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Focusing on transformation versus being 100% present

JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
 
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Helen Avoca

Slow walker.
Past OR future Camino
Planning to finish to Chemin Le Puy in April 2022.
This is a 100% personal reflection from me, non transferable, so to speak, because everyone is different.
I really like your question.
Next time I might write down the questions I am seeking answers to, just one or two, on a small piece of paper and put it in my pack.
When I walk I focus on being present, bringing my mind back to the here and now as it wanders. Enjoying the experience. I let the Camino do the work.
I might take out my piece of paper, but rarely, and make a ceremony of reading it. Tuck it back away. Perhaps at they end of my Camino I might reflect, do I have the answers? Are these still the questions? Were they ever?
I haven’t done this in the past, but I have thrown in my job one time, and twice taken up new careers. Each time a good move, never expected. For me it is the unique opportunity to be totally present, not even thinking about what is for dinner (the Camino provides), that is transformative.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I've never thought about preparing myself mentally for the Camino nor have I used the Camino to answer questions about the mystery of life, what my purpose is, etc., nor with the intention to fix or change myself or my life.
I believe in just relaxing and letting it happen, and incorporating the insights that you may have into your daily life.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Yes - in my opinion you are seriously overthinking things :) But you know that already.

Walking a Camino will give you a lot of time for reflection. Unless you have extraordinary mental and spiritual discipline I doubt that you will be able to focus your thinking entirely on one specific horn of your dilemma for the duration. I'm not convinced that would be very desirable anyway. My own experience has been that the physical repetitive action of walking day after day has a stilling effect on my mind and allows me to indulge in mental meandering while the body looks after itself. Those mental excursions might be to do with immediate personal concerns or equally may involve more remote and less easily defined issues. My own inclination is to allow the journey to speak to me and suggest where my mind should go hour by hour. I suspect that if one defines one's questions too specifically well in advance then one's conclusions are also being drawn before you even set foot on the road.
 

JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Yes - in my opinion you are seriously overthinking things :) But you know that already.

Walking a Camino will give you a lot of time for reflection. Unless you have extraordinary mental and spiritual discipline I doubt that you will be able to focus your thinking entirely on one specific horn of your dilemma for the duration. I'm not convinced that would be very desirable anyway. My own experience has been that the physical repetitive action of walking day after day has a stilling effect on my mind and allows me to indulge in mental meandering while the body looks after itself. Those mental excursions might be to do with immediate personal concerns or equally may involve more remote and less easily defined issues. My own inclination is to allow the journey to speak to me and suggest where my mind should go hour by hour. I suspect that if one defines one's questions too specifically well in advance then one's conclusions are also being drawn before you even set foot on the road.
Yes, I'm anticipating the same thing - the repetitive walking motion will feel somewhat meditative and allow my mind to wander at will. Currently my mind is a bit like an amusement arcade, full of blinking lights and buzzing sounds, with a noisy soundtrack playing in the background. Not ideal... :)
 
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Walkerooni

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPdP to Santiago (June-ish 2018)
Snap out of it. (You asked for that.) 😉. I have done one Camino SJPdP to Santiago. I had no plan to sort out any issues or seek answers to the mysteries of the cosmos. I just let it wash over me. There were several times on the Meseta where I caught myself actually having drifted off while walking. It was incredible the things that popped into my mind—like wondering why a kid had moved away in kindergarten. I had never thought of him in 59 years! Why did I even remember his name? Where the heck did he come from and what was he doing on my Camino!? It is amazing the things that run through your mind out in the middle of nowhere, when your mind has gone totally empty of the day-to-day nonsense.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.
I don't "get that". I have no idea how one should go about preparing mentally for one's walk, any more than one would go about preparing mentally for any month in your life. When you say "mentioned by everyone", maybe you are referring to a small group of people who are making a living out of promoting a dream to others. (Don't get me wrong, I really like Brierley's guide books, but I skip the "Mystical path" sections.)
How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.
I cannot see how one can do both at once. Both are good, and I would seek a reasonable balance in my life, including time on the Camino. I don't take roll call to see if I am present or not. I get up in the morning and walk. Sometimes my mind wanders all over the place, sometimes I am fascinated by the path.
But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives,
Perhaps this is a very revealing point. It seems that you are seeking a transformation in your life. I have never been seeking a transformation from my Caminos and I don't believe that most of us are. Understanding why you want a transformation, and what type, is very important, but that work should take place at home and not be saved for the Camino.

Don't put big expectations on the Camino as a transformative experience. For the vast majority of people, it is just one way to contribute to our mental health and sense of well being - one that we also enjoy immensely for various reasons. I don't see how you can plan and manage it to bring about a transformation.

For preparation, just do what is beneficial in your everyday life. Take up the activity of walking for its many benefits. By all means, plan a trip to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago.
 

alhartman

2005-2017 Delightful 346 days in Spain and France.
Past OR future Camino
2017
You have plenty of time for both!!
I followed Brierley idea first (2005) Camino. I was approaching retirement age and pondered on "How much is enough"; as in savings etc. On about the 6th day, about 2 hours outside of Estella, as I was resting under a tree, with the Arcade mind counting the number of pilgrims passing as I rested (yes, a bed race even then). I had the "Paul on the road to Damascus' moment when my mind said "Wrong question, the answer is always more" So changed the meditative question to 'how little is enough'--and low and behold the arcade shut down and my mind quietened for the first time..
Don't feed the monkeys of the mind!!
 

La Brique Jaune

Official member of la confradia del pinza del oro
Past OR future Camino
2017: SJPDP to Finisterre
(202?): I hope and need to
Hi
I will talk about my experience it will be easier to express myself this way.
My mental preparation was " I know it will difficult, I will do it and I give myself the right to not finish it", hopefully I did it :) . So maybe a simple phrase could be a preparation. Like a motto we want to put in your life. My motto was: I want to be a like sponge: absorb all the feelings I will encounter.

Personality I get rid of things by simply think and not by a difficult process, the cleaning was done subtly and I would dare to say by itself. Few years after my Camino I noticed things have changed in me, I relate the transformations by thoughts I had. For me, this experience is slow process, like people say: "The true Camino began when we finish it". So for me we don't need to complicate the process.

We read the Camino provide what we need and it's true. So why on Camino I said to me out loud: " I will speak Spanish" ? No lo se pero ahora lo hablo bastante bien.

La Brique
 
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How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.
Go. Walk. And see.
It happens by itself.

You already know you're overthinking.
But I'll concur. You definitely are.
You're also trying too hard to stage manage your camino. It does its own thing - and if you don't get out of the way, it'll be an especially 'interesting' experience.

You're stuck in a non-existant duality. Either reflecting or being present. In reality it's some moments of one, some moments of the other. Both happen, just not at the same time. (That said, one can be mindful of thinking, but it's a skill that takes practice.)

I don't "get that". I have no idea how one should go about preparing mentally for one's walk,
A few things come to mind.
Developing a skill of open awareness in all activities is very useful - for anything, not just a camino.

Notice camino expectations - and learn how to disengage.

Learn how to be present with experiences of anxiety and uncertainty without drowning in them.
Overthinking is an anxiety indicator. So find the best way for you to just (kindly!) put the thoughts to one side and rest with what you're feeling. Let it be. It will pass.

Without analysing too much, be aware of your motivation to walk. It can help to just ask the question, then let it go, allowing the answer to reveal itself naturally in its own time. You may only understand this after the fact so don't worry if it's not clear.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
I think that @Helen Avoca has got some good advice for you.

If you manage to walk an entire Camino while being totally present all the time then you are further along the path then anyone that I have ever met or corresponded with.

I did meet a number of people who were at pivotal points in their life as I walked and I also walked with questions for myself but like @Helen Avoca I let the walking do my thinking and the answers emerged when I could use them.

