Flying to cities and sleeping in hotels gives you a luxurious life-style. Walking your way to cities and sleeping on church floors and hostels gives you depth and an inner journey to yourself.
There are those few things in life that any man or woman has to absolutely do.
One of those bucket-list experiences has to be without a doubt, The Camino de Santiago experience.
Having returned from this long walk just 2 days ago, I will share with you the powerful experiences and challenges that I faced during my time on the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago experience actually translates from Spanish as the Way / Path to Santiago de Compostela (compostela=field of stars).
After a seriously tough time, mentally, spiritually and professionally, the opportunity to do the Camino presented itself.
I decided to try and see if it would help bring clarity into my mind and receive at least a few answers from the big list of questions I have always pondered on.
Being a guy who preferred direct flights to cities and who enjoyed the luxurious comforts of a hotel, the Camino de Santiago Experience was quite a challenge.
With a 12 kilo backpack, a good friend, sports shoes, a bottle of water and determination I embarked on the trip that would change the way I see life.
It all started in the city of Aragon region, Jaca. Then I made my way to Santiago de Compostela where a cathedral dedicated to the successful pilgrims awaited. A pompous ceremony was dedicated to us, the pilgrims.
1. Your Body
The 800km walk does not make it easy on neither the body nor the spirit.
The first 200km were all about the body aching and feeling like a final fight would take place before total collapse failure and shutdown would occur.
You then realise that the body was just resetting itself and readjusting to the new conditions of walking 20-30 km per day, every day, with the minimum necessities in the backpack.
You start to consider blisters as something normal, joint pains as ordinary and fatigue as a conventional state.
Once you reach the final destination of the day, a massive appreciation for even the most basic food and sleeping conditions will fill your heart and soul.
2. Your Heart and Soul
The second part of the Camino de Santiago Experience is a battle with your inner demons, rage, regrets, hopes and dreams, while walking through the heart and soul of Spain’s wild nature.
You soon beg for bodily pain in order to take your mind off the haunting memories, thoughts, ideas and dreams you experience.
Accepting the war inside your spirit and taking the position of the observer is the next step in working towards the clarity and resolve you were looking for.
You embrace solitude.
You embrace tears.
And you finally embrace yourself.
Walking for 8 to 10 hours a day, gives you the perfect opportunity to have that Interview with Your Consciousness. To talk with yourself. It’s the perfect occasion to get to know the person that you live by your whole life.
It is ironic that the person you spend your whole life with, is the one you know the least.
3. Your A-Ha! and Epiphany Moments
The very last part of your long walk offers a time to reflect on your inner conflicts and to come to conclusions regarding your life and its meaning.
You will also understand that some questions should be left unanswered and better set aside for another time in your life, when you would have gathered more wisdom and experience.
What the Camino de Santiago Experience has taught me is that in times of despair or turmoil, know that there is always this one person you can turn to.
You can reach this person by detaching yourself from all the attachments and elements that you cling to.
If you stop craving external elements, you will have the will-power and energy to sit down and discuss your problems with YOURSELF. With your Consciousness.
The biggest REVELATION I had was that you should walk through life with ease, by letting go.
You should never crave, cling, desire and attach yourself to anything.
As the great Buddha said: “Be in this world, but not of it”.
Walk through this beautiful journey, enjoy it, experience and feel it. But do not fall into the trap of slowing down by clinging to these external pleasure (money, career, sex, fame etc). Do not forget that you are here to experience them and not live for them.
Be in this world, but not of it.