For much of humanity the only thing that really matters in their lives are the numbers. We can try sometimes and define who we are by what we have, what we know, and yes, by what we do. This simple math can reveal rudimentary aspects of our lives but certainly not the totality of who we really are. The 6 and 10 race is an extraordinary place to find and reveal aspects of your being that perhaps you didn’t even know existed. Peel back the exterior bits of how we generally see ourselves. Then you can confront the tigers lurking within. Maybe as well become better acquainted with the glowing core within each of us and ultimately allow transformation and self transcendence to become the real goal in our lives.
Happiness for most people is of paramount importance. Normally you would be hard pressed to equate happiness with endurance events like what is happening right now in Flushing Meadow. Yet on so many faces of those who are running here, you can clearly see their joy being expressed, sometimes even constantly. You know they are in pain, you know they are fatigued, you know that there are nagging little demons crying out for them, to if not stop, then to at least slow down. Yet the runner does not listen.
Jayasalini Abramovskikh is a 30 year old runner from Moscow. For the last 8 years she has come to Flushing Meadow to run in the Self Transcendence races. This year she is again running the 10 day race ,and though I am not certain of this she may be one of the happiest people I have ever met. “Only being happy can you run well,” she says. “You can even do much better mileage, staying happy. Otherwise nothing.”
Jayasalini started the race 7 days ago with a whopping 84 miles on her first day. She is not only averaging 68 miles a day, she is also currently is in a neck and neck competition with Sarah Barnett. As we run along together Sarah in fact rolls past us as if we were standing still. She takes no notice of this at all. It is clear that for Jayasalini her happiness is all about focusing on who she is and what she must do here over 10 days. Nothing could steal her joy away quicker than to be worrying about how her competition is doing in the race.
When she realized how many miles she did on her first day she thought, “wow that is really a lot. But everybody does their own race. You cannot compare yourself with others. You can only improve yourself. This time I never look at the board at all. This is one piece of self transcendence for myself. I said if I do not look at the board for 10 days it will also be transcendence for me.”
She laughs and admits that she has been curious about the results in the 6 day race but refuses to look in that direction in case she sees her own 10 day board. Instead her helpers tell her what is happening with her fellow runners in the other race. After Sarah has departed into the distance, I try and find a polite way of discussing the influence, both Sarah and Kaneenika, must be having in some way, on what she is doing here at the race.
“You feel of course approximately where you are.” She says that when she sees the other girls doing well it gives her tremendous inspiration. Of Kaneenika she says, that she sometimes has the impression that she never sleeps or stops whatsoever. “I rarely see her resting. All the time she is on the course, no matter how difficult it is. She just continues, goes on, goes on. When I see Sarah, sprinting with such energy, I say wow, that is really something.” She knows as well that Sarah has just completed a 1000 km race not long ago. “I couldn’t imagine myself doing that. That is really amazing.”
Jayaslini once again has her Mom as part of the group helping her. Her Mom was eager she says to come back and be part of it all. She says that the race transforms not just the runners but it can also bring changes to those who immerse themselves in it by helping. “Now people see her and say something has changed in her face.”
“Helping is for sure not an easy thing. I would say much more difficult than running.” She tells me that she believes her helper Anna will probably try and run the race herself next year. Over the next few days she tells me that she does have some goals in improving her mileage over last year, which was 644 miles. “The most important thing is to be comfortable inside. To stay happy and really enjoy this run, at every moment of being here. Not think of when it is going to be over. But to treasure every second. Each second is so valuable here.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/jayasalini.mp3|titles=jayasalini]
It seems that within just a couple of hours while being here that you could experience a complete change of all the seasons. Only snowflakes were missing. It had been a warm and sunny day and then the fog has drifted in off Jamaica Bay and it will remain cool and damp all evening it seems.
One runner who seems to be excelling at happiness is Dasha who is running her first 10 day.
Daulot is no stranger to smiles, he has 178 miles after 3 days of running.
Baladev has 411 miles after 7 days of running.
This may be a little closer to the subject than you might like to be, but yes, the runners here eat a lot. They need to.
Just a few days ago, Vladimir Razumovskly from Russia was challenging Yuri for first place in the 10 day race. Digestive problems have plagued him just after the start and he now finds himself instead dueling with young Andrey Stefanov from Bulgaria for 2nd. After 7 days they both had 461 miles.