Buen Camino, may your path be long.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.
It depends on where you think that the answers lie. If you think that the answers will be found in reason then being present and reasoning something out are different processes.

The questions that I am interested in lie not in the realm of reason but rather in wisdom and in this case, for me, being present is part of the process of accessing wisdom.

There are many paths to wisdom deciding which ones might work for you is way, way above my pay-scale.

One of the paths is to listen to your personal guide. This has worked for me.

For me, my personal guide is always with me but almost all the time I am so busy doing stuff, planning stuff and thinking that there is so much noise in my mind that I can't hear my guide.

The way that I sometimes manage to clear the noise is by filling my mind with the emptiness of being present.

I find that the simplicity of walking a camino helps me to be present and when that happens I can hear the wisdom of my guide.

That is how it works for me, your experience may vary.
 

JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I've never thought about preparing myself mentally for the Camino nor have I used the Camino to answer questions about the mystery of life, what my purpose is, etc., nor with the intention to fix or change myself or my life.
I believe in just relaxing and letting it happen, and incorporating the insights that you may have into your daily li
I don't "get that". I have no idea how one should go about preparing mentally for one's walk, any more than one would go about preparing mentally for any month in your life. When you say "mentioned by everyone", maybe you are referring to a small group of people who are making a living out of promoting a dream to others. (Don't get me wrong, I really like Brierley's guide books, but I skip the "Mystical path" sections.)
Thanks for your thoughtful reply and you’ve made some good points.

I am in fact hoping for some sort of change (if in fact “transformation” is overly ambitious) in my life. I happen to be at a particular stage in my life where I need to make some decisions, as the status quo isn’t cutting it. So while I appreciate that you and many (most?) others don’t get or agree with the notion of preparing mentally, it makes sense to me. I would also argue that there is a sizeable number of people who have had transformational experiences without any a commercial interests in sharing those experiences.

As I’ve said, I recognize I’m totally over thinking things, and inducing major eye rolls. No doubt some of this over thinking is a result of pandemic-induced boredom and restlessness, and I’ll cringe looking back. Oh well.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
@JustJack Don't over think it ;)

Just walk..........

I wanted to walk my first Camino as a break from work, life, everything really.
At age 57, I had worked my butt of since the age of 15, been married twice, tried to raise 4 kids (badly), was running 5 businesses.

I just wanted to get off the treadmill!
And hopefully re-evaluate things, find myself, have a break, who knows.

All I knew, was that I needed time alone, with no responsibilities and distractions.

I walked alone, which was great.
To the crunch crunch sound of the gravel, I lost myself in the rhythm of the walk and life each day was simple. I began to feel really at peace, grounded and connected with the environment.

Perhaps I could find the answer I thought to myself.
But I didn't even know what the question was.

Without forcing anything at all, just relaxing, being present and grounded and freeing my mind to wander.......

After 2 weeks I discovered the question!
It just popped up.
Not that I was even really looking for it.

The question that, if I knew the answer, might give me greater direction and life meaning.

At 4 weeks, I found the answer!
A really simple answer.

Since that first Camino in 2015, and 'boosted' by two more since, I am happier, less stressed, not working as hard, and really looking forward to my next one, to recharge.

As previously suggested, go without expectations.

Just walk.......

The answers will come to you, when you least expect them.......
 

JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
@JustJack Don't over think it ;)

Just walk..........

I wanted to walk my first Camino as a break from work, life, everything really.
At age 57, I had worked my butt of since the age of 15, been married twice, tried to raise 4 kids (badly), was running 5 businesses.

I just wanted to get off the treadmill!
And hopefully re-evaluate things, find myself, have a break, who knows.

All I knew, was that I needed time alone, with no responsibilities and distractions.

I walked alone, which was great.
To the crunch crunch sound of the gravel, I lost myself in the rhythm of the walk and life each day was simple. I began to feel really at peace, grounded and connected with the environment.

Perhaps I could find the answer I thought to myself.
But I didn't even know what the question was.

Without forcing anything at all, just relaxing, being present and grounded and freeing my mind to wander.......

After 2 weeks I discovered the question!
It just popped up.
Not that I was even really looking for it.

The question that, if I knew the answer, might give me greater direction and life meaning.

At 4 weeks, I found the answer!
A really simple answer.

Since that first Camino in 2015, and 'boosted' by two more since, I am happier, less stressed, not working as hard, and really looking forward to my next one, to recharge.

As previously suggested, go without expectations.

Just walk.......

The answers will come to you, when you least expect them.......
Your comments really resonated with me as our situations and motivations have some similarities. Thanks for sharing.
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont Pyrénéen; Camino Baztan 😎
As I’ve said, I recognize I’m totally over thinking things, and inducing major eye rolls. No doubt some of this over thinking is a result of pandemic-induced boredom and restlessness, and I’ll cringe looking back. Oh well.

Hi Jack. if you have things you want to think over or resolve - my bet is they will come to mind naturally as you walk - no need to plan how that will happen.

And … you have no reason at all to ‘cringe looking back’. Putting yourself ‘out there’ by expressing your thoughts in such an open way - to a bunch of strangers online - even risking a few ‘eye rolls’ - is courageous.

Bravo. And Buen Camino.

PS. I don’t think there would have been many eye rolls. ☺
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Hi Jack. if you have things you want to think over or resolve - my bet is they will come to mind naturally as you walk - no need to plan how that will happen.

And … you have no reason at all to ‘cringe looking back’. Putting yourself ‘out there’ by expressing your thoughts in such an open way - to a bunch of strangers online - even risking a few ‘eye rolls’ - is courageous.

Bravo. And Buen Camino.

PS. I don’t think there would have been many eye rolls. ☺

No. We've all been there :rolleyes:
 

Phoenix

Generic member
Past OR future Camino
2022
The heaviest thing that you can bring on the Camino is expectations. Leave them at home.
It depends… I’m accustomed to carrying a few expectations. I expect:

To drink great coffee and beer.
To eat a lot of so-so and/or bland pilgrim food and a few meals I will remember fondly.
To hear world championship snoring.
To meet several great folks along the way.
To see a wonderful country.
And, to feel both great and spent at the end of most days.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
to me. I would also argue that there is a sizeable number of people who have had transformational experiences without any a commercial interests in sharing those experiences
But did they set out on the Camino with the expectation that they would have a transformational experience?

I remember a post here a few years ago from a woman who was on the Camino and wondering when she was going to have her epiphany.

I never had an epiphany, but I've had several wonderful walks across Spain, met some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself in the process. And I've never been disappointed that I didn't have a particular experience because I didn't set out with that expectation.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
With enough time and distance...there are no questions...nor answers..there is just you. The basic beautiful real you.
And when you have gone far and long enough to burn away all the burdens your inner voice, the real inner voice you have been trying to hear? Of a sudden becomes the only one.
All other things burn away in that light of "being"
Doubts,regrets,uncertainties and what makes you...you...becomes evident.

And here is where what your looking for is layed open. You may not find what is there is good or even tolorable..but there you are.

Happiness
Sadness
And everything in between awaits you and if your strong enough to face that mirror then welcome back to you.and you can start from scratch to rebuild.
You have time and distance to sort it out and for the fears to turn into certainty.

At least thats what my travels did for me.
Time
Space
Distance so i could remember who I was and wanted to be without the world pressing in.
Buen Camino!
 
