Anadi interviews me about the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of running Barefoot Across Spain. No 3

Anadi interviews me about the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of running Barefoot Across Spain. No 3

Anadi:  Hello I’m with Julia Chi Taylor who has just run barefoot across Spain and we are doing a serious of three videos. The first video was about the preparation for the challenge, and in that video  Julia also spoke about how the idea came about. The second video was about the physical side of running barefoot across Spain This video is more about the emotional, mental and the spiritual aspects of running Barefoot Across Spain…

So how do you mentally prepare for five days of twenty five kilometres on sleep deprivation and not enough food with one day’s rest – knowing that you’ve got to repeat that eight times?

Julia : I have a very strong mind, I’m a distance runners of years of practice, so I know how to keep going, I know that one of my skills is to keep going under adversity, whatever is going on, I know how to keep going, so I’m actually very confident of my mind and interestingly, what was more important to me was to not get too caught up mentally with anything. I didn’t want to have my mind there at all, in a way, because I am absolutely trusting that I have a set of skills within me; mental skills that know how to carry on when it’s hard – so actually for this challenge, and as a runner of many years experience I knew that I wanted to not think too much.

I certainly didn’t want to think ahead because it was a long journey and thinking ahead is not a good idea, so I knew that I would wake up in the mornings and get up and I wouldn’t think, I wouldn’t try to ‘ra ra’ myself  – i just had a absolute blueprint that I would do this – and I knew that.

One day, my support team Maggie Jack and I were talking and I was having a day that was difficult, because it was very cold, very wet and windy and my feet were breaking down – and so I was bandaging them  by a car and  I said… ‘You do know I will do this?’ and they said… ‘We never doubt you Julia… We have had a conversation together and we said Julia  doesn’t doubt this… We’re not going doubt her….’

So I think that mentally we had in place.. ‘This is gonna happen we’re not ever gonna doubt this’… Then I could let go.

Anadi: it’s very interesting that Maggie and Jack who there throughout the whole journey saw that strength in you – that actually they had a conversation between themselves echoing that there was no doubt…

Julia : They also said to me one lunchtime, when we was just the three of us, that they had they had learned something watching me. I  never really exactly asked them what –  but I think because they saw me remain in equilibrium within my mind, and that I didn’t get distressed and I trusted that even though my body – as we’ve said in the other video – was under distress and stress at times – that I was never mentally upset…

I think I used the mental skills I have intrinsically in place when I was tired and the day was very poor weather – we did we had very, very inclement weather – Spain had its worst spring for many years; so for five weeks of the seven probably there was rain so cold and biting headwinds and a lot of adversity. Therefore I had to put in place my natural skills of just carrying on, but I didn’t fight mentally – so I didn’t have to do a push mentally. I  just kept my mind very quiet I kept it very still and I kept it very with what was happening – with that step… I kept it with the day I was in, and I didn’t look ahead… !

Anadi: That’s one thing I’m interested in… Over the last two videos, one of the things you spoke about was about not really getting enough sleep and I was wondering about the combination of not getting enough sleep and the physical exertion, and how easy it is, within that combination is to stay silent?

Julia : I think that’s one of the reasons I did this because I’ve always been interested all my life in the spiritual journey off learning how to be silent, learning to navigate this lifetime in clearing the energy blocks, the emotional blocks within us, clearing away any energy that’s preventing me being truly me, and also navigating this polarity we live in in… This universe of yin and yang, of joy sadness; pain ease; success failure – and  to find a still point within this life… How to be in the step.

So I did feel that this pilgrimage I was on, this journey, really was a pilgrimage, and  that one of the challenges was to remain silent, and to remains still with whatever was happening, and that I knew that it would be a challenge and I said in the first video that the excitement for me, was that I’d set myself something that was probably too hard – and that was what I was very aware off a lot of the time –  that it was too hard – and so I think the way of keeping things ‘still’, was to absolutely remain with whatever was going on.

So I never thought – for instance when my foot was hurt, and when there was bad weather, when my body was tired –  I never fought it… But I did let myself feel it – so therefore I would have emotions, and I would have times where I felt it was too hard… And you were the person I shared that with. So I remember ringing you one day – probably more than one day  – when I was absolutely in the day – I was having a good day – I never had bad days; but I remember by hearing your voice, I would feel that emotion of ‘this feels too hard’, and I’d express it to you, and then it would clear.

