July 21: Can’t Do This By Yourself

I start off my conversation this morning with Nirbhasa, by dealing with the painfully obvious subject matter of the abrasions to his face.  Which since it occurred 4 days ago is now old news.  He is looking much much better each day since he took a tumble last Friday.

He says it never worried him falling but was more concerned about the loss of time.  “I never really thought it was all over.  Up here (everything above his legs), there is no part of my body that I need to run with.  Including the brain. (laughs)

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“I was a little worried that I would have to go for stitches.  That is an afternoon gone.  Thankfully within 10 to 15 minutes I was patched up and on my way.”

He had said earlier that he believed that when he got into the second half, the race would become easier.  “It is certainly easier on the body.  In terms of miles it is still playing its little games.  It is like, O my God, how long have I got to go? Etc, etc.”

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“You know it is a real opportunity to work on developing all the inner spiritual qualities.  And actually being happy out here.  That is something I really try and do, right from the first lap.  Not think about how long I have to go.”

Yesterday Nirbhasa ran 62 miles and now has 2223 miles done.  He has only 877 more miles to run.  I ask him if he sees the finish line now.  “That is good and bad at the same time.  It is still a long long way away.  2 weeks is long time by anybody’s reckoning.  The days do pass by pretty quickly.  Once the finish line starts to appear you are saying, how long, how long?”

877 miles is the distance from Dublin to Prague

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“I think the best advice if you have 40 days left or if you have 14 like we have here is to take each day at a time.  To enjoy each day and see what each day has to bring.”

“You definitely feel that you can’t do this by yourself. That somebody, you can say the highest part of your own being.  Your Soul, God, is doing this in and through you.  That is actually quite fun, because it is something that you can very tangibly feel.  So than you try and identify with that highest part.  Instead of identifying with your thoughts or your body.  You actually feel that something (somebody) is doing this in and through you.”

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“I think one of the great things about this race, that I think would be impossible to replicate, under normal situation in the every day world.  Is simply the sheer amount of dedication that you need.  You are never, for the 52 days, you are never really switched off.  Even when you are off the course and go home and take a break.  It is really a tremendous dynamic focus.  You never waste a minute.”

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July 20: This Race is so Sacred

“I come every day because I can only be inspired by this race.” Dipali probably does a lot of things really well.  The only thing I ever see her do most days though is run.  For hours her light strides prowl here and there around the Queens neighborhood in which she lives.

There may be some strict trajectory to her flights each day but most often she seems to flit here and there. She will suddenly pop up unexpectedly on some road you are walking when you least expect it.  The light cadence of her shoes dancing across the sidewalk.  A perpetual smile beaming beneath a large  pair of sunglasses.

When the 3100 mile race is going on of course her orbits more frequently mesh into the cycle of the runners.  She loves the race very much but it has never called her to it.  Her race is Flushing Meadow and the yearly 6 day race.

“Right now I am truly inspired by Ashprihanal’s performance.  I saw him last year start the 10 day race.  And I thought, that boy is on some special record, which he did.  He was doing 83 miles a day.”

“This year I saw his first lap.  I have never seen Ashprihanal go out so fast on lap one.  I thought, he is after the record here.  Intuitively I felt it.”

“To break down what he is doing, he is running an average of 76.58 miles a day.  From day one I have seen every record go of his predecessor Madhupran.  Ashprihanal to me is a low key champion.”

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“I come at all different times of the day.  I see different aspects of him.  I only admire him.  He is relentless and he flows.  The way he moves his body.  The way he swings those arms.  I can only relate to that he is pulling in light.  A force from above.”

“He has Grahak helping him here this year.  This year he is really being taken care of.  Grahak is an incredible runner and now an incredible helper for him.”

Dipali also recalls a story of how once when Sri Chinmoy was visiting the race, he wanted nobody to stand close to him.  “You’ll never know what I am giving these runners.” She said at that time that as he handed prasad to each runner a very close and sacred connection was made with each of them.

“I realized that this race is so sacred.  It is so profound.  These runners will always make it look easy, even though they are running incredible mileage each day.”

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I ask how important the course is for Dipali the rest of the year.  “I do tap into the effort that they leave behind here.  As we see every day crying, smiling, laughing.  They leave some part of their journey here.  I reflect on it, I remember it.  I have trained here for 20 years.  The essence of what they are leaving, what Sri Chinmoy left here.  It’s here.  I find something so spiritual here, I come every day.”

