Tag Archives: Pilgrimage

A monk’s walk to Rome

Via Francigena

A young Augustinian monk  was sent on a pilgrimage to Rome by his monastery in the year 1510 in the hope that he would be healed from his inner demons. The visit to Rome would turn out to be one of the key events that led to major upheavel of the medieval world.

Although the historical records are scant the 30-year-old monk, Martin Luther, must have walked from Erfurt in Germany to Rome on the Via Francigena on a journey lasting many weeks, accompanied by an unnamed elderly monk from the same religious order.

A pilgrimage to Rome, Santiago de Compostela or Jerusalem at the time was wrought with danger with many pilgrims dying on the way from disease or injury. The pilgrimage routes are dotted with the ruins of ancient hospitals where caring nuns and monks once nursed the weary pilgrims.

One such abandoned ancient hospital can  be seen at Le Briccole on the Via Francigena on the leg between San Quirico and Radicofani. According to some records Luther too had to undergo medical treatment for a serious health conditon before reaching Rome.

The expectation of receiving some divine healing or enlightenment on arrival in Rome must have been enormous. But the monk from Erfurt was shattered by what he saw in Rome. The opulent lifestyle displayed by the clergy in Rome with money provided in tithes by the poor stood in sharp contrast to the teachings of the gospels calling for humility and service to the needy. Prostitution was rampant along with venereal and  other diseases.

Having been brought up in the Lutheran tradition I was fascinated by the journey on foot by the reformator Martin Luther. The journey to Rome turned out to be one of the key events that fired up the young monk to break from the Catholic church and  start the protestant revolution.

Even today we see that religion is often being abused to gain political or financial influence. The hypocrisy displayed by some of these institutions has shocked many believers into leaving the church in disgust, especially after the sexual abuse revelations. Religion has the habit of stifling experiential spirituality through “belief” and “conduct” rules but it gets absurd when the leaders themselves cannot abide by the rules they preach.

At its best religion can offer a platform for spiritual experience and community, offering the individual the freedom to find expression to inner soul truth.

But the whispers from the universe, or God, can be so different with every individual. For me the quiet spaces in nature on long pilgrimage walks have provided answers to many burning soul questions. For others it could be in the contemplation of a work of art, sitting meditation, singing a mantra or even attending a religious ceremony.

“When you hear someone telling you that you need to follow their “truth” that is the only path to “salvation” you need to run the other way! It might well be their path but is it really yours?

The lure of the 10,000 distractions that are primarily aimed at gratifying short-term external, physical needs stand in stark contrast to soul need and purpose. But once on the path of the inner adventure you will not want to turn back. The journey into the unknown offers new insights at every turn.

After having to cut short this year’s pilgrimage walk on the Via Francigena because of looming further travel restrictions and other obligations, the entry into Rome was something of a low climax. The arrival in Santiago de Compostela by contrast  is celebrated with a colorful mass attended by hundreds of pilgrims.

During these pandemic times Rome displays nothing of the same international vibrancy felt here during a visit a year ago. Only a handful of visitors can be seen at the famous sites including St. Peters’ Square, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi fountain. The restaurants, bars and cafes in the old part of the city are mostly empty.

On arrival in the city the Italian government had declared new restrictions making the wearing of masks mandatory in all public areas both indoors and outdoors. Temperature checks are made at key entry points such as the main rail station and entering Vatican City. There is a spike in Covid-19 infections in most European countries. Italy was the first country to be hit hard by the virus in Europe and went into a strict lockdown lasting several weeks. The economic repercussions and anxiety can palpably be felt  everywhere.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

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A celebrated landscape

Days 8-9 on the Via Francigena – from Ponte d’Arbia to Radicofani

Walking through the valley D’Orca creates a sense of how much the Tuscan landscape here has been shaped over the centuries for the aesthetic eye that inspired writers and painters over the centuries.

