Tag Archives: walking

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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Back pain: Walk it off

Back pain is becoming an increasing disability, increasing by more  than 50 per cent since 1990. A series of papers just released by The Lancet shows that most treatments such as surgery and the use of opioids is doing more harm than good.

back pain

Foto, courtesy Jesper Agergaard

Apart from accidents and genetic conditions, there are multiple reasons why chronic back pain is reaching epidemic proportions. Poor posture, stress and a mainly sedentary lifestyle are some of the obvious.  In Germany statistics from public health insurance companies show that back pain has been one of the main reasons for absenteeism from work for years, costing the national economy a fortune in lost productivity.

Anyone who has suffered lower back pain will know how debilitating it can be and what impact it can have on happiness and general well being. It can force us into a state of paralysis where even the most willing of minds is trapped in an incapable body.

During stress situations our muscles tighten, especially around the neck and shoulder areas. Pressure has to go somewhere and will eventually find an avenue around the weakest part of our back in the spinal discs of the lower back.

The spinal discs play a crucial part in supporting the upper body, and allowing a wide range of movement in all directions. The supporting muscles of the spine inevitably degenerate when we don’t exercise enough. A slipped disc often comes when performing a mundane task. Of course back pain has to be checked by a physician. Sometimes an underlying serious condition such as an infection of a vital organ or cancer can be the cause. Every body is different.

Having practised Tai Chi and yoga for years, I can really recommend these body arts as extremely healthy for body and mind with a good teacher giving special emphasis on body posture.

People with lower back pain initially find any type of exercise painful, making an already serious situation worse by reducing all movement and causing more muscle degeneration. Therefore the most simple way to start is simply by walking which increases the stability of the muscles in the feet, legs, hips and torso.

Gentle, slow walking also improves circulation, pumping urgently needed nutrients into the spine and removing the toxins.  You are in effect “walking off” that back pain. But with our busy lifestyle, most people will argue: “I don’t have the time to do at least 5-8 kilometers a day!”

There are many ways the mind tricks us into staying in a state of procrastination.  But here are some tips of integrating more walking into your daily routine:

  • Use the stairs rather than the elevator
  • Walk to work and back if you can, or use a parking further away from the office
  • Find a nature area you enjoy for your walk. Its that much more fun.
  • And the best tip of all: Get a dog. A dog will tell you in many ways when its time for a walk, be there rain or sunshine. Its a fact that dog owners are healthier, simply because they do more walking.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

Awakening the Fire Within – key principles of health and success. Enrolling now will give you a 25 per cent discount.

 “Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.

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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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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