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July 19: One Of The Best Things I Ever Did

Every runner who comes to participate in the 3100 mile race has to have a deep inner feeling and conviction that it is the right thing to do.  It also goes without asking that they also need to be incredibly fit and well trained.  Over 19 summers many runners have come, and each has had their own unique inspiration.  One that was strong enough to shake them loose from a comfortable life back home into doing something that is the hardest thing in the world to do.

Grahak’s story of how he came to be here for the first time is particularly special.  It also shows just how much Sri Chinmoy knew and cared for both the inner and outer aspects of each of his students.

“In 2005 I had just finished a one mile race in Qingdao (Christmas trip in China).  I got second, which was pretty rare for me.  I was in the function room of the hotel.  Sri Chinmoy was handing out the awards, and he said to me.   Have you run our longest race?”  Confused a bit he replied that he had done the race and come in second.

“Than he asked me again in the lobby of the hotel, the same question.  Than it started to inspire me, or hit home, exactly what he was asking.  After that it took me a year or 2 to get up the courage and I applied to do the race.

“It was definitely insightful by Sri Chinmoy because I had been thinking about the race.  It was in the back of my mind after watching Rathin Bolton, the first Australian to run in the race.”

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After Finishing in 2007

Up till then the longest Grahak had ever run was the 47 mile race.  “I did the 47 twice before I did the 3100.  But if Sri Chinmoy says you can do something, or asks you about something, it is there for the taking.  Or he is giving you the capacity or you have the capacity, one or the other.”

“It took me a couple of years to get the courage up to apply, and to decide to really do it.  It was full in 2006 so I waited until 2007.  That was my first race.”

“You can’t really understand what the race is all about until you do it.”   Grahak also describes the many emotions that he went through.  Mostly he was eager to just start, since he had by then trained so much by then.  “I just wanted to begin but I was definitely nervous, and a bit fearful as well.”

“It was one of the best things I ever did.”

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Grahak describes the immense joy that he felt each time he ran.  That in doing this extremely difficult thing he was not just transcending himself but also pleasing his spiritual teacher in his own way.  “Even now you can see the pride in the runners faces.”

“When he came to visit the race there was so much encouragement.  It helped get me through.  I really looked forward to the times that he was coming.  You could guess the approximate times he would come and make sure you were out there on the course.  It was really special.”

While we are going on around the course I mention that Ashprihanal had just finished 2700.  “I missed it.” (laughs)

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“He doesn’t like talking about the finish.  He knows that he is ahead of the record.  I tell him, you know that you are beating your own best time by 3 days.  That is amazing.”

“It is not about beating my time it is about beating Madhupran’s time.  He knows what he is doing.  I think he will get faster as he gets closer.”

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July 18: My First Home

“I know my body.  Sometimes you have to surrender to Mother Nature and sometimes I am running well.”

For the last 2 days this 37 year old Czech runner has been running very well.  Yesterday he ran 71 miles and at this moment in the morning there is nobody faster on the course.  His pace is so smooth and flowing it would be nearly impossible to guess that he has been here doing this very same thing for the past 34 days.  In the process also amassing 2187 miles.

This is Atmavir’s 8th race and it seems that the lessons you learn running 3100 mile race never end.  No matter how many miles you have run.   No matter how many years you  have dedicated yourself to its baffling wonders.  How to cope with bad days and also how to cope with days when you switch to autopilot and let the mysterious inner force within carry you almost effortlessly along.

“Right now I am one lap faster than Ashprihanal.  In the afternoon it could change.  So I don’t mind.  If I am running I enjoy it, and if I am not running, I try to be a happy walker.  But I have to say that I am a really miserable walker.  Only Stutisheel is slower than me.”

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Atmavir’s first race here was in 2007 and he has many fond memories of Sri Chinmoy coming to the course to inspire all the runners.  The other day he received a small prasad ginger bread that reminded him very much of something that Sri Chinmoy had given to him.

“He gave it to me from his hand.  It was on the other side of the course.  He opened up his hand and there was, in his hand this little ginger bread that he bought himself from the Greek Deli for us.  I have really sweet stories of Guru. I can remember many little details.”

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His family back home have been supportive as best they can.  His Dad is a Doctor and has perhaps come to wonder,, as the years have passed, just why Atmavir keeps running the race.  “My Dad said, you have done this race many times.  Now you should give a chance to younger ones.  Because it might effect your health in the future.  I am really surrounded by people from the medical field.  I realize in this case I cannot listen to them.  I am really disobedient to my family.  This is my spiritual family.”

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“I always used to say that this was my second home.  But over the years I have to change this opinion.  This is my first home.”

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July 17: Something In My Heart Very Very Nice

“I would like to tell a story.  It happens every day.  Around 8pm when I am tired.  I have no energy to run, and I cry.” It is at this moment almost like clockwork that Databir’s blue van pulls up.  It is the one he used to drive Sri Chinmoy with for many years.  When Vasu sees the van he will stand beside it devotedly and meditate for a short while.

“I get some peace, joy and I offer my gratitude to Sri Chinmoy.  After that I get some more energy, and I can run faster, faster, and faster.”

There are times in most of our day to day lives when it appears that our world increasingly becomes more complex and confusing.  There is a part of us inside that yearns for peace, sweetness, and simplicity.  But despite our best intentions, not to take the tangled path we quite often do, and end up in a place where peace is even further away.

Since 2012 Vasu has been coming to the 3100 mile race each year and been using the hard half mile loop to strip away the extraneous parts of himself that do not give him joy or fulfillment.  His life here is all about simplicity, devotion, and an incredible amount of dedicated hard work.

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Last night he ran 70 miles and now has 2290 miles.  He is currently 164 miles ahead of his pace from last year.

Before becoming a student of Sri Chinmoy 25 years ago, Vasu was a member of another group.  He feels that it was all in preparation to eventually meet Sri Chinmoy.  After being with the group for a year he says he felt a wall within himself.  The barrier was such that he felt that he could no longer make any progress.

Than he saw a smiling picture of Sri Chinmoy.  “I felt something in my heart, very, very nice.”  He went to a 3 day workshop, “and I had many many experiences.  After that I became a disciple.”

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Vasu says that he never even considered running this race in his early days.  But his friend Stutisheel was running it.  “For me it was too much.”

It was only in 2009 when a friend from Vinnitsa was coming to run in the Spring races that he felt he too should try and prepare to run as well.

“I feel that Guru is here all the time.  But I feel him most when somebody reminds me about him.  For example in the morning when Kodanada comes and plays his flute.  I imagine that Guru is playing on me.  If I have some bad thought in my mind it is thrown away, than I try and run faster.”

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“When the Enthusiasm Awakeners start singing it also brings me joy, happiness, energy.  I can run faster and better.  In the morning I try and do the daily prayer and songs.  It helps me so much.  I have energy inside, some aspiration, and some spirit all day.”

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July 16: To Smile Is Very Important

“Kodanda who is my dear, dearer, dearest friend, he proved that God exists.”

Earlier in the morning I asked Ananda-Lahari if he had any stories he might like to share.  I thought he might recall some memorable experience from the many years he has run the race.  Never once thinking he would come up with proof of the existence of the almighty.

“On one hand it was really funny and on the other it was really touching.  It is a really nice story for me. One day Kodanda was riding his bicycle next to me during the race a few years ago.  He was holding in his hand a piece of watermelon.  He was looking at it and saying, if this is not proof that God exists than what else.”

“How can such a thing be created from dirt.  Look at its beauty.  You could feel and you could see that these were not just words.  He was really feeling and appreciating this creation of God that came from dirt.”

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“Kodanda is very special.  He is a musician, he comes and plays every year almost every day.  I always like it.  When he plays the music of Sri Chinmoy he plays different instruments.  He must get in tune with the race.  He gets into his soul or into his heart I don’t know.”

“When he is really able to get into it, you see his hands are playing the guitar but it is also all his being.  His mind, his heart, his vital, his body, everything.  It is really amazing.”

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Sri Chinmoy also once remarked about Ananda-Lahari’s smile.  “It was during the race in 2006.  He was coming every day driving his car in the morning, around 6:30. He drove the car himself.  He mentioned at a function one evening.  There is one boy who smiles the most.  He mentioned that it is very important when we smile.  I am going to give him a special prize.”

“Sri Chinmoy came to my finish and he wrote a song for me.”

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“He said on another occasion, to smile is very important.  If you cannot smile sincerely than you should at least try a fake smile.  Later on we will be able to smile from our heart sincerely.  When we smile at the master all our poisons can go away.”

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July 15: On My Way Home

“I am not a morning person.  For me the morning is really hard.  It is unusual that I have started running faster so early.  But maybe my blisters are finally trying to disappear.”

When I last spoke with Kaneenika it was 10 days and 600 miles ago and she has not only cleared the half way mark since then, she is also doing very well indeed.

Consistently she has been getting 60 miles each day and than quite often a little bit more.  “If there is time and I have the strength I always like to do more.  Otherwise 60 miles, I am really grateful for that.  Last night was the first night that I stayed until it was almost 12.  Because I wanted to do the 60 miles and I had a really bad afternoon, because of the rain.”

She finished her day 31 with 1860 miles on the board. “It is still far to go, and at the same time it is so hopeful.  I am getting closer.  It is definitely going down the hill now.”  When she reached the half way point she said, “now I am on my way home.”