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David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
Hi - good post and some great answers. Jack, as mentioned above, you are over thinking it ... you cannot "plan your transformation" - here's the trick - the key to pilgrimage is that you leave the other world behind - no one can have two masters ... you cannot be 'there' on Camino and still be 'there' back home, by phone calls and emails and so on. Sure, take a phone with you but keep it switched off. Tell friends and family to text you if there is an emergency then switch phone on every evening for two minutes - no emergencies? Switch it off again.
The same goes with listening to music or audio books - separate yourself from all 'home world' electronic distractions and just walk .... you probably think the transformation that you are looking for is to find yourself but this is an error, you are going to lose yourself ... lose all those decades of the things you have been doing that have covered you in false thoughts, ways of living, ideas, responsibilities etc - on Camino, if you leave home at home, all that will drop away and you will be revealed ...and you may find that you like what you discover, which is 'transformation' enough isn't it? ... but only if you are 'there' and as a stranger in a strange land - no racing, no planning ahead, no pre-conceptions, no taking photos of meals and sending them home saying what a wonderful time you are having - a pilgrimage is out of time and out of that home space - live it and then just let it happen ...

because if you go looking for yourself you might not like what you find 😂
 

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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Thanks for your thoughtful reply and you’ve made some good points.

I am in fact hoping for some sort of change (if in fact “transformation” is overly ambitious) in my life. I happen to be at a particular stage in my life where I need to make some decisions, as the status quo isn’t cutting it. So while I appreciate that you and many (most?) others don’t get or agree with the notion of preparing mentally, it makes sense to me. I would also argue that there is a sizeable number of people who have had transformational experiences without any a commercial interests in sharing those experiences.

As I’ve said, I recognize I’m totally over thinking things, and inducing major eye rolls. No doubt some of this over thinking is a result of pandemic-induced boredom and restlessness, and I’ll cringe looking back. Oh well.
Just walk and let your mind go, like Doughnut NZ says "let the walking do your thinking"

The walk itself becomes a type of meditation, if you let your mind go, you'll be pleased where it takes you. The magic happens when you step out of your normal life into this alternate life, where you get up and walk day after day after day.....until it becomes your life. It may even become your best life, it did become mine.

As you can see I don't believe in mental preparation- I do believe in comfortable shoes, a light pack, sunscreen, and learning a little Spanish.
If your feet hurt, your mind will be distracted.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I think John's advice is pretty amusing. I only come with one question - will I make it to Santiago de Compostela?
I guess that was quite a while ago? Long before the flood of news articles, magazine articles, TV broadcasts, photos, books, movies, videos, blogs, online forums, online groups, associations and threads like this one?

I knew next to nothing about all this, and, similar to you, my main question was: will I ever make it to the Pyrenees? I knew already about the benefits of all-day walking and multi-day walking anyway. In retrospect, I consider myself lucky that I knew so little beforehand about all these Camino reports and Camino opinions and Camino narratives and predictions ...
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Every opinion expressed here is truth for the one who experienced it, so all are good and make for interesting reading.

I particularly liked and had a smile reading @Phoenix's simple list...
"I’m accustomed to carrying a few expectations. I expect:
To drink great coffee and beer.
To eat a lot of so-so and/or bland pilgrim food and a few meals I will remember fondly.
To hear world championship snoring.
To meet several great folks along the way.
To see a wonderful country.
And, to feel both great and spent at the end of most days."
 

Stroller

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
Some random thoughts on mindfulness and epiphanies on camino.

Leave all you can behind and just take yourself. By "all" I mean fears, expectations, and, if possible, much contact with what is now your real life and "be in the moment".

Walking is a great way to meditate particularly if you walk alone or with another soul who does not talk much, there will be plenty of time for talk when the days walk is complete.

The rhythm of the camino will calm you as life boils down to the necessities, shelter and food.

Walk peacefully with yourself and with others.

Let your thoughts come and go as they will and don't over analyse them.

Be open to the camino and take as much time as you can over the walk.

Don't look for answers they will come of their own accord, or not.

The less you expect the more you will gain.

That's all bit mystical perhaps but it works well for me when walking, camino or not.
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I can only answer this question from my own experience walking the Caminos, on the third or fourth day I find myself in a zone, a Zen like zone. There is no way to prepare for this, it just happens.
 

Thomas Yingst

Tom ... “the kid”
Past OR future Camino
Portugal. May 2019
This is a 100% personal reflection from me, non transferable, so to speak, because everyone is different.
I really like your question.
Next time I might write down the questions I am seeking answers to, just one or two, on a small piece of paper and put it in my pack.
When I walk I focus on being present, bringing my mind back to the here and now as it wanders. Enjoying the experience. I let the Camino do the work.
I might take out my piece of paper, but rarely, and make a ceremony of reading it. Tuck it back away. Perhaps at they end of my Camino I might reflect, do I have the answers? Are these still the questions? Were they ever?
I haven’t done this in the past, but I have thrown in my job one time, and twice taken up new careers. Each time a good move, never expected. For me it is the unique opportunity to be totally present, not even thinking about what is for dinner (the Camino provides), that is transformative.
I just put my backpack on and walk … enjoying what’s around the next bend … whatever is in my mind is in my mind …
 
Past OR future Camino
Walked CF September/October 2015; Scheduled to walk April/May 2020
I think this is a great question, so don’t worry about overthinking anything. You’re being curious and thoughtful, a great state of mind for a pilgrim to be. I think it’s ok to go in with a few ponderings, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have “the great epiphany”. Everyone’s experience is unique; some pilgrims might have extraordinary revelations, some may not, but that doesn’t mean anything went wrong. The experience of pilgrimage will continue to reveal things to you long after you have returned home. Be in the moment-but honestly sometimes you might even need a distraction from that! Your feet will hurt, bugs might be flying in your face, the heat or cold might be brutal, and you might think “What am I even doing here??” But all of it will be part of your journey. What you’re going to do, really, is put on your pack every morning, put one foot in front of the other, and invite the Camino to reveal itself to you each day in ways that only it can. No doubt it already is. Buen Camino.
 

Tucson

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances in October-November (2019)
Some random thoughts on mindfulness and epiphanies on camino.

Leave all you can behind and just take yourself. By "all" I mean fears, expectations, and, if possible, much contact with what is now your real life and "be in the moment".

Walking is a great way to meditate particularly if you walk alone or with another soul who does not talk much, there will be plenty of time for talk when the days walk is complete.

The rhythm of the camino will calm you as life boils down to the necessities, shelter and food.

Walk peacefully with yourself and with others.

Let your thoughts come and go as they will and don't over analyse them.

Be open to the camino and take as much time as you can over the walk.

Don't look for answers they will come of their own accord, or not.

The less you expect the more you will gain.

That's all bit mystical perhaps but it works well for me when walking, camino or not

To the OP: The only thing I can add is there are a lot of people just like you...with the same thoughts, feelings, and experiences...don't pass up a chance conversation to learn about someone else. Those are the conversations where you will find the root question that you actually need to answer...and that is all part of the mystical and magical aspects of the Camino...
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
I do think being present is already a part of the Camino. It does not seem to be something you would need to practice. You wake up every day, pick up your pack, and begin to walk. My thoughts are very much in the present such as "I want some coffee" or "I want it to stop raining", "I want my feet to stop hurting", or "I am walking to name-a-town today". For me being in the present on the Camino means that I don't have to think about my work or answer emails or grade papers. I can think about anything I want and with the walking all day there is certainly time for that.

Although Mr. Brierly encourages us to be positive and let the negative go of things. I am still in the present wondering why those Spanish kids walking as a school group have to sing so loud and why did they drink all the cold drinks at the last bar before I arrived. And those negative thoughts do persist and are a part of being present on my Camino.

And when I look back, I wonder why do I love that so much? I was miserable physically many times, and annoyed with albergue plastic bag rustlers. Still I can't wait to get back again to communal suppers, chance meetings with amazing people, quiet churches, and putting one foot in front of the other.
 