Castles and fortress towers have been positioned on hilltops with the Via Francigena taking the pilgrim on a path over gently rolling hills, past vineyards, and bridges over meandering streams.

Pheasants fly over harvested fields as if surfing on invisible ocean waves. A  bird sings. There is a brief pause and then another bird replies on the far end of the valley. In the typical Mediterranean cypress trees bird choirs entertain.

Walking in peace and solitude

The walk from Siena has been one of particular solitude. Famed towns such as Buenconvento, San Quirico and Bagno Vignoni with its famous thermal pool are virtually devoid of tourists as a result of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Since leaving Siena we have met just one fellow pilgrim, a German woman outside San Quirico, who started her walk from Tuebingen.

From San Quirico the first major attraction is the village of Vignoni Alto that appears almost frozen in time. Like in so many places along the route the chapels are open, offering a quiet space for solitude and meditation for the pilgrim. On the Camino de Santiago in Spain the pilgrim will find many such chapels closed. The reason is that these places often contain precious work of art with criminal gangs having  specialized in stealing them.

Near the altar of the chapel in Vignoni Alto I find a dedication to St. Biagio the throat protector. A first reference to the saint is found in writings dated AD 500. He is not only venerated as the saint protecting ailments of the throat but cured many physical and mental ails. He is also said to have healed and been assisted by many animals.

What are you inhaling and exhaling?

During these times healing and protection of the throat and breathing systems is particularly important. The Chinese philosophy of the Five Elements tells us that the Metal Element (lung and large intestine) is largely related to an imbalance on the inhaling and exhaling, the setting of healthy mental and physical boundaries. It is telling for our times that the professional deceivers and crackpot conspiracy theorists are bombarding the public sphere with darkness.

Even here on the Via Francigena comes the reach of  toxic energy from American politics. At a nearby table in a café a guest watches a replay of the debate on his tablet with a very concerned frown on his face. I was unable to listen to the rants for more than a few minutes. What we inhale and digest physically, and emotionally affects our well-being on so many levels. We cannot avoid the events in the external world but the real test is in realigning with the positive energies of healing, unity, peace, reconciliation between the races, and healing of our natural ecosystems.

There is light and darkness, goodness and evil, compassion, kindness and Narcissistic self-aggrandizement. Walking along a roadside there was a stream of cooling, calm, clear river waters on the left and a noisy road to the right. What do you focus on mentally? After my first frustration, I no longer hear the traffic, just the gentle, rushing waters of the river.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

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Another hill to climb?

Tuscany, Italy: Day 6 on the Via Francigena – Monteroni to Ponte d’Arbia

A deep walking pilgrimage experience is an analogy of life. The last leg prior to reaching a destination is often the hardest.

I was again reminded of this on the steep winding path toward the medieval  fortress village of Monteriggioni which is positioned on a hilltop, dominating the rolling hills of the Tuscany landscape.

After spending most of my life in a safe job and earning a good salary, the ripple effects of the digital revolution in the media industry forced me to move from journalism into my own health consultancy business ten years ago. I had no idea how difficult it would be to generate enough income to even keep paying for running mortgages and other expenses.

I started off doing “cold calls” just to win over a few clients. I  took part in pitches and tenders that looked very promising, then collapsed at the last minute. In addition the taxman refused by even one-day to extend the deadline for a massive payment. During the first years there was far more expenditure than income. It is the reason why most people starting off on their own business give-up during the first three years. Very often a specific target is set by when a certain income has to be achieved. When  this doesn’t work out the frustration is huge and the surrender even more.

When you reach the top there is yet another hill to climb

“You reach the top of a hill and then you realize there is yet another hill to climb,” one of my mentors said to me in encouraging me never to give up. The wheel did turn eventually and much more than I had anticipated.  If I had given up at the time I would never have forgiven myself.

There is no easy road to success. It boils down to consistently doing the right thing over a long period of time, and not to stay too fixated on the long-term goal. Sometimes you have to readjust on the way. So often I had to learn that my intention was not in synchronicity with what the universe had in mind.

