A pilgrimage walk is so much more than an ordinary hike, working on many subtle levels, that may trigger a changed perspective and a complete realignment of emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
Walking the Camino is a walk into authenticity when the whispers from the inner voice gradually become heard as with every step more distance is created from the pull of the external distractions of the daily treadmill.
Moving to a higher energy level
From my own observations, I would say that most people are living lives in which they suffer in a quiet misery of unhappy jobs, dysfunctional relationships and other unfulfilled needs that come when the mind is focused too much on external rather than internal needs.
A combination of a daily dosage of junk foods, a mind fed with negative gossip and emotional drama, a sedentary lifestyle, an imbalanced stress, and recuperation cycle, inevitably lead to a downward energy spiral.
Finding that momentum to change an unhappy situation
Over the years it then becomes that much more difficult to find enough energy for the momentum to change an unhappy situation, especially when it comes to taking that first step in changing bad food habits, doing a regular exercise routine or morning ritual.
When you are on a pilgrimage walk, you simply have to keep going. Once you are on the path the pull to complete it is very strong. Other pilgrims will give you that extra bit of encouragement when you are having a down moment.
Walking off old emotional baggage
Especially during the early stages of the walk, there will be mornings when every muscle in the body is aching and feet are blistered. You may be asking: “Why am I doing this?” But gradually the walk becomes easier, the load from a backpack less heavy, and the motivation to reach the destination that much bigger.
It is a huge reward when you actually start feeling so much better, physically and emotionally. It is part of the detox, the walking off of old emotional baggage, that is part of the Camino experience.
By the time you have walked three or four weeks on your pilgrimage retreat, your energy frequency inevitably rises. This becomes noticeable in the resonance with people that have a positive mindset. You might find stray dogs or cats following you, a bird singing at you from a breakfast table or complete strangers greeting you and starting a conversation. You will also become more aware of the beauty of your surroundings.
Taking time out for realignment
Over the years I’ve tried fitting in a pilgrimage retreat into my schedule every year. It has been life-changing. Modern lives have become exceedingly stressful with the emotions of pain and fear dictating the daily narrative. The uncertainty that comes with exceptional economic and social changes is making many people ill.
More than ever, therefore, we need those time out retreats for inner realignment for those age-old questions seeking answers: Where do I come from? Where am I going? Am I leaving a positive footprint for future generations? The sense of purpose reveals itself in the authentic self.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant