5 tips to harness the power of the camino

Years ago, when I was desperately searching for an answer to a life question, I intuitively thought that walking the camino might help. The answer to my question eventually came but not how I expected, as you can read in the story I published earlier. This blog, based on my own experience and that of fellow pilgrims, is about where the power of the camino lies in contributing to personal or spiritual growth and solving life issues. Spoiler alert: it’s the silence, stupid!

Looking for answers

I began the camino with a simple question: where does my professional future lie. I was sure the camino would give me answers. But I had no idea how. I was expecting some kind of religious experience while walking in the form of a dream or a sign that could not be misunderstood. In whatever form, I expected a guiding message from outside. Something or someone just had to tell me what to do. I praise the mortal who receives a divine revelation, but with me, nothing happened. No voice from a burning bush, no apparition of an angel… nothing. I suspect this is the case with most of us looking for answers to life’s questions. But how do you get answers, and how can the camino help?

The power of the camino

Looking back on my camino, I realize that the power of the camino lies in the silence. On the camino, you are pulled out of your existing work, friends, and family structures. Also, the (self-imposed) distractions are much less. You meet a lot of fellow pilgrims, but you also spend a lot of time with yourself. The longer you walk, the quieter it gets, and you slow down. In hectic daily life, many things demand your attention. On the camino, you only have to follow yellow arrows and think about where you will eat and sleep at night. This does not require much brainpower. This creates space for thoughts and feelings that otherwise would not get much room because of everyday life filled with distractions. In fact, those thoughts and feelings are not always pleasant. Therefore, people consciously or subconsciously suppress them with drugs or alcohol, working long hours, or binge-watching the nights away. Once these hidden thoughts and feelings are given some space, they can lead to beautiful insights and answers you are looking for.

How to harness the power of the camino?

Many pilgrims will agree that it can be busy in your head during the first days on the camino. You still have to get rid of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. During the daily hikes, there often seems to be no red thread in the thoughts and feelings which pass by. Or you simply forget them. Therefore, I suggest following 5 simple steps: The first four steps are meant to give space to your thoughts and feelings. The fifth step is to discover a common thread in these feelings and thoughts. 1. Take a few weeks for the camino instead of cutting it up in short pieces spread over several years. 2. Walk long stretches alone during the daily stages, also when you travel in the company of someone or have befriended fellow pilgrims along the way. 3. Reduce your contact with the home front (let alone work!). Take the social media apps off your phone to avoid temptation and send an occasional text message that you are doing well. 4. Look around and inward and avoid things that distract you from this, such as listening to music or podcasts. 5. Keep a journal and write down what comes to mind, both the pleasant and unpleasant thoughts and feelings (click here for a good explainer about journaling). Initially, it might feel your writing doesn’t make any sense. Chances are that over time, you are going to discover a red thread that will lead you to (unexpected) insights and surprising answers to your questions. In addition, you will have a record of your memorable journey. Enjoy the power of the camino, and I am sure it will transform your life. Buen camino!

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