When you have everything just nicely set-up and planned God comes with a different script.  

 Just when you think you have mastered all the teachings, you have to be particularly watchful of the ego-traps. It is when you start telling yourself: “Oh, I know it now. I’ve heard that before: Other people don’t get it because they aren’t that far yet.”

Life is a learning journey which stops when your soul enters a different dimension.  When you think you have understood it, the listening and the learning stops. You will fail to perceive what the universe is trying to whisper into your ear.

Leaving Siena on a rainy morning yesterday we have had to make several adjustments to our plans, cutting the long route to Ponte di’ Abria into two shorter 13 kilometer sections.  Changing weather conditions, lack of accommodation and walking untrodden paths are inevitably part of the experience. One of the lessons learned on this day is patience in accepting the things that cannot be changed and to react accordingly.

After a heavy thunderstorm during the night the air had cleared with beautiful blue sky on the short walk to Buenoconvento, another medieval town with a beautiful old gateway at the entrance.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

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Space and time

Day 5: Via Francigena – Siena to Monteroni d’Arbia

When observing the Siena Cathedral and other architectural highlights of the 12th and 13th centuries on the Via Francigena it comes to mind that people in medieval times felt a strong connection between the physical and the spiritual.

The cathedrals were an expression of faith with everyday life closely intertwined with religion.

Records from the Siena Cathedral show that construction started around 1226 with the transportation of black and white marble, probably for the construction of the façade and the bell tower. The craftsmen who started the intricate works of art inside and outside the building often did not see their masterpieces completed during their lifetimes, yet put all their energy and creativity into the project.

Head mind and heart mind

Along the path to industrialization and the material comforts of modernity something has gotten lost with the disconnect from physical and soul needs.

The head mind is preoccupied with the distractions of the 10,000 things of short-term gratification, and emphasis on youthful vigor and performance-driven culture. It is the breeding ground for greed and egocentric behavior, the results of which we can see in the destruction of natural ecosystems, irrespective of the consequences for future generations.

The heart-mind is timeless and rooted within a multi-dimensional perspective of unity between the physical and the spiritual. It is restorative rather than exploitative. There is mindful awareness of life within a complex matrix of interdependency.

Leaving Siena and looking back the skyline is still dominated by the Cathedral on the hill. The walk itself takes the pilgrim through open, expansive countryside with unlimited views, especially of the old walled barn complex in La Grancia di Cuna, one of the most impressive agricultural buildings in the Tuscany landscape. From the 12th century it offered pilgrims and merchants on the Via Francigena accommodation and food.

The entire installation is walled with two towers facing the southern entrance. The main entrance leads to an L-shaped square from where mule packs could reach the upper floors of the barn.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, spirituality

Walking in medieval lands

Day  5 on the Via Francigena – from Monteriggioni to Siena

The 20 kilometer walk from the hilltop town of Monteriggioni to the city of Siena is fairly easy, continuing on ancient tracks, bypassing medieval castles, fortress towers and Romanesque chapels.

At the Ponte Rosso we cross a humpback bridge common during the Middle Ages because of a wide span that were perfect for supporting pack mules of the time.

A pile of stones on a humpback bridge

Several stone pires have been left on the bridge by previous pilgrims. I love the tradition of placing gratitude stones or prayer stones along the way. It is common on the Camino de Santiago but it was the first time I saw them here on the Via Francigena.

Today I placed a pile of stones in memory and gratitude of my ancestors. We carry within us the collective memory of those that went before us. It is the reason why ancient cultures celebrate the connection in ritual and religion.

Placing stones for your ancestors at the side of the road and asking them for protection is a tradition I know very well from the Zulu culture in South Africa. I also like the thought of our ancestors guiding and protecting us with angel wings from another dimension.

Shortly before reaching Siena the trail takes the pilgrim through a forest with nature speaking through the aroma of fresh earth, walnut and fig trees.

