If there is one thing that truly changed my life in a most wonderful way, it is having walked a pilgrimage route. I remember making the decision to do it and not being able to answer my friends, why I wanted to walk 500 miles all along northern Spain, with a 22 pound backpack on my back ...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
In late August of 2002 I finally did the often quoted first step with which a long journey starts. It was in on the french side of the Pyrenees. I had everything I would need for the next 6 weeks in my circa 22 pound backpack, water included. I still remember how a had the feeling that this was one of the last real adventures, I did not know what brought me here, where I had the courage from. I did not know anyone who had ever done it, neither had I been to Spain before. All I knew was that I had been working way too much the years before and that I had been wanting to help people in a different, more profound way, than I was doing in my employment as a clinical psychologist back then in Vienna, Austria.
Now, almost 8 years and a second time on the same pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago (Paulo Coelho´s book `the Pilgrimage`is about this route) I am still trying to keep the feeling alive. I look at my photos and feel the wide open landscapes, the trees, green mountains and dry plaines, the simplicity and clarity of mind. After days and weeks of simply walking, resting, eating, sleeping and walking, all of a sudden it is clear what really matters in life. My life´s calling had been buried beneath life´s daily demands, immediate tasks, long long to-do lists. With no room for dreams and inspiration, no room for my spiritual being meeting my work life; it was as if I had been buried alive. Forever grateful, for some reason I followed a calling to experience how simple life can be, on that pilgrimage. I got reminded how precious life is and how I am the creator of my own life by making decisions.
Six weeks after that first step, I returned home with my hopes and dreams back alive. My daily life changed because I made the decisions for change. I simplified my life and focused on sticking with my intuition. Convenient habits did creep back in, but I went again on the pilgrimage, 6 years later. This time, I noticed how different a person I was, how much more focused my mind was. I had less physical pain this time despite a general lower fitness level. I used my mind, my experience, paced myself. Again, clarity about my life´s calling was my reward.
Today, I am keeping all the lessons from the Camino alive with pictures, readings and mind travels to that pilgrimage route. My goal it to keep that spirit and energy present whenever I am coaching my clients. I know for myself that it is my goal to be in that mindset to be of utmost service to my clients. Work in my office has long become a very rewarding affair. I am far from the hamster wheel and make sure, my clients also grow beyond themselves by becoming more and more themselves.
I am so very grateful that I have listened to that calling back in 2002, despite my concerns, despite being afraid and despite appearing somewhat nuts to my family and friends. Now they understand and some have followed their own calling to the north of Spain. Where is your Camino? I wish that you may find it, so it brings you home to yourself. After all, I had to walk 500 miles back home to myself. Someone has calculated that it takes one million steps. And every single one was so worth it.