Sri Chinmoy's advice on staying happy during ultra races
About the author:
Nirbhasa is originally from Ireland but currently lives in Reykjavik, Iceland. He is an enthusiastic multi-day runner, having twice completed both the Ten Day Race and the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race - the longest race in the world.
Sri Chinmoy spoke many times about how people could get the most inner joy from doing ultra distance events. The excerpts here come from a talk given at the closing of the 2005 3100 Mile Race, as well as answers to questions asked by Suprabha Beckjord, a 13-time finisher of the 3100 Mile Race.
Dear runners, when you go around the course, try to discover two or three special places where you feel that you are getting joy. Even on a 400-metre track when you do long distance, there will be a few special places. You do not know why, but when you reach those places you get automatically a new burst of energy. Try to remember where you get energy or joy. At that spot, Mother Nature is helping you.
Keep the mind cheerful
Always try to keep your mind happy and cheerful, cheerful! Cherish all your sweet memories….every day, the way seekers recite from the Upanishads and the Vedas and slokas from the scriptures, you can also do the same by recalling your divine experiences. And if you are a singer, then inwardly sing and outwardly sing. In as many ways as possible, keep yourself happy, happy, happy, happy! Just see in how many ways you can make yourself happy.
This happiness is of utmost importance. When you are unhappy, no matter how sincere you are, no matter how hard you try to improve your time, you cannot do it. But when you are happy, your timing automatically improves. Happiness is strength, a new supply of energy.
Fool the mind
Every morning, when you are starting to run, you have to feel that this is the only day that you are running. Then, when tomorrow comes, again think that this is the only day. Otherwise, you may lose patience when you have to run more than a month. To try to always maintain dynamism is out of the question. If you try to have dynamism, you will fall down so many times! The best thing for you to do is to fool the mind by saying, "Oh, this race is only for one day." Then you will take rest. When tomorrow comes, again you will think, "This race is only for one day." Always divide it. Every day when you start, if you can convince yourself that it is only for one day, then you will think, "Oh, I can easily do it. Only last year I ran 3,100 miles. Today I cannot run 60 miles? Easily I can do it!" Since quite often the mind is fooling us, we have to use our wisdom to fool the mind.
Enthusiasm and eagerness
Now the question is, what qualities do you need to bring forward from your inner life while you are running? The first one is enthusiasm. Who embodies enthusiasm? A little child. Who can be more enthusiastic than a child? He enters into a garden and runs here and there, here and there, appreciating everything that he sees. Then, in addition to enthusiasm, you need eagerness. Again, who has more eagerness than a little child? If he plays with a toy, he is so eager, his whole world is the toy.
If you can feel that you are a five-year-old or six-year-old child, tiredness will not come into your mind. A child does not know what tiredness is. He knows only enthusiasm and eagerness. Never think of sixty miles or 3,100 miles. Never take the distance in that way — never! Only run for the joy of it.
Enter into the heart
Now, while running 3,100 miles, you have to deal with fatigue — when you are tired, exhausted, dead. As long as you are in the mind, you will always have fatigue, tiredness, weariness and everything. But the moment you enter into the heart, there is no fatigue. What you will find is constant energy.
If you are in the heart, there is a constant supply of energy and sweetness. We all have to develop sweetness. Sweetness is not masculine or feminine. People say that only girls can have sweetness and not men, but sweetness is not something masculine or feminine. Sweetness is a reality which is constantly supplying us with newness and freshness.
Early in the morning when you get up, if you have a sweet feeling inside you, then everything is beautiful. If inside you there is sweetness, the whole world is beautiful.
Running inside your heart garden
While you are running this long distance, you are seeing hundreds of cars passing by and so many people are making noise. But you should feel that you are not running around that big block; you are only running inside your own heart-garden where there are beautiful flowers, plants and trees. If you can not only see but feel that each time you are going around you are only running inside your beautiful heart-garden, then you can bring sweetness into each and every step that you take.
The surface that you run on is solid concrete. I cannot even walk on it. When you are running around, after an hour or two hours or a few days, this solid thing that you feel you are striking against starts striking your mind. You start thinking, "This is so bad. Every day I have to do sixty miles," this and that. But who counts the mileage? It is the mind. The mind is saying, "Oh my God, today I have to do sixty miles, and I have not yet done twenty miles!" Then you are finished! The mind, your worst enemy, is coming to torture you.
But the heart is not counting the mileage. The heart is only running, running, running. Then at the end of that session, the heart says, "Now let me see how many miles I have done." By that time, perhaps you have done forty miles already. The heart does not calculate. The mind calculates from one to two, two to three, three to four and so on. The mind tries to go to the destination by cutting, cutting, cutting. But the heart tries to see and feel the starting point and the end at the same time. For the heart the destination is not somewhere else. Only for the mind is the destination somewhere else. The heart will simply say, "Please take me to my destination."
Do not run with the mind. Even if today you fool the mind, tomorrow the mind will come back with redoubled trickeries to make your life miserable. You should say to the mind, "You stay with your trickeries. I want to play with my heart-toy, not with you. You consider your toys as beautiful, but I don't agree. In those days I was a fool; I enjoyed you. But now I am wise. I want to enjoy my heart-toy. The heart-toy always brings me happiness and newness, newness and happiness."
These excerpts are taken from Sri Chinmoy's books My Golden Children and Run and Smile, Smile and Run