Monthly Archives: August 2019

Walking the valley of death

There is a section of the Camino Frances in northwestern Spain described as “the valley of death” because it is a flat, monotonous plain between the cities of Burgos and Leon. Many pilgrims prefer to skip the section by taking the bus because of the searing heat and loneliness.

Monotony and loneliness is a state of mind

Those pilgrims who have walked the “Meseta” section, however, describe it as a particularly crucial part of their Camino experience. Monotony and loneliness is, after all, a state of mind.

The Meseta and some of the other boring sections of the Camino, like the busy motorways on the coastal route of the Camino del Norte, force the pilgrim into introspection, and into acceptance of self.

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Meeting the shadow

It is the part of the Camino where the pilgrim meets face to face with ego, distorted images and the shadow of the subconscious mind.  Inevitably at times he/she falls flat on the ground emotionally.

“If you don’t accept the Camino with humility, it will force you to become humble,”  an American pilgrim told me on my first Camino some twelve years ago. It was a warning I always remembered after suffering from blistered feet, getting lost, carrying too much unnecessary clutter and going through an emotional roller-coaster.

The “flat on the ground” moments

Especially, if you start saying to yourself that “this Camino thing is no big deal,” it will inevitably present you with another lesson to learn.

We have all experienced those moments of “lying flat on the ground” after losing a loved one through death or divorce, financial disaster, a medical diagnosis, job loss or another major life-changing event that turns us into a different person. Who we were before we are no longer. In a way, it is experiencing the death of the old self.

In such moments the big challenge is to avoid falling into the trap of the blame-game and accepting the situation with humility. Those “flat on the ground” times are the precursor to a new stage of spiritual growth and emotional growth. We end up so frustrated that we finally take the action necessary. The alcoholic finally seeks therapy. We leave a dysfunctional relationship and a job that has depleted all our energy. And, we sever ties with people and situations that did us no good.

In the mystical Christian tradition, the story does not end with the death on the cross but is the path leading through the valley of death to resurrection.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Are we heading for an apocalypse?

A barrage of negative news from the mass shootings of innocent people, trade wars and the melting of the polar ice caps from the effects of global warming easily creates the impression that mankind is heading for an apocalypse. But moaning about the state of the world is no solution and creates a mindset of negativity.

Where attention goes energy flows

In the duality of what is life, we are confronted constantly with light and shadow. There is good and there is evil.  Where attention goes energy flows. The human mind is unfortunately hard-wired to perceive the negative before seeing the positive. It is part of the survival instinct of homo sapiens.

Magic of the moment

The downside is that we at the same time have the capacity to dwell constantly in the past or in the future, missing the magic or the gratitude of the moment. I just need to observe my dog, who will jump with joy, wagging her tail, when I just mention the sentence: “Time for a walk, Klara.”

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It is particularly difficult to find the emotional shift to positivity when we are bombarded from all sides by news of negative events.  But instead of falling into the trap of wallowing in the cloud of negativity, we need to ask ourselves the question. What can I do to change it?

The emphasis on the negative puts mankind in a defeatest, “can’t do anything about it anyway” mode. The “fight climate change” campaigns have the opposite effect as intended because the problem seems so overwhelming.

Becoming pro-active

Enormous energy can be released in human beings if they feel they are doing something purposeful for the bigger whole. Ethiopia, India, and China are some of the countries that recently launched massive tree-planting campaigns to restore landscapes and to mitigate the effects of climate change.  If every human being on earth planted a tree or a shrub we would be well on our way to boosting a restorative mindset.

The world today is a better place

Life is living on the edge. Humanity has been on the brink of extinction on numerous occasions in history. But we have come a long way since the plagues of the Middle Ages, the burning of “witches” at the stake or the sacrificing of human beings in the name of religion.  In the bigger picture, humanity today is far better off than it ever was. The average middle-class family in the Western world today has a better lifestyle than any king or queen centuries ago when there was no such thing as central heating or running water.

The problem in the modern era is information overload. We are confronted with the constant pull of countless distractions that have a mainly negative message. Should we then be surprised at the enormous rise in depression and mental illness?  We need a radical reduction in the dosage of negative news and more messages that stir hope.  And, we need to seize those moments for stillness and peace of mind, creating the space for self-discovery and purpose. It is a space that every individual needs to vigorously defend. Do not let your mind be captured by apocalyptic negativity.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Filed under environment, happiness, humanity, lifestyle management, spirituality, Uncategorized