I’m planning to walk a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 2019. Actually, it was a rather spontaneous decision. I’m a fan of Paolo Coelho; and I tripped across a video about his
experience on the Camino on his blog – www.paolocoelhoblog.com. Within the first minutes of watching this video, I felt a tug on my heart. By the end, I was acutely aware of a deep inner calling to walk it.
It’s a 500-mile pilgrimage beginning in France and crosses the entire northern coast of Spain. It generally takes about five weeks of daily walking around 15 miles a day. Part of it through the
Pyrenees Mountains, some fairly challenging terrain.
I’ve never done anything even remotely so demanding. Though I love nature and the outdoors, I’ve come to generally accept (with a sense of loss) that my body is aging; and a certain decline in balance, flexibility and endurance that goes along with that. This, even though I have done resistance and cardio work at a gym pretty regularly throughout my lifetime; and had an on-and-off practice of walking three miles a day.
It’s said that the Camino pilgrimage starts as soon as the decision is made to walk it.
I didn’t fully comprehend that at first. But as I have begun training by daily walking increasing distances, rugged paths, and steep hills the wisdom of
that notion is becoming increasingly apparent. Yesterday was my first eight-mile day, having started training three weeks ago at about three miles daily. Following are a few of the insights arising from walking in solitude two+ hours per day. I’m certain more will emerge as my training continues. And of course, this is all just a warm-up for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual revelations that will naturally occur on the Camino – as it seems most pilgrims experience.
- Walking is opening space for in-sights to emerge about my life in general, and in regard to what needs to happen now in order to best express my mission of service to the world; also known as my life’s purpose.
- I’m gaining a closer connection to my breath and body as I develop awareness of my pace and breathing varying with the degree of difficulty of the path I’m on. Many refer to this as presence – paying attention, and being totally in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or future.
- I’m regaining trust in my body rather than capitulating to worries about how it’s aging. I’m becoming aware that my balance and flexibility, which I’d given up as declining, are in fact increasing. Not to mention leg strength.
- I’m learning the subtle difference between physical pain and aliveness. What I have tended to view as pain or discomfort can be viewed from a different perspective.
- I’m achieving a deeper appreciation for the depth of my connection with nature. Acute awareness of the exchange between plants and myself of carbon dioxide and oxygen leads to a deeper appreciation for how we co-exist and co-depend on one another.
- My writing and development work has taken a hit as I’ve begun walking more and more time each day. I’m coming to a realization that I must wake up and go to bed earlier in order to make time for both training and work.
I think of myself as the happiest man on earth. I’ve written about the steps anyone can engage to achieve a deep, heart-centered happiness in my book Upgrade Your Lifestyle: 10 Keys to Unlock a Steady State of Happiness. But I’m finding that even training for The Camino is expanding my self-awareness in ways I’d never dreamed
of. I have the feeling that actually walking the Camino will be an order of magnitude more profound.
The photos in this post are of the amazingly beautiful natural tropical setting I’m fortunate to be able to train in.
More insights to follow. Thanks for reading!