So I think that I didn’t ever fight my mind…  If I felt emotion, if I felt anything, I let myself feel it and it kept me very present.

Anadi: I  understand with the emotional side of things okay… So physically you’re pushing – when I say pushing –  it’s not that you were ‘pushing’ – but you were really, you know, ‘pushing the boundaries’ of what the body can do; and you were doing it sleep deprived;  because you said in the previous video, that usually when you’re training or running that sort of mileage, you sleep eight or nine hours – and you’re sleeping between five and six or seven hours so that’s quite a chunk of sleep missing.

Having the ability to stay still in all – but what about emotionally? I mean when you’re running up the road and you’ve got a chilling wind blowing as a headwind – or you’ve got sleet or you’re running through snow… I mean how did it emotionally affect you?

Julia : Most of the time I just felt good with what was going on…  Most the time, I did have people with me so there were people sharing it, so we were in it together.  Occasionally I was alone, but I am a  runner of years and years and years of experience; and I have lived in the UK… I have trained for a marathon in England,  where it rained, I remember once eleven days straight! So I am used to adversity of weather conditions.

I’m used to just carrying on, and I think that especially if you’re with other people, then there’s an ‘esprit de corps’, so we’re all together and I remember when I was with Katie and Tony and we did sing some songs! We sang ‘When you walk through a storm…’  So I wasn’t emotionally distressed or if I was – it would be very fleeting, and I would feel that feeling of – ‘ ‘it’s too much’ – and I might let myself have a cry briefly – and then it would clear very quickly…  Because it was just, you know, recognising the vulnerability of the body. It got very cold one day and my body was too cold and we were in a town , and we had to go into a cafe.

I said to Maggie… ‘I’ve got to get inside, I’ve got to get inside’… Because I was too cold, so we went in and I changed my clothes and I was aware of the body’s ability, but that it was closing down.

I felt it closing down on me. I was aware – I’m very aware when it’s going down – and I can recognise that this body has only a short step to it dying. Obviously I was never actually anywhere near death, but because it’s closing down, you can see the vulnerability of it, but of course  but I didn’t  die, and I don’t remember feeling emotionally really distressed in a way that I couldn’t cope with. I knew what was happening…

I knew what was going on, and I knew that this was just part off my challenge – to be where we are, is not just about a location, it’s being still in the moment off where you are – absolutely – it was absolutely being one hundred percent where I was… Which is why I have no idea where I was location-wise most of the time!

I was very much being with what was going on – being with the people that would appear – English people and Spanish people too, came to run with me…  I would have press appearing, and I would have people calling out from their cars because I became quite ‘famosa’ in Spain; and we would arrive in restaurants and in hotels and people would be there greeting me; and there were posters of me to greet me too!

I was very much with every person I was with… It was a sort of travelling road show, and there were people coming out to run with me… It was amazing. They came out for a few days , and Josie was there for five weeks – she was our team osteopath…  It was about being one hundred percent still, so that I could be a present to every body…

Because the way to be present in relationship is to be with ourselves, and of course I have all sorts of different relationships around me…

Anadi: And the way you could relate to all of those relationships was to actually be in relationship with yourself to the degree of absolute stillnesses, because then you’re never not present absolutely and that was going to be my next question – that’s a nice little lead in there. So how with all this running on sleep deprivation, do you feel that you experienced it that from a kind of meditation perspective  – did it get easier and easier and easier to just say very silent and still or did it get harder and harder, because there were people around you – and with the rain and the snow too?

Julia: You know, I think it got easier because my sense was that this has been a lifetime’s work, so I don’t think I would have done this if I didn’t know that I could do it, because I knew that it was a very important place of transformation for me, and  for a lot of people –  it was like a retreat – therefore there was a responsibility from me that I was going to be able to be still, and always be available for people and not to be in distress. I think a few years ago it wouldn’t have been as easy for me because I’ve developed and evolved and I am much more silent now…

I do remember – probably ten years ago – waking in the night – because I’m always a leader, and when I say ‘let’s do…’ then everybody does! I woke up one night at about three in the morning and a voice said to me… ‘When you decide on a course the direction, be absolutely certain, because others will follow you…’

And so since I heard that voice ten years ago, I have had lots of ideas for things, but I’ve been very, very conscious, that I had to be absolutely sure, because I didn’t want to do something that would  in any way damage either myself or others. So when I had this idea come – I knew that once I followed it, that I was certain that I knew that I had to experience it – and I had to go through it to feel that stillness and to be silent under extreme diversity and challenge… At the same time as being surrounded by others, with never any time alone –  a little bit – but not much…  I was ready, because I knew that this was what the challenge was, and even though I knew I was ready, I still had to go and live it and experience it – and come out the other end….

