Category Archives: self-development

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.

tyler-nix-Pw5uvsFcGF4-unsplash

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

                                             applepodcast         

 

Leave a comment

Filed under happiness, lifestyle management, Pilgrimage, psychology, self-development, spirituality, Uncategorized

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.

Camino_Portuguez

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

                                             applepodcast         

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, connection, happiness, lifestyle management, meditation, mental-health, Pilgrimage, psychology, self-development, spirituality, Uncategorized

Feeding the narcissist

We are living in the age of the narcissist. Social media has opened a Pandora’s Box which has provided the ideal tool for the narcissist personality to tap into toxic emotions that have swept him into political power.

Narcissists are obsessed with attention

The narcissist first and foremost feeds on attention. He is obsessed with it and will do anything to be the talk of the town. He will rant and insult with every tweet, knowing that this will keep fueling the fire of the boiling cauldron.

Narcissist leaders are especially dangerous because they are unaware of what effect their words have on certain ears. The rightwing extremist will read a tweet by the person in authority ranting about immigrants as validation to take a gun and open fire on innocent people of color in a supermarket.

manyu-varma-aDXV4GbqHcQ-unsplash

Photo by Manyu Varma on Unsplash

Insulting indigenous people for their calls to protect the Amazon rainforest is seen as the green light by illegal loggers and miners to set fire to the earth’s largest still intact ecosystem.  It gets to the point where a British prime minister and his supporters would rather take into account an unprecedented economic disaster than losing face on their commitment to leaving the European Union.

The narcissist is only in love with himself

The larger consequences for a country, society and our planet are of secondary importance to the narcissist. He is only in love with himself and in his self-aggrandizement.

A narcissist feels that it is his right to vent anger no matter what effect this has on everyone around. He is on a mission in dividing and polarizing a society, family, political party or religious group. It is a hallmark of this personality that they are immune to the effects their actions have on everyone else. The primary purpose is to keep on churning the marketing machine of name recognition.

Narcissist culture turns the lie into truth 

We are living in dangerous times where part of the narcissist culture is to turn the lie into a truth. Scientists are defamed as messengers of “fake news” and lose their jobs. Narcissists are experts at gaslighting where the truth is manipulated in such a way that the recipient of the message will start having doubts about his/her own sanity.  They are experts at changing the narrative to serve their own truth. Sowing confusion and spreading disinformation is part of the methodology of the narcissist who then postulates himself onto the stage as the only purveyor of the truth.  Their charisma will enchant people into their orbit but the narcissist will dump them like a useless object when they are no longer needed. Those who have the audacity to reveal the lies and deceit will find themselves at the receiving end of personal insult and bullying. The narcissist is very good at dishing out but is very thin-skinned when at the receiving end.

The Narcissist feeds on toxic emotion and drama 

The current crop of narcissist leaders will stop at nothing and have no problem in leaving scorched earth in their wake.  Especially the news media needs to stop falling for the bait that is thrown at them with every rant and tweet. We need to be mindful of the angry conversations centering around these disturbed personalities. It is the energy they are feeding on and that keeps them dictating the narrative of the day.

Smokescreens are thrown at us while the forest is burning. Narcissists are experts at tapping into the undercurrent of anger and drama that in most cases has its roots in bad personal choices or family history.  It is painful and a long process of self-introspection to accept responsibility for one’s own actions that have directly been responsible for a predicament.  But it is the precondition to the start of the healing process that needs to take place both individually and on a global level.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

                                             applepodcast         

 

Leave a comment

Filed under ideology, lifestyle management, psychology, self-development, trump presidency, Uncategorized

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.

IMG_2519

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

IMG_2438 - Copy

 

 

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

                                             applepodcast         

 

2 Comments

Filed under happiness, humanity, Pilgrimage, psychology, self-development, spirituality, Uncategorized

A journey and its lessons

A group of tired young Russian pilgrims from St.Petersburg arrived late last night in the Municipal Albergue, or pilgrims’ hostel, in Najera.  It was the last group we registered before we concluded our 14-day term as a four-member volunteer team.

During these two weeks, we registered some 805 pilgrims who stayed overnight in the hostel.

The Camino is becoming an international experience

When I walked my first Camino in 2007,  most people walking the path seemed to be middle-aged Germans, Dutch or Scandinavian.  The pilgrims arriving in Najera were from a far more international diversity.  Apart from the Europeans, the largest groups were from Asia and the Americas.

Together with my fellow three Hospitaleros Pedro from France, Carmen from Toledo in Spain and Ebo from Argentina we were responsible for keeping the hostel clean, and catering to the needs of the between 50-70 pilgrims arriving each day.  A good part of the day we spent scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning floors and washing bed sheets.

IMG_2507

Pilgrims sharing a meal and the experiences of the day in the Municipal Albergue in Najera. Pilgrims are only asked to donate a small fee for the use of the utilities.

Najera is the eighth stage of the Camino Frances, starting in the French village of Saint-Pied-de-Port,  and taking the pilgrim on a more than 727 kilometers (451 miles) journey across northwestern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

An adventure turns into a spiritual journey

It was a privilege to converse with many of these people and to hear their different stories and motivations in walking the path. Some people start the Camino as a sporting adventure that then turns into a spiritual journey.  An American pilgrim I walked with some years ago said to me: “If you don’t approach the Camino with humility it will humiliate you.”

