Tag Archives: alignment

Day One on the Camino

Today is my first day as a volunteer in a pilgrim’s hostel on the famous Spanish pilgrimage route – the Camino de Santiago.

Pilgrims have walked this path for centuries. In modern times its being rediscovered by thousands of people as a modern-day route to self-discovery.

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Pilgrims checking out the next day’s route in the pilgrim’s hostel, or albergue, in the town of Najera on the Camino Frances

Giving back to the Camino what the Camino has given to me over the years is an enormous privilege.

I arrived in Najera, northwestern Spain, in the valley known for its famous Rioja wines last night. As a volunteer hospitalero I am one of four people who serve in a pilgrims’ hostel for two weeks. We register the arriving pilgrims who come from places as far as South Korea, Colombia, Japan, Canada, Australia, and Kazakhstan. In the mornings we clean the rooms, toilets and prepare the hostel for the next group of pilgrims.

Every pilgrim has a story

Every pilgrim comes with a story and is happy to share some experience while on the way. Last night Darko from Croatia told me how he met a Swedish couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary walking the Camino. They were sitting on a bench looking at the vineyards in the valley below. “So has someone hugged you today, ” he asked. “No, they replied. You are the first one who asks.”

“Well, then can I give you a hug then?” he responded to the beaming couple.

My fellow volunteers are from France, Argentina and Spain. We converse in a mixture of pigeon Spanish and French. It always works out. All of us have walked the Camino several times and it doesn’t need much vocabulary to understand what needs to be done.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Where is your attention?

harmony

by Reino Gevers

When you practise the martial art of “taiji push hands” you instantly become aware when your mind is wandering elsewhere. As soon as your attention slips your opponent has easy play in finding the gap and pushing you over. Its all about:

Where your attention goes your energy goes.

In our connected world the power of distraction lurks everywhere. Our mind becomes like a butterfly constantly fluttering from one short attention span to the next. We search for something on google and suddenly a pop-up diverts our attention elsewhere and before we know it, we have spent hours surfing meaninglessly on the Internet.

Mass media is brainwashing us 24-7 with drama and catastrophes. The objective is to shock and awe. The result: more clicks, more viewers, a higher circulation and more advertising revenue. Good news is no news. I know what I’m talking about because I worked in the news industry for more than 26 years. Don’t get me wrong. Its not about sticking your head in the sand and avoiding the world’s problems. Its the dosage of negativity in relation to positivity.

Human nature has a habit of looking first on what is bad than on what is wonderful and on what we can be grateful for in our lives. If your mind is filled with thoughts on wars, riots, crime, the antics of the rich and famous and all the other shadow sides of humanity your subconscious mind will begin to confirm all this as the reality of existence. The end result is often depression and a sense of hopelessness. Moreover, negativity hurts us on the physical level, weakening our immune system and causing many of our modern day plagues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The truth is that we live in a world of polarity – of yin and yang. For every bad event being flashed across the globe you can be sure there is another positive thing happening at the same time. Its just not receiving our attention. There is so much distraction, brainwashing and mind control from external forces that we spend less and less time in reflecting on what is happening to us. The end result is living a life behind a veil of negativity and emptyness.

You have the power! Draw your boundary on what you want inside your “room” and what needs to stay out:

  • By anchoring yourself with meditation you are extracting yourself from distraction. Meditation is a powerful tool in helping you perceive that inner voice that keeps you connected to your Soul Path.
  • As you meditate you will observe your thoughts. Are they mostly of a positive or negative nature?
  • Are the people you surround yourself with kind and compassionate? Do they exude positive vibes or are they abusing you as a refuse bucket in venting all their anger and frustration? Remember you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with.
  • How much time are you spending in nature? Are you exercising enough? Taking a walk in nature, doing yoga or taiji,  will hugely improve your mood and help you realign.
  • Are you nourishing your body and mind with healthy foods and liquids?

In training your awareness by doing the right things every day, of every week of every month and of every year you will be aligned and become immune to energy-sucking distractions.

By Reino Gevers – Health Mentor for Leaders and Achievers

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Lessons learned on the Camino

Why walk several hundred kilometres on a path in Spain with a back pack? For an outsider it seems difficult to understand why thousands of people from all walks of life are resdiscovering this ancient pilgrimage route as a personal journey of self-discovery.

After walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Finisterre this year I would like to share some of the insights that might motivate you to put the Camino on your bucket list. First and foremost I see a walk on the Camino as a fast-track opportunity of learning many of life’s important lessons:

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  • Walking alone for hours a day in nature is the perfect opportunity for self reflection and to disengage from daily distractions that under normal circumstances prevent you from looking deep inside of you. You will go into sync with your own rhythm at a deeper level. What thoughts, fears, emotions are you dealing with at this moment in time?img_3781
  • Walking with a back pack forces you to slow down. If you go too fast you will lose your way and you will take much longer to get to your destination.You might even have to end your journey because your feet, back and knees have been over-exerted.
  • If you see it as a mere physical exercise of doing so many kilometres each day and reaching a certain destination by a certain time, you won’t see and discover any of the miracles around you. Its the difference between head-mind and heart-mind.
  • Every day is walking into an unknown territory. You don’t know what will come around the next bend and what you will have to deal with. The weather sometimes changes every hour and you just have to deal with the situation that is at hand and that you don’t have any control over.
  • There are Highs- and Lows every day in life. You just have to accept this as a natural order of ebb and flow. Attachment to either is a cause of unhappiness.
  • The more you carry with you the harder your walk. Free yourself of the clutter that you don’t really need. Focus on the essentials.
  • If you get lost don’t hesitate to ask for help. Most people are only too willing to be of assistance.
  • Be humble and the Path will lead you.

Last but not least: Why are you here? What is your soul purpose and what are you doing for the rest of the days in your life that is of service to the bigger WHOLE? You have all the time in the world and yet no time to lose!

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Back from the Camino – what now?

Its been some weeks since we returned from our hike on the Spanish Camino and I’m still astounded at how much the experience still resonates in our lives.

We have just heard from Jim who walked the entire Camino Frances from Jean Pied de Port, arriving in Santiago last week after 40 days of walking.

The many interesting and fascinating people you meet on the Camino is part of part of what I would describe as one of the most precious gifts of the Camino. This is why many Peregrinos decide to give something back in volunteering to work a summer in one of the pilgrims’ hostels.

Many people walk the Camino to find an answer to a life-important question they are dealing with. Mostly they find the answer, sometimes after weeks or months after the walk, with the answer to a question needing time to ripen.

On my first Camino I was somewhat disappointed at not having found “my answer”. The lesson to learn was patience and to open the mind to the so many of the mysteries and lessons of the Path.

The first lesson I learned was that it needs time to “walk things off” and get rid of the old emotional baggage that you often carry with you for years. My theory is that the body has an “emotional memory” just like the emotional mind in holding onto “traumatic” experiences on a cellular level. This is why the first days of walking are so hard, even for people who have prepared well physically.

When this “emotional garbage” comes to the surface on the “path of crucifixion” that often comes during the first week of arduous walking through blisters, sore knees and back pain, the transformation process can begin. Then walking, even through difficult terrain, becomes an easy ride and you can actually start enjoying daily walks of 25-30 kilometres and more.

There were so many images, smells and meetings of mind on this centuries old path that this space is too short to fill them.

There was the father walking the path with two mules in fulfilling a dream that his daughter had on her death bed when dying of cancer. There are the brave young folk in the Aragon province fighting a dam project that will flood a pristine valley and one of the oldest parts of the Camino. There are the faces of people you look at where you know they have just gone through a very hard time in their lives and that they have come through, stronger.

On a physical level, I feel much fitter. My skin seems smoother and my senses of smell and hearing different. In my dreams I am still walking and when I wake up I know that I will soon be making plans for the next walk on the Camino.

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Following the path of the Holy Grail

Nestled in a rock face near the Spanish city of Jaca is the ancient monastery of San Juan de la Pena. It dates back to the ninth century and by the 11th century became the spiritual and intellectual centre of the Kingdom of Aragon. According to legend the Holy Grail was kept here until the 14th century.

There is no final proof but It was believed to be the chalice used by Jesus during the Last Supper and the cup in which Joseph of Arimathea collected the Blood of Jesus on the Cross. Today the original is kept in the Cathedral of Valencia with a copy displayed on a stone altar in the old monastery.


Whether true or not, the monastery San Juan de la Pena is a mysterious and unique place. While on our recent walk on the Camino, I took a day to explore the area on the mountain from which there are spectacular views of the Pyrenees mountains in the distance.


  
The Monasterio Nuevo, or new monastery, further up the mountain is a much bigger complex. Its exterior has been rebuilt with a modern museum interior giving much insight on how the monks lived according to the Benedictine Order

The monastery had enormous influence not only in the ancient Kingdom of Aragon but throughout Europe of the early Middle Ages. The monks lived disciplined lives, following a daily routine of contemplation, work and study. Silence was highly cherished. The monks took a vow of silence and were only allowed to speak if it was absolutely necessary or when it was a good thought or blessing. It was obviously an atmosphere that was conducive to highly-focused study and inner spiritual work.

The exhibition in the new monastery illustrates a colorful history of rise and decay. The influence and success of this monastery in the early Middle Ages can be attributed to several factors that are good lessons for today’s corporates:

  • The monks were absolutely focused, disciplined and dedicated to their task
  • At the same time they did not exclude themselves from the outside world, honing the art of networking and relationship-building with the rulers and decision-makers of the time.
  • A charismatic abbot, or leader, was crucial in maintaining cohesion, discipline and respect
  • Basic material needs were catered for by the Kingdom with at times generous grants and donations

Its a mute point on whether the decay started in the year 1399 when the Aragonese King Martino V took the Holy Grail  to his palace in Zaragoza and when the monks asked for it back he tricked them with a replica. There were several fires that destroyed much of the monastery complex in the 17th century. Decay came in line with infighting and power struggles. Grants and privileges from the king were reduced and at times completely stopped. Loss of focus and purpose came in line with vows being broken and poor leadership.

An organisation is only as successful as long as its members are motivated to abide by the internal codes and ethics which always reflects on how it is perceived by those outside. There will always be circumstances that cannot be controlled, such as political change or upheavel. But it is how adaptable and flexible that organisation is to unpredictable changes, that will ultimately determine its survival.

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Reconnecting by walking the Camino

IMG_1581  Tomorrow my wife Alyce and I are starting our walk on the Camino from the French town of Lourdes.  Its time to walk things off again and to reconnect on many levels after a more than challenging year. For centuries, if not longer, countless people have walked these ancient paths mainly as an inner and outer spiritual journey. It is believed that prior to it becoming the mainly Christian St. James Way the Celtic people had walked these ceremonial paths in paying homage to the Earth Goddess.

Over the years I’ve walked several Camino routes alone, with a good friend, in a group and with my wife. I’ve been asked so why walk the Camino if you can go on a hike anywhere else? Whats the big deal? Why are so many thousands of people in modern times rediscovering this ancient pilgrimage route and taking time out to “walk things off”.

I’ve had some of the most interesting meetings with people from all walks of life on the Way. Some take time out after having lost a loved one, or having recovered from a serious illness or finding themselves at a crossroads in life. Others simply enjoy the walking. But nobody I know has gone home from the Camino without it having triggered something something in their lives. Its been a long tradition to leave a stone at these kilometre markings as a sign of respect to previous pilgrims, or to let things go that you no longer need in your life, or in memory of a cherished person.

camino_steine During the Middle Ages it was common for at least one member of a family to go on the pilgrimage to “cleanse” the family line of “sins”.  Many never came back. It was an arduous route in those times with many people dying of disease and illness. Today practically every town caters towards the pilgrims with good food and comfortable accommodation. The route is well-marked although every pilgrim will tell a story of having got “lost in the way.” It is part of the process of reconnecting, finding ones rhythm and getting back into ones own space.

This time we will be walking about 270 km over two weeks from Lourdes to Puenta La Reina, taking things as they come. We will keep you posted.

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Reconnecting to the web of life

Humanity’s disconnect to the web of life, the lack of respect and awareness for the many parts of the bigger whole, has got us into a pretty dire predicament.

Some theorists would argue that man is a predator by nature and that it is all about the survival of the fittest, falsely quoting Darwin who was in reality very much aware of the intricate inter-connection of all living things.

Any species which fails to find its niche in the web of life becomes extinct because the earth or “creation intelligence” always finds a means of discarding that which becomes a threat to everything else. It is something you become acutely aware of by spending alone time in nature or in the wilds.

I’ve had some of my deepest spiritual experiences while hiking alone in the Pyrenees mountains, the Spanish Camino and the African bush where simply by observation you begin to realize that every plant, beetle, bird, antelope or predator is there for a reason and plays its small part in sustaining life as a whole.

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My theory is that humanity’s disconnect from the web of life is partly the result of alienation from nature and the “materialist-theoretical” approach to religion rather than intuitive spirituality that our forebears practised in the mystic traditions.

As hundreds of millions of people continue to move to urban areas there is a real danger that the alienation from our true destiny will continue. A growing number of people in the wealthier countries are living alone in apartments and getting lonelier and lonelier as they grow older and their already fragile support network of friends starts falling away.

In my previous blog I mentioned how much we are influenced and shaped by the people around us. Our health, our happiness and our lifespan depend on how well we are accepted, integrated and valued in that community we cherish. Loneliness is perceived as physical pain and is responsible for many psychological disorders. Read this interesting report on what people in Sardinia seem to be getting just right and why many of them stay healthy well over the age of a 100.

The biggest challenge faced by humanity is to rediscover that bond to the web of life and to make the switch from predator to custodian, protector and nurturer. Here are just some ways of reconnecting:

  • Sitting meditation with emphasis on the natural breathing sequence of inhaling and exhaling
  • Walking “things off” and reconnecting with your natural rhythm on a longer hike, preferably for several days. Its a wonderful way of detoxing your mind and body.
  • Any of the body arts such as yoga, taiji and qi gong have been practised and perfected over many generations as a way of reconnecting with your mind and body.
  • When outdoors in nature find just one sound to concentrate your mind on. It could be a bird chirping or the wind blowing through the trees. You will feel very relaxed after only a few minutes.

I had an amazing experience on one of my walks when I connected to a blackbird singing in a tree nearby. It responded by following me for several kilometres, hopping from tree to tree and on the track ahead. It was an amazing experience of connection.

Info:

Why face-to-face contact matters in a digital world

Yield and Overcome – How change can positively impact our lives

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