Category Archives: happiness

Relationships define who you are

We are part of a matrix of relationships. Who we are is determined from early childhood by our associations with the people closest to us.

“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” The saying was first coined by the American coach, speaker, and author Jim Rohn.

We share the same dress code, values, and mannerisms

Close friends and marriage partners are known to share each other’s views and values, dress code, and even mannerisms.

The energy frequency on which we are moving determines who we make friends with and want to spend time with.

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Everything is relationship. When we are born the closest relationship is with the mother. It evolves from there to the forming of identity and self in puberty, when part of the process is rejecting everything the parental generation stands for.

Relationships find themselves on many different levels of interaction.  Family members and working colleagues are not a choice.  But in most other cases we have the freedom to choose who we want to spend most of our time with. The image of self is colored by external influences and what society seemingly expects from us.  Few people know who they really are and what their innermost needs are.

We are part of a web of different relationships

Who are you in the gigantic web of living beings on earth? What is your relationship to your physical self and the external world around you? How we treat the earth is very much a reflection on how we treat ourselves.

A loving and caring identity to self, freed from the debris of the past, reflects on nearly all our relationships, whether to a beloved one or to friends and family.

Animals are naturally bound to the universal matrix with a sixth sense, reacting extremely sensitively to changes in the environment. Historians recorded that animals including rats, snakes, and weasels deserted the Greek city of Helice in 373 B.C. days before an earthquake devastated the area (National Geographic, Nov. 11, 2003).

Eyewitness accounts of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia reported elephants moving to higher ground, dogs refusing to leave their shelters and flamingoes abandoning low-lying breeding grounds.

Dogs can pick up olfactory cues from humans (New Scientist, Oct. 19, 2007), even smelling emotions such as fear and aggression. Dog owners have always known this and science is increasingly proving them right.

The relationship to Self and God

A pilgrimage walk is very much a discovery of relationship to self, to God or the universal intelligence. Some pilgrims describe it like a walk home as awareness grows that we are not alone and that we can go into trust.

German philosopher Martin Buber in his book Ich und Du (translated as I and Thou) finds that human life essentially finds meaning and purpose in relationships.

In this view all our relationships ultimately bring us into relationship with God or our Creator.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

(This is an extract of my next book “Deep Walking for Body Mind and Soul” scheduled for publication later this year)

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Walking into authenticity

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.

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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

https://www.reinogevers.com

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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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Escaping the treadmill

On the Camino recently I met an Italian pilgrim who has walked the northwestern Spanish pilgrimage route several times. He explained to me why he just couldn’t stop walking.

“I was feeling like part of this big machine that just keeps going.  I realized. If you want to know who you are, you have to get out of this big machine,” he said.

It’s one of the reasons a growing number of people are walking the Camino. There is a deep spiritual yearning for the discovery of the true self, of looking within. Treading the treadmill is spending most of your life in the accumulation of things. After a while, things lose their shine. The urge is to buy more things, which for many people means a never-ending spiral of debt and frustration.

When we are treading the treadmill of the big machine there is little time for reflection as we hurry through life instead of aligning ourselves with life. For me walking the Camino each year is taking time out to digest, to reflect and to cleanse body and mind.

Why is the Camino so different than an ordinary hike?

But why not walk the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States or the Bruce Trail in Canada or some of the many other famous nature trails?

The many conversations, I have had with the pilgrims passing through the pilgrims’ hostel in Najera the past two weeks,  however, confirmed my impression that the Camino is in so many ways different than a normal hike.

The Camino works on many different subtle levels. For one thing, you are literally walking through a history book with every town and village along the Camino steeped in centuries of human architectural and artistic marvel.

A unique cultural and architectural heritage 

Najera, the little village that is the eighth stage of the Camino starting from the little French hamlet of Saint-Jean-Pied-Le-Port, dates back to Roman times, strategically located along the Najerilla river with the hilltop offering a perfect military observation area. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Navarre until it was conquered by the Muslims and then later recaptured by the Christians.

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         Bridge leading into the town of Najera, monastery to the right 

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And, right in the middle of this small town of hardly 3,000 people, you will find one of the most marvelous monasteries on the Camino.

It is believed that the Camino pilgrimage path even predates the Christian era when Celtic priests celebrated ritual walks.  “I started walking the Camino as a sporting adventure and ended it as a pilgrim,”  a young man said in sharing the experience many people make on the Camino.

Celebrating the moment

A precondition to really internalizing the magic of the Camino is in the celebration of the present moment which comes after several days of walking and if you are able to avoid the treadmill trap and falling into the robot and monkey mind by constantly checking your cell phone.