The architectural marvels of Siena

The last stretch of a stage is often the hardest with a climb up a hill and a long walk through the dreary modern outskirts of town before reaching the old city of Siena through a 15th century gateway.

It is a city that needs more than a day to explore. The medieval center is a UNESCO world heritage site. There are numerous architectural marvels such as the central square, Piazza del Campo, the 14th century Torre del Mangia tower, the Palazzo Salimbeni, The Palazzo Publico and the Loggia della Mercanzia to name just a few.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

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Filed under Camino de Santiago, spirituality, Uncategorized

On ancient tracks

Day  4 on the Via Francigena – from Colle di Val d’Elsa to Monteriggioni

There are so many  happiness moments on a pilgrimage walk. Although the Via Francigena is not as famous as the Camino de Santiago in Spain it is by no means less spectacular with its architectural marvels, cultural heritage and natural beauty.

On the fourth day of our walk we took the alternative route from Colle di Val d’Elsa along the River Elsa. For centuries the local inhabitants have revered the river as a source of life and livelihood. The  turquoise water comes in different hues and shades, contrasting with the luscious green surrounding forest.   Sunlight reflects from the fish swimming against the current from the waterfalls.

A pathway snakes through dense forest, taking  the hiker to the left and right of the river over natural stone pathways through shallow parts of the waters.

After rejoining the main route to Monteriggioni a friendly farmer In his SUV stopped to say hello proudly showing his pet in the passenger seat – a pigeon perched on a little wooden ladder, apparently looking very comfortable being taken for a drive.

A well marked route – cyclists have a separate path

For many sections the Via Francigena offers complete solitude with very few pilgrims on the path. It is well signposted and there are separate paths for cyclists who at times can be of particular annoyance to slow-walking pilgrims on the Camino Frances in Spain.

Walking on medieval mule tracks

The Via Francigena in parts follows the medieval mule tracks used by traders, wayfarers and pilgrims that was part of the network of roads between the most important Christian strongholds of Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela.

A visit to the abbey at  Abbadia Isola Ostella offers a glimpse of these times. The abbey was founded around 1001 by the noblewoman Ava of the Lambardi di Staggia family, and for many centuries offered respite for pilgrims. The Romanesque church with three naves and three apses is surrounded by a small hamlet with the remains of the medieval fortifications.  Among the precious works of art in the church is the polyptych of the main altar created in the 15th century by the Siena born artist Sano di Pietro..  

From there the walk is up a steep hill to the largely still intact medieval fortification surrounding the village of Monteriggioni.

It is a great privilege to do this walk. This walk is dedicated to the many pilgrims, especially those coming from afar such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who have had to cancel their plans this year due to the Covid-19  travel restrictions.

Only a few countries in Europe are currently still open for travel with the likelihood of more restrictions coming in the wake of a further spike in Covid-19 infections.

So many pilgrims, who are unable to travel this year, are reliving their past walks, going through their journals and picture albums. Memories from deep walking experiences stay for a lifetime.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, spirituality

Two wolves and a choice

Day 3: Via Francigena – San Gimignano to Colle di Val d’Elsa

We decided today to take the alternative route to Monteriggioni via Colle di Val di’ Elsa also known as the “crystal city” because of its high-quality glass ware.

Also simply known as Colle the town has for centuries been frequented by pilgrims on the Via Francigena. On a little hill opposite the castle in the medieval town is the 13th century convent of San Francesco where the saint’s followers would assemble for prayer.

On the walk through the shady forests and hilltops kissing the clouds I was reminded of the story of how St. Francis tamed a wolf that was terrorising the population of the Umbrian town of Gubbio.

The tale of the wolf and emotions running wild

The story goes that the wolf waited outside the city gates waiting to feast on anyone foolish enough to venture outside. Francis, who had lived in the city at the time, then announced that he himself would visit the wolf in its lair. With the wolf charging at Francis he made the sign of the Cross and commanded the wolf to cease its attacks in the name of God, at which point the wolf trotted up to him docilely and lay at his feet, putting its head in his hands.

