Camino Story Margit part II: Learn about the 3 parts that mirrored her internal process of transformation on the Camino

“Pilgrims use this saying: “The camino provides….” I will add to this…” and gives you what you need, instead of what you want.”

The process of internal transformation on the camino can be divided into three parts: the physical, mental, and spiritual. Let’s start with the first part: the physical. The Camino will bring you to your knees no matter how well you are trained, what shoes you are wearing, or what tactics and strategies you apply to prevent blisters and injuries. It prepares you for the challenges to come.

-Starting out walking over the Pyrenees was one of the most challenging parts for me physically and yet the most rewarding. I was blown away by the magnificence of the beauty I encountered along the way. The terrain on the French side welcomed me with the most magical interplay of nature. Morning sunlight kissed the mountain tops, peaking out underneath their misty blankets draped over the awakening valley. At that moment, my soul awakened and nourished my being enough to endure the challenges ahead.-

Steep climbs and descents, heavy breathing, smiling heart, tired legs, and that sweet sound of ringing cowbells when you pass by a herd. Gazing over the panorama of this majestic mountain chain anticipating crossing the border to Spain. At this point, you have already left your comfort zone. The camino has started, and so did its raw and authentic walking experience. Sleeping in bunk beds, snoring fellow pilgrims, waking up early, heavy rainfalls, simple pilgrim menus, carrying and (un-)packing your backpack. The following two weeks will prepare your body to walk through changing landscapes, weather conditions, and mood swings. Uneven trails, descending rocky, gravel roads. Blisters and pulled or sore muscles will make your pilgrims’ journey more arduous. As Kahlil Gibran said: “Like sheaves of wheat, he gathers you himself. He threshes you and strips you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant.”

Most likely, after walking for almost two weeks, your physical body has adjusted. The first round of blisters is gone. But now, you will be challenged in different ways to prepare you for the second part; the mental component.

-I wandered over ancient Roman bridges and prayed in churches of different epochs, following windmills lining the way, resting on riverbeds, eating bocadillas and aceitunas in sleepy villages. Vineyards bragging with their ripened fruits and indulging in the sweetness of the figs, fallen off the branches, ready to be picked up. Leaning into deep and heartfelt conversations, attracted by the resonance of the heart’s song. Synchronicities. Strangers became dear friends. Pilgrims saluted with a “Buen camino” or silently nodded in acknowledgment of their need for silence.-

Spoiled by the changing landscapes of the first part, it is time to encounter what the second part is about. The Meseta, a landscape that is barren, dry, even, and similarly looking throughout the many kilometers of the walk. A false relief when expecting a break from all the climbing and descending. Only to find yourself on a long straight 18km stretch, without a single bar or chit-chatty pilgrims to distract yourself from that screaming mind.

-Only my nudging short shadow, painted by the midday sun and I, walking side by side. The mundane, unappealing scenery invites me to go inwards, forcing my ego to bend and surrender to what is in my heart now. Enough of the external stimuli. It is time to listen to the voice from within and tend to those parts I have tried to run away from. I held my hand while inviting those parts and unfelt feelings in. I pondered, contemplated, screamed, and cried. Crying those un-cried tears and emptying that backpack I have been carrying for so long. I sang along to ol’ tunes played by my mind’s jukebox. I cursed and laughed, danced and stomped, giggling to the thought of ‘what if someone watches me’? –

This part will allow you to meet yourself on a deep level if you can surrender to its demand. That’s where the alchemy is happening. Fundamental transformation is taking place.

-I gave presence and expression to the parts of me that have been hurt, scared, lonely, afraid, and insecure. Listening to my needs that had been unmet. Drawing boundaries to define me and feeling where I begin and where I end, creating a deeper and more intimate space for every aspect of me to feel safe and seen. Slowly re-opening my heart to love and life itself.-

You are ready now for the third and last part. The spiritual element. The Camino has challenged you physically and stripped you naked emotionally. The heart has been gently opened again. The pain in our physical body has subsided. The tears and emotional baggage have been left behind and surrendered to the roads of the Meseta. Now it’s time to reward that quivering heart with its own elixir. Love.

-I look out over the horizon, crossing over to Galicia and welcoming this newfound spaciousness in my chest. I am cracked open, like a seed from its shell. A lush, green, and juicy landscape surround me, followed by cool, crisp, and dewy valleys. Marching cows accompanying me along the road, my personal Cow-bonanza.

I experience everything a little bit more intense. Like increasing the saturation of what I am looking at. I feel peaceful. Now I walk through the vibrating and beaming forests. I called them “Zauberwälder”, enchanted forests. It feels like the trees are whispering their secrets to me while the sun is setting, sprinkling her deep orangey rays through the leafy forest ground. It gets under my skin. My mind is silent, my body agile.

I walk and walk and walk. I cannot stop. It feels like I am a part of nature. I am fluid, curious, flexible, and thirsty. Thirsty for that new beginning, I have laid out the foundation. A clean slate. An open heart. Suddenly it is not about the arrival anymore but the road towards it.

I am in awe, humbled and grateful. And as I “arrived,” I knew I was already on my next journey.-

Continue reading:

Lina: ‘The camino (and a dog) helped me cope with chronic depression’

Gerald (57): ‘A hug on the Camino changed my life’

Joan (37): Her camino was a total failure. At least, that’s what she thought.

Aparecida Campos (47, Portugal): ‘On the camino I embraced my inner-child’

Ozi (Switserland): ‘I learned to solve problems by distancing myself from them.’

Eleanor: ‘On the camino I regained inner peace.’

Paul (60, The Netherlands) – ‘The camino taught me how to live again’

Carla (36, The Netherlands): Recovering from burnout while walking the camino

Sofia’s (54, Brazil) camino story: ‘At Cruz de Ferro came the sadness

Nagela Alexa’s Camino Story: ‘The Camino changes your life if you allow it.’

Fabrice (38, France): ‘I realized that walking the camino itself was self-imposed pressure

Andre’s story (58, Belgium): ‘On the camino, I had to face the hard fact of how horribly I treat myself.’

Emma’s story: ‘I learned to say goodbye on the camino (and in life)

Maarten’s story: The power of vulnerability

Agne-Henrik’s story: ‘The camino changed my life

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