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It is easy to tell that Kaneenika’s world is very much living in the moment.  Not hinged or attached to all the usual complexities that clamor at most of us for our attention.  She says she has lows and highs but they all seem to pass by without rippling the calmness that seems to keep her buoyant on the sometimes turbulent sea of running so hard and for so long.

“I tried to learn some songs.  So I asked a friend to make me a card with Sri Chinmoy’s songs.  Some of them I knew but I couldn’t remember the melodies.  I was trying so hard.”

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“I am trying not to let the mind lead me.  As soon as you allow the mind to rule your life.  You don’t get anywhere.  You have to follow your heart and than you are safe.”

“When I was little I would get sick very often.  I wasn’t really into sports for that reason.  It wasn’t until I came to the center that I started running.  I regularly built up my running from 2 miles to the marathon and than 6 hour race.  The inspiration was coming from inside.”

“It was at the first 6 day race and I was finishing and Sri Chinmoy came to the race.  He asked me how many miles did I do.  So I told him it was 364 miles.  He said, very good, very good…… but you can do more.  You can definitely do more.”

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“It was the point when I finished the 6 day race I thought, this is a nice experience, but I don’t think I want to do this any more. So I think Sri Chinmoy was definitely trying to encourage me to continue.”

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July 14: Meant To Be

“It was my first year in the race in 2007.”  Grahak reaches across the handlebars of the bike he is riding and points down towards the Grand Central.  “I was going through a tough time and I remember thinking.  I am never doing this race again. This is just torture.  There is no way I am doing it again.  I can’t wait to finish and get it over and done with.”

*Click on the Picture Below to See Day 31 Movie…….You will Go to Dropbox.  Than Click on Open Box top right:

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Than the next thing he knew a car carrying Sri Chinmoy pulled up beside him.  “Normally Guru would quietly and soulfully give you prasad.  Just as I was thinking this Vinaya mounted the curb.  It was really aggressive driving.”  Than Grahak points once more to the spot.

“Guru gave me prasad.  He didn’t say anything, but immediately it took away all my troubles, and mental difficulties I was having that day.”

Of course Grahak did not only came back again in 2008 and ran faster than he had the previous year, he also came back in 2009 and set the 4th fastest time ever in the race. So his return to the race this year after 5 years was no small thing.  He wanted to once again transcend himself and run a good 3100.

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The 3100 though does not bestow its blessings or its pains in ways that can be easily predicted or that we can expect.  16 days ago Grahak’s race came off the rails when his bad hip became too much of burden for him to continue to run.

In the period since then, he has had a chance to heal a little and reflect a lot.  In a way that certainly he wouldn’t have predicted he instead has discovered a new role for himself at the race this year.  Grahak has found that by helping others achieve their best he may be finding some unexpected self transcendence as well.

“I am so grateful I can help Ashprihanal.  It is still tough.  Sometimes I think, O I should have kept going.  Or I wish I was still running.  These sort of things, but the past is dust.”

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Grahak is extremely modest when discussing how much aid he is really providing to Ashprihanal in his quest to break the record.  To nearly everyone else though his presence is the absolute key to Ashprihanals success.

“He is pretty low maintenance.  Sometimes I think I have helped him when he has felt really sleepy.  I think he likes it on his break, he likes to have a little chat.  It relaxes him a little bit.  He had some goals this race that he was determined to achieve.  I am just a bonus.  Maybe it gives him a bit of a boost.  A lap extra a day.  Who knows, he would still be doing what he is doing.”

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“I guess it was meant to be.  I wanted to come and try and do the race. It didn’t work out.  It is really easy to get depressed and I was definitely heading that way. I was pretty lucky when the opportunity came to help Ashprihanal.”

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July 13: The Soul Is Eternal

“I am feeling pretty good. One of the nice things I guess about getting into the second half of the race is your body is more adjusted.  Also your mind starts to dissipate a little bit. There is still a long way to go.”

*Click On Picture Below to See Day 30 Movie*…………you will go to dropbox.  Than click on Open:

nirbhasa-good*Click on above Pic to Play*

Just before the first half was over, Nirbhasa saw his race slipping away.  He went through almost a week of rock hard days that slowly started chipping away at his mileage cushion.

Not that he ever lost his infectious smile and optimism.  But some parts of his body were just not resisting or accommodating to  the strain of running 60 plus miles a day.

Nirbhasa said that he did not experience doubt at this time.  “I just surrendered to whatever happens happens.  I knew that I was doing my best out there.  I wasn’t wasting time,  that week, that I was really slow and wasn’t making the daily mileage.”