The symbolism of the story is telling. There is a similar tale of an old Indian chieftain telling his grandson the story of two wolves constantly struggling in the heart of the human:

“There is the wolf of darkness, who is full of envy, desperation, fear and anger. The other is the wolf of light. It is the wolf of love, generosity, compassion, kindness and joy.”

The grandson asks, “And which of the two wolves is going to win?”

Sighing, the old chieftain replies, “The wolf you choose to feed.”

The story from Zen Buddhism on the taming of the bull has similar connotations. It says much about maintaining control of emotions. Uncontrolled outbursts of anger have destroyed countless marriages, long friendships, and destroyed careers and business deals.

The wolf has a voracious appetite and the warning from St. Francis and the Indian chieftain is clear. We have the freedom of choice. The wolf could be tamed because St. Francis had made him aware that a life in fear, hunger and being constantly on the run was one of suffering. In the The Fioretti di San Francesco that describes the life of St. Francis, the wolf is described as bowing its head and submitting completely at his mercy.

“As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?”

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, Pilgrimage, spirituality

Food for thought

„Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nath Hanh

Day  2 on the Via Francigena – Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano

On a hilltop between the medieval Tuscan towns of Gambassi Terme and San Gimignano the pilgrim enters the village of Pancole famous for the 15th century painting by Pier Francesco Fiorentino of the “Virgin feeding her Son.”

The original sanctuary was built in 1668 on the site where the sacred image originally stood along a country road where it had been abandoned and covered by undergrowth. Several miracles were attributed to the Madonna.

One of the miracles is the survival of the painting itself after the Nazis destroyed the original sanctuary in an act of indiscriminate vandalism in a bid to destroy the very soul and ancestral roots of a nation.

The sanctuary was reconstructed in 1949 and along with the nearby Monastero di Bose offer wonderful spaces for quiet  contemplation.

Landscapes that inspired poets and artists throughout the ages

It is no surprise that spectacular landscapes and the quiet pathways throughout the centuries inspired poets, musicians and religious orders

Spending hours in the heart of nature after only a few days of walking opens the heart and mind to the whispers from the universe.

You are forced to go slow up the steep inclines and then you begin to notice the small creatures on the ground such as the lizards, beetles, ants, and butterflies.  When in a hurry it is easy to mindlessly trample on these small creatures who are all fighting for survival when perceiving the heavy boots of an oncoming pilgrim.

St. Francis – the original ecologist

There are numerous stories of St. Francis, the patron saint of the animals, communicating and preaching to the animals as fellow creatures of God.  The saint was well known to walk long distances to spread his message and there are no numerous shrines on the Camino in Spain and along the Via Francigena dedicated to him.

St. Francis can be described as the original ecologist and his central message of social justice and greed causing harm to both the victim and the perpetrator ringing more true than ever.

Spending time in nature creates awareness on how complex the interaction of plant, insect, bird and mammal are intertwined and co-dependent on each other.  Nature starts tilting into imbalance when one species gains dominance and threatens the livelihood of all others. It is offers much food for thought.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my new book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul” released as a paperback by Morgan James Publishing on August 11, 2020. It has some valuable tips on creating happiness and boosting your vibrational energy on many levels. You can order it at all major outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in my own store.  Check out the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bookcovers_sideview.jpg

“A breathtaking, captivating, transformative walk,” – Tom Dutta, Canada

“The book reminded me of my own journey in life I am walking and how bringing stillness to my busy life and mind is essential.” – Karin, France

“The book compresses on its slim 190 pages an extreme density of life wisdom.” Christina Germany

Leave a comment

Filed under Camino de Santiago, environment, meditation, Pilgrimage, self-development, spirituality

A changed world after lockdown

We are in the fifth week of our lockdown in Spain which has some of the most stringent Coronavirus rules in place. I was stopped a few days ago by police near my home who told me in no uncertain terms that taking doggy for a walk was not allowed if I had a garden where the dog could go outside.

