Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Inspiring People of the Year Harita Davies!

3100 Miles of Smiles!!!

Earlier this year, along with Yolanda, I took part in and completed the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race- the longest foot race in the world!

I have known of this race for a long time- actually since it first happened in 1997. At that time I had recently joined the Sri Chinmoy Centre in New Zealand and had timidly taken up running. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team held races of all different lengths since 1977, from 1 mile up to 1,300 miles, then in 1997 Sri Chinmoy had the inspiration to stretch the longest distance to 3100 miles!

Sri Chinmoy saw a direct link between spirituality and running, and he spoke extensively about the inner and outer running. He believed that to have peace in the world, we first need to find peace and satisfaction within ourselves. In order to do this, we need to synthesize our inner and outer reality. This involves combining the practice of prayer and meditation; which cultivates inner peace, clarity and contentment, with a dynamic and disciplined lifestyle involving service to humanity and physical fitness. When the body is fit and dynamic, it becomes a powerful vessel to manifest the light we have within, and thus contribute to peace in the world.

Run and become,
Become and run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world.
-Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy spoke a lot about going beyond the limits of the mind and body in order to become aware of the unlimited capacity that we all have within us. He felt that we cultivate true happiness and fulfillment only when we consistently challenge our self-imposed limitations. This is the concept of “self-transcendence”. He also brought awareness to the global impact of self-transcendence.

Individual self-transcendence
Collectively inspires
Humanity at large.
-Sri Chinmoy

Back to my experience! Jumping forward 20 years, last year I quite unexpectedly felt a great inner inspiration to take part in the 3100 mile race! This did not come entirely out of the blue- since first hearing of the race I had imagined that some time in the distant future I too would take part.
However, over the years I ran many marathons and several six and ten day races, but health and energy issues had prevented me from ever reaching the point where I seriously considered giving it a shot.

I like to follow my hearts inspiration whenever I can, and so I decided to go for it. Some people were really supportive and a lot of people were really surprised- I was pretty surprised myself! But I figured I would prepare the best I could and whether I succeeded or failed did not matter- what mattered was that I had a goal that was major self-transcendence, and the thought of it along with all the preparation gave me a lot of joy! I was following my heart’s inspiration, and there is tremendous power in that feeling.

Finally the day of the race came- the first day out of 52, that is! I felt far from ready in many ways- on the physical level there were all kinds of problems that only got worse in the weeks leading up to the start. On the mental level I could not believe I had even entered the race- I felt so unworthy! Yet in my heart, I felt the whole experience was in God’s Hands. He had inspired me to do it, and I was ready to leave my success or failure up to Him. I sincerely thought that if I lasted 2 or 3 days that would be fine, I would try my best and let God decide the rest.

I imagine God’s Smile
Before I undertake anything.
This gives me
Enormous energy.
-Sri Chinmoy

As it happened, right from the beginning the whole experience felt like I was flowing in the river of God’s Grace. Each day was a world unto itself, bringing with it new challenges on every level- especially physical and mental. Yet at the same time, the never-ending obstacles and challenges were teaching me so much!

As long as I kept going, kept smiling, kept being grateful, and kept placing the whole experience in God’s Hands, I was making the miles! I soon had to accept the fact that there would always be something wrong, and in fact there was nothing wrong with that! It was not about trying to escape from the problems, but rather accept them and have faith that if I just kept moving forward, by the Grace of God there would always be a solution. Also to keep smiling and finding something to be grateful for- how much strength we get when we smile, no matter whether we feel happy or not!

Is by far
The best attitude.
-Sri Chinmoy

Having faith in God means having faith in the divinity within- in our selves no less! -And also in the divinity within all of Creation. The strength I received from the beauty and power of Mother Nature, coupled with the support, sympathy, oneness and encouragement from other people was unimaginable. I soon realized I would not survive a single day on my own- and that was the way it was meant to be!

We were all one big, sweet, and very powerful family- the runners, the helpers, and the hundreds of supporters all around the world sending messages of encouragement- and we all finished the race! Whether by running the miles, counting the laps or sending messages of support, we finished it together, which made it all the more beautiful.

I would like to make special mention of Yolanda. Her and I are from such different backgrounds, and approached the race from very different start points, yet right from the beginning we seemed inextricably linked. Yolanda undeniably helped me in so many ways with her dauntless determination, courage, encouragement, and style! She shared some great motivators with me, like “suck it up buttercup” which always made us laugh and helped a lot. We were a team- of course we were on our own journeys, but having each other to share the experience with gave us real strength.

So for now my self-transcendence challenge is to apply everything I learned to my regular life, hold onto the blessings, and remember to smile and be grateful - no matter what obstacles I face! And if you are reading this and choose to accept it, your challenge is to find your own self-transcendence inspiration -and let your journey begin!

We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.
-Sri Chinmoy

with much gratitude,

Photo credit

Photo credit Utpal Marshall

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