The Camino is telling you that this journey is not about accomplishing something but in un-becoming from everything that you thought you were and touching that place deep in the soul who you are truly meant to be.

Is the Camino part of the bigger journey of humanity seeking a common spirituality that transcends the boundaries of religious dogma?

A test of emotional and physical resolve

When I spoke to a British man, leaving the Albergue in the morning he confided that “this very emotional journey” was much more than he had anticipated.

After a good week on the Camino, it is a real testing time for physical and emotional resolve. The Camino is in many ways an analogy of life. If you can deal with the roller-coaster of the walk’s trials and tribulations, you will be steeled for whatever challenges life throws at your feet in the acceptance of the impermanence of all things.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

                                             applepodcast         

Leave a comment

Filed under meditation, Pilgrimage, psychology, raised consciousness, self-development, spirituality, Uncategorized

Spiritual hot spots

Najera, Spain – The pilgrimage path or Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain is dotted with “spiritual hot spots” where man has worshipped different deities since the earliest of times.

Different religions worshipped at the same sites

Romans built mausoleums on Celtic sites. Early Christians turned these temples into churches or chapels. According to legend, the Celts had already performed walking pilgrimages on the Camino in following the Milky Way northward. Names and religions change over time but the geographical pull of a place remains.

img_2487

The Sta. Maria de Arcos chapel near Najera, a Paleo Christian Basilica built upon a Roman mausoleum between the 5th and 6th centuries.

When the Moslems occupied most of the Iberian Peninsular they converted the churches into mosques. Later the Christians again turned the mosques into churches.

However, as humanity moves toward higher consciousness, religious belief in the form of intolerant dogma is being replaced by mystical experience. It is what many of the folk from numerous nationalities, and cultural background are seeking in the modern-day pilgrimage.

Spiritual experience versus religious dogma

Spiritual experience can only be felt. The universal intelligence or God speaks through symbols, sometimes in a message from people, we coincidentally meet.

On the Camino, wonderful sites of worship can be found in the small towns and villages. Pilgrims complain that these are often closed. There is a reason. Art thieves have in the past stolen valuable artifacts, notably „The Lamentation“ in Najera in 1913.  The 15th century was sold by Sotheby‘s for 1.46 million euros in 2008. Spanish authorities were unable to halt the auction because it was sold several times during the past century.

We only become aware of this mystical language when we remove ourselves from the bombardment of daily distractions and allow our senses to open to the magic.

Some on the Camino come just for the adventure but most of the people I’ve been talking to on the Camino during the past few days have a story. One woman told me she had come to the conclusion that there was so much more to discover than a life of silent misery.

Today I met a Paris fashion photographer who is taking a lengthy mental time-out in walking “only” a slow 10-15 km a day. In a village chapel along the way, he said he had an “experience” that could not be explained.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

                                             applepodcast         

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, lifestyle management, raised consciousness, self-development, Uncategorized

Tales from a pilgrims’ hostel

An 85-year old Dutch guy arrived here at the pilgrims’ hostel in Najera, northwestern Spain, pulling a 100-kilogram cart. While all the other arriving pilgrims were walking toward Santiago, Johannes van der Pas was going the other direction back home.

Johannes celebrated his 100th day on the Camino and has become quite a celebrity. Passing motorists have been seen waving to him. Strangers are inviting him to stay overnight after he was featured on Portuguese television while on his way to the famous pilgrimage town of Fatima.

He started walking from Eindhoven, Netherlands, then stopped in Lourdes and from there walked via Santiago to Fatima.

Pilgrim-najera1

Johannes van der Pas with his credential or pilgrim’s pass displaying all the stamps from the towns he has visited along the way.

It’s a remarkable achievement for any person, but this guy is not letting the old man in and is in better physical shape than most men half his age. He has according to my calculation, so far walked 3,340 kilometers, averaging 33.4 kilometers a day.

On occasions, he has walked all night in the rain in the remote areas of France where, in contrast to Spain, there are hardly any pilgrims hostels.

Johannes is living proof that it’s possible to remain mentally and physically active up to a high age. His recipe is simply doing a good walk every day, and shakes his head at the many people starting their walk on the Camino with little training and then complaining about sore knees and feet.

It’s my fourth day serving as a voluntary hospitalero in this town. The hostel is run by the local municipality and pilgrims are just asked to provide a donation to offset electricity and water costs. Locals living along the Camino have for centuries been generous hosts to pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela. The marker stones with yellow arrows on the path are almost entirely put up by local volunteers, paying for them with their own money. It is therefore sad to see that some of these markers are defaced by “Killroy was bere”  ego-minded “bypassing tourists.”

We voluntary hospitaleros are being greeted here with exceptional kindness. Restaurants have refused taking money for meals. Entry to the local museum and monastery is free of charge.

On the third day, we registered 58 pilgrims including seven from South Korea, one from Taiwan, two from South Africa, two from Bulgaria, one from Hungary, one from Venezuela, three from Japan and six from the United States and Canada. Most people are from Spain, Italy, and France as this is the main vacation period in these countries.

And, just as I’m finishing the Blog for the day two women from Greenland arrive at the door, saying that they will stay for the night as they are not used to the warm temperatures.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

                                             applepodcast         

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, lifestyle management, longevity, psychology, self-development, spirituality, Uncategorized