Anadi: So I have a sense of being it’s not only being about running barefoot across Spain it’s also being team leader while running barefoot across Spain which is quite a responsibility and it takes a lot holding together on some levels

Julia: Yes I was very aware of that role –  I didn’t make it public thing that I’m the team leader, but I knew in my heart and soul that I was, therefore I took that on, which was why I did the Gayatri mantra every morning and invited people to come and join me, and every evening did the stretching the chakra for chanting… Because I knew that space would keep the space between us all, very, very clean and clear absolutely the whole time… And that if anybody else were having any difficulties or challenges at all, they were completely and utterly safe here, and I witnessed that the space for seven weeks was one of harmony and connection, relationship, transformation, healing – and that it was as I saw it was possible to be…

Anadi : So a little earlier on you mentioned transformation, how would you say transformation has happened for you on your journey from the very north Suances down to the South…

Julia: I think that being silent and still the entire way has led me to a new life, because I’m aware anyway, at this point in my life, that I’m in a place off change and transformation… I’ve know that anyway – that this year and the year before, there has been a lot of change within me… I feel that I literally did come through a portal in Almuñécar – it was like a death; it was a journey off birth to death for me… And now re-birth

I went through the whole of Spain and as I ran into Almuñécar, I was aware that something was done, a part of my life was done, that I had run into a new phase. I’m not entirely sure what the phase is! but I knew that I felt that I had completed a spiritual journey…. It was a pilgrim’s progress… I felt like I had come through its spiritual test, that I had to follow –  that my feet had had this idea and that I needed to follow it. I knew it was a pilgrimage, it was an internal journey as well as an actual one, and that I had to encounter the things along the road, and that I had to adjust… Even adjusting my working with my foot when it was injured, so I realised that things have been knocked out of me – anything that was holding me back, any old, outdated parts of myself that aren’t really me…

Because I know that my true self is always there, but that it’s about shedding the created self. It’s shedding the energies of lifetimes, that have somehow has been set up, that have nothing to do with the absolute silence – the space of truth that were born off…

So I felt things shed away from me and I feel that I’m more at ease. The things that I’ve shed away are kind of feelings of obligation, which I don’t think help as I’m healer and a teacher. And, I think that the my messages are clearer ,because if we do anything out of obligation it’s slightly out of centre, and I know that that’s something that I’ve had to work with the whole of my life – because I’ve had a feeling of obligation… Which can actually send you or send me slightly out of just being silent and still.

Anadi: so so throughout this whole journey, as you’ve come from the North to the South of Spain, you’ve felt this shedding of the old and the kind of heading towards the new?

Julia: Yes, I have  felt some sense of the recognition of myself and some shedding, paradoxically of any need to be seen – where perhaps there was a part of me still seeking some sort of recognition – and now it has completely left, and I was able to really witness myself and see myself in a different way with the obligation shed – and I’m sure that they were linked – the need to be seen, and obligation to others…

It’s been a lifetime of shedding parts off that outdated created self – and of course we can only resolve when we can resolve – and this was the time of big letting go for me; so I think those two things were very evident to me that something completely changed, and therefore within that has come a greater ease and sense of myself at a more conscious level… As well as a sense that with another layer – where was the obligation – shed, and without the need for recognition shed – my own my energy, which is off a healing force, is inevitably stronger – without any thing attached to it…

Anadi: That’s great that you found an awareness of self and clarity, which allows a greater expression off you and your healing energy – fantastic – and that’s interesting, isn’t it  – you spoke of running into Almuñécar is if it was a birth…

Julia: Yes, because it was like a death of the old, and running into the new. It feels like I’ve run into a new life – because I’m a little new baby now…  I don’t know anything – and it’s only three weeks since I finished and I’m very aware of being in some new phase…

Anadi: Very interesting – that will that be another video in six months from now! Thank you very much… That’s very enlightening. Thank you.


Welcome to my Barefoot Across Spain Podcasts


The Preparation

The Physical Challenges Along The Way

The Emotional, Mental And Spiritual Aspects Of The Challenge

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