Now however even though the finish line though is still 1377 miles away it is looking  just that more attainable.

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“Yesterday was interesting. I found myself counting down the days.  The mind gets a kind of temporary stability in dealing with things by trying to count things.  But you get no joy out of it.  So I am really trying to cut that out. Instead just enjoy the morning running.”

“This morning I woke up and was only thinking about running this morning.  I am just really enjoying being out here.”

Yesterday he had a long call with friends back home in Dublin.  “You really feel that you are not doing it for yourself.  That it is not just you out there that there are a lot of people, getting inspiration, getting joy.  That really helps.  Also it is really nice to get on the phone and talk to people.” (laughs)

“My relationship to Sri Chinmoy and I think all of our relationships to Sri Chinmoy was that many of the moments.  Many of the transformative moments that they didn’t fit into the usual narrative.  A lot of the time when Sri Chinmoy wanted to do something, or wanted to have an experience through you.  He could do it like that.” (snaps fingers)

“He could do it with a smile, with a meditation, with a look your way.”

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Nirbhasa recalls a time when he visited New York and his meditation group had just completed working very hard on some project.  He was sitting with a large group at a function when Sri Chinmoy mentioned Ireland.  “When he mentioned Ireland I could immediately feel inside my heart this tremendous outpouring of gratitude coming from him.  He was so unbelievably grateful.”

Nirbhasa describes the mix of what on one level appears to be a casual conversation, and on the other, “I am having this tremendous experience, feeling this gratitude pouring from him.  I had many different experiences like that.”

Nirbhasa describes how on another occasion he was stressed out and felt he was carrying a tremendous weight of stupid unnecessary thoughts.  With one brief look from Sri Chinmoy he felt the weight simply vanish.  “Gone.”

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He also feels that he knew his physical time with Sri Chinmoy was going to be brief so that he had to create a deep inner relationship, this inner understanding.  “This has served me well since Sri Chinmoy passed.”

“I still feel that I have these kind of experiences, even during the race.  I still feel that I can call on Sri Chinmoy at different points during the race. That I feel when I get different experiences during the race that they are somehow coming from him.  The one thing that spirituality teaches us is that the soul is eternal.”

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July 12: My Work Here Is Not Done

From the very first day Yuri Trostenyuk started running the 3100 mile race 3 years ago he has been a passionate devotee of all its terrors, all its beauty, and of course how it transforms every part of his being.

By using the best calculations that we have, it is possible to examine Yuri’s data as he starts day 29.  From the lap sheets we can see that he had a good day yesterday, with 65 miles.  His total at the end of day was 1913 miles.   With his current pace he is set to make a new personal best.  Last year this same time he had 1873 miles.  So now he is 40 miles ahead of that.

But to listen as Yuri describes an experience that happened to him a few days ago and it is easy to see how unimportant crunching the  numbers really are to him.

“Not long before I completed 1000 miles.  From daily pressure I started to have pain in my body.  Unpleasant and worrisome thoughts were occupying my mind.  I was tired of getting rid of them already.  It was just simply hard.  It was only getting harder and harder.”

“I began to pray to God.  I said, God, please help me.  It is so hard for me right now and I won’t survive this.  Please support me, guide me, and show me the way.  Then, a few minutes after my prayer an inner world started to open up in front of me.  It was as though I was seeing a corridor to the inner world opened.”

Flower-yuri

“50 meters away I saw all the other runners of the 3100.  There were 12 of them and they were standing in a row, shoulder to shoulder.  The first thing that struck me was their clothing.  It was as if as though the clothing was made of light.  It was illuminating and it was if it was alive.”

“Then I paid attention to their faces.  Light was coming out of their faces.  There was strength, energy, calmness, peace, and joy.  I thought to myself, wow.  In the whole universe there is probably no power that can stand up against that.  But what I felt was the peace, the calm, the bliss that was entering into my heart.”

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“I identified with how great they felt.  I wanted to be there with them.  I even tried to jump across and be with them.  But I felt as though something was holding me back.  Then I became embarrassed.  I thought to myself, my work here is not done yet. If I leave from here than who will remain and do the work.”

“With this sense of gratitude and in this state of being, this corridor slowly dissolved.  But everything was not finished then.  When I went for my break I felt how inside of me lives some kind of energy.  I couldn’t fall asleep because this energy was circulating inside of me.  At night I woke up because I felt this energy.”

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“This experience, this energy is now giving me the strength to move and guides me.  It continues to give me strength and inspiration.  Whenever I remember this experience I begin to feel good again.”

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