A Love Note to all the Animals in my LifeOctober 3, 2022
The Emptiness of Hands-on HealingOctober 7, 2022
And so I begin the Camino…
Camino means path or way and there are a number of official Ways in Spain (many starting outside of Spain itself). I am walking the French Way, and I am beginning in the Spanish town of Astorga. Each of these Ways finishes in Santiago de Compostela, near the Spanish west coast. It is believed that the body of one of Jesus’ apostles, St James (Santiago), is buried here. That’s a long story, but for the moment I just want to discuss the idea of walking. The Archbishop of Santiago says that Santiago is not a destination as such, but that the actual Camino is the destination.
The Camino is a metaphor for life.
The physical path that we follow, and there’s always a path of some kind whether it’s the path to the coffee shop, school, work or the washing machine, is not always clear or direct or easy. We chose the paths through our past experiences. One way we know is quicker while another is more charming. A part of you is always choosing the path.
There are also the metaphysical paths we follow. These are often the world views that we set in order to create some personal understanding of life. Our direction on these paths evolves from the historical stories we replay. They are the filters that we place upon the words and actions of those around us to determine whether, for example, we should cherish or distrust them.
This is all largely subconscious, yet it is also possible to consciously “walk the talk”. Choose the path knowing full well that it might not be the easy choice while it is the more self-aware and informed path.
In each moment of walking the path we choose how we see our lives and how we live this life. We can therefore also choose for the moment to be one of healing or not. “To heal’ means to become whole, and walking stimulates our body to remember what it is to be whole. We work with our physical self to boost our health, while relaxing our mental self in order to see more clearly, and we “sit” in our heart where fear has no home – this is the perfect balancing of the human being.
I always tell people who visit the Tomah Retreat and are interested in walking its labyrinth that the labyrinth, too, is a metaphor for life. The labyrinth is 200 metres long and is built from 800 dwarf buxus plants about 75 cm high. It was built in 2004. When you walk the labyrinth lots of things happen. Not necessarily mystical, magical things, but… things. A big white bouncy dog might join you for a game of tag – do you play or ignore the offer, or you might find a gum tree branch has fallen across your way – do you stop to remove it or walk over it as if it doesn’t exist, or you only have five minutes left before you have to be somewhere – do you return, run, jump the hedge? These are the things that happen on the labyrinth, on the Camino, and in life. You choose your path.
Walking gives us the opportunity to throw aside our phones and our lesser distractions and feel the cooling earth beneath our feet, the relaxing sun upon head, shoulders and arms and the letting go of our heart to everything we encounter.
To walk the Camino gives you the opportunity to intensively bring your life into balance.