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Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
I suggest that you’re right on track. I think it’s perfect that now you’re reflecting on your life in terms of past, present, and future. You’re defining the issues, being aware of the places of pain, unfinished business, and areas of uncertainty. Let that run its course as much as possible before you begin the Camino without you interfering too much in the process. Kinda like going to the movies. View your travel to the Camino as a process of letting all that go, as much as possible. That process formally ends with registration at the Camino office. Enjoy your evening and reach out and make a new friend or two. Wake up, eat, put on your pack and I’d suggest your focus be not on transformation or mindfulness but instead on being open to whatever the experience is at each step. You’ll find yourself in conversation, walking alone, reflecting on things in general, experiencing pain, enjoying a laugh, being annoyed by multiple annoyances, sharing something of your story with someone you just met, marveling how you enjoyed walking with a group of 19 year olds from the Netherlands or two religious widows from Italy who don’t speak English. Each moment is a piece of broken glass. When the Camino is over, you’ll see a mosaic of these moments come together into a piece that you’ll name “Transformation”. Buen Camino, friend.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
There is an old Zen saying about enlightenment
"Before enlightenment wake up, light fire, boil water, make tea, sweep room"
After enlightenment wake up, light fire, boil water, make tea, sweep room"

Which for us and a transformative experience could be

"Before transformation wake up, boil water, make coffee, put on pack, walk"
After transformation wake up, boil water, make coffee, put on pack, walk" ;)

There is nothing else except here, transformation is merely a waking up and seeing it all in a different way - and that can happen instantly at any time, any where.

"In that tiniest fragment of eternity when
for a timeless moment
the games ended and reality began
I remembered."
 

Jilly123

New Member
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
I agree with those who say 'just let it happen'. It is easy to over-think the Camino. I've walked it once and will be doing so again at age 73. Can't say any questions were answered but I wasn't looking for any. The experience is just walking, during which times your mind will heal itself in unexpected ways. Sometimes you will feel 'present'; sometimes you will walk in a daze. Doesn't matter. It's just you and the earth. And the earth is healing. We don't always recognize healing when it comes from outside the mind. Just walk and enjoy and the results will be perfect for who you are and what you need.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
For me the spirit of the camino was always finding the freedom to simply be.

During past years there were timeless stretches which seemed to be in another world. Gone were the hordes of camera-clicking tourists and/or pilgrims as well as any urbane atmosphere with a bar at every corner. All was reduced to simple basics; I was alone on a seemingly endless gravel path beneath the vast dome of an immense sky. The only sound was the companionable crunch of my boots and perhaps distant birdsong.

Happily while tramping along and alone I often sensed that special moment when everything 'clicked' realizing that this was, indeed, my way and that all was and would be good. ...Perhaps such secular transcendence felt while walking might be akin to what runners call 'the zone'. Your body can handle the task while your spirit glows with the effort. Neither easy, nor impossible; all simply is. ...Thus, thankfully you continue.

I first began to walk the CF when I was 65.
Now at 82 age and time have taken their toll but hopefully my personal memories will endure. Physically I may not be there, but sentimentally I will always "wear" my pilgrim shell. And whenever this life may end it is reassuring to hope that the freedom of this beloved spiritual route will continue throughout the centuries to come.
 
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Kathy Val

New Member
Past OR future Camino
August 2017
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
Your question reminds me so much of the movie About Time where the males in the family can have do-overs and travel back in time. Excellent movie where in the end the dad, portrayed by Bill Nighy, gives the secret to his son of how to really live one’s life even though there is an opportunity to “fix” mistakes. The son comes to realize that it is better to live each day once, deciding from that point on to not time travel at all, and comes to appreciate life with his family as if he is living it for the second time. So, be one with the road. Your introspective opportunities may very well present themselves like aha moments. The Camino provides! Buen Camino! 👣
 

Dandabika

Member
Past OR future Camino
GR65 2016 Del Norte/Primitivo 2017 GR70 2018
I've walked two Caminos back to back in '16 and '17. There will be hundreds of opportunities where you will potentially get lost, twist an ankle, make a blister, unable to find the next trail marker, gite, alberque, water source, or food store; if you are not incessantly "in the moment" you will get lost, go hungry, thirsty, spend the night outside or worse, get hurt. Focus on what's at hand and what needs your constant attention and you'll have plenty of chances to ponder all of life's enigmas, once your head hits the pillow at the end of each day. Sweet dreams and hopefully snoring will not be part of your, or other's problems. 🤣
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I've never thought about preparing myself mentally for the Camino nor have I used the Camino to answer questions about the mystery of life, what my purpose is, etc., nor with the intention to fix or change myself or my life.
I believe in just relaxing and letting it happen, and incorporating the insights that you may have into your daily life.
After walking Caminos over the past 11 years I can wholeheartedly agree.
 

stevelm1

Recovering Perigrino
Past OR future Camino
CF 2015, CP 2019, Jakobswege Germany 2022 or 23.
To reply to the original question posted above I will talk to my own experience. Before I walked my first Camino (CF) back in 2015 I watched many hours of YouTube Camino videos while walking on my treadmill training for the walk. I also read around 10 books to try to understand what to expect on the walk -- beyond the physical. I had read about a lot of folks going through some kind of transformation, and frankly I was hoping this might happen to me. However I also knew that 'a transformation' is not something you can plan. As many have said in the past the first third of the Camino is physical as you get use to walking everyday. The second third is mental as your mind gets use to the rhythm of walking and not worrying about all the distractions we face at home. For many this happens while they are walking the Meseta. The last third is spiritual as you begin to think of reaching Santiago. At least for me and many others I have read about the Meseta has a way of freeing up the mind. You can walk without thinking about where to take the next step, or to avoid a rock. You can just free your mind to think. This was certainly true for me and consequently it was my favorite part of the Camino. From your questions above JustJack, I suspect you may like it as well. Clearing the mind on the Meseta opens one up for a transformation, at least it did for me. I am not a religious person, but I am somewhat spiritual. However I was certainly not expecting what happened to me at Cruz de Ferro. One minute I am walking thinking about how great my life is and the next I just started crying uncontrollably from a wave of emotion that overtook me at that place. I was recording my experiences on video and caught that 'transformation'. The moment I finally understood why I was walking. I made a video about my whole walk, but what I call chapter 8, is the time leading up to and just past Cruz de Ferro. I love sharing this video and if you are interested in viewing it you can find it at this link...
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
so feel free to tell me to snap out of it.

"Snap out of it" - - Just kidding!
Reading your posting I completely understand your thoughts on this topic. I, also tend to over prepare for climbs, hikes and walks. It's just my nature and upbringing. Maybe yours as well.
Some folks step foot on a camino, put their heads down and just start walking, sometimes without looking up throughout their day. I can relate to this as I did it on my first camino and was subconsciously just trying to make it to point "B" everyday without even realizing it.
Later, on other camino's I began to realize much of the beauty I missed because I failed to look up, look right, look left and behind me. As time has gone on I have come to appreciate being in the moment with all around me realizing time is not necessarily on my side anymore.
In closing, know you are not alone in these thoughts and concerns.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
When you begin, dedicate your journey to whatever discovery you hope for.
Then just walk. Let your mind flow freely where it will. The important stuff will eventually float up to the surface, along with a whole world of things you've forgotten about for years.
This is what freedom feels like.
A whole lot of fresh air and sunshine gets down into spaces you've kept closed-up, without you even trying. It's spectacularly therapeutic, and sometimes overwhelmingly emotional.
You're going to love it, if you can just walk and let your mind go where it's been wanting and needing to go. It's why you feel compelled to do this, and why it's vital you allow yourself a good bit of time to walk alone.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically
Maybe the best mental preparation IS the physical. This would come from long walks at home - there is no need to wait for arrival in Spain.
the repetitive walking motion will feel somewhat meditative and allow my mind to wander at will. Currently my mind is a bit like an amusement arcade, full of blinking lights and buzzing sounds, with a noisy soundtrack playing in the background. Not ideal.
You might find that you need to walk for an hour or so before you begin to feel the calming effects, so try to make those walks long enough.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.
You have gotten many wise answers here. My suggestion is to just go. You will have:

30 days
6 hours walking/day
2 hours reflection/afternoon.

Total of 240 hours (minimum) in complete solitude, thinking (or just live in the now). If nothing at all comes out of it, you have not listened to the message the Camino is trying to get across. Plan your next one.

But have no fear: you have received the calling of the Camino for a reason. It will take some time, but concentrate on daily matters on your Way. You need time/solitude to sort things out. The Camino will work on you in the background. And one day you'll "see". You'll see it when you see it.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of... We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart." - Blaise Pascal​


Here is some experiences:

 
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Creativeguy

New Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPP France to Santiago 2020
Mental preparation...that is all perspective. Years ago, I quit a job teaching at a University. I loved teaching and working with my students but was exhausted by the politics and game playing that took place. So I resigned and I planned to travel, learn, and create a new career. Before departure, I suddenly became aware of a coupe things. First: there are two forms of motivation: moving away from what you don't want or toward what you do want. Second: "wherever you go, there you are!" Socrates.

I realized I was trying to move away from something I didn't want which seemed a very poor plan. So I became very clear about what I wanted to move toward! What nourishes me, makes me feel alive, inspires me moment to moment? Learning. Freedom. Staying inspired. Being present in the moment. Quieting my mind. Being present...really present. Being aligned with inner purpose.

In a general sense, I knew what those felt like and also that it was impossible to PLAN them into being. So I started practicing listening and feeling them in the moment, each moment throughout the day, NOW, before I departed.

Second: I was't very happy with the person I had become, feeling exhausted and disillusioned from fighting political battles and such. And I hated the idea of the University as a place that primarily taught memorization rather than learning! And that wasn't the authentic me. So who was I and who did I want to be when I traveled? When I feel genuine, what's that feeling?? I practiced that and grew the experience of that feeling who I was when I was at my best, before I left.

My suggestion for what it is worth: start now! Don't wait for a Camino. Walking through each day is a mini-pilgrimage. Planning too much makes the mind in control and you risk missing little rewarding adjustments along the way. Listening, feeling into the moment, responding when inspired to act....that can be very rewarding. It's a balance.

You are able to practice right now before the camino. And it unfolds moment by moment through all life experiences. Hope that is helpful!
 

meazara

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
It depends… I’m accustomed to carrying a few expectations. I expect:

To drink great coffee and beer.
To eat a lot of so-so and/or bland pilgrim food and a few meals I will remember fondly.
To hear world championship snoring.
To meet several great folks along the way.
To see a wonderful country.
And, to feel both great and spent at the end of most days.
And I shared similar and it was outstanding this Sept & Oct on CF. Wouldn’t change one part of it.
 
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Fine art photography from the Camino Ways.
Past OR future Camino
2019
You will find things on the Camino, any Camino or any long walk, that you usually don’t find anywhere else. Time to yourself; others who are doing what you are doing; time away from your routine everyday life; time away from the usual demands and expectations; new landscapes, towns, villages and cities; challenging situations; interesting people and so on and so forth.
You don’t have to do anything, except walk. The rest will just happen.

All you need to worry about now is: what will I take, how heavy and how much walking can I get in before I go.

You’ll enjoy it and you’ll get everything out of it that you hope for.

Simple.
 
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JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
With enough time and distance...there are no questions...nor answers..there is just you. The basic beautiful real you.
And when you have gone far and long enough to burn away all the burdens your inner voice, the real inner voice you have been trying to hear? Of a sudden becomes the only one.
All other things burn away in that light of "being"
Doubts,regrets,uncertainties and what makes you...you...becomes evident.


And here is where what your looking for is layed open. You may not find what is there is good or even tolorable..but there you are.

Happiness
Sadness
And everything in between awaits you and if your strong enough to face that mirror then welcome back to you.and you can start from scratch to rebuild.
You have time and distance to sort it out and for the fears to turn into certainty.

At least thats what my travels did for me.
Time
Space
Distance so i could remember who I was and wanted to be without the world pressing in.
Buen Camino!
This is my hope, and a little bit my fear as well - finding and facing the "real me". It's been buried so long under so much crap that I'm worried I may not necessarily like what I find :).
But like it or hate it, it will be real, which is the point of it all.
 

JustJack

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
To reply to the original question posted above I will talk to my own experience. Before I walked my first Camino (CF) back in 2015 I watched many hours of YouTube Camino videos while walking on my treadmill training for the walk. I also read around 10 books to try to understand what to expect on the walk -- beyond the physical. I had read about a lot of folks going through some kind of transformation, and frankly I was hoping this might happen to me. However I also knew that 'a transformation' is not something you can plan. As many have said in the past the first third of the Camino is physical as you get use to walking everyday. The second third is mental as your mind gets use to the rhythm of walking and not worrying about all the distractions we face at home. For many this happens while they are walking the Meseta. The last third is spiritual as you begin to think of reaching Santiago. At least for me and many others I have read about the Meseta has a way of freeing up the mind. You can walk without thinking about where to take the next step, or to avoid a rock. You can just free your mind to think. This was certainly true for me and consequently it was my favorite part of the Camino. From your questions above JustJack, I suspect you may like it as well. Clearing the mind on the Meseta opens one up for a transformation, at least it did for me. I am not a religious person, but I am somewhat spiritual. However I was certainly not expecting what happened to me at Cruz de Ferro. One minute I am walking thinking about how great my life is and the next I just started crying uncontrollably from a wave of emotion that overtook me at that place. I was recording my experiences on video and caught that 'transformation'. The moment I finally understood why I was walking. I made a video about my whole walk, but what I call chapter 8, is the time leading up to and just past Cruz de Ferro. I love sharing this video and if you are interested in viewing it you can find it at this link...
Thank you for your thoughts and the video link. I look forward to watching it this evening. A couple of your comments really hit home.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2018
I've never thought about preparing myself mentally for the Camino nor have I used the Camino to answer questions about the mystery of life, what my purpose is, etc., nor with the intention to fix or change myself or my life.
I believe in just relaxing and letting it happen, and incorporating the insights that you may have into your daily life.
That is similar to my "reason" I think. When I learned about it, there was just this "well, I have to do that". And, then there was a desire/need to get back to Europe along with a sort of "get out of Dodge". Whenever I travel I want to BE wherever I am and soak it up, learn customs, enjoy the place, be it city or countryside. I enjoy meeting people, locals and fellow travelers, but don't set off with a sense of "making new friends". The walking was good too. I've always walked and like that the pace allows me to feel as I'm really experiencing a place. Here at home I am still living "car-free", having moved from a city where it is literally impossible to live a normal life without a car to one with good bus service. The second Caminho in Portugal was a welcome homecoming; I lived 11 years on the Portuguese island of Faial, and 4 mainland Portugal. Nothing profound I'm afraid....
 

cbacino

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
It's just a walk. You'll have plenty of time to think about (and deal with) the present: aches, accommodations, weather, exertion. After that, you can ruminate.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
This is my hope, and a little bit my fear as well - finding and facing the "real me". It's been buried so long under so much crap that I'm worried I may not necessarily like what I find :).
But like it or hate it, it will be real, which is the point of it all.
Letting the process happen, without actively managing or controlling the situation will help with results
Let yourself get lost in the walk and trust the process of the journey..i think your almost there but for the walk!

