The number of people who walk the Camino annually is growing. There are more than 200,000 certificates of completion handed out each year. Historically pilgrims made the walk to Santiago de Compostela for religious reasons. Today, there are other reasons that people travel to make this walk; to reconnect with nature, to escape and distance themselves from digital influences, to test themselves physically, or to reflect and find more purpose in life.
I think most people make this journey to discover or re-discover something that is missing in their lives. It was marvelous for me to spend time with myself. I find that God can speak to me when I am silent and letting my thoughts flow freely. I can find answers to problems.
Falling out of touch with yourself often happens when you follow what you think you should be doing rather than what you want to be doing. Ask yourself questions. What will lead me to happiness? What is my real passion? What brings me pleasure? What am I...
Walking the Camino was not easy, but even the hardest parts gave me something to think about in a new way.
I had no service on my phone for most of the walk, which was probably a good thing. However, I stopped to take a photo along the road to send to my boyfriend. I was looking at the phone and the shot I was about to take when, in my distraction, I lost my footing and twisted my ankle.
That was when my mentor, Jennifer took away my phone.
We all know how technology has taken over a large part of our lives. I read that the average smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day. So if we are awake for 15 hours of the day, we check our phones ten times per hour. How can we ever be present in the moment when we are so immersed in that little gadget?
In addition to my embarrassment from falling while taking a photo, I still had a lot of walking to do before I was finished and I had injured my ankle. That wasn’t going to make the journey any easier. I was mad at myself...
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new. - Barack Obama
Walking along the Camino was sometimes glorious, sometimes, challenging, and sometimes it was absolutely terrifying for me.
Though they say that you can’t get lost on this road, I don’t know--I definitely felt lost. My group was way ahead of me, people were passing me, and I couldn’t catch up. I didn’t have any water. The trees grew together over the road like a thick canopy that didn’t let in much light. I seriously feared that something might jump out at me while I was walking alone under the huge shroud of leaves and branches.
We stopped every six miles on the road to rendezvous as a group. I figured I had only gone about two miles since our last stop, so I decided...
"The cave you fear to enter is where your power lies." ~~Joseph Campbell
As I was walking along the Camino, I was often alone. My mentor Jennifer got way ahead of me at times, and while I could still see her, I felt like I was alone. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, being so far from my familiar and in a foreign country on a road that seemed to go on forever.
I was slightly comforted by reminding myself that many people had made this journey. After all, a few days earlier I didn’t think I could go on beyond day one, and I had pushed through and kept going. I had found the strength to move out of my limited thinking and keep going.
That made me wonder, where else in my life I had been staying too comfortable.
When a lobster outgrows its shell, it must withdraw from it and grow another. When it leaves its shell in the process of growth and change, it becomes very vulnerable. Each time this happens, it is discomfort that compels it to grow a new shell. Without this...
Several days into my journey on the Camino, I woke up crying at 4:00 AM. This wasn’t just a tear elegantly sliding down my cheek, this was an outpour. My tears didn’t have a clear emotion tied to them, yet I sobbed uncontrollably; my voice wailing and my body shuddering. I covered my face with a pillow, wondering what is this???
In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Pilgrimage, about his experiences on the Camino, he describes a similar weeping incident as a “spiritual cleansing.” (Of course, I didn’t read this book until I had returned home. If only I had known what I was in for! See Lesson #1, “Know What You Are Signing Up For.”)
But, when my last tear was shed and my breathing normalized, I felt amazing. I felt as if I had unloaded a ton of bricks from my very soul. Something about the walk and the exhaustion and the beauty of the road had knocked things loose inside of me and I had become free of them. I felt my mind and body lighten.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- Isaac Newton
On my walk on El Camino I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I didn’t train ahead of time, I didn’t have some of the equipment that would have made it smoother for me, and I didn’t understand what the trek would actually entail.
What I did have was a mentor.
I met Jennifer while on the Camino and she was my angel on that walk. When I got discouraged, she bolstered me. When I started complaining about the pain in my feet (and legs, and back, and…), she told me I would make it. Jennifer walked backward on the road, facing me so she could keep going and give me the boost I needed at the same time. She was incredible. I had the good fortune that Jennifer showed interest in my success and helped me to make the very best of our walk.
I have been lucky to have had other mentors in my life as well. Because of their experience and vantage point, I have been...
If you read our last newsletter, you know that I recently made the walk at El Camino de Santiago, which begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It wasn’t the leisurely walk that I had been lead to believe it would be and I contemplated bailing on the whole thing and going home midway through. It’s a huge undertaking when you look at the entire length of the walk and the amount of time it takes to complete it. It’s overwhelming.
So why did I keep going? How did I keep going?
I began to look at the journey as a series of steps rather than the entire pilgrimage. One step equals quite a lot. If I focused on taking one step and then the next, I would be able to move ahead. If I became caught up in the enormity of the entire walk, I’d get disheartened and want to quit.
We can get so bogged down with all of the things we have to...
I first heard of the El Camino walk on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist, was her guest and he spoke of how it was on this road that he was inspired to begin writing at the age of 38. Previously, he had been a successful businessman, but after walking the El Camino, he came home to his wife and said, “You will probably divorce me now,” and he went on to tell her that he planned to give up his work in the business world and pursue his childhood dream of becoming a writer. It was a big risk, and one that could mean he would go broke, but he knew he had to do it.
For over a thousand years, countless pilgrims have made the iconic journey to the final resting place of St. James the Greater on the Camino de Santiago. The route for El Camino de Santiago begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain's 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia....