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Mindful walking

Najera, northwestern Spain – Preparation for a lengthy pilgrimage walk is essential.  After eight days of walking many pilgrims are arriving at the Municipal Albergue in Najera with badly blistered feet and hurting knees.

 

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Bunk beds for 90 pilgrims in the Municipal Albergue in Najera 

Most people, who walk the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela, start in the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.  It takes the hiker up a steep climb of the Pyrenees mountains to the Spanish town of Roncesvalles.  It is a good 24 kilometer or seven to nine-hour walk. Even for trained hikers, this is no mean feat.

 

However, if you are wearing new boots and carrying a backpack full of unnecessary clutter, your walk will soon become a chore. The Camino is not only a physical challenge but even more so an emotional challenge. Much of the first few days of walking can rekindle old stuff you thought you had dealt with years ago. It is then comforting to know that there will always be other pilgrims walking with you, going through much of the same process.

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Getting ready for the day’s walk. The hostel has to be empty by 7.30 am latest

Three parts of the Camino

Some hikers describe the first stage of the Camino as the “path of crucifixion”, the second as the transition or the walk through the “valley of death” in the heat and dust of the Meseta between Burgos and Leon.  Several guide books describe this section as boring and recommend that the hiker skip the section by taking a bus. Most people who have walked it, however, describe it as a crucial part of the Camino that they would want to have missed. A absolutely agree.

A path of rebirth

I would describe the first two sections as the mindful preparation for the last section-the “path of rebirth or resurrection”.  It is when the pilgrim has moments of absolute euphoria, gratitude, and joy. It is the feeling of accomplishment after transmuting the old stuff into revived energy.  The three parts of the Camino however, can be experienced in some form or other each day. Getting up early in the morning after a bad night’s sleep in a crowded Albergue is a challenge where the mood can be at rock bottom.  This could all change an hour later when experiencing a beautiful sunrise on a mountain top with a bird of prey circling overhead.

Having walked the Camino more than a dozen times, I decided this year to give something back in serving as a volunteer in an Albergue or pilgrims’ hostel for two weeks.  There are between 50-70 pilgrims arriving here each day. It is an enormous privilege to hear the stories of why and how they are doing the Camino. Some are doing the path the third, fourth or fifth time. Most are walking the Camino for the first time.

It is a joy to observe people from many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds bond in this shared experience of the Camino. They mostly don’t understand each other’s language. But the language of shared experience shared meals, and shared emotional ups-and-downs are universal.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Embrace Your Self

When I watch an animal, like my dog Klara, I cannot but help think that we humans are just about the most disconnected species around.

Animals are totally connected to their immediate environment, sniffing, smelling and using all their senses to imbibe the immediate moment with no past or future.

I mentioned in a previous blog that it seems that much of the Western mind seems to have lost its soul in the mad rush for immediate gratification, and the addiction to external approval  in its many variations.

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Photo by William Farlow

It has become very difficult to discern who we really are on a soul-purpose level when we are bombarded by countless distractions from the moment we get up in the morning, and take that stretch toward the smart phone.  Most of these forces want to make us believe in self-images, or “false Gods”, with a manipulative purpose. Many of the rich and famous “role models” on glitzy magazine covers show exceedingly dysfunctional behavior. Some are obviously very unhappy people.

A growing number of neuroscientists even believe that we are a species with no free will, and can be manipulated in any direction if the communicator knows how to play the reptilian part of the brain – the oldest part of the brain – with strong emotions such as anger and fear.

The historian and author of  the book “Sapiens – A brief history of humankind”, Yuval Noah Harari, said recently that he is most concerned that “we are close to the point when an external system can understand your feelings better than you. We’ve already seen a glimpse of it in the last epidemic of fake news.”

Knowing and embracing your true self can thus become a matter of survival. If we don’t live our true self, we can become very unhappy, and fall ill because the body is always reflecting what is happening in the mind.

Finding and embracing yourself is pretty easy by taking time out for introspection. This can be anything from time for prayer, meditation, pilgrimage walks, body-mind retreats and other methods that bring us back into alignment with the higher or true self. We need to learn again who we really are.

Liberating yourself from the powers of distraction, that alienate you from your true self, is the real challenge of our time. 

Each one of us alive today has a spark of the divine, has desire and purpose, unique abilities and something precious to give back.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Your very authentic body mind

Imagine your body as a recorder of all the events in your life. It is the most authentic barometer of your emotional state of being and the reason why we still dream of when we stole cookies from grandma’s closet as a seven-year-old.

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Photo by Andrei Lazarev 

What hasn’t been dealt with emotionally will be stored away in your body consciousness.  Its the difference between head-mind and heart-mind. The mind is capable of construing all sorts of reasons why taking those cookies was in order while your sub-conscious heart mind knows very well that what you did was stealing.

Training you “heart-mind” to be emotionally mature is one of the reasons why we are here  on earth. We humans are imperfect beings and we have incarnated as souls to use our bodies as instruments of learning.

The heart is not merely an organ of the cardiovascular system that transports nutrients, oxygen and hormones throughout the body and removes metabolic waste.  In the spiritual sense the heart is described as the “seat of the soul.”  It is the first organ that develops in the fetus and the connection between our physical and non-physical (soul) self.

First impulses or thoughts flow first from the heart and then to the brain. The brain dissects, rationalizes and analyzes. The “heart-mind” is authentic and closest to the true-self or soul purpose. Knowing the difference between “head-mind” and “heart-mind” is the spiritual learning part.

Our body is constantly sending us signals of what we need to hear and work on. The problem is that we are so caught up in the world of distraction that we mostly fail to listen until the body gets really angry and calls a time-out with some illness or malady. It is no surprise that cardio-vascular diseases top the list in most western countries. We have in a way lost our soul and lost direction.

Regaining that connection to the “heart-mind” comes mostly during times of solitude, during meditation, prayer and mindful walking. That is when we become aware of our emotional state of being. Some of the “emotional memories” stored in the body could lie back many years or even decades.

These energies can be transmuted very well with the ancient body arts of tai chi, qi gong and yoga that were all developed and refined by spiritual masters over generations. It is why also more and more people are experiencing a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago as very healing.

Animals, especially dogs, are very much in alignment with their true self. They have an amazing way of dealing with stress by just running it off.  See for yourself by watching this video.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

http://www.reinogevers.com

     

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