged in hours of movement – the contrast feels good.

A pause, where the recovery can happen and the clearing, the opening, the effects emerging out the process, ‘the mission’, can reveal themselves.

‘The mission’ that I embarked on, and carried out over these past few days, has felt to be a space of silence and clearing for me. A practise that has allowed for the expansion and oneness that is the truth of us all, to be experienced in my barefoot running step – even within the paradox of the limits of a body…

The irony for me, is that I always believed that I was born to run, and yet my running steps as a younger woman, were often fraught with tension and pain, and struggle…

But because on the running path, I always came face to face with my tension, because I came face to face with where I was holding on… I saw that this space was a magical enlightening space, and that if I kept running, I would not be able to run away from my pain….

That however hard the journey, I recognised it was for my growth and held the key to my freedom.

It was the reverse of running away from my pain – I knew I needed to run right into it… And so the only way to be free was to keep running and to keep letting go of all that held me…. My pain, the places of darkness where I did not and could not love myself; all these places had to be faced and loved…

The tension and self hatred had to be released…

And the more I let go, the more this body  is able to run free…

And in the running, the body paradoxically becomes conduit that reveals the truth… That we are all one; that we are all energy and that there is no separation.

For me running is the perfect practise to experience this… Even when the soreness in my feet, the frailty of the body occurred, my spirit still was free – I did not worry or fret…

And so the path keeps revealing itself, through the running steps making the road by running it….

The Mission…

It’s a bit of a rainy grey day today; but I am now inside looking out, rather than outside looking in…
I have many layers on… I have just counted them – five!
I am warm enough now, but the four I had on earlier weren’t quite enough…

I hadn’t realised it was raining when I appeared at the front door of Casablanca this morning, until Emiliano said ‘lluvia’… Ah yes! ‘Mucho lluvia’…

I went back upstairs to take my leggings off – wet skin felt a better option than soggy leggings – and to get my chaqueta… I came back downstairs and after an ‘hasta luego…’ to Emiliano, off I went into the lluvia, day two of seeing what 25k a day in bare feet will feel like…

I enjoyed the run, despite the tropical coast resembling a cold rainy day in England.

Yesterday, for day one of ‘the mission’, it was a beautiful sunny experience…. I broke the run up into ten minute sections, where I walked for the first minute and then ran for the next nine.

Running in this way creates – for me – a meditation on the move… I simply carry out the plan I’ve planned!  All I have to do is run along, ‘paso a paso’, completing a ten minute section and then doing another.. There is nothing else, until it all stops.

I have always enjoyed running alone.

It is a completely different experience to social running, which I also enjoy. Social running is like a ‘run philosophique’ where there isn’t necessarily much attention to the actual running – but more to the companionship and the dialogue, which weaves and twists in the space between, creating something new, deepening the bond, as the kilometres unfold…

But running alone, of which I have done a lot, is very different.

For me it is a space of silence… Sometimes thoughts and ideas arise up, sometimes insights or processing of events, conversations… But often – as in these last two days – there is no thought – except when I am chatting to you in my vlog of course!

Just the step, the run, the body moving along on planet earth, soul in motion.

Some years ago Anadi went to train in China for ten weeks with the Shaolin monks, and he told me that they believe running to be the best way to clear tension from the body.

I see this can be true; but it can also be a place where tension is built, especially when there is an attachment to an outcome; a goal, a time to be achieved.

This doesn’t mean that goals and aiming for times cannot be part of a meditation… In fact they can be a huge part of a meditation because it is in setting a goal that we find out how attached we are to it… And are therefore able to see where letting go, clearing , relaxing, trusting – simply staying is the step is needed….

This is how ‘the mission’ is a meditation….

Yesterday I celebrated completion of 25k covered, by paddling up to my knees in the sea…

Today I skipped the paddle at the end, as although the rain had ceased, the temperature hadn’t risen much… A hot shower felt more appealing! I did the same run as yesterday, because the dark, the rain and the low temperature meant that an easy route felt the most supportive of my plan.

Also today’s ‘meditation method’ was that I ran with a bit more intent for 5k then very easy for 1.25k… This done four times brought me home with another 25k under my belt.

My feet were a bit sore at the end, but they have all day to recover!