Moving about is embedded in our genes

When this is over I will appreciate all the more my long walks in nature in the nearby Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. I have become more aware that moving about freely and traveling to faraway places has become very much part of our modern lifestyle. It will take a while to fully comprehend how farreaching an effect this is having on what we have perceived as fundamental freedoms. Our movements are likely to remain restricted for some time to come. What this means for the travel industry is anyone’s guess.

The urge to be on the move and discovering new places is embedded in our genes. Our ancestors moved from the trees to walk on the ground to seek new feeding grounds. For thousands of years, humans were nomads moving from place to place. As recently as 500 years ago there were still hunters and gatherers in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Finding authenticity on the journey

Jewish mysticist teachers made a point of sending their students on a journey to broaden their mental and spiritual horizons. It was also a way of teaching the scholar not to become too dependent on the Master and to find their own inner authenticity. Experiential spirituality in the mystic tradition is something awaiting discovery from within and cannot be imposed externally by rules of belief.

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Hiking trail, Majorca

The apprenticeship training of carpenters in Germany has for centuries followed the same tradition. After learning the basic tools of the craft from an experienced “Meister”, the apprentice goes on a “Wanderschaft” or hike to distant places to both finetune his skills and character.

Finding the empty space 

Every pilgrim who has gone on a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain knows all about the “zoning out” into that empty space that comes when walking alone in nature for several weeks.  Experiential spirituality is a deep personal connection with the divine. Spirituality is all about following and remaining true to your divine purpose. Limitations to “Be-coming” are all too often set by the parameters of doctrine, parental expectations and the constant drum-beat of digital distractions.

When our senses are attuned to nature we find alignment with the universe. There is a close feeling of connectivity to the whole in the seemingly chaotic.

It is all the more reason to look forward again to my next annual pilgrimage. It might not take place at all this year on the Camino because we don’t know if all the restrictions will be lifted by summer. Meanwhile, it will have to be short hikes closer to home.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Is religious being spiritual?

What is religious and what is spiritual?  At its best religion is a ritualized expression of the spiritual. At its worst, it becomes an instrument of dehumanization and control.

While religion focuses on who you are supposed to be by abiding by certain rules of conduct and practice, spirituality is all about becoming who you really are with all your unique, individual, God-given potentials and abilities.

spirituality

Religion is a doctrine that tells you what to believe, what group you need to belong to and what rules you have to follow. Spirituality is experienced from within. You believe because you have felt and experienced. You do the “right thing” because you just know what is good and what is bad for the Greater Whole.

Most of the many fellow pilgrims I have spoken to on my walks on the Spanish Camino would describe themselves as spiritual seekers rather than followers of a certain religious doctrine.

In becoming mindful and watchful for the subtle messages of the universe transmitted in dreams, images, and symbols, life takes on an entirely different meaning. Put in a different way: God speaks to us in many different ways.

We are on the brink of another raised level of human consciousness which is non-divisive, universalist, tolerant, self-reflective and compassionate.

At the same time, elementary and revolutionary changes are always confronted with a backlash from those defending the old order.

In recent years we have seen a frightening rise of movements seeking to divide and separate with fear-instilling messages, propounded by dangerous narcissistic and ego-driven leaders.

It is the natural pendulum of the yin and the yang. Energy is wasted in the hysteria over the actions coming from the shadow.

In going with the higher frequency of the raised consciousness, the danger is that we react with the same patterns as our adversaries. We also become hateful, ranting and vengeful.

Yet when seen according to the law of opposites that is the foundation of life, a different perspective can be taken. Identity is defined in terms of the opposite and it is often when confronted with the extreme opposite that we are galvanized into action.

(This is an extract from “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”)
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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