I sincerely hope you find the fulfillment your wanting, i hope your filled with a fierce and astonishing joy of a sudden! that fills all the empty spaces within and throughout enough to heal what has been hurting.
I hope..you carry that joy forward and can light other people in their darkness.

I hope you turn into a light shining out into the world!
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
By being as present in the moment as you can be, your life will change.
The presence is the means.
Transformation is the end.

But the thing is...you can't control it.
And thinking about the process blocks it.

Trust the process.
Let everything be, and just walk.
Forget about anything else, just let it all percolate in the background.

Things take the time they take, so it may require patience.

I'm worried I may not necessarily like what I find :).
But like it or hate it, it will be real, which is the point of it all
Of course not.
That's why we bury stuff, after all.
;)
But that's toxic, in the end.
The good thing is that you have the willingness to look.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
It's just a walk. You'll have plenty of time to think about (and deal with) the present: aches, accommodations, weather, exertion. After that, you can ruminate.
Exactly. People put too much pressure on themselves and the Camino. It is just a walk.
 
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Next up 2022?
It is just a walk.
I would say yes and no.

For some, it's just a walk.
For others, it's more than that.

We can't assume everyone has the same motivation. And for @JustJack it sounds like it may be more than just a walk.

At the same time, you're right.
In either case, it doesn't help to stress or anticipate. Pressure is definitely counter-productive.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
These two things however seem somewhat contradictory.
Not really, because the sense of being present in the here and now and keeping that up for weeks is a large part of how, when, and why the Camino can be, albeit not necessarily, a transformative experience.

And I'd suggest that Brierly's method will work for some, but not for others. If you've that sort of mind OK, but Camino prep isn't a homework assignment.

But there are always a few people who are just impervious to what the Camino can provide in this area, whilst at the other extreme some first time pilgrims may have already learnt what the Camino can teach from elsewhere.

But really, I'd say look for your own reasons and understandings, which nobody else's method can provide, as they are unique to yourself, no matter how similar they may be sometimes to those of other pilgrims.
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
You’ll enjoy it and you’ll get everything out of it that you hope for.

Simple.

This might not always be the case and that is also ok.
Not everyone enjoys a Camino and neither will you get " everything " out of it.

There is no shame in realising that a particular Camino/ pilgrimage is not your cup of tea ( for whatever reason ).
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
epiphanies on camino.
Mostly, they either don't happen at all, I'd guess for most pilgrims.

Or when they do, the great majority are sort of small step things whereby a pilgrim gets some answers for his life that he was already seeking, consciously or otherwise. (sort of like waking up in the morning with a fully formed answer to some tough problem, but deeper and broader)

The Big One, which I've experienced, is very rare indeed.

So really, don't expect a Camino epiphany, in fact better to make no attempt whatsoever towards one.

Your Camino will provide what you need, and not what others have had from theirs.
 
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LTfit

Veteran Member
This might not always be the case and that is also ok.
Not everyone enjoys a Camino and neither will you get " everything " out of it.

There is no shame in realising that a particular Camino/ pilgrimage is not your cup of tea ( for whatever reason ).
I concur wholeheartedly with Sabine. In fact I was writing my above post before hers was posted.

I've got a perfect example:
while a hospitalera in the parochial albergue in Grañón in 2012 I was approached by two young pilgrims, each reached out to me separately but actually were friends walking together. They both wanted to talk to me after the communal dinner.

The first woman was Chinese studying in the US. She was having the time of her life, was in awe of her experience on the Camino but had a question. Why are people so friendly and helpful? In China no one helps you unless they want something in return she said. We went on to share our experiences with "Camino angels".

Later on her walking companion came in (an American student). She was very troubled and torn. What to do? She came on the Camino with her friend because she asked her but she actually just wanted to go home (this was day 10 on the Camino). She just didn't "get it". Her friend was having a "life changing" experience and she wasn't. After listening, my first question was if she had discussed this with her friend. No, not yet. We then talked about her expectations and reasons for coming (she didn't really have any). Maybe the Camino was "just a long walk" I said, but that's ok too. Maybe she could just enjoy the nature, culture, food and company. I suggested that she talk about her concerns with her friend, possibly walk a few days on her own and wait till Burgos to decide anything. Give it some time.

I have no idea how the Camino turned out for the two but as Sabine said, it's just not for everyone and that's just fine.
 
Past OR future Camino
2019
This might not always be the case and that is also ok.
Not everyone enjoys a Camino and neither will you get " everything " out of it.

There is no shame in realising that a particular Camino/ pilgrimage is not your cup of tea ( for whatever reason ).
Yes, of course.
How very true.
Wise words Sabine.

Edit: I should point out I guess that I was talking about ‘any long walk’ …. And I say that bc I’ve done many long walks and I have found it to be almost the same as doing any Camino in terms of what you get out of it. So yes, of course there’s no shame if walking turns out not to be your cup of tea.
 
Last edited:

Bob P

Member
Past OR future Camino
First timer, leaving April 3rd from SJPDP
Your comments really resonated with me as our situations and motivations have some similarities. Thanks for sharing.
VERY similar to mine. Physical prep only.
Freshly retired, no plans, no reservations, no expectations, just go walk.

Most significant month of my life !
It just "developed" as I walked.
 
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Dani7

Stop wishing, start doing.
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
When the time is right
Time, especially quiet reflective time, has a way of showing us what we need vs what we want. I suspect the daily routine one gets into while walking a Camino is quite freeing. I haven’t walked yet so all I’m looking forward to when comes my time is the luxury of time. Time for myself, to disconnect from responsibilities and my current routine and to let my mind go where it needs to go.

I am confident you will find clarity and you’ll know what you need in your life after your experience walking. How you prepare for it physically and mentally will most likely all change once you are on this path. Let go. And BE ❤️ I wish you a heartfelt Buen Camino.
 
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Wanderingfriend

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
Your question is not silly. I have a master’s degree in Spiritual Formation and I love and live in these questions. I found on both of my caminos that things surface. They often surface for me when I am being present. I have loved taking in the beauty of the surroundings or a person and finding myself feeling stirred in some way. I am trying to say, “They are not mutually exclusive, both can happen simultaneously”. The biggest challenge for me was to lay down the everyday details of where to stay etc. And I intentionally said a “Welcoming prayer” that I would be able to let go and accept what each moment/day brought. I think if your intention is to be present, you will notice both when you are and when you are not. There isn’t a formula, just intentions and noticing. I hope you have a wonderful Camino.
 

michael

Active Member
A zen answer to your question would be
eat when you are hungry
Sleep when you are tired
when you sit just sit don't wobble

If you are interested in applying zazen/mindfulness in your walking try this and see if it helps.
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
This is actually a circle that it is quite straightforward to square. The point about being in the present is pertinent for a) the purpose of not getting lost and inadvertantly adding unwanted kilometres to your walk and b) the purpose of missing any of the numerous beautiful sights, sites and buildings, religious and secular which crop up on the Camino. Depending on which Camino that you decide to do the importance of the a) point will vary, however even on the Frances there are plenty of opportunities to get lost. The b) factor is almost always there but there are plenty of long straight sections on every Camino. On that point this is where the internal self examination can kick in. The really good news is that (depending on which Camino you choose) you will get to interact with a lot of amazing people on your journey who will help to put your world in perspective.
 
