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Soul Expression

Julia ChiI was a teenager when I first internalised that my body held the negative emotions, the self hatred, the fear within me and that this showed up physically…
I started to run with intent when I was fifteen, and by intent I mean I started to compete and win…
My first ‘big’ cross country race was the ‘Hampshire Dorset Wiltshire’ Cross country championships…
I felt extreme pressure from my Dad, ‘darling I’m expecting you to win’, and my coach, who also ‘knew’ I was capable of winning the event…
I recognise of course in retrospect that these men meant no harm, they were excited by my talent and saw me as a winner…

But for me, there was pressure….

And I somehow took on board the famous football manager’s words…
‘If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing…’
And so instead of letting myself express my soul in motion through the running step I tensed up…

If I didn’t win, I felt I was nothing…
And because I was competing at a high level, I didn’t win very often…!
Any wins I did have simply increased the pressure to produce the goods again…

I read ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ at around the same time and completely embraced his words…

‘Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than your thought itself in a form you can see, break the chains of your thought and you break the chains of your body too…’

This became my philosophy…
My life’s work grew out of this…

That the body holds the wisdom, that while we are in a body – which of course is just our ‘suit of clothes for our soul’ – while we reside within our body for the time we are here, we can discover and uncover our pain, our fear, our tension and let it go…

I have however discovered that this is easier said than done; and that each person’s journey here is unique…
We do not know the path another treads, and I recognised early on, that the most important work I would do would be to release my own tension…
To teach others if they asked me, and make my own body my experiment while I am living.

Often, instead of releasing the pain, we become the pain…

And this isn’t just in terms of aches and pains, physical manifestations of our tension and distress; this is in our adaptations to internalising as children that it was not safe to be who we are…

That to survive in this world we must conform, we must adhere to the rules and structures of our land; embrace the beliefs and practices and voices of our ‘elders and betters…’!

And so the tension is subtle, the way we adapt feels to be the way we are..
In the same way that ‘bad posture’ becomes habitual, so our adaptations become ‘us’…

It is in the mirror of tension that we can start to notice and investigate our thoughts, our beliefs….
Where are we held and locked in painful patterns that can be unravelled?
Where have we internalised that there is no way forward?
Where have we settled into thinking that this is the way it is?

Unravelling pain within us is a moment by moment practice; this I have discovered…
That anything that felt at odds, or hurt us when we were young was stored…
And the body will always present its bill…

So every reaction we feel in the body is worth taking note of…
It is an arrow to the place where we lost a part of ourselves, where we tensed up, where we got hurt…

This has become my life’s work…

To free myself, and to teach others if they want to know how, I have discovered we can let go of the past, the fear within us, and transform ourselves, free ourselves, release ourselves from fear and self hatred and learn to deeply reside in love…

And this is why I am still running, forty one years on from that day when I streaked over the side of Salisbury plain, miles and miles ahead of the rest of the field…
Like a hare out of a trap…
Running for all I was worth…
I am still running because running is where I can see where I am not free…
My soul expression, blocked by fear….
And so every day I run towards the light of love…

 

 

I have been running all of my life – it feels I was born to run. In the running step I experienced freedom and my true expression. I came to see that I needed to ‘get out of the way of myself’ and let my energy flow through the running step; allow it to express itself in the dance and the motion of running.  I ran for England and GB for some years. My first international was in 1979, a three mile cross country race; and I continued to run at international level until 1993. Two of my best results were first place in the Dublin City Marathon in 1985 and 7th place woman, 3rd British woman in the 1986 London Marathon in a time of 2.36.31, which gained me selection for the Commonwealth Games.

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