It is the one big advice I would give to pilgrims starting their walk. Limit the use of your cell phone to 15 minutes a day.  So often I’ve observed people talking for hours on their cell phones while walking the Camino, robbing themselves of a truly magical experience.

Walking alone and in nature is a challenge initially. It’s about learning to accept the company of self with all its light and shadow. The feelings and emotions can at times be overwhelming but are part of the process of opening the doorway to within.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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The walk alone

The ancient masters of all the great religions recommended time alone as a crucial means of discovering authentic self.

It was the 40 days that Jesus took for time alone in the desert to confront his own shadow and the demons of temptation.  Moses removed himself alone to Mount Sinai to receive the ten commandments from God.

Before his enlightenment the Buddha retreated for an extended time in the forests, and often went into silent retreats during his lifetime. He however cautioned that “one who goes into solitude will either sink to the bottom or rise to the top,” meaning you have to do it for the right reasons.

It is in the time spent alone that we come closest to the divine and our life purpose, especially if it is time alone in nature.

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The Chinese masters of the body arts such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong called the empty space between the spokes of the wheel more important than the spoke itself.

It is in that empty dark space between the stars where you can touch the divine.

Confronting distraction

We as a society are obsessed with what the wise ancients called the distractions of the 10,000 things. Countless things pull at our attention every day in this digital age:

The news media feed on negative news, the constant subliminal messages working our emotions instill a need for material things we mostly don’t need. There is confusion between necessity and want.

It is no coincidence that with the addiction to distraction there are very few people who can truly bear to spend time alone, and be without the constant chatter.

There is such a great quote from Robin Williams that really sums it up nicely:

 “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

We are thus constantly seeking the accolades through social media as a reassurance. But it will seldom lead you onto the path of deeper spiritual experience.

Discover self by being alone

It is during the walk alone, the time-out during a silent retreat and the alone time in nature where the gateway to the soul opens and you begin to realize who you truly are.

It is the  time when we confront our own shadow, explore the world within, and find out where we need to take the next step.

It is during the alone time that we discover the heart, the love and the divine within. It is who we truly are and that which soul wants to illuminate.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Finding purpose with deep walking

My next book “Deep Walking – for Body, Mind and Soul” will soon be on the market.  It is about finding purpose during that void of inner silence that comes with deep walking.

We need to listen to nature

While writing the book I so often came to a point of writer’s block or procrastination. A new inspiration always came after going for a walk in nature. I think this is a dilemma most of us face in the modern world. We are spending too much time indoors, and it’s making us sick and moody.

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The disconnect from nature and the wisdom of the universe, has separated our species from the web of creation. This is why we are treating ourselves and the environment with such disrespect. What is happening within reflects what is happening in the outer world.

At the crossroads – depression and suicides have reached epidemic proportions

Humans are creative and exceptional beings. But we are very much at the crossroads where decisions made today will determine the future of our species in the next half century. I’ve said it often on these pages: The Western mind has sacrificed its soul to the golden calf of immediate external material gratification.  The result: Depression and mental illnesses have reached epidemic proportions. Something is out of order when one person commits suicide every 40 seconds. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group 15-24 in the United States!

Religious dogma from the past is not giving answers

A growing number of people are feeling this intuitively and are searching for new meaning and purpose. They are not finding the answers in the religious dogma of old that is telling us to believe in this or that. The new spiritual consciousness comes from an individual experience. It is why more than 300,000 people from all walks of life, different nationalities and faith, walk the pilgrimage path in Spain, the Camino, every year.  You can get my tips on preparing  for the Camino here: Preparation Camino.

The difference between a hike and a pilgrimage

It is a phenomenon I came across the very first time I walked the Camino in 2007. There  is a huge difference between just taking a hike for exercise purposes and going on a deep walking experience lasting several weeks, especially on a pilgrimage path walked by pilgrims for centuries.  Get my tips on preparing for the Camino here:

Nobody who walks the Camino with serious and mindful intent, comes back the same. As you walk from day to day through rain, mud and hot sun, passing village after village and climbing mountain top after mountain top, a mystery unfolds from within. When the many external distractions fall away, the empty space where we stop thinking opens and the universe, or God, can finally speak to us.

We can find this experience in meditation and other spiritual practices. I’ve found that deep walking in nature to be an exceptionally meditative experience, taking time out from the rat-race that has become our world, aligning with the above and the below with every mindful step.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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