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Camino Magnets
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Past OR future Camino
Last camino Norte 2017
Next camino 2022?
Your question is not silly. I have a master’s degree in Spiritual Formation and I love and live in these questions. I found on both of my caminos that things surface. They often surface for me when I am being present. I have loved taking in the beauty of the surroundings or a person and finding myself feeling stirred in some way. I am trying to say, “They are not mutually exclusive, both can happen simultaneously”. The biggest challenge for me was to lay down the everyday details of where to stay etc. And I intentionally said a “Welcoming prayer” that I would be able to let go and accept what each moment/day brought. I think if your intention is to be present, you will notice both when you are and when you are not. There isn’t a formula, just intentions and noticing. I hope you have a wonderful Camino.
Good morning wandering friend. I loved the question. We have already heard from a person with a masters degree in spiritual formation and their comments were terrific. so now it's time to hear from an insurance broker😂.
My camino seemed to evolve. 1st part I was alone very alone as I didnt seem to find any fluent English speaking pilgrims for days. But thank God for that aloneness. I walked the Norte deep in thought not even listening to music for about 1 week. I would argue that I was being present while at the same time doing a sort of evaluation of my life up to that point. What a tremendous luxury to walk the coast of northern Spain just me and my backpack havingbthe time to ponder
decisions I had made and all that had brought me to that point. I am a big fan of eckhart tolle book the power of now. Having read it many times. Reliving painful memories from the past and becoming upset all over again isn't really being present. Worrying about the uncertainty of the future isn't being present either. Last bit, I recall staying in a large albergue in deba. During the night I became so anxious. Why did my foot hurt so bad? Would I get lost tomorrow etc. I decide just to breath and the most wonderful peace fell upon me. All my worries and concerns just became small things I would deal with when the time came. In a word I became present in my crowded albergue so far from home and everything was just fine. Buen camino😉
 

stinmd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
My two cents: Don't over-think it; as Paolo Coelho said: "It's just a walk..."
 

leichecerca

Can’t stay away
Past OR future Camino
Camino Finisterre: May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2017
I agree with those who say 'just let it happen'. It is easy to over-think the Camino. I've walked it once and will be doing so again at age 73. Can't say any questions were answered but I wasn't looking for any. The experience is just walking, during which times your mind will heal itself in unexpected ways. Sometimes you will feel 'present'; sometimes you will walk in a daze. Doesn't matter. It's just you and the earth. And the earth is healing. We don't always recognize healing when it comes from outside the mind. Just walk and enjoy and the results will be perfect for who you are and what you need.
Great answer @Jilly123 !!
Fellow “overthinker” here. Yeah, we get stuck in our heads sometimes (paralysis thru analysis) but don’t sweat it, there’s truly no right or wrong way to do your Camino. Beyond reasonable preparation for your physical needs, try not to frontload your experience. Consider staying away from the forum (irony alert!), as reading about the experiences of others can’t help but create too many expectations, which will only serve to reinforce your thought spiral. As the saying goes: don’t try to peel open the rosebud. Just go. Embrace the simple, peaceful respite from decision-making that the rhythm of Camino life provides, and the rest will sort itself out. Buen Camino!
 

stinmd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
Great answer @Jilly123 !!
Fellow “overthinker” here. Yeah, we get stuck in our heads sometimes (paralysis thru analysis) but don’t sweat it, there’s truly no right or wrong way to do your Camino. Beyond reasonable preparation for your physical needs, try not to frontload your experience. Consider staying away from the forum (irony alert!), as reading about the experiences of others can’t help but create too many expectations, which will only serve to reinforce your thought spiral. As the saying goes: don’t try to peel open the rosebud. Just go. Embrace the simple, peaceful respite from decision-making that the rhythm of Camino life provides, and the rest will sort itself out. Buen Camino!
To paraphrase John Lennon: Life is what happens when you are busy planning/thinking.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Consider staying away from the forum (irony alert!), as reading about the experiences of others can’t help but create too many expectations,
I spent a lot of time on the forum before my first Camino, but I focused on gear selection, how to get to the Camino, how to use my phone in Spain, etc. I didn't read any books about other pilgrim's Camino experiences, as I didn't want them to influence my experience.
 

Storyteller Matt

Storyteller Matt
Past OR future Camino
2021
Just got back from my Camino two days ago.

Three years ago, I walked ON the Camino but I don't consider it an actual Camino because I started in Sarria. I thought I was pretty cool at the time—the YouTube videos are proof of this—and my reflections were wistful and romantic. I wore the wrong boots, my pack was too heavy and worn too high on my back, and as such, I threw out my back in Arzua. I hobbled into Santiago de Compostela after six days and went straight to my hotel without seeing the Cathedral. Next day, I limped over to the obrodoiro, saw the various pilgrims laughing and hugging one another, and realized that I was missing something.

I vowed to come back and walk the entire Frances.

This year, the only question I had for the Camino going in was, "Why am I being called to do this?" In 2018, it was all about ego and mythology (of course, the movie is what triggered the obsession). This year, it was about... Well, I still don't know what it's about.

But I learned things. I witnessed amazing acts of kindness, some directed at me. I was given opportunities to be kind myself, and I hope I rose to the task. I made friends. I had amazing conversations. I suffered pain and exhaustion and days where the brain went a little haywire (especially on La Meseta). I shot video where I was filled with joy and video where I said, "**** this ****ing Camino!" and almost quit. I fell by the side of the road weeping, but I also sang Bowie at the top of my lungs to get me through (I caught wind of a young woman who was about to quit until a man with glasses emerged from the woods singing "Golden Years" and she was inspired to carry on; I like to believe I was the angel that day, but who knows?). In the end, I crawled into Santiago de Compostela laughing and weeping simultaneously; on the video, I sound like a squealing, panting fool.

Now I'm home, trying to make sense of it. I wear my Camino clothes to do yard work and for my morning walks. I still haven't connected with my friends as I'm not ready to talk about this experience.

And I'm already planning my next Camino. Not sure if that applies to your post, but it's what it made me think about this afternoon.
 

Suzanne H

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances/2017; LePuy/2018; Porto (Coastal) 2019
What a blessing to receive so many thoughtful answers, @JustJack! I’ve enjoyed reading the recommendations and would like to add just a few thoughts that were pertinent to me and more practical in nature — perhaps you can carry a lightweight journal. On the first page you can list your questions that you want answered. But during the day, just walk. Breathe. And talk to fellow pilgrims and LISTEN. Those you meet will unwittingly be an amazing resource to you. At the end of the day (or whenever) review your questions and journal your thoughts, purposefully considering what you learned (if anything) through your day. You may find that you have nothing to write… and that’s ok. I wrote TONS the first week, then was unable to put my thoughts and feelings into words for several weeks. But by listing the questions and carrying them with you, you’ll be able to reflect upon them while also letting them go and allow yourself to be in the moment. Your fellow pilgrims will ask you why you walk and those conversations and notes that follow may help you on your journey. I will admit to you that my answer did not come to me on my first camino. What I found there was far more valuable — my camino family. But the exercise of evaluating my life questions (occasionally) and being in the moment (always) has become what I strive for every day, whether on the camino in Spain or my after-camino, at home. You will find your Way, the Way that works for you. There isn’t a right or wrong Way, just your Way.
Buen Camino!
 

Levi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
Madrid September 2018
because if you go looking for yourself you might not like what you find
I don't know...maybe...but a few years ago after a long day walking on the Camino I wrote in my diary that ' I think I met my best self today...'
Maybe that's why I keep returning.
(And, of course, there are those other days...)
 
