In less than three weeks from now I will be participating in an ultramarathon, part of the 4 Deserts Race series – the world’s leading rough-country endurance footrace series.
This year’s ‘Racing the Planet’ event will be held in Queenstown New Zealand, where all competitors will race the 250 km distance while carrying all their own equipment and food.
As part of this challenge I have decided to raise funds to support the work of Assistance Dogs Australia by asking family, friends and colleagues to make a donation.
Assistance Dogs Australia train and place dogs with people in need (free of charge to the individual). It costs in excess of $35,000 to train each dog; everything from purchasing a puppy, to food, vaccinations, training, and placement of dog with client.
Assistance Dogs do not receive any government funding and therefore rely on the generosity of individuals, corporate and philanthropic organisations to provide their vital services to the community.
The services that these dogs are trained to provide are listed at the end of this message, but in addition to these services they provide love and companionship to people who might otherwise be lonely or isolated from the community. This of course comes naturally to dogs – no training required for unconditional friendship.
Please help Assistance Dogs Australia by giving whatever you can using the ‘Donate Now’ button, and please also spread the word by sharing my page with your friends and family.
Thank you in advance for your generosity, it’ll make a huge difference to the life of an adult or child living with a disability.
Services and benefits provided by assistance dogs:
• Open and close doors, drawers and cupboards
• Retrieve dropped items and fridge
• Retrieved dropped items
• Press the button at the traffic lights
• Take the washing out of the machine
• Remove items of clothing
• Pay the cashier at the shops
• Alert bark if their owner is in danger
• Assist with the development and improvement of motor skills
• Provide greater freedom and independence
• Reduce the need for a carer
• Improve self-esteem and confidence
Have you ever wondered about the true nature of reality? Is everything an illusion or is it real?
The Dalai Lama, as one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers, has thought deeply about this question.
He has shared with us a simple path for figuring it out and experiencing it for yourself.
The eight mundane concerns to let go of
The first step is to understand that there are eight mundane concerns that tend to dominate our lives. They are:
becoming elated when someone praises you;
becoming depressed when someone insults or belittles you;
feeling happy when you experience success;
being depressed when you experience failure;
being joyful when you acquire wealth;
feeling dispirited when you become poor;
being pleased when you have fame; and
feeling depressed when you lack recognition.
Someone seeking enlightenment into the true nature of reality should ensure that they are not being defiled by these thoughts.
By letting go of your attachment to these kinds of thoughts, you end up transforming your mind in very powerful ways.
Be glad when someone belittles you
As the Dalai Lama says:
“May I be gladdened when someone belittles me, and may I not take pleasure when someone praises me. If I do take pleasure in praise then it immediately increases my arrogance, pride, and conceit; whereas if I take pleasure in criticism, then at least it will open my eyes to my own shortcomings.”
This is indeed a powerful sentiment.
“And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.”
In the Buddhist teachings on the ultimate nature of reality, there are two significant time periods to consider:
The actual meditation on emptiness.
The period subsequent to the meditative session when you engage actively with the real world.
In the Dalai Lama’s view:
“Sometimes people have the idea that what really matters is single-pointed meditation on emptiness within the meditative session. They pay much less attention to how this experience should be applied in post-meditation periods. However, I think the post-meditation period is very important. The whole point of meditating on the ultimate nature of reality is to ensure that you are not fooled by appearances can often be deluding. With a deeper understanding of reality, you can go beyond appearances and relate to the world in a much more appropriate, effective, and realistic manner.”
“The illusion-like nature of things can only be perceived if you have freed yourself from attachment to phenomena as independent discrete entities. Once you have succeeded in freeing yourself from such attachment, the perception of the illusion-like nature of reality will automatically arise. Whenever things appear to you, although they appear to have an independent or objective existence, you will know as a result of your meditation that this is not really the case. You will be aware that things are not as substantial and solid as they seem. The term ‘illusion’ therefore points to the disparity between how you perceive things and how they really are.”
Running is a beautiful and highly personal experience, but let’s face it, most of us would prefer to pound out the kilometers on a scenic coastal path or winding bush track than a city street or industrial estate.
If you’ve ever wanted to expand your running horizons, here are 14 amazing runs around Australia sourced from personal experience, that of fellow runners, race directors and the ever-useful Cool Running forums.
There’s a combination of road and trail runs, the latter often the most scenic and sometimes technically challenging. If you want to impress an overseas visitor, or you’re heading interstate for a holiday and want to build some good runs into your itinerary, read on.
Remember if you take to the trails, dress appropriately for weather changes, especially in winter, take your own hydration source and some back-up nutrition.
Just as importantly, purchase running shoes from a retailer such as The Athlete’s Foot that will keep your goals and running style in mind when determining the best fit, brand and style.
Just 5km from the Brisbane CBD, Mt Coot-tha has 18.5 kilometres of tracks ideal for running. Start from either JC Slaughter Falls or Simpson Falls picnic areas. The river city is also well endowed with shared bike paths so if you’re staying in the CBD, it’s easy to drop onto a path for a scenic river run away from traffic.
Noosa National Park
Start from Main Beach on Hastings Street and follow the timber boardwalk to the entrance to the National Park and then onwards via the coastal Tanglewood track out to Hells Gates and back via the inland bush track for a total run of about 10km. For a longer run continue on to Alexandria Bay.
Spit to Manly
In Sydney, the Spit to Manly 10km run starts at the Spit Bridge in Mosman’s Middle Harbour and ends at Manly Cove. It’s a combination of track and road plus a bit of beach, easy to follow and with views all the way. Take your camera and finish in Manly for breakfast/lunch.
Park at Glenbrook, catch the train to Woodford and then run the Oaks Fire Trail back down. It’s 25km, with the final 11km downhill to Euroka camping ground, which is about 5km from Glenbrook station.
Centennial Park, Paddington
You can do the 3.6km internal loop that follows the road and runs parallel with the horse-riding track, or follow the park perimeter for a quieter, more peaceful run through a variety of vegetation and wetlands.
Royal National Park
The Royal in Sydney’s south is a trail fiend’s paradise, and the jewel in the running crown is the 26km Coast Track that stretches from the village of Bundeena in the north to Otford in the south. You can do the whole thing in one hit but, be warned, there are some significant climbs that will test the fittest. Alternatively, break it up into sections and enjoy the mix of cliff tops, beaches, open grasslands and forest. Carry your own water and food.
In Melbourne, the 3.8km Tan track is mostly forgiving packed dirt, predominantly flat and starts near the Swan Street Bridge. It follows a scenic route along the Yarra River, and skirts the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Kings Domain with options to divert and add some distance. It’s close to CBD hotels without hitting much traffic.
The Prom National Park’s Mount Oberon summit track is a 6.8km return route with a mixture of some steep sections and steps. The summit view is of the southernmost point of Australia’s mainland. Start from Telegraph Saddle car park.
The Perth CBD landmark has myriad trails, not to mention Jacob’s Ladder – 250 steps of fun climbing, rewarded with great views and a sense of being well away from the city when in fact you’re not.
Lake Monger Reserve
Has a 10.4km flat track through picturesque wetlands. It’s less than 5km from Perth with ample parking.
On the coast just 11km from the Adelaide CBD. Catch a tram there and run the 8km loop, following the coast path from Glenelg Pier to Brighton Beach. Plenty of good cafes and diversionary options along the way.
The mountain behind Hobart has many running tracks easily reachable by car from the CBD. You can follow the road for 22km to the summit, or take the many fire trails or walking tracks. Try the 7km Springs to Lenah Valley route.
The Esplanade at dusk offers spectacular sunset views, and on to Mindil Beach to a bike track that follows the coast to the East Point Reserve, about 10km from the city.
Lake Burley Griffin
The perimeter shoreline is 40km, but the run around it can be abbreviated or easily added to. It’s an all-bitumen shared pathway, nearly all flat, and passes by national institutions such as the High Court and the National Portrait Gallery.
Lao Tzu was the founder Taoism, the highly influential philosophy that emphasizes humility, mindful living and fulfilment in life.
He is known to have masterfully implemented detachment, letting go and simplicity in his life. Most importantly, he helped countless people discover their true purpose.
Lao Tzu has been a huge figure in Chinese culture and his teachings are still taught to this very day.
If you want to learn about harmonious and purposeful living, here are some of his most profound quotes that will make reconsider your priorities in life.
The 3 great treasures in life
“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”
True intelligence and power
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”
Live in the present moment
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Don’t give up on your dreams
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
The art of simplicity
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.”
You are eternal
“If you understand others you are smart. If you understand yourself you are illuminated. If you overcome others you are powerful. If you overcome yourself you have strength. If you know how to be satisfied you are rich. If you can act with vigor, you have a will. If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting. If you die without loss, you are eternal.”
The importance of kindness
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
Three precious things of life
“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”