He says that sometimes you can find yourself in a competitive situation but he wants to focus more on some inner goals. “Last time was 2 years ago, I see before I came the goal, 1,000km.” He clearly had the feeling that he could accomplish this mileage. I reached my goal half an hour before the end. It was a miracle. (623 miles) For me it was unbelievable.”
Suddenly, as we are walking, he stops and goes over to a tree to stretch. Concerned I ask him what is the matter, “I have some pain, which I don’t like.” I suggest that there aren’t many pains that anybody likes very much. He laughs.
He tells me that this time as well he is hoping for a certain result. “This is the main thing in front of me, to reach my goal this time as well.” It seems that for him this time things are not quite working out quite the way he planned. More importantly he says though, “for me this race is absolutely inner, it is a spiritual way.”
Almost as a perfect example of this, he asks for 5 seconds of silence as we make a turn near the Long Island Expressway. “In this race there is a lot of time to dedicate to our path, prayers, songs and so on. For me, for example, it is right to offer my sincere and deepest gratitude for each lap. For example this corner was one of them. I try to offer my gratitude to the Supreme.”
He tells me that when he trains at home he also tries to sing spiritual songs as he runs every day. Here he also finds that he is praying regularly. He says problems can be found everywhere here, and so it is easy to feel a sincere cry when you are confronted by such things. He adds that there are also a lot of miracles happening here as well. Here you can make the fastest progress.
“I try and run the whole distance alone, because it is ‘SELF’ transcendence. It is important for me he says to conquer the distance without any help from others. He tells me that here one does experience pain and tiredness. Yet he feels that he on his own he cannot do the race. Something, he says comes from within, and gives the capacity to allow him to do it. He struggles for a moment, trying to come up with the English word. I ask him to tell me instead in Russian. I believe afterwards that he was looking for the word, “Grace.”
Click to play interview and know for sure.
Shashanka has 163 miles after 3 days in the 6 day race.
Dharbasana has been called on for advice of all kinds. Everything from diet to how to prepare running shoes not designed to run so far and maybe for feet as well sometimes.
It is a special treat when some musician turns up to play. Yesterday was full of raucous energy but Maral’s flute is all sweetness and gentleness.
Click to hear flute
Andrey Stefanov is proving out to be a natural multi day runner.
For Ashprihanal he has seen his plans in the 6 day very much altered. At least for now he is using it as a training run for the 3100 mile race in June.
Team Lebedev is taking the race for a test drive.
Asankita and Bipin at the board.
“He wants self transcendence and he wants to move beyond his capacity.” Syona and Prativakyam are 2 of a large contingent of Ukrainian and Russian runners. At this moment Syona is enjoying translating for his friend. This is Prativakyam’s 2nd race here. Last year he ran 307 miles in the 6 day race and this year he is doing the 10 day. A short while earlier he matched that total from the 6 day and so each new step is taking him into new territory.
Syona tells me that before his friend ran last year he was his helper on 2 occasions. In what is typical of many helpers here he caught a case of ‘runneritis.’ After the last time he helped he said, “Please seek another helper. I want to run.. He helped me so much”
Syona tells me that he did not find another helper last year but came back and ran the 10 day on his own, while his friend ran the 6. He was able to run further without a helper. He laughs at this and suggests maybe doing the race completely on his own made him stronger. For Syona this is now his 4th race. “I don’t know if it is transcendence or not but my third time was my best time. It was 503 miles. I only run 10 days.”
“For me, so many experiences at this races.” He says that it is only here that he is able to enjoy such an intense and transformative experience. He feels that being here provides him with a new and clearer vision of his life. He describes for me an observation that he has made. He believes, that often when people suffer, it is caused by their own negativity.
“In this race pain and joy are very close. One helper told me, the road makes the problem and the road takes the problem. For me this is very interesting. I feel like a bird who is flying back and forth over 2 sides of the river. One side being joy and the other side is tears. I feel that they are together. I feel that if I accept tears that I will find inside them joy.”
Prativkyam than describes for me an experience of happiness. “The first time I felt pain in my leg, so I was in last place. But afterwards I felt it wasn’t important what place I came. What is important is joy. When I try and be joyful the pain isn’t so bad, and because of this the pain slowly disappears.”
They both want to keep coming back and run the race every year if possible.
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/syona-2.mp3|titles=syona 2]
In the spiritual life
Everything you do
Every second of your life
Is supremely important.
Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 80, Agni Press, 1983.