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MST

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
So, I just finished my first Camino. I had some questions all prepared. I found the following:
1) the questions that came up on the trail had little to do with what I planned out. It only took about an hour for that to become evident.
2) transformation, ie, change, did happen within me, more of a consequence of what happened in #1 (not according to any plan I’d devised) along with the many unexpected experiences along the way.
3) when struggling, at first it seemed like questions disappeared & transformation was nowhere around. Focus became one foot in front of the other. When the struggle got beyond what I thought I could handle, truths emerged & transformation happened.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
I've never thought about preparing myself mentally for the Camino nor have I used the Camino to answer questions about the mystery of life, what my purpose is, etc., nor with the intention to fix or change myself or my life.
I believe in just relaxing and letting it happen, and incorporating the insights that you may have into your daily life.
I like that
 

Wanderingfriend

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Good morning wandering friend. I loved the question. We have already heard from a person with a masters degree in spiritual formation and their comments were terrific. so now it's time to hear from an insurance broker😂.
My camino seemed to evolve. 1st part I was alone very alone as I didnt seem to find any fluent English speaking pilgrims for days. But thank God for that aloneness. I walked the Norte deep in thought not even listening to music for about 1 week. I would argue that I was being present while at the same time doing a sort of evaluation of my life up to that point. What a tremendous luxury to walk the coast of northern Spain just me and my backpack havingbthe time to ponder
decisions I had made and all that had brought me to that point. I am a big fan of eckhart tolle book the power of now. Having read it many times. Reliving painful memories from the past and becoming upset all over again isn't really being present. Worrying about the uncertainty of the future isn't being present either. Last bit, I recall staying in a large albergue in deba. During the night I became so anxious. Why did my foot hurt so bad? Would I get lost tomorrow etc. I decide just to breath and the most wonderful peace fell upon me. All my worries and concerns just became small things I would deal with when the time came. In a word I became present in my crowded albergue so far from home and everything was just fine. Buen camino😉
Dear Insurance Broker, I love this! Wandering friend.
 

bubba

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,2016 ,Portuguese 2017,Del Norte 2018, Via De La Plata 2019
My camino revelation and most frequent thought that brings me back to the present is "shut up and keep walking stupid".
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
A bit of an odd, and likely not-well-thought-out question/comment, but here goes.

I've watched a few interviews with people that have walked the camino multiple times, including an interview Ivan did with camino guidebook author John Brierley (I hope I've got that right). A couple things that were mentioned by everyone, is the importance of preparing mentally for your walk, as well as physically. In fact it was stated that the mental preparation is even more important than the physical. I get that.

John suggested making a list of questions you are seeking answers to prior to departing, in order to ensure that you are focused on the right things. Makes perfect sense, and I've begun thinking about those things.

However another thing that is frequently mentioned is the importance of being 100% present in the moment while you are walking. In fact, learning how to be better at being present in the moment is one of my goals for walking the camino.

These two things however seem somewhat contradictory. How does one use the time walking to reflect on questions in one's life that they are seeking answers to, while being 100% present in the moment. It seems to be to be one or the other.

I fully appreciate that I'm overthinking things, and getting caught up in the minutia, so feel free to tell me to snap out of it. But for those that have walked the camino for the purpose of, or in the hopes of, a transformation in their lives, did you find it to be a challenge balancing being 100% present at the moment, with exercising all the old demons and memories from the past.

In a perfect world I would walk two caminos back-to-back. During the first I would spend my time addressing the issues in my life I want to address (and therefore not be very present mentally while I'm walking). Then during the second camino, having already sorted out some of the issues in my life :) I would spend all of my time focused on each and every moment of the walk. Alas I don't think back-to-back caminos is going to happen this time around.

Is this even something that others have given any thought to, or am I being a bit ridiculous? Spending over a year unable to travel during a pandemic, and becoming consumed with the notion of walking a camino, is causing me to really overthink thinks, I know. I should probably take a step back and a break from thinking about and planning my camino before I end up going down too many rabbit holes... I appreciate this community's patience with people like me. I'm quite confident that once I've done it, and look back at posts like this, I'm going to shake my head at how silly I was. But my question stands for now.
I remember years ago reading a Zen parable that I think is very applicable to this question. It tells the story of the Zen master who instructs his students to focus on what they are doing, "When you eat, eat. When you read, read."

The next day, the student sees him at the table, eating breakfast and reading. "Master," he says. "Yesterday you told me that I need to focus. When I read, read. When I eat, eat. Yet here you are, eating and reading."

"When you eat and read, eat and read," replied the Zen master.

It seems like there is a paradox between being in the moment and sorting out issues in one's life until one recognizes that sorting out one's issues is something that only happens in the present moment. The past is untouchable and the future doesn't exist yet. One only ever lives really in the present.

One just has to recognize the sorting out of issues as happening in the present moment when one does it. (Of course, if one is also aware of the birdsong or the sound of one's footsteps, or the breaths one breathes while sorting out one's issues, that doesn't hurt either. Sometimes the calmness they provide help to sort out the issues.)

Or so it seems to me.
 
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Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
I would suggest that walking AND being present to the moment AND reflecting on where your life is, where its been, and where its going are not mutually exclusive. The key factor is that you come to the Camino with an open mind, come as a seeker. You're seeking a deeper wisdom and a deeper reflection on your life. You are (literally) stepping away from the normal confines of your daily life so that you might obtain some insight and maybe return to your daily life with a renewed vision. Part of it is walking a new and unknown path, being thrown into a different routine, you'll meet new people--perhaps a person or two that you'll share your current life situation with and they will walk with you a few miles and you'll say that this encounter touched your heart. Being present to the moment makes all of this possible. You can trust the process because thousands and thousands of those who have walked this Camino ahead of us say this is what happens.
 

Wanderingfriend

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
A zen answer to your question would be
eat when you are hungry
Sleep when you are tired
when you sit just sit don't wobble

If you are interested in applying zazen/mindfulness in your walking try this and see if it helps.
Yes! That does sound like being present to me.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
This year, it was about... Well, I still don't know what it's about.
That's wonderful.
The best thing is that there's no need to figure it out.

The same goes for presence and reflection.
Forget what the mystics and zen masers say - see for yourself. Come to the camino with curiosity and an open heart and you will live your own way into knowing how these two things interweave and support each other.
 

leichecerca

Can’t stay away
Past OR future Camino
Camino Finisterre: May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2017
Just got back from my Camino two days ago.

Three years ago, I walked ON the Camino but I don't consider it an actual Camino because I started in Sarria. I thought I was pretty cool at the time—the YouTube videos are proof of this—and my reflections were wistful and romantic. I wore the wrong boots, my pack was too heavy and worn too high on my back, and as such, I threw out my back in Arzua. I hobbled into Santiago de Compostela after six days and went straight to my hotel without seeing the Cathedral. Next day, I limped over to the obrodoiro, saw the various pilgrims laughing and hugging one another, and realized that I was missing something.

I vowed to come back and walk the entire Frances.

This year, the only question I had for the Camino going in was, "Why am I being called to do this?" In 2018, it was all about ego and mythology (of course, the movie is what triggered the obsession). This year, it was about... Well, I still don't know what it's about.

But I learned things. I witnessed amazing acts of kindness, some directed at me. I was given opportunities to be kind myself, and I hope I rose to the task. I made friends. I had amazing conversations. I suffered pain and exhaustion and days where the brain went a little haywire (especially on La Meseta). I shot video where I was filled with joy and video where I said, "**** this ****ing Camino!" and almost quit. I fell by the side of the road weeping, but I also sang Bowie at the top of my lungs to get me through (I caught wind of a young woman who was about to quit until a man with glasses emerged from the woods singing "Golden Years" and she was inspired to carry on; I like to believe I was the angel that day, but who knows?). In the end, I crawled into Santiago de Compostela laughing and weeping simultaneously; on the video, I sound like a squealing, panting fool.

Now I'm home, trying to make sense of it. I wear my Camino clothes to do yard work and for my morning walks. I still haven't connected with my friends as I'm not ready to talk about this experience.

And I'm already planning my next Camino. Not sure if that applies to your post, but it's what it made me think about this afternoon.
I wore my Camino clothes for weeks after I got home. My other clothes felt wrong.
 

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